Making the most of increased family time

Meadows Elementary Students Avalon Tarlow, right, and Jacob Patton exercise their creativity at a "pop-up playground event" on their campus Thursday morning. February 20, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

It’s been a week since schools in the Santa Clarita Valley closed, meaning kids, as well as parents, have been stuck primarily indoors due to the coronavirus and dreary weather.

That also means some are starting to get a bit stir-crazy during the isolation. 

But no fear, there are lots of activities you can do with your kids to avoid cabin fever and the coronavirus:

Try a new recipe 

Cookies, brownies, muffins or anything really. Baking is a great way to spend some time doing something fun that actually has a lesson behind it. Have them measure ingredients with the reward of getting something yummy to eat at the end. Raddish Kids is also offering free recipes, activities and cook-alongs.

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Make a cardboard fort

Put all those empty delivery boxes you’ve gotten recently from purchasing all those “essential” supplies to good use by letting the kiddos create a super, awesome fort. If you don’t have enough, that’s OK. Make a mini-fort for their toys instead. 

Have a picnic

Make some sandwiches and have a picnic indoors. Maybe in that newly built cardboard fort? If the weather’s better, there’s no harm in taking it outdoors, as well. 

Set up a treasure hunt

Though this may sound like a lot of work, a treasure hunt is actually pretty easy to set up and could even last all day if you hide enough stuff around the house. The only catch, you’ve got to make all the clues rhyme. 

Go for a walk

While the weather hasn’t been great for outdoor activities over the past week, be sure to get outside whenever the opportunity presents. Both you and your kids could probably use a healthy dose of fresh air. 

Call your elderly relatives

You may not be able to go visit grandma and grandpa, but they probably are feeling quite lonely right about now. Have your kids think of some things they want to talk about, then put them on the phone. You’ll be amazed at how much both parties get from the exchange.

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Do some doodling for a good cause

Again, though you may not be able to visit, you can certainly send some love to those who cannot have visitors by having your kids write notes and draw pictures to mail to local nursing homes, veterans or elderly relatives. 

Take a virtual field trip

Whether it’s the Louvre in Paris, Yellowstone National Park or the British Museum in London, many field trip destinations, both near and far, have virtual tours, videos and activities for kids on their website. 

Learn about a new place

The same goes for international travel destinations, such as the Great Wall of China, Pompei or even Mars. It’s easier than you think to travel the world these days.

Say hi to some animals

Aquariums and zoos across the country also offer live streams that let you visit some of the animals virtually, seeing in real-time what they’re up to. This includes the Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and much more with the help of Explore.org, the world’s leading philanthropic live nature cam network and documentary film channel.

Volunteer — at a safe distance

While many volunteering activities have been canceled, there are still ways to get your kids involved in some community service, like making blankets for Project Linus, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide comfort for critically ill and traumatized children through the distribution of handmade blankets.

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Take a class

Though it may not be your kid’s first choice, a number of organizations have launched free, online learning tools, including Scholastic, PBS and Have Fun Teaching, among others. Each includes day-to-day activities with downloadable worksheets, songs, videos and projects in all subjects to keep kids thinking. 

Try a science experiment

Whether you want to make some elephant toothpaste, a marble roller coaster or paper airplane launcher, there are also a number of organizations with step-by-step science experiment instructions, like Scientific American or Mystery Science. You can even do an experiment or two alongside good ol’ Bill Nye The Science Guy. 

Savanna Galavan, 10, uses a magnifying glass to get a close up look at a piece of chabazite, one of dozens of minerals available for study during the Family Science Night event held at Canyon Springs Community School in Canyon Country on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Listen to Josh Gad read

The voice of Olaf the snowman and fellow parent Josh Gad lends his iconic voice to a number of kids’ stories on Twitter via live stream.

Listen to an astronaut read

Or, you can listen to a NASA astronaut read while they float around in space during Story Time From Space.

Put a puzzle together

Get those brain muscles going by breaking out a jigsaw puzzle, as puzzles are known to enhance memory and problem-solving skills, among others.

Train the dog

While your dog may know how to sit, does he know how to high five? It’s time to spend some quality time teaching your pup some new tricks. Not only will it build your relationship with them, but it will also give you both some much needed mental stimulus.

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Set up your own Gymboree class

Grab anything you can find — without sharp corners of course — and build yourself your very own obstacle course.

Listen to a podcast

There are a plethora of kid-friendly podcasts to listen to, so go hunting for one that your kids will enjoy. 

Start a garden

Whether indoor or out, you can teach your kids the benefits of getting their hands a little dirty with a garden. Pick some fruits and vegetables to plant out back if you’ve got the room, or start an indoor herb garden or terrarium. 

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