› Top TEN Things to To Do While You’re (STILL) Stuck At Home
Top TEN Things to To Do While You’re (STILL) Stuck At Home
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - April 18th, 2020
Many are asking Joanne of our Surviving Sudden Homeschool series what she is doing with her kids to stay ENGAGED and ENTERTAINED. So here is her TOP TEN LIST just for you! Join Joanne and Karen Monday nights for 2Moms@Home. Sign up here: 2Moms@Home.
Tales from #CampCorona: A Top 10 List
It’s been 5 weeks since we last sent our children on an enchanted bus to the mystical land of learning. A place of morning meetings, math strategies, snap words, and four square games. A place where teachers rule the days and where parents are invited in for the occasional Family Friday and spring concert. Brief glimpses of the magic behind the curtains. I’m almost teary thinking about it. Oh how I miss those knowing nods of shared misery exchanged with teachers in the halls as I would walk out of the school after an event. Out of the school and into the sunshine, to walk to work in an office with other people, all the while knowing that my children were enjoying their days with facts, fractions, and friends.
But here we are, inside my house, at my dining room table, and now it’s been 5 weeks of Zoom, Google classroom, chat rooms, and private messages. It’s been 5 weeks of math lessons, social studies readings, and opinion pieces. Anxiety, preparations, revisions, stress. You don’t think this “old lady hair” growing in so quickly is a result of me relaxing too much do you? No, it came from toiling over “tape diagrams”, “distributive property”, and “inverse property”! I’m no Pythagoras over here, but I really did think I had a firm grasp on 2nd grade math until now. Based on the numerous memes out there, I know I’m not alone when I say how shocked I am at how much math has changed in the past 20 years!
During our weekly 2moms@home conversations, I am routinely asked about what we’re doing to keep ourselves entertained/engaged over here at Camp Corona. Obviously not everything we do has been a bonafide blockbuster hit, but even attempting something once manages to kill some time! It seems we’re going to be trapped in here for a while yet, so we’re all about having some fun while we kill that time.
1. The Great Indoors.
After a long week of homeschooling we decided to take the kids “camping”. We built a “tent” and rented a new release (THANK YOU “TROLLS WORLD TOUR”!), made s’mores and had a good old fashioned campout, er… in. No camping trip would be complete without my youngest abandoning her perfectly comfortable cushioned sleeping spot, where all of her favorite stuffies and blankets were happy to keep her company, for my bed around midnight. I spent the rest of our family “trip” with icy toes pressed deep into my back, but hey, it’s all for the kids right?
2. A Scavenger Hunt.
This was more work for me, and I realized, at about the one hour mark, that I may have bitten off more that I could chew. It turns out that there are TONS of free printable resources for an indoor scavenger hunt out there on the internet. Nonetheless, I pushed on and completed my own checklist of huntable items only to hear from my daughter that “art may not be my thing.” Art might not be, but the sounds of their laughter is most definitely “my thing”. Totally worth it.
3. Baking Lessons.
We’ve always been bakers in this house. I was raised as a baker so I have been raising bakers. We love a new recipe but with so many pantry ingredients running short and virtually impossible to locate on the grocery shelves, we are being very picky about what we will make. My oldest made his very first – COMPLETELY on his own – banana bread! I’m not ashamed to admit that it was the best loaf we have ever had in this house! I feel like every family has its tried and true banana bread recipe, but if you have a young chef who wants to use up those quickly browning bananas, give America’s Test Kitchen for Young Chefs a try!
We also enjoy taking virtual classes with so many of our favorite bakers on Instagram Live! If you don’t follow The Milk Bar’s @christinatosi on Instagram, you have been missing out on her baking club and creative uses for so many pantry staples. We’re also big fans of @thebakefeed, the team from Bake From Scratch. Their small batch Easter treats were useful and practical as we were wanting a treat but wouldn’t have been able to finish a 13×9 pan of Carrot Cake Cheesecake Squares! And of course we are long time supporters of @kingarthurflour. We are not only loyal to their products but have been LOVING their Instagram.
4. Game Breaks.
Remember the days when you had to schedule in “Family Game Nights”? We now build in daily “game breaks”. Our board games are so happy to be pulled out of the corners of closets and on to the kitchen table or the living room floor. One of the greatest things about family game time is that there are so many things your child benefits from! Obviously, board games are lots of fun! But they also learn patience, how to think critically and creatively, and to focus and build their brains by encouraging them to strategize! Game-playing is a great way to bond together too. Nothing builds a bond as quickly as the classic “parents vs kids” competition. We find that we get really obsessed with a few specific games each week. This week we’re all about Labyrinth, Rock Me Archimedes, and RummyKub.
By now we are all aware of the benefits of reading to and with your children. There is so much to be gained by reading for yourself too! Reading is a great stress reducer, imagination stimulator, and vocabulary expander for ALL ages. I see how and where my kids read and I can recall how I used to drive my mother crazy by dragging whatever book had my attention from my bed to the breakfast table and to the car. I can clearly remember back to first grade when there was a “Read Across the Country” contest. You gained “distance” for the books you read, and your parents were supposed to sign off on how many books you completed. I wonder if Mrs. D’Angelo ever questioned how quickly I made it across the country. I won a copy of “Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” which I still treasure to this day. If your home library has been exhausted, don’t forget to check out sites offering free access to their online libraries. Testingmom.com also includes access to TumbleBook Library and Scholastic’s Book Flix in the Skill Building Academy.
I am so grateful for the many FREE online resources that are now available to encourage reading but also allow me a few solid minutes of work! Every day you can have your little one attend story time with TestingMom.com, where someone will read and share a wonderful children’s book with your child. This house is full of Robert Munsch fans. His “Love You Forever” is a classic but only one of his MANY hilarious children’s stories. You can listen to him read many of his tales on his site. A serious Camp Corona favorite is “Mortimer!”
6. Learn/Practice an Instrument.
I have had a gorgeous guitar sitting in my living room for my children’s entire lives. Not once have I pulled it out in our many family sing-a-longs. Not once have I strummed it, plucked it, or even tuned it. It has sat there mocking me from inside its pristine case because it knows that I can’t play it. I have always wanted to learn, and I did take a few lessons many years ago, but it was extremely challenging, and time was short. So into the corner it went and it has sat there silent and sad ever since. My daughter started making moves to use this precious gift a few months ago, so at Christmas she was given a smaller, less expensive guitar to allow her small hands (and temper) the chance to learn on that one first. Lessons were going to be a birthday gift for her this spring when more time would have opened up as hockey season and swimming lessons finished. Obviously, time is what I have a lot of now and thanks to the modern world of Skype and Zoom, she is able to receive lessons from her talented Uncle many miles away. She has quickly surpassed my abilities and I am both proud and envious. However, I also realized that there wasn’t anything preventing me from also taking a few lessons alongside her. Between that, the trumpet I am trying to teach my son, and the ever-present recorder, we must be driving our neighbors crazy. No one has complained yet, but I have heard that NYC noise complaints are up over 20% from this time last year. If you, like me, have an instrument gathering dust, why not brush it off and give it another try!
7. Take A Virtual Vacation.
We love to travel. There are so many places we want to visit and cultures to experience. Long ago, someone said to me, “No one dies saying, I saw too much of the world.” That is a mantra I have repeated to myself many times over the years. Obviously, travel is one thing we are not currently doing, but we have been introduced to the world of virtual travel! This week alone we have been to Paris, gone on an African Safari, and hiked the Grand Canyon. We spent almost an hour riding roller coasters and another afternoon visiting museums. Is it “just like the real thing”? No, it’s not. But it has done two things: it has allowed us to see things we haven’t seen before, and it has opened up new possibilities for us to write on our bucket list.
8. Create a Family Newspaper.
This is one that we haven’t completed as of yet. My son is the editor in chief of our family paper and he has requested all assignments to be in by Sunday. His “staff” includes family members in three different countries, all with specific topics to cover. I was assigned “Recipes and the Kitchen.” He is working on the “funnies” himself. When the pieces are submitted, we’ll put the “paper” together and get them sent out to the extended family next week. I have loved watching him interact with our various family members, explaining his project and his hope to get everyone involved. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. If you have family you can’t be with right now, this is a wonderful opportunity to get their “take” on what’s happening.
9. Plant Something.
Even for those of us with very limited space, plants are a wonderful distraction. Kids love to plant bean seeds and marvel at how they grow. My own house plants are suddenly thriving with all the attention they have been receiving. I’m not sure if it’s the regular watering or the conversations they’re enjoying more, but they are thriving on my kitchen windowsill! We have our little seedlings that we’ll move to our small patch of ground outside in a few weeks. They aren’t all going to survive the move, but they’re currently looking amazing as they stretch towards the sunlight. If you have the means to plant seeds, it is a wonderful teaching moment. Science and economics all in one little seed.
10. Dance Parties and Workouts!
Whether you are turning on the radio, Spotify, or your favorite playlist, dancing is a FANTASTIC distraction. If you’re up for the family TikTok challenges or just wanting to get some wiggles out before the next math class, dance your hearts out. My kids use GoNoodle and JustDance as their go-to movement breaks. I know a mom who grants 10 bonus video game minutes to their child for every JustDance routine completed! If you are feeling really inspired, perhaps consider joining an online yoga class or a cardio workout! The online options are endless, with many offering free trials.
However you and your family choose to spend your time in your own Camp Corona, I hope you are finding time to connect with your family (near and far). That has been my primary goal throughout these past 5 weeks, and will continue to be my guide as we keep navigating these dragon-infested waters.