STAY-AT-HOME ADVENTURE 2020
Okay, so you’re forced to stay at home with your kids for the next two (plus) weeks. Are you wondering if you’ll make it through without going crazy? Why not take advantage of this time to build deeper connections with your kids and make some memories? Do you remember the Italian movie “Life is Beautiful”? Despite the horrors of the German concentration camp, the main character, Guido, turned the whole experience into an adventure for his son. Granted, I’m not comparing our current situation to a Nazi prison camp, but I do like the idea of making the most of an opportunity.
Schools and churches have been cancelled, libraries are closed, and you probably don’t want to venture out to the local indoor “kiddie gym” that may or may not be an incubator for germs. So, WHAT in the world are you going to do during this stay-at-home crisis? Of course, there’s always Netflix and Disney Plus (hooray!) but I know you really don’t want your kids watching TV for months on end.
I have created a list of 12 fun activities for you to do with your children, to make these next few weeks feel more like a fun adventure. This is a great opportunity to establish deeper connections with your family and create some fun memories that will last a life time. (The Stay-At-Home Pandemic of 2020 will be right up there with the Blizzard of 95!)
(Be sure to keep reading… Number 12 is my favorite!)
1. READ, READ, READ!
I am a huge proponent of reading out loud to your kids. There are so many studies that have shown that reading to your kids is one of the biggest indicators of success in life. Read picture books, read chapter books, read comic books… just read! In addition to reading to your kids, have your kids read by themselves. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the age of your kids. If your kids are old enough to read independently, allow them to choose a chapter book or a graphic novel. For your little ones, allow them to fill a basket or box with their favorite picture books. Momma, you can sit down and read too! Model to your kids that reading is important to you as well.
(Did you know you can download kids books to your Kindle app with a free trial of “Kindle Free Time?” This might be a good month to try it out! And after the free trial, it’s only $2.99 a month).
2. CREATE AN OBSTACLE COURSE.
Set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Make it as simple or complex as you want! Maybe something like: run around the house 2 times; Jump 5 times on the trampoline; Swing 5 times on the swing set; run to the front of the house and jump rope 10 times; run to the back of the house and do 10 jumping jacks; climb up the ladder, slide down the slide… etc.
3. HAVE A TREASURE HUNT.
Create a set of 10 clues on small pieces of paper… they could be written out for older kids, or just pictures for younger kids. Each paper should describe (or picture) an object or location in your house or yard. Hide each clue in sequence. For example:
- Clue #1 – Don’t hide; save for the starter (picture of swingset).
- Clue #2 – Hide at swingset (picture of mailbox).
- Clue #3 – Hide at mailbox (picture of shed).
- Clue #4 – Hide in shed (picture of garden)
Continue hiding clues in this manner until you get to clue the last clue. At this location, hide a surprise! Ice cream bars or popsicles in a small cooler; granola bars; small toys; etc.
4. GO FOR A HIKE or RIDE A BIKE
In my area, (Lancaster, PA) there are lots of outdoor walking and trails nearby. We have several favorites trails for walking, including Landis Woods and the Farmingdale Trail. For bike riding, our favorites are the Marietta River Trail and the Enola Low Grade Trail. This is one example where you don’t have to stay at home! Outdoor adventures feel fairly safe to me… minimal social contact, and minimal exposure to civilization… Just you, the kids, and a couple of spiders.
5. CAMPOUT IN YOUR YARD (or Living Room!)
Have a campout in your backyard, or even in your living room! Set up a tent, roll out the sleeping bags on the living room floor, roast marshmallows over a campfire, tell ghost stories and sing campfire songs. If you don’t have access to a campfire, you can make S’Mores in your oven! (I’ve done it and they’re delicious!).
6. PLAY BOARD GAMES
Bring out the board games and have a family game night or afternoon. If you have to stay at home for at least two weeks… make it a goal to play at least one game per day! Some of our favorites right now are: Uno Attack, Catan Junior, Labyrinth, Forbidden Island, Loonacy, Elementos, Monopoly, Sequence, and Phase 10. (And hey, Amazon still delivers! This might be a great time to try out something new!)
7. MAKE CRAFTS
Does the mention of “craft time” strike fear and anxiety into your soul? Craft time doesn’t have to be a stressful, Pinterest-worthy event. Just pull out whatever supplies you have (glue, scissors, paper, craft sticks, cotton balls, beads, stickers, etc.) Put them in the middle of the table and let the kids create whatever they want!
(Hey, did you know that Mo Willems is offering free “Lunch Doodles With Mo” video tutorials every day? Grab those doodle pads and pencils and have fun drawing Piggy and Pigeon!)
8. WRITE A BOOK
Take several sheets of computer paper or construction paper, fold them in half and staple them together along the fold. Allow each kid to write and illustrate their own story, using their imaginations. If kids are having trouble coming up with a story on their own, you could retell a fairy tale and allow them to recreate the same story in their books. Graphic novels are also a fun way to create a book – simply draw a sequence of squares on a page and let your child draw and narrate their own graphic novel.
9. DIG A HOLE
Let your kids play outside in the back yard! I once heard a saying that there is no such thing as “bad weather,” only inappropriate clothing. If it’s a rainy day, get out those umbrellas and rain boots and let your kids splash in some puddles. My boys’ favorite activity lately has been DIGGING A HOLE in the backyard. Yeppers. They have dug a pit, about two-feet square by two-feet deep. They’ve drawn up the blue-prints for an underground bunker, complete with electricity and a flushing toilet. Who knows, it may just come in handy one day soon!! 🙂
10. FILM A MOVIE
Get out the dress-up box and let your kids put on a show! Have them work together to create scenes, write a script, pick out costumes, and record the final product. Someone could be in charge of set design, lighting and film editing. (There are a lot of kid-friendly apps you can install on your phone or ipad that allow kids to add intros, credits, and special effects to their videos). Pop some popcorn and enjoy the production!
11. RESEARCH A NEW TOPIC.
Allow your kids to suggest topics they’ve always been interested in learning about. (Apollo XI? Dinosaurs? The American Revolution? The Rain Forest?) Take a vote as a family, then have everyone work together do some research. Look up YouTube videos, print out internet articles, find books on your bookshelf, and download free books on Kindle! If your kids are older, you could assign sub-topics and have them each write or draw a report on their findings. Our family has decided to learn about “Outer Space” and “Volcanos” over the next few weeks. Feel free to ask us how it’s going!
12. CREATE A RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE
Rube (Reuben) Goldberg was a 20th Century American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He is best known for creating crazy contraptions that perform a very simple task in a very complex way. Do you have Legos? Dominos? Duplos? Tinker toys? Train sets? Marbles? Blocks? Craft sticks? Cups? Funnels? String? First, look up “Rube Goldberg ideas” on YouTube for some inspiration. Watch a few videos together with your kids. Then set them loose and see what sorts of crazy contraptions they come up with!
This list is JUST the beginning! I didn’t have time to mention jigsaw puzzles, scavenger hunts, science projects, baking, cleaning… the list goes on! The point is, try to make this “stay-at-home disaster” a “stay-at-home adventure.” Have FUN with your kids. Laugh with them, smile a lot, and when you’re 7 year-old-son asks if he can catch a rabbit in the backyard and cook it for dinner tonight, you say: “ABSOLUTELY!”
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