250+ Creative Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis | Kids Out and About Buffalo <

250+ Creative Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis

Experiencing lots of "family togetherness" during the Coronavirus pandemic? KidsOutAndAbout.com provides over 250 ideas for making the most of your time together and avoid driving each other crazy.

Some of the best parenting advice I ever received was: "When it rains, play in the rain." There are ways of making the best out of any situation, this one included. We have a unique opportunity here: We can make the COVID-19 crisis into a moment that will live vividly in our kids' memories, so that in other times of uncertainty they'll recall fondly how their family pulled together and made the best of things, and they'll be able to do the same.

250+ Creative Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis

Below are the categories for this article. Click on any of them to jump to that category below.

Games and Activities
Clean / Fix
Science Experiments
Arts & Crafts
Outside your Perimeter: Driveway, Yard, Garden, and Beyond
Links to Online Fun and Learning
Surprise! You're Homeschooling! Here are tips for success.
Operation Storytime
Virtual / Online Event Calendar

During a time when we're all practicing social distancing, events, classes, and activities go online! 

(Organizations offering virtual events, classes, or experiences can post them for free! Click here to get to the form.)

Games and Activities

    1. Pull out any not-yet-used holiday gifts
    2. Play “jump the river”
    3. Make a timeline
    4. Read a good book
    5. Join Audible and listen to books together
    6. Research your Family Tree
    7. Have an indoor campout
    8. Start some indoor seed plantings
    9. Indoor Scavenger Hunt
    10. Build an outside fort
    11. Build a blanket fort or tent (check out ideas at 15 DIY Teepees and Play Tents Your Kids Will Spend All Summer In)
    12. Hand-Clapping games like Miss Mary Mack, Double Double, and Tic-Tac-Toe
    13. Mad Libs
    14. Go on a Bearhunt
    15. Huckle Buckle Beanstalk
    16. Hide something sweet and create a Treasure Map for the kids to follow
    17. Learn Morse Code
    18. Invent your own code
    19. Build a house of cards
    20. Memorize the state capitals
    21. Learn some yoga poses
    22. Meditate with help from Headspace for Kids (free trial)
    23. Play balloon volleyball
    24. Look at old photos and share their memories
    25. Write old-fashioned letters and postcards
    26. Make gratitude lists
    27. Play charades
    28. Invent a card game
    29. Learn a few magic tricks
    30. Using stuff from around your house, set up a bowling lane
    31. Mark out a hopscotch field with masking/duct tape
    32. Speak only in Pig Latin
    33. Thumb wrestle
    34. Play MASH
    35. Play Hangman
    36. Plan a family vacation
    37. Learn about nautical flags and how to communicate with them
    38. Learn the parts of a sailboat
    39. Play dress up
    40. Teach your kids how to play black jack (it helps with math skills after all)
    41. Play the silent game
    42. Have a staring contest
    43. Learn some yo-yo tricks
    44. Build the biggest LEGO/block tower in history
    45. Make shadow puppets
    46. Have a tea party
    47. Have a doll or stuffed animal wedding
    48. Play Simon Says
    49. Talk with an accent
    50. Make a stuffed animal zoo
    51. Learn a little American Sign Language for kids
    52. Invent a new sport
    53. Polish the silver (raise your hand if you have your grandmother’s silverware or cute bud vases!)
    54. Do a puzzle
    55. Invent your own nation
    56. Memorize all the Presidents
    57. Memorize all the states and capitals
    58. Match up your socks, roll them up, and have a sock fight
    59. Play dominoes (extra credit for making your own)
    60. Teach your kids how to play Solitaire
    61. Make your own Bingo game
    62. Bust out the flashlights and go on a “ghost” hunt
    63. Learn how to tie cool knots
    64. Go on the Duolingo app and learn a new language for free
    65. Make your own crossword puzzles
    66. Make your own Sudoku
    67. Practice drilling holes in scrap wood
    68. Hammer nails into scrap wood
    69. Read to the pets or Grandparents (via Facetime/Skype)
    70. Play with their older toys
    71. Learn coding for Free through MIT
    72. Go on a Sunday Drive any day of the week
    73. Make a dollhouse with shoe boxes
    74. Empty furniture from the middle of a room and do somersaults across it (notice we did not say cartwheels!)
    75. Teach your old dog (or new puppy) new tricks
    76. Play the game Clue using real props, costumes, and rooms in your house
    77. Have a backyard camp fire (if your city or town allows it)
    78. Play Alligator
    79. DIY manis and pedis
    80. Host a Virtual Trivia Night

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    1. Put on your "Bob the Builder" caps
    2. Encourage and help your kids re-do their rooms
    3. Make a new play space by cleaning part of your attic or basement
    4. Sort the toys
    5. Find, sort and wrap all your loose change
    6. Print your photos and write on the backs of them for posterity
    7. Clean out your junk drawer(s) together and find family treasures
    8. Alphabetize your spices
    9. Tighten knobs/handles
    10. Look for squeaky doors and spritz with WD-40
    11. Wash the windows (your kids will love using the spray bottle)
    12. Alphabetize your books
    13. Match your socks, and then have a sock fight
    14. Hang your favorite picture
    15. Dust your baseboards (your littlest ones might like this best)
    16. Make your own eyeglass cleaner
    17. Make your own household cleaner
    18. Clean out your closet and collect too-small clothes to donate
    19. Find household stuff you no longer need and give it away on your local Freecycle
    20. Make a paradise for your pets! Clean out your fish tank / hamster cage / bird cage etc.
    21. Find all of the available house paint and decide either to throw it away or plan your next project that uses it - freshen up a wall or some trim!
    22. Get yourself some free "new" clothes: Sew rips / patch your jeans / sew on missing buttons
    23. Clean out, vacuum, and disinfect your car
    24. Corral and sort the 10,000 charger cords in your house
    25. Create an Easy and Great-Looking Workspace With Lots of Storage Underneath
    26. Change your smoke detector batteries
    27. Install smoke detectors
    28. Organize/purge kids art together
    29. Make cleaning a game.


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  1. Plan your next birthday party (theme, place, cake, decorations)
  2. Plan an any-occasion or no-occasion party
  3. Plan for summer camp (things to remember, and look up on the top of this KidsOutAndAbout.com page under our "Classes and Camps" menu)
  4. Plan a staycation (look for our 101 Family Day Trips article under "Resources" on your local menu above)
  5. Plan a bucket list from our Top 20 Places to Take Local Kids article as voted by local parents - find it under Favorites on our menu above
  6. Plan a dream vacation
  7. Plan a realistic vacation (where, when, how, what to pack, links to venues in the region)
  8. Plan a month of educational theme days (themes like nature, sports, music, robots, Hamilton, or whatever)
  9. Plan your day-by-day pandemic menu
  10. Plan something to make each day
  11. Plan your family's fire escape plan and have a fire drill
  12. Plan a garden
  13. Plan for higher education: High school kids can research colleges and scholarships, and brainstorm college essays


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    1. The complete list of KOAA kid-friendly recipes and food tips
    2. "Cuban" Cooking
    3. ANY Cooking. Or baking.
    4. Create a Family Cook Book
    5. Invent a new recipe
    6. Make an old family recipe
    7. Have a feast
    8. Create a cookbook based on your favorite story/book
    9. Meal plan for a full week
    10. Choose recipes from different countries and fix a different recipe for each course or for each day
    11. Make off-season Christmas Cookies in spring colors
    12. Make your own granola mix


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Science Experiments at Home*

  1. Experiments from San Francisco's Exploratorium: "Science Snacks" in...
    1. Astronomy
    2. Biology
    3. Chemistry
    4. Earth Science
    5. Engineering
    6. Environmental
    7. Perception
    8. Physics
  2. Experiments from Spangler Science (a leprechaun trap, oobleck monsters, flying toilet paper, homemade root beer...)
  3. Experiments from Science Cafe (homemade ice cream, lava lamps, naked eggs, a shrunken head...)
  4. 32 Cool Science Experiments for Kids (that are Fun AND Easy!) -- they're sorted by the amount of time each takes
  5. Study.com offers up 10 home science experiments (elephant toothpaste, dinosaur bones, a lung model....)
  6. Kitchen Science Resources from the Franklin Institute:
    1. Emulsions
    2. Grapes in the microwave
    3. Ice cream
    4. pH indicator
    5. Yeast
    6. Gooey gluten ball


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Arts & Crafts

    1. Make puppets
    2. Make a "Celebrations book." 
    3. Make homemade musical instruments Here is a site that shows you how to make homemade instruments. Here is another good one.
    4. Mix cornstarch and water
    5. Make a game (tic-tac-toe, checkers, chess set)
    6. Make a God’s Eye
    7. Make a colored “sand” sculpture
    8. Paint family portraits
    9. Make flags from around the world out of scrap paper or invent one of your own
    10. Make paper snowflakes
    11. Learn some origami (check out the Japanese tradition of 1000 paper cranes)
    12. Purchase a knitting loom and make a scarf
    13. Make a paper chain and see how long you can get it
    14. Make a tooth fairy pillow by hand
    15. Monogram your socks
    16. Make stationary with stamps
    17. Create a family playlist on Spotify
    18. Make paper dolls
    19. Make a putt putt boat and sail it in your bathtub (you’ll need blue tack, a couple straws, a soda can, a cardboard milk carton, a tea candle and something to light the tea candle)
    20. Make pictures to give to nursing home residents or elderly neighbors (you can even mail them; everyone loves getting mail)
    21. Make necklaces and bracelets using beads or even pasta
    22. Build a model car, plane, boat or building
    23. Make accessories for your pets (kerchiefs, capes, bows)
    24. Make pet toys
    25. Make tissue paper flowers
    26. Sew buttons onto scrap fabric
    27. Make paper beads
    28. Paper mache a balloon
    29. Write poems, limericks, and haiku
    30. Write a song
    31. Create your own “Dr. Seuss” book
    32. Make and decorate paper crowns
    33. Print out your photos and make a scrapbook
    34. Learn Calligraphy
    35. Teach your kids cursive
    36. Make your own playdough
    37. Fortune cookies are difficult to make but creating a Fortune Jar is a snap
    38. Make a map to your favorite place
    39. Make a comic strip or book
    40. Make your own slime
    41. Make an old-fashioned address book
    42. Decorate a pair of plain white sneakers or old shirt
    43. Make a simple bird feeder
    44. Make a dreamcatcher
    45. Make a family time capsule to open at a future date
    46. Paint your toenails or fingernails with wacky designs
    47. Make your own coin or piggy bank
    48. Make a “selfie” background with an old tablecloth or sheet, and markers or paint
    49. Create your own picture frame for the selfie
    50. Download an animation app for your phone or tablet and do stop motion animations (There are many simple free and low cost ones!)
    51. Tie dye a pillow case
    52. Create an old fashioned sampler
    53. Make an arm-knitted scarf
    54. Build a terrarium
    55. Paint a rock (from "Kindness Rocks")
    56. Make a pet rock
    57. Make a $10 DIY compost bin and use the compost later in your garden
    58. Make fleece monsters
    59. Pencils and Plums features a free 120 page ebook called 2500+ Drawing Ideas as well as printable drawing pages


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    1. Read a Newbery winning book, then make a 90-Second Newbery Film Festival tiny movie submission on your phone
    2. Silent Disco Party
    3. Dance Party
    4. Puppet Shows
    5. Turn a big box into a television set and put on shows (this can also double as a puppet stage)
    6. Have a Joke-a-thon
    7. Re-enact your favorite story or movie as a play
    8. Memorize a poem or two and put on a show
    9. Magic Shows
    10. Fortune Telling
    11. Read a story out loud and create your own illustrations
    12. Record your kids reading/telling their favorite story and replay it after dinner
    13. Put those music lessons to good use and have a concert (bonus points for Facetiming the grandparents while you do it)
    14. Write a rap song and perform it
    15. Perform your favorite fairy tale in dance
    16. Fill glasses with water and make music
    17. Record a family podcast on your phone to send relatives
    18. Record a pots and pans orchestra performance


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Outside your Perimeter: Driveway, Yard, and Garden

**Make sure you click on our RESOURCES link in our menu at the top of the page for plenty of ways to have fun outside and parks/trails where you can enjoy nature with your kids while staying away from others.

    1. Bike, scooter, or Ripstick in the driveway: You can set up an obstacle course or try new tricks.
    2. Build a Fairy House - here are instructions for building one from the official Fairy Houses web site
    3. Star gaze
    4. Learn and find constellations
    5. Climb a tree
    6. Enjoy the classics: Play hopscotch, 4-square, Mother May I, or jump rope.
    7. Get artsy with chalk, water soluble paint, or MUD
    8. Measure the Rain
    9. Hunt for worms
    10. Let rain inspire art
    11. Perk up your plants
    12. Shake a rainy tree
    13. Play flashlight tag
    14. Walk the dog
    15. Collect leaves and press them to make place mats
    16. Create a nature journal and record what you see
    17. Hang a bird feeder and count the birds (in February each year, participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count)
    18. Catalog the birds in your neighborhood by listening to their sounds and songs
    19. Make luminarias and light up your driveway
    20. Do a plein air painting of your neighborhood
    21. Make a rock garden for your yard
    22. Go on a bike ride
    23. After a walk or bike ride, create a map of your neighborhood - “Cat in the Hat Can Map This and That” tool
    24. Do some Backyard Geology


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Links to Online Fun and Learning

  1. 12 Famous Museums You Can Visit From Your Couch
  2. 5 rainy day toddler activities from American Baby. It works for snowy days too!
  3. Winter Gardening Activities for Kids from the Green Mountain Gardener.
  4. Help your child create an original book from a story/artwork: This service is from Tikatok.com but there are others that do this as well.
  5. Documentaries available from streaming services. So you'll feel less guilty about screen time. Updated for 2020.
  6. Online Craft classes from Creativebug.com
  7. Online coding for kids at Tynker.Com
  8. Tons of online art/craft classes for kids and teens at DIY.Org (free 14 day trial)
  9. The Kid Should See This: Smart Videos For Curious Minds of All Ages
  10. National Geographic: Kids Videos
  11. The Brain Scoop: Videos exploring all kinds of science topics with Emilie Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Correspondent of The Field Museum in Chicago
  12. Watch animal live cams at Explore.Org, including the famous Decorah Eagles
  13. Sign up for a MASTERCLASS or two with your whole family
  14. Find free educational explanations about just about any academic subject at Khan Academy
  15. Pokemon Go app: Monster Collecting at Home
  16. Nancy Drew mystery games from HER Interactive: Fun for the whole family, especially age 12 and up (younger kids may need help with the puzzles)
  17. Actors read stories on Storyline Online
  18. A list of educational companies offering free memberships due to school closings put together by the Amazing Educational Resources Facebook group
  19. Virtually tour college campuses on YouVisit.com
  20. Scholastic has launched online Learn at Home lessons
  21. Check out animal cams from a variety of zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, the National Zoo, the Houston Zoo, and more
  22. Many national parks also offer live webcams
  23. Grown and Flown suggests 100 soft skills to teach teens
  24. Amazon is offering free streaming of family shows
  25. Google offers fun arts and cultural lessons
  26. We Are Teachers has a big list of children's authors reading their books
  27. Ultimate Boredom Buster: 101 Things to Do When Kids Are Bored
  28. Indoor activities for families.


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Tips for Temporary Homeschooling

If your child's school has closed due to COVID-19 and you are suddenly tossed into monitoring your child's education, we can help! Below are a few tips to help you orient yourself to temporary homeschooling. Please click on the link below for our complete list of tips for how to manage this challenging time.


  • Remember that everyone else is in the same situation.
  • Remember that the goal is to keep up the momentum of learning, not to imitate school or to compete to see whether your kid can do it better than the others.
  • Convey that we all have our work to do, and that you'll help your kids get set up to do theirs while you do yours.
  • Try to assume more the role of cheer-leading coach than overseer.
  • ...and a lot more. Click here for our complete article: Surprise! You're Homeschooling!... It's full of tips to help you survive make the most of it.

Special thanks to Helena Robin, Katie Beltramo, and Carol White Llewellyn for their work on this article.

*We wanted to call the "Science" section "Science the $#!& out of the virus" to amuse fans of The Martian, but we restrained ourselves.

© 2020. This list may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written permission from KidsOutAndAbout.com. Feel free to link to it, though!