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COVID-19 is now a worldwide pandemic. In an effort to “flatten the curve”, many governmental bodies are taking the bold move to close businesses, schools and borders. If you’re like me with a young child, it can seem nothing short of losing your mind trying to cope. Managing working from home while schooling and entertaining kids daily can take its toll. Finding fun, creative activities to keep kids occupied during COVID-19 is crucial.
With no end of the outbreak on the horizon, my goal is to 1) stay sane and 2) keep my kid happy and occupied throughout the day as we ride this thing out.
I won’t call it homeschooling, but hubbie and I do want him to have some semblance of education during his break from school. All that with as little mindless screen time as possible. Zombified paralysis by TV, Netflix and YouTube Kids is not an option.
This is no small feat. In kindergarten, their entire days are programmed hour by hour, minute by minute. It would be impossible for us to replicate at home with the demands of full-time jobs. With the decision to close schools for at least 3 weeks here in Canada, I knew I needed a plan.
To prepare, I spent a few days envisioning and researching what would be fun and educational for a 4 (almost 5) year old. I shopped online and in-store for toys, games and activities to supplement toys he already had. My hope is for these activities to captivate his attention and distract him from the “draw of the screens”. All of these items can be purchased online for delivery or curb-side pickup.
10 Indoor Activities For Kids During the COVID-19 Outbreak
#1 Creatology Color-In Structure Submarine Kit
This submarine kit is amazing. Not only do kids get to build their own submarine; once assembled they can personalize it with brightly coloured paints or crayons.
Once completed it becomes an interactive play piece that they can crawl in and out of.
This can keep kids occupied for hours if not days. Find it at Michaels on sale for $12.99 CDN or $9.99 US.
#2 K’NEX Building Sets
K’NEX is a fun, educational toy that encourages creative play while incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Each K’NEX kit comes with rods and connectors that can be snapped together in various arrangements to construct 3D models like animals, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, planes. There are K’NEX kits for all ages from 3yrs to 16 plus. Find it on Amazon.ca for $21.24, Amazon.com for $19.99 and Toys R Us.
#3 Activity Books
Good ole activity books! Get one suitable for the age of your child and ensure there are multiple types of activities such as stickers, colouring, word search, connect-the-dots, identifying differences, counting, adding and writing to keep them engaged.
There were several options available but I settled on the Scholastic Jumbo Book of Fun for Kids as it had a good selection of activities and wouldn’t be too easy (creating boredom) as the activities cater for a slightly older child. Find it at your local Michaels or on Amazon.com for $10.99.
Puzzles are another go to activity for kids. You can opt for a classic 2D puzzle or nowadays there are 3D options. The 3D options for kids are not true 3D – they will not be building models so don’t feel intimidated.
These puzzles are 3D lenticular meaning that they are printed on a flat surface, put when put together and moved around slightly, the 3D visual aspect comes to life.
Choose a picture or pattern they would like. If they are into super heroes try a Batman or Spiderman puzzle. If into unicorns, try to get a fantasy-themed one with unicorns.
#5 Perler Fuse Beads
These activity kits encourage creativity with beads, pegboards and pattern sheets. Kits can be purchased by theme/category such as pets, jungle animals, glow-in-the-dark, and geometric to name a few.
Kids use the pattern sheets, or their own imagination to arrange the beads on the peg board.
Once finished, younger kids will need help from an adult to fuse the beads in place with an iron but there is a no-iron option available as well.
#6 Sketchpad, Paints and Crayons
A sketch pad, paints and crayons are a fantastic way for kids to express themselves. Kids have wild imaginations, and it’s sometimes amazing, other times mind boggling but most times hilarious to see those imaginations expressed on paper.
Drawing has many benefits to a child’s development. These include developing coordination and fine motor skills, helping with concentration, increasing cognitive ability, teaching problem solving and encourages creativity and confidence.
Give your kid some paper and crayons and watch their imagination come to life.
Find these at your local craft store or online at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
#7 Lego Classic Bricks Bricks Bricks
This list would not be complete without Legos. Legos have a special place in our household. Hubbie is a huge fan and collector so of course the kid had to be indoctrinated. There are so many Lego options out there but I liked the 1500 piece Lego Classic kit (Model # 10717). It comes with brick in multiple colours and all the pieces to make the included models. What’s also nice about this kit is that there are enough pieces to make whatever they want using your creativity and imagination. Lego kits range from the very affordable to the insanely expensive. Get one to suit your budget and child’s age.
This model might not be readily available anymore but there are other comparable Lego Classic sets on Amazon.ca and
Osmo is one of those games I look at now and wish I had as a kid. First things first, it requires an iPad of Fire tablet. Secondly, it’s very hands-on. Third, it can be addictive (even for the adults).
Kids interact with games on the iPad/Fire tablet using real life objects. According to Osmo, “our games teach abstract concepts by connecting them to objects and actions in the physical world.” For example, in the Words game, words appear on the screen represented by dashes (Wheel of Fortune style). Kids need to move the letter tiles under the camera to spell out words.
Different games are available to accommodate the age of the child. Some include Coding, working with numbers, arranging geometric shapes into patterns and drawing to name a few.
The Osmo starter kit is a bit on the pricier side starting a $103.99 CAD and $99 US. At the time of writing they are 20% off at Playosmo.com for $111.20 CDN or $79.20 US.
#9 Cardboard Boxes
Yup you read right. Empty cardboard boxes! I had another activity at first, but after watching how much fun my son had playing with two empty Amazon boxes yesterday I had to include it.
He had a blast playing his made up version of “Find Me”. He’d sit in one box, cover himself with the other and then ask me to find him. Of course it was obvious where he was but I played along by calling out for him, wondering out loud where he could be and knocking on the boxes to see if I got a response. I kid you not this went on for a good hour!
When he’d had enough of that game, he got a scissors and cut the box into a “shark”. The shark was hunting around the house for fish and ultimately ate some cardboard pieces for food. This isn’t the first time he’s entertained himself with a cardboard box. On another occasion, he’s spent hours painting a box, which then became his vehicle that he would slide around the house in.
This is testimony of how sometimes we overthink things. He was able to take a simple, inexpensive (aka free) cardboard box and with a little imagination, entertain himself for hours. What more could you ask for?
#10 Creatology Easter Craft Kits
Spring is upon us and there is no shortage of spring and Easter themed craft kits available in local craft stores. I like the Creatology kits as they are simple enough for kids to figure out on their own and the designs are very attractive to kids. My son assembled one of these kits maybe two Easters ago and really enjoyed it so it was an easy decision for me to pick this up when I saw it on sale at my local Michaels.
My friends, the COVID-19 outbreak is an incredibly difficult time for most of us. As an international society we are are dealing with an unprecedented hit on our health care system and mental health. This virus has disrupted every aspect of normal life and we have to pray and keep faith that normalcy will return soon.
As we ride out this outbreak (and yes it will pass), I encourage you – for both your sanity and our children’s continued development; to keep them as engaged as possible.
The key is having multiple things for them to do to avoid boredom. Crafting kits such as Creatology’s Color-In Submarine Kit and Easter Kits are easy and attractive choices for children.
Tried and tested activities like drawing, colouring, activity books and cardboard boxes go a long way for encouraging creativity and mental stimulation.
Finally, toys like K’NEX, Legos, Perler Fuse Bead kits and Osmo can also be used to substitute classroom activities and keep kids interested and eager to keep learning.
In addition to having creative activities for kids during COVID-19, you may also want to look into creating a schedule for your kids to keep them and yourselves organized.