The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty that most of us have never known before. Businesses are closing or becoming (at least temporarily) virtual. Schools are closing. People are being asked to do their jobs from home if they can. For many Girl Scouts, troop meetings are coming to a halt.
We are being told by our country’s leading scientists that our only hope to get this virus under any sort of control is simply just to stay home. And of course, wash our hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water. By doing this, we can “flatten the curve,” or prevent a sharp spike in new cases of COVID-19 so we do not overwhelm our healthcare system with too many people being sick at the same time.
However, while this time is forcing us to face some challenges for the sake of personal and public health, it is also presenting us with a wonderful opportunity — to connect more deeply with our families.
But what to do? How can you keep the kids busy and from getting bored while they are home from school? How on Earth will you keep them entertained without the playground, trampoline park, indoor play area, movie theater, play dates (that’s right — no play dates at your home either to play it safe), or all those awesome and engaging Girl Scout activities?
Most of us don’t know how to just “stay home.” There is work, school, sports, dance lessons, karate, troop meetings, and more to constantly juggle and keep us out of the house. Life, especially with kids, is hectic and many do not know what it looks like to truly slow down. If you are one of those people, we have some ideas to help pass the time with your Girl Scout and other family members in between responding to work emails, homework assignments, and on weekends.
That’s right! Just because your troop may not be meeting right now, doesn’t mean Girl Scouting has to stop and her leadership skill building needs to be put on hold. Communicate with your girl’s troop leader for some guidance of what your girl should work on and how. You will find as you continue reading our suggestions of things to do from home below, that many of those activities will also help you fulfill badge requirements. It really is amazing how much can be done from home and now is an easier time than ever with more available online than ever before due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
You can download badge requirements and order the badges themselves straight from our online shop.
Whether it’s drawing, painting, writing, dancing, making or exploring music — there are countless ways kids can be creative to entertain themselves for hours, or you can get creative together! Paint a still life painting together and compare how your visualization of your subject differs. Draw caricatures of each other. Write a story together and then illustrate it. Listen to each others’ favorite songs. Explore a new genre of music none of you have explored before. Have the kids create a dance routine and perform it for the family. Or have a family dance battle (parents against kids, anyone?)!
If you like drawing, illustrator Mo Willems is hosting a live doodle session as of March 16 to follow along with every day for at least the next few weeks! Ever wanted to see an opera? Check out the live streams from the Metropolitan Opera that they have launched due to the coronavirus outbreak. You can even take in a Broadway show from home, too!
While playgrounds, parks, and beaches are closing, we can still get outside to enjoy from fresh air and sunshine. Keep to your personal outdoor space whether it be your yard or patio or even around your neighborhood — just be sure to keep your distance from others also enjoying their extra time in the sun and wear your sunscreen!
Go for a family bike ride, make family morning walks a part of your new daily routine, get in the garden and plant those flowers, veggies, or herbs you always wished you had the time to plant, train for that 5K (or dare we say marathon) you have always wanted to accomplish. Now is the time where you might actually have the time. You can even have a family camp out in your backyard and fulfill some Girl Scout badge requirements!
It’s amazing how the kitchen has a unique ability to create lasting memories and bonds. There is something so comforting about food and it has a way of bringing people together. Try making a new recipe together for dinner. Or bake up something extra delicious for dessert from scratch. Have a baking competition (who in the house really makes the best chocolate chip cookies?) or even a cookie or cake decorating competition!
It has been amazing to see so many wonderful museums and organizations offer free virtual tours and live streams to allow us to travel the world and experience history and different cultures right from our couches. Staying home will not stop the pursuit of knowledge and world exploration if these museums have anything to say about it! Check out museums that offer free virtual tours.
Go to the Zoo or Aquarium
Like museums, certain zoos and aquariums are also thinking of new ways to keep people at home awed and inspired by the natural world and its inhabitants through online streaming.
The Cincinnati Zoo does Facebook Live at 3 p.m. every day as of March 16 where they feature an animal in their zoo and an activity you can do from home.
The Georgia Aquarium also has multiple live cameras set up so you can check out some of the most popular exhibits without ever leaving your home.
Even some of our local animal organizations are helping to keep the kids entertained and learning while maintaining social distance. Loggerhead Marine Life Center is also doing a live stream every afternoon of their Virtual Classroom. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium has an aquarium feature every Friday, and with the closure of the Palm Beach Zoo, they said to stay tuned for fun video updates from their animals.
Keep it Educational
Who says learning isn’t fun? Learning new skills provides a sense of accomplishment, pride, and boosts confidence. It creates a reward that kids crave over and over again — and it certainly doesn’t have to be boring! There are so many online games and resources available to preschool and school aged kids. And the best part? Many of them are free and even more of them are free right now as companies are doing the right thing by helping parents keep the learning going while they are at home from school.
Kids can play educational games, practice math and reading skills, or even conduct some at-home science experiments! Check out this very long list of online educational resources and activities for kids that will boost knowledge while keeping it fun.
What could be more fun than having a celebrity read your kid a story each night? Funny man Josh Gad (voice of Olaf from Frozen and Frozen II) is reading kids a bedtime story every night on Twitter!
Other movie stars will read to your kids for free at Storyline Online and even astronauts are reading books to kids from outer space!
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is also keeping the learning going at home with live streams on Fridays conducting fun science experiments.
Get Social…From a Distance
Staying connected to others from afar has never been easier. Video chatting has already allowed us to keep an even more intimate relationship with distant friends and relatives. Now, video chatting can keep us connected to our neighbors and friends while we are all staying home, even if they don’t live very far away.
There are so many ways to utilize video chatting to keep your relationships strong while we isolate ourselves. We think having virtual troop meetings is a great idea! You can also set up a virtual play date for the kids to create a whole new interactive experience with their besties that they will love. Have a family dinner with relatives from near and far by setting up a group video chat while you sit down to eat. Have a coffee date with a friend. Reach out to relatives you don’t interact with as often as you’d like — again, now is the time you might actually have the time.
Keeping busy at home is easier and has more robust options than ever before. That’s not even including the endless video streaming options offered by services like Netflix, Disney+, and the like. Together, by staying home during this uncertain time of the COVID-19 outbreak, we can all do our part to help protect ourselves and others to save lives.