Activity ideas for kids during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children are spending more time at home than usual. Here’s a roundup of what parents and caregivers can do to keep kids occupied during this time.
- The Orange County Department of Education has created a roundup of free resources to help students supplement other materials that are being provided by their teachers.
- Many educational companies are offering free subscriptions in light of school closures. Here’s a guide.
- Scholastic offers day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking and growing.
- PBS SoCal | KCET, in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District and in collaboration with California PBS stations, are offering broadcast programming and accompanying digital resources that adhere to California’s state curriculum. Learn more here.
- Budding scientists can access Nova Labs at PBS, for video, animation and games on scientific topics like predicting solar storms and constructing renewable energy systems.
- NASA’s Teachable Moments, offers a range of activities and lessons for grades K-12.
- NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has educational and fun Facebook videos where kids can learn from astronauts and other educators. For activities, instructions are available as free downloads.
- Make any room a classroom with BrainPop, where curious learners can take units in science, social studies, math, engineering and tech, and more
- Tynker is offering free premium coding courses during school closures.
- Khan Academy offers free daily schedules for kids and teens ages 4-18 to keep stability and routine during this time. The online learning non-profit also offers a free downloadable app called Khan Academy Kids,that contains thousands of activities and books for children ages 2-7.
- FunBrain.com offers hundreds of free games, books comics and videos for Pre-K through eighth grade.
- National Geographic Kids offers free online quizzes on topics ranging from animals to planets to sports and food.
- Cool Math 4 Kids offers games and lessons to make math fun for kids.
- Math Game Time offers a variety of games, videos and worksheets for Pre-K through seventh grade.
- Inspired by Dr. Seuss, Seussville has activities, crafts, printables and recipes to engage your child in playful learning.
- Online games that include K-12 curriculum.
- Skillshare is offering two-month free trials for online classes that include animation, creative writing, web design and more.
- Amazon is offering free computer science courses online for various grade levels.
- Camp YouTube — a digital learning experience to help parents recreate the fun of summer camp at home. Summer camp themes include arts, adventure, sports, STEM and more
- Crash Course Kids — bi-weekly shows on grade school science, including Earth, habitats, space and more.
- Science Channel – learn about outer space, new technology and more.
- SciShow Kids – the hosts explain fun, complex science concepts; do experiments and interview experts.
- National Geographic Kids – videos feature animals, science, pets and more.
- Free School – exposure to famous art, classical music, children’s literature and natural science in an age-appropriate and kid-accessible way.
- GEOgraphy Focus – explore geography, maps, flags, culture, languages and travel.
- TheBrainScoop – explore the work and research of natural history museums.
- Kids Learning Tube – educate kids through music and animation.
- Geek Gurl Diaries – videos on programming, computer science, logic, electronics and more.
- Mike Likes Science – science-inspired music videos.
- Science Max – large-scale science experiments.
- SoulPancake – in addition to the well-known Kid President shows, this channels offers content that explores and celebrates the ways humans seek connection.
- Course Hero – study guides and videos for various subject matters.
- Here’s a list of podcasts — featuring stories, meditation, music and more — for ages 2 through 6.
- Celebrities are taking to social media to read children’s books to little ones staying home during this time. The Los Angeles Times curated this roundup of these posts.
- Audible, which has the world’s largest collection of audio books, is offering free stories — in six different languages — for kids as long as schools are closed. Start listening here.
- Here’s a list of authors doing read-alouds of their famous books, as well as books by their favorite authors.
- Storyline Online, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, streams videos of celebrities reading aloud children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
- Carnegie Hall’s Music Explorer program offers a way to learn new musical genres and cultural traditions. Courses conclude in an interactive concert experience.
- Chrome Music Lab lets kids learn music through a hands-on website.
Learn a new language
- Learn a new language with Duolingo.
- English52 allows users to strengthen English skills through video lessons and activities.
- Fabulingua is an interactive app that teaches Spanish.
Virtual field trips
- Google Arts & Culture has partnered with thousands of museums around the world to offer virtual tours from the comfort of your home. Here’s the complete list.
- The San Diego Zoo offers 10 different webcams so animal lovers can keep up with a variety of their favorite creatures.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium also offers 10 different webcams for families to experience underwater life from anywhere.
Cook with your kids
- CHOC nutrition experts have curated some of their favorite recipes and offer tips for how to get kids involved in the kitchen. “Children as young as 2 years old can help out in the kitchen. You can have your child wash fruits and vegetables or stir ingredients,” Shonda Brown, CHOC clinical dietitian, says. “Children are more open to trying new foods if they have opportunities to explore and learn about the food before they eat it.”
Kids can still benefit from nature while practicing proper social distancing. Even babies and toddlers can join a family nature walk. if you’re in a public space, keep them in a carrier or a stroller. If you’re in your backyard, they can explore more freely.
Children who spend more time outdoors have improved motor development and lower obesity rates. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking — especially essential with schools closed and extra-curricular activities canceled.
- On a nature walk, collect twigs, leaves or rocks. Then, build a nature sculpture by sticking these items in play dough. Help your child notice the patterns created by different items.
- Go on a family bike ride, while keeping a safe distance from others.
- Nature scavenger hunts can be fun for the whole family. How many different kinds of plants, flowers, animals or birds can you see?
- Playing soccer or catch is fine, but don’t share equipment with people outside your household.
The beloved classic kids’ magazine, Highlights, is posting frequent roundups of stories, puzzles, craft ideas and more to help children cope with being cooped up and help parents make the most of this time with their kids. Each installment has a different theme:
- Celebrate reading — Reading can transport us somewhere else for a while, even when we’re stuck at home.
- Pajama day — Showing your children affection with a hug, snuggling on the couch to watch a movie, or reading together in a cozy blanket tent are all ways you can be fully present with your child.
- A never-ending pile of fun — Sequestering at home may actually provide you with the time to teach kids tasks like matching socks, folding clothes, and putting away clean laundry. Kids usually like to help, and when we make the chores fun, they’re often eager to pitch in.
- We are (all) family — Whatever your family configuration, this week’s issue has ideas for strengthening your family bond.
- Staying connected — Children are likely feeling the loss of connection with friends and extended family. This guide is full of ways you can help your kids feel more connected to people they love but can’t safely see right now.
- Just keep dancing — What raises our spirits more or gives us a burst of energy like music and dance? These activities will help your kids move their bodies, use their creativity, and improve their mood.
- Shoot for the stars — Young or old, we’re all fascinated by space. What’s known is often mind-boggling, and what’s unknown leaves so much to the imagination.
- Thank you teachers — Thanking teachers is not only a nice thing to do, but showing appreciation is a simple but important practice of gratitude.
- Hooray for helpers — National Nurses Week presents an opportunity to expand your kids’ understanding of what it means to be heroic.
- Let’s talk family — Someday, this quarantine will be a memory, and we hope your children will remember some of the family fun you’ve been enabling, and also the ways you are helping them focus on the things that really matter.
- Cleaning up — A bundle of resources for making cleanup fun.
- Celebrate the sun — Puzzles, stories, and activities related to growing gardens, having picnics, and taking nature hikes will remind your kids of some of the fun to be had in the sun. Sunny days together provide an opportunity to talk to your kids about optimism.
- Alone together — Games, played alone or together, are great for practicing reading, math, and strategic thinking. They also help build memory, focus and interpersonal skills.
- Soar into summer — Activity ideas to help imaginations take flight.
- We’re going on a scavenger hunt — Encourage children to sharpen their powers of discovery and plan their own hunt.
- Be nice, be kind, be you — Reinforce the messages of being sensitive to others’ feelings and that kindness is never wasted.
- Blaze a trail — Ideas on connecting with nature, sparking creativity and thinking of others.
- Be the best BFF — Cultivating friendships helps foster kids’ social-emotional development. The qualities we seek in friends—kindness, positivity and shared interests—are found in friends who may look like us, or in those who may look different.
- Celebrate your superpower — This bundle will help your children see themselves as having the ideas and abilities —superpowers, if you will — to do good in the world.
- Pack a picnic — Menu and game ideas that will let kids show off their creativity.
- Camp out or camp in — Ideas for making a backyard or living room campground memorable.
- Welcome to summer — Activity and bonding ideas to promote relaxation, enjoyment and memory making.
Programming to help explain COVID-19 to kids
- This CNN/Sesame Street town hall offers reminders on how children can help protect themselves against COVID-19.
- PBS KIDS aired a special episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that addressed challenges and disappointments children and their families may be facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.
- The Kennedy Center’s artist-in-residence is offering “Lunch Doodles” where budding artists can visit his studio virtually to doodle, draw or explore new ways of writing.
- iReady offers printable at-home math and reading activity packets for grades K-8.
- Printable nature-themed coloring pages for kids and adults.
- Guinness World Records at Home – offers a podcast and ideas for fun records you can try inside your house.
- Create a blob opera – Through Google Arts & Culture, you can create your own opera inspired song with Blob Opera – no music skills required !
This article was last updated on Jan. 22, 2021.
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