School Closure? What to Do With Kids During a Coronavirus Shutdown

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Schools are shutting down in Australia as a result of coronavirus. However, as any parent knows, keeping kids from getting bored at home can be an ordeal especially if you’re a parent working from home. Here is a massive list of fun kids activities to keep them occupied in the event of a coronavirus school shutdown. It’s especially useful for preschoolers and kids in primary school who might not have much schoolwork assigned during a shutdown.

If you’re concerned about coronavirus, go to reputable websites and read accurate information about coronavirus. There are many coronavirus myths out there. Find out the truth. Here’s information about the COVID-19 from the Australian Government Department of Health, World Health Organisation, US Centre for Disease Control and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The Australian Government has set up a Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080). Call this line if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Read books

Stock up on physical kids books or sign up at your local library and download kids ebooks that can be read on computers, tablets and phones. You can also purchase ebooks through Amazon. Hint, get kids hooked on a book series. If they read one, they’ll be more likely to want to read more. Here’s a list of our favourite kids book series.

Play a board game

Need to keep your kids from getting bored? Spend a couple hours playing board games.  If your kids are preschoolers or in their teens, there’s sure to be a board game to suit them. There’s family classics like Monopoly, Scrabble and Settlers of Catan as well as more hands-on games like Operation, Jenga and Twister. Here’s our pick for best family board games.

Play video games

Let your kids enjoy their Coronavirus Holiday and indulge in some video games. If you have video systems at home like Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch, you’re set. If your kids want to expand their video game collections, you can download a wide range of games on the AppStore and Google Play for iPhones,  iPads and Android devices.

Stay up to date on schoolwork

If you’re concerned about the kids falling behind academically while they’re off school, here are some ideas. Get them to bring their homework books home and work on them over the break or if they conveniently forget, you can find plenty of online resources. Get them to do lessons through online websites like the free Khan Academy. It has a number of online lessons covering a range of subjects like math, chemistry, physics, biology and world history. Once they finish a lesson, they can do practice assignments. There’s also plenty of other educational websites suitable for kids like Brainpop!, ABC Kids, PBS Kids, NASA Kids which provide valuable learning.

Learn at Home with Scholastic

Responding to worldwide school shutdowns, Scholastic has created the Learn at Home website. This free resource provides kids with 20 days of exciting articles, stories, videos and fun learning challenges. Children can complete them anytime, in any order on their own or with a parent or caregiver. The lessons are available on any device and will provide your child with up to three hours’ worth of exciting learning experiences per day. They can go on virtual field trips, meet best-selling authors or dip deep into a topic they love.

Do science experiments

Have some fun and learn! There are so many science experiments you can do at home using things that you have lying aorund like rulers, pencils, strings and more. Check out Cool Science Experiments Headquarters website for some great video tutorials.

Solve a jigsaw puzzle

Keep some jigsaw puzzles around. They’re great to play with for a bit and then come back to when boredom sets in. Choose simple puzzles (under 50 pieces) for young kids under 5. Older kids can handle jigsaw puzzles with more pieces like the 120, 250 and 500 piece sets.

Play cards

Don’t forget about the humble pack of playing cards. There’s so much you can do with them. From playing card games like snap, rummy to building elaborate structures.

Write something

Write with your kids. Here are some writing prompts from ThinkWritten to get kids and yourself thinking and then writing. There are some really interesting prompts. Use them as short story or poetry writing prompts or just to tap into your kids creativity.

Get crafty

Doing craft is a great activity for kids of all ages. We have a standard craft kit full of coloured paper, textas, crayons, stickers, feathers, pom poms and glue that can be pulled out for some fun. If you don’t have lots of craft supplies, just hunt around your house. Paper towel rolls, old newspapers and magazines, aluminium foil, pens, pencils can all be used to create artistic works.

Jump on to GoNoodle

A favourite with kids, Go Noodle has loads of movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Your kids have probably played it at school as they partner with teachers to fuel classrooms with videos. Check out the GoNoodle app for iOS. Sorry, no Android version yet.

Cardboard box fun

Got some empty boxes. Give them to your kids to have fun. They can colour them, jump in them, use them to build cubby houses and more. The bigger the better. Fridge boxes are especially fun.

Make & play with playdough and slime.

Let the kids get messy and create with playdough and slime. This tactile activity gets kids creating and designing. Just put down old newspaper if you’re concerned about the mess. It’s super easy to make homemade playdough and slime.

Build with LEGO

Spend some hours playing LEGO. If you need some inspiration or projects, google “LEGO challenges”. You’ll find tons of projects that your kids can work on. If you want specific STEM projects, check out the Educating Young Engineers website. It contains lots of fun engineering and design projects.

Colour it in

Stock up on colouring books, crayons and pencils for the whole family and enjoy a family colouring session. There’s fantastic mindfulness colouring books just for parents to keep you sane during a long period home with kids.

Sign up to movie streaming services

Unlike the old days that you could quickly run out of DVDs to watch, streaming services provide your family hours and hours of entertainment. There’s plenty of streaming services to choose from. The Disney+ streaming platform includes films and television series produced by The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television, along with offerings from Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar, and Star Wars brands. Disney+ has just brought forward the release date of Frozen 2 due to coronavirus.

Netflix has a range of family content from cartoons for little ones to dramas and comedies that tweens and teens will like. If you’ve purchased an eligible iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Mac in the past few months, you can sign up for a free year of AppleTV. There’s not a lot on this platform yet but there’s Snoopy in Space, Helpsters and a reboot of the kids show Ghostwriter. There’s also Hulu, Stan and Amazon Prime Video which have a variety of kids movies and shows to watch.

Enjoy a movie marathon

With all this time at home, invest the hours into a movie marathon. You can watch the Toy Story movies, Shrek series, Harry Potter movies, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Wars movie franchise or enjoy a Disney Princess marathon. Just make lots of popcorn to enjoy with the movie!

Keep in touch with friends

If your kids are missing hanging out with their friends, let them hang out virtually. Set up Facetime or Skype sessions so kids can communicate with their friends. Skype and Google Hangouts lets them have group video chats if you want to add more than two to the conversation.

Cook with your kids

If you’re home with the kids, have some fun cooking. Bake cookies, cupcakes or get them involved in making dinner. They learn something and you get some help in the kitchen.

See what they are doing in space

Check out the NASA website and see earth from far away. You can also watch STEMonstrations. These are STEM demonstrations on the space station.

Have a dance party

Get the kids to create their own Spotify playlists and then get dancing. Choose different genres for a dance party like boy bands, K-pop or disco. Extra points if the whole family gets dancing.

Put on a fashion show

Get kids to channel their inner fashion diva. Let them raid your wardrobe and old jewellery and come up with different outfits.

Do a family yoga session together

Practice some yoga poses together and stretch and relax…. There are some great YouTube videos on kids yoga that you can enjoy together.  Story Hive Yoga for Kids has sessions that are 25 minutes long – perfect for kids who can’t sit still for long. Cosmic Kids Yoga have yoga, mindfulness and relaxation videos designed especially for kids aged 3 that involves a story.

Record your family history

Spending some time compiling and recording family history to provide family memories to my daughter and her cousins and their future descendants. Here is a guide which we put together to make a capsule you’ll love opening in the future.

Have a Teddy Bears Picnic

Get out all the stuffed animals and organise a teddy bears picnic for little ones. You can even use serve “tea” and cookies.

Learn origami

Grab some paper and teach kids the Japanese art of paper folding. There’s plenty of tutorials online to learn how to fold cranes, boxes and other cool things.

Learn a new language

Have your kids ever wanted to learn a new language. Sign up for free for Duolingo an learn one of 30+ languages including French, Spanish, Italian using their mobile app or webpage. Duolingo offers short bite-size lessons that make it fun for kids to learn.

Listen to family podcasts

There are some fantastic family podcasts that you can listen to at home. Here are some of our favourites: Wow in the World  guides curious kids and their grown-ups in stories in science, technology, and history. Short & Curly is an Australian podcast by the ABC which covers ethic to get kids really thinking. It asks curly questions about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future. Brains On! is a science podcast co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio. This Kid Life is a podcast by the Sydney Opera House, where they unpack big ideas by little thinkers to find out what kids think about science, resilience, diversity and accessibility. 

Play inside

If the weather outside isn’t that great, play indoor games. Kids can play hide and seek, go on treasure hunts, play charades or dress ups or make an indoor cubby house.

Play outside in the yard

If the kids are going a bit crazy inside the house, let them loose outside. As long as they’re not interacting with other people, it gives them an opportunity to do something different. Have some fun with yard games like quoits, corn hold, tether ball, frisbee toss or just kick a ball around.

Blow bubbles

It’s so much fun blowing bubbles. Either use bubble wands or make your own or use this CSIRO bubble mix recipe. Experiment with different bubble wands. You can make some cool shape bubbles using paperclips, wire and string.

Do some birdwatching

Get outside and watch some birds. There are always plenty around. Look them on the internet. Birdlife Australia has a great catalogue of birds. If you want to identify some bird calls, watch the YouTube video Aussie birds and their calls.

Chalk some pictures

Get the kids outside and let them draw pictures in chalk on the sidewalk, driveway and other concrete surfaces.

Waterfight fun

While it’s still warm, get them out and have a waterfight in the backyard using waterguns or water balloons.

Wash the car together

Your car probably needs a clean inside and out. Get your family involved and get them to help you. Your kids probably made lots of the mess! Vacuum the inside and then have fun washing the car. Just keep in mind about any water restrictions.

Go for a walk

If you can go for a walk in a secluded area like bushland, get out of the house. Just ensure that if you do meet people along the way, practice social distancing and stay at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from them.

Go camping at home

You might not be able to leave the home but that doesn’t mean that you can’t camp. Set up a tent inside and let them fall asleep in sleeping bags or if the weather is fine, set up a tent in the backyard. Kids will enjoy the experience of camping.

Fingers crossed, you won’t need this list. But if you do, make the best of a tough situation. Enjoy your time at home with a variety of fun activities for your family.

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