Unique ways to have fun with the kids – The Buffalo News


Schools being closed due to Covid-19 fears has thrown a serious wrench into the lives of parents and children. (Let’s not even get into childcare difficulties.) And even though packets of work have been sent home with most kids, there is plenty of downtime. Luckily, there are lots of options — most free, most indoors, all fun. 

Looking for ways to keep the kids occupied while (mostly) avoiding physical contact with friends and other adults? Here are some novel social distancing ideas that will pass the time, safely. 

Places to ‘go’

Got chalk? Get to work on the driveway. My daughter loves to color and draw with chalk. And while doing that on our driveway is a regular pastime, these days it has the feel of a beautifully subversive act. Our work might not be Miyazaki Chalk Contest at the North Park caliber, but we’ve got time to practice.

Take a virtual museum tour. An interesting development during these strange times is the proliferation of virtual museum tours. Many have long been available, but never before have some been publicized. Examples include the Louvre (louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne) and the British Museum (britishmuseum.withgoogle.com). 

Mess around with Google Earth. Yes, it’s fun for kids to find their own home on Google Earth (google.com/earth). But it’s even cooler to zoom into sites like the Great Wall of China and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Yes, I realize one of those is more historically significant.) End by finding a place you actually can visit. 

Things to do

Download free coloring books and a lot more at Open Culture. The website Open Culture (openculture.com) offers a treasure trove of freebies. Of particular interest is the long list of links to free coloring books from more than 100 museums around the world. 

Doodle with Mo Willems. Author, illustrator and Kennedy Center Education artist-in-residence Mo Willems invites young viewers into his studio for a daily doodle at kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems. Get some art supplies together, fire up the family iPad, and get doodlin’.

Connect with the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. One of my family’s favorite afternoon trips is a short drive to Rochester’s Strong Museum. The museum is currently closed, but follow its Facebook page for Facebook live videos, story times and plenty of fun ideas for passing the time. 

Stuff to watch

Sign up for Mystery Doug. My son came home from school one day raving about Mystery Doug (mysterydoug.com), a free website in which kids across the country ask science questions and receive video answers. The questions range from the silly (“Can animals laugh?”) to the serious (“How can you tell if a mushroom is poisonous?”). The site currently features some neat at-home science lessons, as well. 

Listen to celebrities reading stories. What’s infinitely less embarrassing than celebrities singing “Imagine”? Famous folk reading adorable children’s stories. A quick search of “celebrities reading books” will bring you some sweet videos featuring the likes of Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner. Hey, it’s the closest we’re getting to fresh entertainment for awhile.

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