Ideas for social distancing with kids
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Don't go crazy

Ideas for social distancing with kids

Katie Overmonds
March 19, 2020

It’s a strange time we’re living in, friends. In what seems like the blink of an eye our normal way of life has been turned on its head and we’re rolling with the punches in a new reality of social distancing and in some cases, full lockdown or ‘shelter in place’. 

For some of us this new reality means working from home, for some it means being off work entirely and for a great many people, it means facing the daunting task of entertaining children during all hours of the day! 

For my husband Greg and I, we consider ourselves lucky in that Jack is only eight months old and likely hasn’t even noticed that we’re in the process of “social distancing”. In fact, I think he’s loving all the time we’re spending at home playing! 

The health and societal benefits of practicing social distancing.


If your kids are old enough to notice the sudden change of pace now that you’re in isolation or practicing social distancing however, here’s a list of ideas for how to spend the time. 

Things for kids to do while in quarantine, isolation or social distancing 

  1. Encourage them to continue to spend time outdoors. Do you have a garden or backyard? This is the time to start digging in the dirt! 
  1. Ask them what they’d like to learn about and spend 30 minutes each day researching and talking about that topic. 
  1. Do a puzzle as a family. Between 500 and 1000 pieces is a good happy medium of long enough to get into but not SO long that it’s tedious or frustrating. 
  1. Stay in touch with the people you love! Our parents have learned how to use Facetime and Skype now that it’s not possible to smooch their grandson in real life for the time being. 
  1. More old school but still awesome? Snail mail! Have the kids write a postcard or letter every day to someone they love.  
Official guidelines for maintaining social distancing in various settings.

  1.  Dance or sing along to videos on YouTube. It’s basically the 2020 version of karaoke. 
  1. Pick your favorite song with a 20 second refrain or verse perfect for the amount of time we’re supposed to spend washing our hands. 
  1. Purge and clean their room! Team up and really clean and organize each kid's space, making a donation box for each.
  1. Disney+ is your friend. Now is the time to show them some of your old favorites. (Mighty Ducks, anyone?) 
  1. Have pets? Get the kids involved in their care - from feeding and walking the dog, changing the kitty litter box or cleaning the fish tank. 
  1. Practice energy conservation and turn off lights and electronics that you’re not using. Live in California? You can actually get paid to do this! 
Best practices for social distancing during public events.

  1. Write a story cooperatively. One person picks a character and the other picks a setting and you go from there. Who knows - your kid might be the next Dr. Seuss! 
  1. Try some kitchen chemistry and science experiments. I remember mixing baking soda with vinegar with my Dad when I was young and it blew my mind. I think Slime is what the kids are making these days! 
  1. Make homemade ice cream
  1. Pick a different picture book every day and read it together. 
  1. Learn to bake! Here are some easy recipes kids can do with minimal supervision. 
  1. Go outside and inventory all the plants and wildlife in your backyard or local park. 
  1. While you’re out there, bring a glass jar and catch some pillbugs and observe them. (Remember to treat them with care and set them free when you’re done looking at them!) 
  1. Go through old mail lying around and let them rip the unimportant ones to shreds. Bye bye flyers and junk mail! 
  1. Legos. No explanation needed! 
  1. Take a breather and practice some yoga. Here’s a great yoga video for kids who want to get their zen on. 
  1. Write a short story and illustrate it. 
  1. Encourage them to journal their quarantine or social distancing experience. This will be an interesting time to look back on when they’re older. 
  1. Draw self portraits or portraits of people they love. (Then pop them in the mail and send them to the portrait’s subject!)
  1. Pick a place on the map and learn it in depth. They could amaze their friends at the next party (whenever that is) when they know all the US State Capitals! 
  1. Make a scavenger hunt or indoor treasure hunts where they follow clues through the house to a "treasure" at the end. (Candy, a movie, a love note, whatever!) 
  1. Got a long hallway or stretch of sidewalk? Do races of various kinds (crab walking, hopping on one foot, walking backwards etc.) 
  1. Simon says or Red Light, Green Light were some of my favorite games as a kid and they stand the test of time. 
  2. Make friendship bracelets to give to their friends when we see them in person next. 
  1. Learn the parts of a plant or flower and how they function.
  1. Learn to sew using scrap pieces of material you have around the house. 
  1. Build a fort. Bonus points to jazz it up with Christmas lights or something to make it really sparkle. 
  1. Dig out that old set of binoculars and learn about the birds near your house. Look them up on Google and search for their birdcalls on YouTube. 
  1. Charades. You can even play this with friends on a video call! 
  1. Hike a trail you’ve never hiked before. (As long as you stay away from over populated areas you’ll naturally stay a safe distance from others.) 
  1. Mow the lawn or take on other household chores. 
negative impacts of social distancing.

  1. Play with sidewalk chalk, or write a feel good message for your neighbors to see as they pass by. 
  1. Listen to kid podcasts - Story Pirates and Brains On are pretty awesome. 
  1. Have the kids invent their own planets, down to the nitty gritty details. What’s it called? How big is it? Where in the universe is it located? What are the atmospheric conditions? Can it sustain life? How long is a day/year etc? 
  1. Have your own Spring Olympics with a variety of events and competitions - fun ones like Minute to Win It and helpful ones like a tidying race. 
  1. Dig through your cupboards to find that ingredient you bought but never used and find a recipe that uses it now. 
  1. Put on swimsuits, get out your beach towels and have a pretend beach party on a rainy or snowy day - complete with Beach Boys music.
  1. Popcorn and movie night/day! 
  1. Check out GoNoodle to boost their movement and mindfulness each day. 
  1. Make a scrapbook out of photos and tokens from a recent vacation. 
  1. Wash and clean out the car. 
  2. Watch all the hand washing videos and vote on which one is your favorite. Discuss why each is good, helpful, funny etc. This one from the Holderness Family is pretty epic, or this epic TikTok hand washing video out of Vietnam.
  1. Drawing and coloring never get old! 
  1. If your neighborhood is not on full lockdown, go for a walk or a bike ride. The fresh air will do you good! 
  1. Stay calm and wash your hands. We’re all in this together. 

Related Post: 50 Productive Ways to Spend Time When You’re Social Distancing

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