Expand Your Family Entertainment Toolbox

You’re only one week into quarantine and your kids are starting to get restless. But don’t worry! There are several organizations taking learning and playtime online, and plenty of ways to have some good old-fashioned fun indoors.

We figured we’d save you some headaches by compiling a list of our favorites, with tips to make them work for every age in your family.

Online activities

Participating in live events or videos with a DIY component lets kids experiences things in the moment and can help them feel more connected to the outside world. Try adding some of these engaging activities to your schedule.

Chat with ninja warriors from the popular TV show, American Ninja Warriors – You can find the schedule at AmericanNinjaWarriorNation.com. Try creating an age-friendly obstacle course that lets your kids pretend to be ninjas.

Pass through COSI’s Digital Doorway – Every day, COSI will deliver fresh, exciting and engaging science through videos and hands-on experiments you can try with your family at home. Find new videos at org/COSIConnects.

Tune in to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s daily 3 p.m. Facebook Live Home Safari show – Each episode will feature a different animal and educational activity that can be done from home. Episodes will also be posted to their website and YouTube channel. Have your kids play producer by creating their own show with stuffed animals or pets. Record their show and share it with friends and family.

Get your feet wet with web cams at Monterey Bay Aquarium – The aquarium has 10 live videos you can choose to watch featuring a variety of animals, including penguins, sea otters and jellyfish. Create a game by counting the jellyfish and coming up with names for the different animals.

Take a virtual tour of the British Museum – Kids can explore an interactive timeline and hear stories from museum curators. Involve your little ones by selecting an object featured in the museum for them to draw. You can create a scavenger hunt for older kids.

Talk with friends and family in a video chat ­– Zoom Cloud Meetings, Google Hangouts and FaceTime are great free resources to set up a virtual play date. You can download the applications onto your computer or onto your phone or tablet from the Apple App Store and Google Play. You’ll need an Apple account to use FaceTime and a gmail account to use Google Hangouts.

Doodle with Mo Willems – The award-winning children’s book author and illustrator of popular books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Elephant and Piggie is offering free, virtual art lessons over the lunch hour on weekdays via the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Balancing screen time is a struggle under normal circumstances, but sheltering in place can make it even more challenging. Remember to talk to your children about boundaries for technology so they don’t get carried away for long periods of time. It’s important to stay active and engage with others in your household in person.


Traditional entertainment, with a twist

These activities might sound familiar, but we put a spin on them to keep things interesting. They can be good opportunities for family bonding during times you are limiting technology.

Charades – Start with the traditional approach: Take turns acting out a word or phrase without speaking while others guess. Then, add some new elements. Have your kids write words, movies and characters on slips of paper and put them into a hat. Play with the same words for three rounds: 1) Act out the word, 2) Use sound effects only, and 3) Describe the word or phrase without using any words written on the paper slip. Beginner readers can be partnered with adults or older children.

Candlelight dinner – Everyone picks a course to plan and cook, and arrives at the dinner table dressed up. Young kids can design the menu and place cards for the table.

Spa night – Relax with face masks, manicures and pedicures. Be brave and let your kids paint your nails. It may not be pretty, but it will be fun!

Home video movie night – Make popcorn and reminisce together. Add some bonus creativity by designing cardboard cars out of boxes and setting up a drive-in theater.

Walking – There are many ways to add some pizazz to your neighborhood walk. Combine it with a nature scavenger hunt using Homeschool Den’s free pintables. Ask your neighbors to write encouraging messages on their driveway or sidewalks with chalk that your family can spot as you walk. Or, come together as a community to create an I Spy arts and crafts game. Brainstorm themes, like silly faces or movie characters. Paste photos or drawings in your windows and on your front door. As families walk around the neighborhood, they can count each thing they see. Maybe start a neighborhood discussion forum on social media where you can share game rules and photos of everyone enjoying the activity.

Contests – A little friendly competition never hurts! Develop virtual contests between friends and family. You could hold a cooking contest and make it virtual by sharing recipes and food presentation with family members by video. Perhaps grandma or grandpa could be the judge. Each week, pick a theme, like comfort food or dessert. Have fun with it!

Reading – Engage the older adults in your life by asking them to read to your little ones over the phone. Your young readers can also practice their skills by returning the favor. Tweens and teens can start a book club with friends and discuss the book virtually. Together as a family, you could write and illustrate your own stories.

Listening to music – Missing the March Madness bracket? Replace it with a 64-song championship bracket using your family’s favorite music artists! Divide into teams and debate which songs move on to the top winning song. Listen to the songs as a family and learn about the artists your kids are interested in.

Adding new tools to your entertainment toolbox will create moments of surprise and delight each day. As your kids become adults, they will look back at this time not as scary, but as a time the world slowed down and their family created fun memories together.

Inspired by this blog? Take pictures of your family creating moments together. Post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag @OhioHealth. Creating joy and bonding with those we love play important roles in achieving our best health.



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