Cabin-fever-busting ideas for social distancing familiesAmidst social distancing there are loads of ideas and opportunities to increase connection and celebrate our memories and love for one another. The RapidStudio team has brainstormed and scoured the internet for the best ideas for keeping kids busy and engaged through this time.
Usually when we have family time we're expecting it, summer holidays, trips planned, activities scheduled, friends visiting.
It's normal for parents to feel nervous about this unplanned time for kids at home amidst school closures and social distancing recommendations to ‘flatten the curve’ of coronavirus.
Principles – Routine and Prioritising EducationFirstly, experts recommend acknowledging how stressful the situation is and that that stress is normal. Pause on that for a moment – acknowledge how you’re feeling, that it’s tough, you feel unprepared and uncertain… and when you’ve done that for long enough, let’s work together to make this easier by sharing ideas about how to connect and keep calm during these times.
1. Establish a routine: The schedule below first shared by mom Jessica McHale has gone viral. She crafted a colourful “COVID-19 Daily Schedule”
“I knew in order to keep my kids mentally engaged and happy for however many weeks we’re home, they’ll have to have something to look forward to,” McHale reported. “It reduces anxiety in kids that are anxious because they have that structure to look to.”
While it may be easy to draft a schedule, the hard part is actually sticking to it. That’s why McHale recommends printing the schedule out and keeping it posted around the house, so kids and teens can see it every day and make check marks next to their completed tasks.
2. Prioritise education: Any materials, links and tips shared by our childrens’ educators and schools should be prioritised. In the morning, while young minds are fresh, try and knock over some educational activities. Use the later activities on the schedule to incentivise completion of educational work.
And here’s our top selections for the best quarantine busting ideas for families!
- Make a Terrarium
- Equipment: Glass jar with lid, small animal figurines, plants, soil from around the garden
- Instructions: Ask your child to create a terrarium using things around the home and garden.
- Equipment: Box, dinner prep task (eg, wash potatoes etc), post-it note.
- Instructions: Containing the job in a box makes it seem more do-able to kids. They don’t get overwhelmed with the size of the task because they can see how easy it is! Pop the dinner prep ingredients and equipment in a box with a post-it note. A fun pre-activity could be to make a chef’s hat! Kids can wear it every time they’re helping out in the kitchen!
- If you have an old remote, Radio, VHS lying around not used anymore, allow your child to take it apart and explore what’s inside, wonder how it works. Could be an interesting conversation starter with parents and even lead on to a broader investigation for older kids who can google how it works. After they’ve finished, try turning it into something new – maybe a robot or an art sculpture?!
- Equipment: envelopes, paper, postage stamps, decoration items
- You may have to teach your children what snail mail is! Have a fun conversation about how you used this mode of communication before email and mobile phones. Get your child to brainstorm who they’d like to send a letter to – grandma/pa, relative overseas. This can be an exercise in practising and teaching your child about gratitude and empathy – who’s someone you appreciate in your life? Why? Have you ever told them what they mean to you before? How do you think it would make them feel? Maybe you’d like to encourage them to think about all the doctors and nurses who are working hard to help everyone who is sick during this time and write them a word of encouragement? Should we write a snail mail letter to someone we love/appreciate? Be sure to actually post them – that’s the best bit!
- Variation: Have your kids write notes and draw pictures, then take a walk and pop in letterboxes or carry tape and stick to gates in your neighbourhood.
- Equipment: Egg carton
- Instructions: Give your child an egg carton and a challenge – go outside and see if you can find 12 different leaves, flowers, etc. Egg cartons are brilliant for collecting – they contain the task and challenge little ones to see difference and collect a big number of different things. When you’re done, plants some seeds in the egg box and sit them on a windowsill at home and watch them grow!
- Equipment: nail polish, nail file, bath bomb or bubble bath, washcloth
- Instructions: Use the bath tub to let children “soak” feet and paint nails
- This is a great demonstration using water, pepper, soap and bowl to demonstrate the importance of washing your hands
- Equipment: Pepper, soap, water, bowl.
- Instructions: As per video clip
- If you still have their attention after this, get your child to help you wipe surfaces at home
- Equipment: spray bottle, wash cloths
- Instructions: help child fill bottle with water and allow them to spray and wipe down surfaces
- A great way to teach empathy!
- Ask children to brainstorm who they think might have a harder time than most during this crisis. Ask them if they think there’s anything our family could do to make it easier for someone. Based on their ideas about who might need help and what they can do, prepare care packages and drop them off. (Ensure to practise good hygiene when preparing – wash hands, and a mask or mouth cover while preparing mightn’t be a bad idea). If their idea is food related, here’s an easy recipe that can be made from pantry staples. Prepare the ingredients in zip lock bags, print off recipe card and drop off
- Equipment: Old clothing that can be destroyed, favourite song, mobile phone for video recording
- Instructions: Challenge kids to make a music video to a song they like. Think about costume, choreography. Make costumes, plan moves, practise, perform for family when ready. Be sure to record for the 21st birthday party!
- Equipment: Sheets, torch, movie, books, cushions, popcorn.
- Instructions: Allocate some space in your home for children to build their own fort where they can read or watch a movie.
- Equipment: old cereal boxes, food tins, coloured paper, cardboard, toilet roll inners, markers.
- Instructions: Wrap old boxes with colourful paper and decorate to look like different buildings. This activity can develop and grow over days if there’s space for it. Chalk on floor can help mark out territories, integrate other toys into the city.
- Equipment: Computer, internet, RapidStudio website online photobook creation, or offline – download photobook making software.
- Instructions: RapidStudio’s photobook making software is easy-to-use. Kids can have fun making their own creations. Here are some fun photobook ideas kids can try:
- Me as a baby
- Our awesome family holiday to _____________________: Since we can’t all be on a holiday at this time, second prize is to reminisce about amazing family times we’ve shared together.
- Fun times with Grandma/Grandpa: This one will keep kids happy AND put a smile on Grandma and Grandpa’s face who might really appreciate a keepsake if they’re in stricter isolation and not able to see their loved ones, or live far away from family.
- A collection of my art: Use scanner to digitise children’s artwork and display in a photobook.
- Quarantine diaries: This will be a time in history remembered for years to come. Having a record of how you spent these times might become a valuable keepsake. Also a great thing for learners to take to school when quarantine is over to share with teacher how they’ve been continuing their learning.
- Photobook about a school learning theme: A great way to consolidate learning is to get children to re-present what they have learned in a photobook. For example, say your child has been studying a unit on Dinosaurs at school, get them to create a photobook about Dinosaurs. Ask them to plan what should be in the book first, then fine tune this with them; a page about Carnivorous dinosaurs, Herbivorous dinosaurs, Dinosaurs that fly, dinosaurs that swim, my favourite dinosaur, how we know dinosaurs existed. Discuss layout – perhaps on a spread one page picture/s, one page information/facts. If sourcing pictures from the internet that might be low in resolution do a collage of smaller pics – don’t blow individual pictures up too much. This will be a great thing for learners to take to school when quarantine is over to share with teacher how they’ve been continuing their learning.
- Variation: For younger children create a canvas of their favourite artwork, or a picture of them with someone they love.
From the RapidStudio family to yours, we wish you calm, connection and good health during this time. Despite the seriousness, and threat of the situation, we hope you and your family remains safe and finds a silver lining in the opportunity to grow and spend time together.
If you’ve found this article useful for helping families cope better during this time, please feel free to spread the love and share. As a small business, RapidStudio appreciates your support during these times of uncertainty.