The ‘stuck inside’ survival guide
By Samantha Lyles
It’s bad enough being stuck home as an adult, but for kids the whole COVID-19 social distancing thing is particularly trying. Without school or play dates to keep them occupied, boredom is an ever-present danger. In the interest of maintaining peace (and parental sanity), here are a few suggestions to keep the young ones occupied, with their spirits up and their brains firing.
Get in touch with nature:
Are you ready for a Z-Learning adventure? Try exploring Riverbanks Zoo and Garden from home. Join zoo staffers live on Facebook each weekday at 10 a.m. during the Z-Learning programs and meet some of Riverbanks’ favorite residents, including penguins, koalas, kangaroo, snakes and more. Visit www.riverbanks.org or search @riverbankszoo on Facebook to learn more.
If your family is all about that salt life, the South Carolina Aquarium has you covered, offering virtual visits and nature challenges through their award-winning education team. Explore our state’s complex habitats and meet the animals living in our waters.
Programs are guided by an educator trained in STEM-based learning. Virtual visits take place each weekday at 10 a.m. on Facebook, followed by Family Nature Challenges at 1 p.m. Visit www.scaquarium.org/virtualvisits or search @scaquarium to learn more.
While America’s most famous National Park may be closed, you can still explore the majesty of Yellowstone through virtual tours. Check out Mammoth Hot Springs, the Mud Volcano, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, or the Norris Geyser Basin from your living room by Googling “Yellowstone virtual tour” and prepare to get lost … only this time, no one will require rescue by a park ranger.
Do some crazy fun science together:
Who doesn’t love bubbles? Use some basic kitchen and household ingredients (like hydrogen peroxide, yeast, and dish soap) to create a wildly foamy concoction known as “elephant toothpaste.” It teaches kids about concepts like chemistry and surface tension, and when you’re done, the whole shebang can be washed down the drain. Google “elephant toothpaste” and follow the Science Buddies procedure found at Scientific American’s website.
Chart the surface of another world by visiting accessmars.withgoogle.com, where you can ramble across the real surface of Mars via 360-degree footage recorded by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
Computers and digital devices are part of everyday life for most kids, and an increasing number of them are learning how to create their own apps and programs. There are multiple programs online that teach basic coding to children for free (or for cheap), like code.org and khanacademy.org.
Get artsy and crafty
Children’s book author Mo Willems offers free art classes for kids on YouTube, and helps young artists learn to doodle famous characters while teaching sound basic drawing concepts. His “Lunch Doodles” series is a great place to start.
Kids have whiled away hours shaping people, animals, buildings and even monsters with that most malleable of toys – Play-Doh.
If you don’t have any handy, fear not, for there are multiple recipes online for homemade Play-Doh using such simple recipes as flour, water and salt. If you have more ingredients (oil, food coloring, etc.), you can really get creative and keep the dough fresher longer. Just search for “home-made Play- Doh” and get ready to unleash your inner sculptor.
Explore the world’s artistic treasures with a virtual tour of the Louvre Museum. Current tours include works by Rembrandt and Delacroix, Egyptian antiquities, and an walk-through of the Louvre’s ancient moat. Visit https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne to see more.
Getting down? Try some dance therapy
Nothing chases the blues away like dancing, and Texas-based DJ Mel has started hosting living room dance parties on Facebook. These “germ-free, non-stop dance mixes” encourage families to get off the couch and shake off those bad feelings together. Search @DJMel to join in.
Tons of kids’ dance party mixes are available on Spotify and YouTube, and now would be the perfect time to sharpen your own moves by learning some new steps. Throw in some streamers and party lighting (unpack those Christmas lights and make it colorful and fun!) and try playing a few rounds of Limbo or Freeze Dance. Those home-stuck doldrums won’t know what hit them.