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Kids staying home due to extended school breaks or closings? Here are some fun activities for your family

Experts are giving families a few tips on what you can do with your kids while on an extended spring break.

Posted: Mar 15, 2020 4:43 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2020 6:14 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—Just when families thought things couldn't get more stressful amid the Coronavirus outbreak, several schools across the State of Indiana have closed and are extending breaks. Although experts say there are ways families can stay level headed during this time.

"This is a really different situation than what families are used to dealing with,” said Bridgette Kelleher. She is the Co-Director of Purdue Autism Research and Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences.

Kelleher said creating games with items already in the house is a great use of time.

"Grab an old remote or an old radio that might be in the house that's going to be recycled anyway and help the child take it apart and explore that in a new way,” said Kelleher.

Take a look at some of the games Kelleher has created with her family. Many of the objects are things she already has at home.

"By packaging these things in a way that it's in a box it makes the experience new and exciting. If you incorporate boxes into your daily routine, kids know in the morning and in the afternoon that they might get to open this and enjoy it,” said Kelleher.

Even swapping board games with family friends is a good idea. She said typically families aren't prepared for schools to close suddenly or extend breaks.

"Usually when we have family time we're expecting it,” said Kelleher. “It's Spring Break or it's summer vacation, we've got vacations planned, we've got activities, we've got camps, we've got friends visiting."

It's normal for parents to feel a bit nervous about being home with their kids in unusual circumstances.

"This is really a different situation,” said Kelleher. “So I think it's important for us to acknowledge how stressful it is and how normal that stress is."

Below you can find a full list from Professor Kelleher along with info-graphics. Click here to view her twitter which also has tips.

Let’s bake technicolor cupcakes! (ALL)
Contents: Box of white cake mix, whisk, cupcake foils, food coloring
Instructions: Experiment with different color combinations as you bake together

Grab some sheets, and let’s make a movie fort! (ALL)
Contents: Flashlight, box of popcorn
Instructions: Allow your child to use bedsheets to create a fort where they can watch a favorite movie (with popcorn!)

Let’s send grandma/grandpa some mail! (ALL)
Contents: pre-addressed envelopes, blank cards, postage stamps, decoration items

Let’s have a spa day! (ALL)
Contents: nail polish, nail files, bath bomb or bubble bath, washcloth
Instructions: Use the tub to let children “soak” feet and paint nails

Let’s explore electronics together! (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: old/broken electronics (e.g. remote, calculator, alarm clock), screwdriver, hammer (if needed)
Instructions: help child take apart unused electronics to learn how they work

Bear broke his arm. Can you make him a cast? (TODDLER/PRESCHOOL)
Contents: medical bandages, gauze, play doctor kit, stuffed animal

Can you make the longest path ever for your special trucks? (TODDLER/PRESCHOOL)
Contents: small trucks/cars, masking tape, small snacks that can fit in trucks (e.g. cheerios, crackers, raisins)
Instructions: help your child use masking tape to “build” roads on the floor around the house. Let them

Let’s build a village! (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: old cereal boxes, mailing boxes, oatmeal containers, construction paper, markers
Instructions: help child wrap old boxes with colorful paper and decorate the boxes to look like different buildings. The child can set the boxes up to create their own little world! This activity works great in garages or driveways where children can draw roads and other features with chalk. Children can build their “town” over the course of many days and integrate other toys (e.g. cards, dolls) to accessorize their village, too!

Let’s “clean”! (TODDLER/PRESCHOOL)
Content: spray bottle, wash cloths
Instructions: help child fill bottle with water and allow them to spray and wipe down surfaces

Can you make the animals a stable out of cards? (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: small figurines, scissors, box of playing cards
Instructions: help child cut slits in card and stack cards together to make structures, such as homes for toy figurines

Let’s make a terrarium for bunny! (ALL)
Contents: small figurines, mason jar
Instructions: encourage child to go outside and gather nature items (e.g. grass, twigs, rocks) to make decorative terrarium for small figurines

Let’s make a storybook about you! (ALL)
Contents: Inexpensive photobooks, old family photos, construction paper, pens
Instructions: help child create a story book about a recent vacation, their family, or a topic of interest. Children can also cut out pictures from magazines or old books to create a story.

Hey karaoke star – make yourself an outfit, and let’s sing! (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: flashlight, oversized adult clothing that can be destroyed, scissors, youtube karaoke
Instructions: allow child to cut and resturture existing clothing into a new “outfit,” then attend their karaoke performance (flashlights make great microphones!)

Let’s make a diorama! (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: white tissue paper, tape, scissors, foil, old holiday cards and/or story books
Instructions: Remove the top from an old shoe box or delivery box and cut a small view-hole in one of the short ends. Help your child create a three-dimensional scene by cutting and taping various pictures and materials inside the box. Once the scene is complete, tape a piece of white tissue paper over the top. Your child can look through the view hole to see their scene come to life! This activity is a great way to repurpose old holiday cards or even story books that your child may have grown out of.

Let’s use old clothes to make your doll a new dress! (ELEMENTARY)
Contents: small fashion doll, old clothing, scissors, ribbon, glue
Instructions: Allow your child to cut up old clothing to create new outfits for his or her doll

Other ideas:
• Get outside! Activities like family walks, riding bikes, planting flowers, and drawing with chalk can be great activities to help kids stay moving
• Use Youtube to learn a new skill such as Yoga. There are a variety of free kid-friendly exercise classes available online
• Repackage old toys that kids haven’t used in awhile. Sometimes simply representing an activity to a child after a few months “off” can make the item feel new and different!
• Consider using the time together to take care of others. Kids can send letters to members of the armed forces, draw pictures for elderly neighbors in nursing homes, clean out items to donate to those in need, etc.

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