Keeping Kids Busy During a Social Distancing Spring Break

For close to four weeks, families have been struggling to balance childcare, learning, work, emotional and physical concerns, and play. So, hooray for Spring Break! Kinda sorta. While most teachers and students are looking forward to a much-needed break to rest and rejuvenate before school learning picks up again, it’s daunting for families to find activities to fill the time without travel, parks, zoos, visiting friends and family, and other options that don’t include #socialdistancing. This is even more true for parents and caregivers who will be working, inside or outside of the home,  during the spring break.

When finding useful tasks for the kids, completing puzzles and playing board games, napping, reading, sewing masks, and watching movies and Ted Talks have been worn out, and if the weather isn’t conducive to gardening or making a fairy or troll house, what is there to do? A lot, actually!

We’ve collected some ideas to help pass the week and hopefully create chunks of time for productivity for those who need to work during the break. And they’re free! We’ll be adding to this list in the days to come, so feel free to make suggestions in comments.

Academic-ish

Math games for K-5 are easy and fun at SplashLearn.

IXL, which owns ABCYa!,  has scores of practice and games that include all core subject areas and range from K-12.

Spelling City has matching and flashcard games, wordsearches and scrambles.  and there are lots of free printables at Trend Enterprises.

National Geographic Kids is always a good bet for animals, the environment, and Weird But True facts, and now they’ve rolled out NatGeo@Home that includes activities and videos divided by time and age.

The BBC has some great videos about history on its History for Kids page. Older students will appreciate the other tabs under history, including the On This Day tab.

They’ll never know they’re working on critical thinking with these fun games from Breakout EDU. Warning: They are not always easy to figure out!

STEAM Challenge Cards from the James Dyson Foundation ask kids to use household items to create everything from furniture to periscopes to spaghetti wheels.

Learn to type! Okay, so Typing Dot Com may not sound like the most exciting option, but there are cute games divided by grade. There’s also NitroType which turns typing into a racecar competition. Playing is free, and registration is optional to start.

Create Art!

The Montclair Art Museum has a daily #sketchbookchallenge that takes inspiration from works at the museum. They are also encouraging participants to recreate works of art with what you have at home. Check it all out on Facebook or their Instagram page. For the little ones, there’s a simple BINGO board to find shapes and colors.

The Newark Museum has a new weekly calendar that includes storytimes, competitions, Ask an Expert, and games as well as art related projects. Sign up for the newsletter  and follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date.

The Cartooning Club adds new videos all the time and includes characters from Fortnite, Pokemon, superheroes, Star Wars, and more. The style is easy enough for all ages and the subjects are varied enough for a wide variety of interests. Yes, there’s even Baby Yoda.

The Kubert School is hosting free Saturday drawing classes through April with a different artist every week. See last Saturday’s class here and join in this week!

The Creativity Caravan creates dragon-fold books.

The Creativity Caravan has tutorials for Tiny Books online. For younger kids, the original Tiny Book is best. For older kids the Dragon Book Tutorial will be more of a challenge.

Lots of artists are posting How To videos. Jarrett Krosoczka, of Lunch Lady  has an especially fun series.

Kitchen Fun!

Letting the kids go wild in the kitchen is probably not an activity for parents who need to focus on work. This site has some activity worksheets centered on the kitchen and cooking, appropriate for younger children.

For families with older children in the mix, Chef It Up‘s free virtual lessons are a fun option – with delicious benefits!

As the weather gets warm, consider making Ice Cream in a Bag.

For more adventurous cooks, there are wonderful resources with accomplished chefs. Check out Chef Eva Kronenburg’s Filipino Hotcakes or Lebanese spinach pie. Chef Kwame Onwuachi, a James Beard winner, is putting recipes and techniques on his Instagram, providing the ingredient list the day before. And Chefs Lincoln Fuge and Lauren Brooks have a new YouTube channel called Chronicles of a Quarantined Chef that also has recipes using on-hand ingredients.

Let Someone Else Read To and For You!

For joy! LeVar Burton is doing what he does best and reading to us via Twitter. Readings are three times a week. Mondays at Noon for children, Wednesdays at 6 PM for Young Adult, and Fridays at 9 PM for Adults. The videos are saved in his timeline on Twitter.

The Labyrinth Company will be updating its Bedtime Stories page every 48 hours. Actress Martha Wollner starts it off with The Velveteen Rabbit.

Unlimited Read-Alouds! Audible has made its collection free as long as schools are closed. The categories are broken down by age and genre. Everything from Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter is included.

Grab Bag of Activities and Events!

Need more? The Montclair YMCA has wonderful activities for the younger set on their Facebook page.

This amazing list of games and activities was compiled by a Game Fairy named Nia and shared around the internet. The links are free, fun, and have options for just about any age. Checkers, anyone? How about backgammon? Thank you, Nia!

They can’t visit in person, but there are kid-friendly videos that visit theme parks and ride roller coasters.

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