Schools are officially closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, so what are you planning to do with your kids? Children will be at home for at least three weeks, which leaves you with a lot of time to fill up. Since they’re missing a substantial amount of school, you might want to consider some fun educational activities.
If you have a yard, definitely let your kids play outside as much as possible. If you don’t, be sure they get some sunshine even if it means eating a snack on the front stoop. The natural light will help regulate their internal body clocks and prevent cabin fever and sleep issues from arising.
I recommend alternating between structured and unstructured activities and between active and quiet activities. Younger kids can only do about 15-minute intervals when it comes to quiet focused type play (but don’t stop them if they push past on their own!), while older children will be able to work on one thing for at least half an hour.
Here are a few ideas that can be tailored to fit a wide range of ages.
My go-to baking projects for kids are banana bread or the classic Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. For toddlers and young children, pre-measure the ingredients so that your kids can do the pouring and mixing. Challenge older children to split the recipe in half–there are lots of fractions to work with!
A tangram is a puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes. These shapes, called tans, are put together to form shapes like a cat, a fish, or a tree. The challenge is to create the shape with the tans looking at just its outline. I like this set because it has an easier color-coded version to start with, and the classic darkened shapes for kids who are ready for more challenge.
Sink or Float
This science activity requires no special materials. You can use anything you find around the house! You also need a basin of water, which might be your bathtub, a bucket, or a stopped sink. Have kids collect small objects from around the house and test whether these objects sink or float. Have them make predictions before they test, and record their results in a simple T-chart. Just make sure they run the objects they choose by you first–last thing you want is to find out that your watch does, in fact, sink.
This classic toy lets your kids engage their creativity while boosting literacy. Plus it keeps them busy for a long while. I call that a win! I got this set because I like how the tiles are color-coded to help kids learn about the different parts of language and it allows younger kids to be able to enjoy playing with it as well.
For this one, all you need is post-its and some kind of treat to be the treasure. Find a starting point and put a post-it with a clue of where to go next. You can write a riddle for older children or simple directions like, “Look next to the toaster,” for younger kids. Continue putting up post-its in the next location until you finally direct your little ones to the treasure. Pro tip: write clues that send your children on as long of a distance as possible, even if that means they are zig-zagging back and forth across your home throughout the hunt.
I love treasure hunts because they are so easy to set up and it keeps the kids excited and engaged for a good chunk of time. Treasure hunts require reading and physical movement, which are the two things our children need to be doing daily.
If you liked these, you can find more easy educational activities on my Instagram. I hope that these ideas will help you make it through this difficult but necessary time stuck at home!