There’s a lot going on in homes across Calgary right now. You’re figuring out how to work from home, trying to remember to disinfect countertops and door knobs every hour, ordering food online and, to top it all off, your kids are at home for the foreseeable future. With schools shut down, many educators have indicated that social distancing at home doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Reading and practicing math tables are encouraged, but so is fort-building or learning how to bake. And according to Alberta Health Services, those who are keeping their social distance can still go outside to exercise and play as long as you maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from others.
Here’s a list of things to do with your kids that are educational and/or just plain fun (a lot of these seem pretty fun for grown-ups, too). We’ll keep updating this list with new ideas as we see them.
Local photographer Janet Pliszka’s Kids Photography Academy currently offers a virtual kid-friendly 30-Day Photo Challenge course. Once they’re signed up, kids get a story-based photography assignment each day for 30 days. They can use a camera, phone or tablet to take photos and they can also share their images and view other kids’ images through a secure online community. The cost of enrollment is $20 and kids can access the course for eight weeks.
Telus Spark free educational Spark Science From Home videos on its YouTube channel. Kids can watch videos to learn how to turn milk into plastic and how to make an invisible fire extinguisher. There are also live videos from Telus Spark exhibits where kids can submit questions in real-time.
You can still experience the Glenbow while staying home. The museum is posting “Glenbow From Home” videos on its social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m.. Wednesdays are specifically geared towards kids. So far, Glenbow educators have been teaching about topics such as minerals and how to find meaning in art.
If your family is in need of some new puzzles, games or craft and science kits, you can order these from locally owned shop The Discovery Hut located at CF Chinook Centre. Call 403-301-4036 or 403-301-4180 to place an order for delivery or curb-side pickup within 24 hours of your purchase.
Local illustrator Vanja Kragulj is doing free online workshops for kids aged four and up. Her first workshop “Fruit Paper Cutouts” includes a step-by-step guide with photos as well as a list of materials you’ll need to make them, most of which you likely already have in your arts-and-crafts bin (scissors, coloured paper, pencil crayons and glue).
Wymbin teaches yoga and wellness to children, teens and families in Calgary and they have just launched a program called Wymbin Learn for parents of kids aged two to two-and-a-half years old. It can be purchased online for $250 and includes one month of youth learning materials for eight 40-minute yoga classes, eight 40-minute pre-school classes and instructions for parents on how to set up an at-home learning environment. Even parents can join in for an easy-going meditative experience during the classes.
Go on a nature walk through Fish Creek Provincial Park
Take a family nature walk through Fish Creek Provincial Park and breathe in some fresh air. Remember to only go outside with the people in your household and maintain a safe distance from other visitors in the park.
Okay, we may be a little biased but this one seems pretty great. The Sprawl launched Sprawl Kids, featuring stories told by and written by — you guessed it — kids. It’s prompted by a question (the first assignment asked kids to answer, “How are you feeling right now, with schools being closed?”) and kids get their parents to post the article on social media or email it in by a deadline given by the assignment editor. A selection of the stories will be posted to the website and there may also be virtual journalism classes for kids coming soon. The most recent assignment even asked kids to record an interview with a family member for an episode on The Sprawl’s podcast. Watch for the next assignment that will be posted to the website and The Sprawl’s Twitter feed.
Order an art kit from a local business
This time off is a great time to create art. Luckily, you can do that while also supporting local businesses. Color Me Mine in Kensington is offering free delivery or pick-up and 15 per cent off its to-go kits that are equipped with everything you need to paint a cute figurine at home.
Kensington Art Supply is also offering deliveries of anything in its store. You need to order before 1 p.m. to get same-day delivery and delivery is $5 or free if your order is more than $50. You can also do curb-side pickup.
Washington, D.C.’s The Kennedy Center, the largest performing arts centre in the United States, is posting new YouTube videos every day at 11 a.m. MST with Mo Willems. The “Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems!” episodes are around 20 minutes long and recorded in his home studio. We have to say, watching them as an adult is very relaxing.
Discover the Universe provides free online astronomy resources and training for educators in Canada. Right now kids can access free “Astro at Home” educational videos on its YouTube channel. The videos are published on weekdays at 12 p.m. MST and are around 30 to 40 minutes long. Kids can also ask questions in the chat if they are watching live. The videos are recommended for ages eight to 12.
Send hand-written letters to seniors
Practice penmanship while also bringing comfort to seniors who can’t leave home or have visitors. Younger kids who can’t write yet can send drawings. If you don’t have seniors in your life, they can send letters and drawings to cousins or friends who can’t meet for playdates.
Play a numeracy game like Monopoly, cards or dice
This is a way more fun than doing math worksheets (although you can find those for free at math-drills.com). If you’re a big board game family, vote for your favourites in our Games Night Showdown Bracket.
Start a family book club
Read as a family for 30 minutes every day, then talk about what you’ve read (it doesn’t need to be the same book). You can read what you have at home or get books delivered from these local bookstores.
Your kids can stream Calgary-based Kidoodle TV for free or you can pay for additional features ($4.99 per month). It’s like Netflix for kids, except parents can make the app password-protected on their device and can also set parental controls like screen time limits and bedtime curfews.