Well we've never faced this before right? I mean we've been without power for a week or two (which by the way, we thought was the worst right?), but it is a different kind of discomfort knowing you can't go anywhere. If your kids look like Carter here, falling out from boredom, and you are racking your brain to entertain the kids and everything you come up with involves going somewhere, meeting other people, involving non-quarantine like behavior, then you have come to the right place! Before pulling your hair out b/c the kids are bored and driving you crazy, check this out! We decided to come up with some things that we've either tried or googled or heard people talking about to entertain your kids and hopefully inspire you to get your creative thought processes rolling and get the kids outside!
1 . Backyard Scavenger Hunt
A backyard scavenger hunt or treasure hunt can keep kids entertained outside for a bit and includes a little exercise, fresh air, and you can even sneak in a little learning! For our scavenger hunt on the farm, I walked around and surveyed my surroundings and thought about the fruit we wanted to incorporate and then came up with riddles for people to solve to find the next clue. One idea is to have the answers to the riddles/clues be items that can be gathered and then brought back to you, give the kids a basket or bag to collect them in.
If you want to go a little further, hide codes at the answers destination that they have to write down, with codes being turned in at the end for checking. This enables you to use large items as clue answers like trees or your mailbox, front door, chairs, etc. And of course, it helps the fun of the hunt to have a little competition or prize waiting at the end! Examples of the two different types of hunts would be a riddle where the answer is a pine cone, so they have to find a pine cone to add to their basket, and then maybe a rock or leaf and small items in your yard that they have to run around and gather. (Google is a great tool for this! You can google riddle with answer rock, or test question with answer rock, or facts about rocks, or just come up with your own as you know what your child’s capabilities and knowledge are!)
For the code hunt, be sure to make yourself an answer key!! An example of creating a hunt where the collect secret codes (for older kids), the riddle answers can be larger items b/c they are going to go to that specific item to find the code. We stick to 4-digit codes on the farm. Look at your backyard and see what you have to use. Write a code under the slide on the swing set (then figure out a riddle or clue that would result in them checking out the slide to find the code) For instance for a slide you could say, My back has rungs my front is flat, hold out your feet or your rear end will go splat (I like to make them rhyme 😊) Or something as simple as Climb up and sit and gravity will pull you down; or I’m found on playgrounds, water parks, and your own backyard. Once you get started it’s easy to come up with hints and clues, and like I said you can always refer to google for a little help! You can make them easy or educational…or both! For educational purposes examples would be at the slide, having a little fact about gravity attached to it or if you used a tree as a code hider, put a fact about that specific tree or how trees release oxygen and clean our air. There are so many different ways that you make this both fun and educational for your kids and if you hype it up as a treasure hunt or anything that adds a little mystery to it, your kids are sure to want to participate! And if you really want to go all out, you can buy printer paper that looks like a treasure map!
A third type of scavenger hunt would involve a puzzle! You can either cut up a picture, one of the kids coloring pages, or create your own. Cut in puzzle like shapes and at each of the riddle answer locations, hide a piece of the puzzle. The kids have to collect all of the pieces and put the puzzle together for the prize!
2. Pine Cone Crafts
If you live in South Georgia, chances are you have access to pine cones! My sister and I grew up in a yard full of pine trees and picking up pine cones were a punishment for arguing or talking back. But, they don't always have to be a punishment or a headache. We scoured the internet and found some pretty cute craft projects you can use them for! All you need are pine cones and a few arts & crafts supplies and check out the link below for resources to turn this into a learning experience!
If you haven’t yet checked out Geocaching, then now is the perfect opportunity! Geocaching is like treasure hunting with GPS. This can be fun for the whole family. Download the app to your smart phone & check out this link https://www.geocaching.com/guide/ for info on getting started. After you’ve found a few geocaches, you may want to start hiding some yourself! This can be a great outdoor activity for the family that doesn’t take you to crowded places or involve other people so it can be done and still meet the requirements of a quarantine! Just remember to bring hand sanitizer and sanitize after each geocache is found to be on the safe side!
4. "Build" a Broadway Theater!
It was 1980 something and my sister and I found inspiration somewhere to make up a play and then use ourselves and our dolls to put on a show. We got our parents to hang beach towels on the porch of our playhouse to create curtains for our stage. You may not have a playhouse, but think of somewhere inside or out that you can hang a sheet or something for curtains & voila, instant Broadway production! You can string sheets between trees, use shower rod in the corners of your fence, just look around and I know you can find somewhere to create an imagination theater for your kids! We spent at least a day, if not more working on our set, our props, seating arrangements, we even served koolaid and cookies to our audience. We made up our own story, it had something to do with pound puppies, and acted it out ourselves. This is a great way to keep kids entertained for a while and make them tap into their creativity. Just be prepared to lend a hand for things that need a hammer and nails and to be part of the audience. And remember to record it for posterity!
5. Nature Walks
Chances are you live in relatively close proximity to somewhere that allows nature walks and don’t even know it! Whether it’s the woods in your own backyard (bring bug spray!) or a state park, a nature walk can be healthy, educational, and entertaining! Many National and State lands are still open during the quarantine in a limited capacity, meaning you can still visit, but museums, gift shops, info centers, etc are probably closed. Just a few miles down the road from our farm is Paradise Public Fishing Area. There are nature trails, geocaching, fishing, and tons and tons of gorgeous scenery! (When entering places that are maintained by the DNR, you are required to have fishing license or land pass) For Paradise specifically, you can find out and purchase what you need here: https://georgiawildlife.com/paradise-pfa. Wherever you decide to go, we’ve found some resources you may want to check out about identifying wildlife and plants to make your visit educational!
6. Flowers & Bees
Do some yard work! Just kidding, except hey, you do have free labor! For an educational afternoon, take the kids out to plant sunflower seeds in your backyard. Use this opportunity to talk to them about seeds, the importance of soil, water, sunlight, and bees! This is an activity that you can continue to enjoy as the kids take care of the flowers, watch them grow, and finally enjoy the blooms in a couple of months! If you don’t know a lot about bees, we’ve attached some links below with educational information and think that adults & kids will enjoy learning about these incredible creatures. Did you know they all have their own specific job that they are trained for? Security, Honey Makers, Nectar Gatherers, it’s amazing what all goes into the survival of a bee hive.
7. Accomplishment Bingo
Our favorite version of this was created by a website called teacherspayteachers and involves reading. As a child I would’ve spent most of a quarantine reading The Babysitters’ Club, Nancy Drew, or Sweet Valley High books! To encourage your kids to read, check out the bingo sheet at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Break-Reading-BINGO-1165151 You can download a copy of their bingo sheets and post for your kids to accomplish reading goals. There are different grade levels so the tasks can go from read under a table, to read a Dr Seuss book, to read something non-fiction, depending on your child’s grade level. You can also make your own bingo sheets with other accomplishments such as exercise (10 pushups, 10 jumping jacks, run around the house 5 times, lol anything you can come up with!), Chore Bingo could be making bed, cleaning up the table, picking up pinecones or in the hopes of getting them out in the backyard for a while, add a nature bingo to encourage them to go out and explore, Spot a butterfly, Squirrel, different bugs, bunny rabbit, different colored flowers, etc. Have a little prize for them if they get a row across, up or down, and maybe a grand prize if they accomplish all the boxes!
8. Bring out the games and get creative!
We don’t seem to have the time now for good old board or card games like we used to. Everyone is too plugged in, literally, to their phones, ipads, and video games. Get the board games out of the closet and spend some quality family time teaching your kids how to play board and card games you grew up playing! You can get creative and outdoors with this as well, Make Giant Yahtzee Dice with cardboard boxes, use sidewalk chalk for tic tac toe, or if you have an old end table or a cardboard box, draw off lines for tic tac toe and let the kids search for flat rocks that could be used as game pieces and paint x’s & o’s on them. You can also make up your own games, for example, go big with cardboard boxes or small with rocks, or anything you can throw or toss, or flip around. Paint or draw letters on each side of the items, create as many of these as you like and toss them to see what letters you get. (The idea would be for them to resemble dice but with letters on them instead of dots.) Then the kids have to make as many words as they can out of the letters they are given. With a little forethought, you can make up new games that incorporate learning or create giant versions of some of your favorite games from your childhood! I borrowed this pic from the run wild my child blog.
9. Homemade word games
Teach your kids the difference between similar words. Some mixups are annoying to us English majors out in the world, such as lose/loose, their/they’re/there, your/you’re, want/won’t, and some are confusing and have to be googled before you type them: effect/affect, accept/except, allusion/illusion. When my brother was in school, he was having hard time with there/their/they’re and we made it kind of a game. I explained the basics using the sentence: They’re going over there to turn their homework in. After explaining that They’re is they are and there is a place and their is possessive, we would go over and over it. All summer long I would randomly say a sentence using some version of their/they’re/there and have him tell me which one it was and it stuck with him forever! Coming up with little ways to remember things always helped me study and you can do this for your kids as well. Make flash cards, randomly use a sentence example and quiz them which version of the word you used. This isn’t necessarily going to entertain them but it will take stress off of some of us English Majors reading their posts on facebook!
10. Homemade Play Kitchen
Get creative with all those boxes from amazon that are coming in! Pictured here are a fridge and microwave I made using boxes and a box cutter. I made a stove too but can’t find a picture of it! For the fridge I taped 3 boxes together that were the same size. I cut one side of the boxes open for the door and used decorative duct tape to seal up the cuts and make it cuter. The handles on the fridge are pieces of a velvet hanger that I cut the ends off of. I cut slots to slide the ends through and then duct taped them off to hold them in place and protect the kids’ hands. For the microwave I googled microwave buttons, downloaded a picture, printed it and taped it to the front. The knob on the microwave is a plastic coke bottle top wrapped in black duct tape. These aren’t the prettiest things you’ve ever seen but the kids loved them and we’ve had them for 6 years without anything falling off! The oven was a larger box and for the stove eyes, I took small plates, wrapped them tight in tin foil, drew coils on them with a magic marker. For the knobs on the front I printed dial pictures and taped them on top of large medicine caps and then screwed them through the box and wrapped duct tape on the back to hold them in place and protect little hands from the screws.
11. Teach the dog new tricks!
Your dog is so excited that you’re home with him, but you may be giving him as little attention as he would get if you were at work and not even realize it! Get the kids out in the yard and play with the dog. Take him for an extra walk or try to teach him tricks! Studies say that dogs love to learn and please their master (most dogs anyway). Check out you tube for training tutorials on harder tricks. Pretty simple ones would be sit, turn around, or shake. Teaching your dog tricks not only makes your furry friend happy but it also keeps the kids away from the phones and video games a little bit longer!
12. Outdoor Twister
Another fun game to get the kids out in this pretty spring weather is homemade twister! Watch this tutorial on you tube on creating your own DIY outdoor twister. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT4QiFkxmpU Let the kids help with making it and setting it up and by the time you're ready to play, half the day will be gone! (Parents do all of the exacto knife work!!)
14. Teach them to do something meaningful
This one is inspired by a text I just got from my sister. My nephew drew this as a thank you to our health care workers at the hospital in Tifton. Someone in our community is coordinating a project to cheer up the inboxes of medical staff at the hospital. They are the front lines in the Covid-19 Pandemic, and don’t have the option of quarantine. This is just such a great idea that I wanted to share it on this post b/c this could go for health care professionals, police officers, firemen, EMT’s, Paramedics. They are spreading the word to have your children draw a picture or write a thank you note to those who are our frontlines. Then you snap a picture and email it to an email address of a person in charge who will disperse the cheerful messages onto hospital staff where they can print it out and cheer up their office. If you don’t live in our community, get with someone at the hospital or police station or wherever you want to support and start your own cheery chain of kids’ artwork! I think this would also be a great idea for nursing homes as well!
15. Cooking Lessons
Our last suggestion of this post is to teach them to cook or bake. This can be educational and yummy! Teach them about measurements, about how the different ingredients mix together perfectly to make the yummy outcome! A little togetherness with a cookie at the end is always a good thing!