Keep your kids engaged and happy with online activities — Photo courtesy of iStock / dpVUE.images
Every parent has had the same trajectory during stay-at-home orders or lockdown.
Stage one: Yay! Family time. We can do this! Let’s bust out those puzzles.
Stage two: Education at home. We will learn this thing they call the “new math.” How hard can it be?
Stage three: Apparently we aren’t teachers. Can we sell puzzles on Facebook marketplace?
Stage four: How many of us can be on Zoom at once?
Stage five: Please. Just. Leave. Me. Alone.
It has been a year (and then some) since we have been given a pandemic and tried to sprinkle some fairy dust on it – at least around our kids. Even former card-carrying parents of the year have to have a break from relentless entertainment and educating and positive-spinning of a world catastrophe.
Consider this the list that has you covered. We have ideas for bright-eyed young ones and the sullen teenagers who figured out how to hack into your parental settings years ago.
Stories with apps and with people
Kids enjoy online story time — Photo courtesy of E+ / filadendron
For the times when you can’t read your kid “Everyone Poops,” there are other people who can. Check out Vooks for storybooks that come to life with narration, very simple animation and light-up words to keep your kids engaged even if they are still figuring out the whole reading thing.
Most local libraries have an online reading program that meets virtually for different age groups.
Meet a Disney princess
Meet Disney princesses online — Photo courtesy of E+ / PeopleImages
Outschool provides classes that will have “Frozen” characters singing to your little one and giggling in the oh-so-Disney way at your little one’s questions. Disney characters also host read-along story time or even teach math.
Check out The Princess Party Co. for free Facebook lives with Disney princesses, including story times. You can also hire your favorite Disney princess for a virtual party with their friends or just your household.
Do some yoga with imagination
Kids can follow along with yoga videos online — Photo courtesy of E+ / RyanJLane
Cosmic Kids Yoga is very well known, but in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a way to get kids moving through some serious storytelling (and the power of YouTube). It’s worth a shot even if you have a kid who prefers to watch people exercise.
For slightly older children (5- to 10-year-olds), the website Yogizoo will provide stories and demonstrate postures alongside a sweet cartoon monkey.
Learn an instrument
Learn a new instrument with online lessons — Photo courtesy of E+ / valentinrussanov
For the youngest set, there are free music games on PBS Kids with characters ranging from Pinkalicious to Daniel Tiger. Take Lessons can set your child up with a private instructor for as little as $15/lesson.
Travel virtually (even to another planet)
Virtually ride roller coasters — Photo courtesy of E+ / kali9
Louvre Kids will provide your kids with cartoon art stories without having to fly to Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has #MetKids. Take a virtual ride at SeaWorld. Or access the real surface of Mars as seen by the Curiosity rover.
Learn a new language
Your child can learn a new language with apps — Photo courtesy of iStock / monkeybusinessimages
Duolingo Kids has a fun interface that repeats words in French or Spanish. Another good opportunity for passive learning is changing the language on their favorite Netflix show (especially one that they have seen over and over). Oui, oui, Peppa Pig!
Play Zoom games with family and friends — Photo courtesy of iStock / doble-d
This may need a moderator, so get together a group of your kid’s friends and willing-to-participate parents. Once a week, one adult has to be in charge. Options are freeze dance, charades, virtual alphabet scavenger hunt (your kid has to bring back something to the screen that starts with that letter), HeadsUp or Bingo. A virtual playdate with structure.
Work off some energy with online dance classes — Photo courtesy of iStock / portishead1
Dance studios have all sorts of options, especially for older kids, or you can always head to trusty YouTube for some options. MoveDanceLearn for toddlers might give you five minutes to yourself.
The Ballet Coach is also great for kids under the age of 5. And who’s to say dance classes can’t be outdoors? Take your laptop outside for increased freedom (and a better mood for all involved).
Kids can cook alongside online lessons — Photo courtesy of E+ / visualspace
Older ones can follow along on a little something they may know as TikTok, or as a family you can join AirBnB experiences, trying anything from making pasta with Italian grandmothers to a pro Tokyo sushi roll.
The Kids’ Table also offers virtual cooking classes for 2- to 14-year-olds. Tip: make sure they stay interested, sign them up for something with chocolate.
See a Broadway show
Stream a Broadway show — Photo courtesy of E+ / AleksandarNakic
It may feel like forever since doing something like taking the kids to the movies, let alone the treat of a Broadway show. BroadwayHD has a 7-day trial and a yearly plan to allow your kiddos to enjoy the scripts and humor that only live theatre can bring to the table.
There is a “family friendly” category that will point you in the direction of classics like “Cats,”http://www.10best.com/”Peter Pan” and “The Railway Children.” Somehow it feels a little less like screen time and a little more like culture.