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.
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 has just launched Sprawl Kids, a new section that features articles written by — you guessed it — kids. The next assignment will be posted here on March 20. 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.
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.
Let them play in the snow (inside or outside)
Technically it’s spring, but of course there’s still snow. Let the kids make a snowman or an igloo outside, or (this is a great toddler parent hack for winter) fill up a container with snow, give your toddler gloves and let the kiddo play with their trucks or other toys in the snow inside.
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.