Keeping Kids Happy, Healthy, and Occupied During Quarantine

I have two boys, ages nine and six. My husband is a healthcare worker (read: fortunate to have a job, but not able to help homeschool the kids). I work full time, often from my home office. In other words, when I’m working, I need my kids to be engaged, safe (as in, not harming each other or themselves), and not overly reliant on brainless activities involving screens. Here is a list of activities and resources that are helping us make it through this quarantine. I hope they help you, too!

  1. Art for Kids Hub on YouTube Kids:

This guys is awesome! The lessons are easy to follow, and he draws at an easy pace side-by-side with a child (split screen) so that your child can see the value in a picture that doesn’t look identical to the instructor’s. Bonus: these drawings make fun mailbox gifts for grandparents and friends whom we all miss right now.

2. Slip ‘n’ slide + Sprinkler + water guns + popsicles. This is a good energy burn activity once the homeschool work is done and once a parent has a break in their work and can supervise for a bit. If you have an only child, you might have to get in on the action- watch out!

3. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is now Offering Free, Online Courses for Kids Pre-K Through 6th Grade:

My Kindergartener just started the Tide Pool class today, and needed almost no involvement from me. The classes are self-paced, interesting, and the Tide Pool class teaches kids how to create their own mini-Tide Pool at home and explain to family members how to it works. This is a great way to keep kids engaged and supplement homeschooling, if needed.

4. Head to a creek and find wildlife there! Now that the parks are closed, we are hard-pressed to find ways to get the kids’ energy out at the end of the day. If you are fortunate enough to have a creek, forest, or other wild area accessible to you, there is no better time to explore it!

5. Great Big Story YouTube Kids Channel: https:

This channel is a huge hit at our house, especially with my nine-year-old! The true, short stories on this channel span the globe and are always engaging and inspiring. The channel also has some of the most challenging riddles I’ve ever come across, with warnings on when to pause to work out the puzzle before the answer is revealed. Stories from this youtube channel have sparked some wonderful conversations with our sometimes-reticent nine-year-old. I especially recommend this resource for gifted kids.

6. Indoor / Outdoor Scavenger hunt: I like activities that keep my kids active and engaged, that don’t require a ton of effort from me (I have work to do, and I would rather spend my free time with my kids than planning activities for them). Here are some templates for scavenger hunts that have kept my kids busy:

At Home Treasure Hunt with 10 Clues

7. COVID-19 Time Capsule:

My kids will be starting this one tomorrow. I keep telling them that they are living in an historic time and may now be able to remember the details of their current lives clearly when their children and grandchildren ask about this. This printable Time Capsule presents an opportunity for kids to color, journal, reflect, process difficult feelings, and talk with family members about this experience. Of course, look over it carefully ahead of time, as each kid and each family is handling the current situation and its limitations differently. Overall, I think that this time capsule focuses on positives and will not induce undue fear or anxiety in most kids. I look forward to working through it with my own kids and I’m curious to see what conversations this activity will spark.

8. The Library of Congress + Dav Pilkey (creator of Dog Man, captain Underpants, etc.)

My kids love the Captain Underpants books, and anything else by Dav Pilkey. The Library of Congress is now regularly uploading videos of Dav reading from his books, teaching fans how to draw the characters, and more.

9. A Kids’ Guide to Coronavirus – from The Daily

The Daily, a podcast from The New York Times, answers questions from kids about Covid-19

Whether you are a fan of The Daily (like me) or not, this episode knocked it out of the park. I would, however, recommend listening with your kids – not because the content is disturbing in any way, but because you may want to be available to answer questions afterward. I thought my kids had a solid understanding of COVID-19, from information they had received both at school and at home, but this podcast episode broke down the elements of kids’ questions to such a basic level (e.g., “what is a virus?”) that my kids finally felt like they “got” it. Worth the 30 minutes.

What else are the kids doing? Making multi-room tent forts. Playing Pokemon. Watching TV, playing Mariokart. Playing four-square in the driveway with only two of them. Making up strange games. Making arcade games out of cardboard boxes. Only occasionally harming each other. And at the end of the day, we go for a long walk / bike ride with our dog, and wave at the neighbors from a safe distance.