As more of us are ordered to shelter in our homes during this pandemic, we become all too familiar with kids getting antsy, bored, maudlin, fussy or just downright irritable and hard to live with. The space gets tighter, and the nerves get touchier. What can we do to keep kids involved, still learning and relatively calm?
Bill's son built a fort in his living room for his kids. He cleared out a pretty large space and put up the big tent he'd bought for camping. His kids could carry toys and dolls in and out, play peekaboo, take naps and hold pretend conversations. That provided days of fun. It was really special when they were able to get the dog in there.
With the richness of computer resources, you can reach out far and wide for encouragement and engagement without putting up the big tent.
For example, several zoos have virtual hookups where you can see their animals, roaming, eating and resting. The Cincinnati Zoo has a Home Safari where they highlight one of their animals each time and conduct an activity for kids. The program appears on Facebook Live and is posted later on the Zoo's webpage and its YouTube channel.
Two excellent zoos — the Smithsonian National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo — have set up webcams so you can visit with their animals.
Kids can engage in activities on Crayola's create and learn page. You can sort by tools you'd like to use, the occasion and the age of the child (or adult!).
Cooking with your kids can be fun and is made easier by Food Network. They have kid-friendly recipes, kitchen tasks and tips.
Aquariums are a great place to connect. Sites like Aquarium of the Pacific, the Georgia Aquarium and the Tennessee Aquarium provide links to their exhibits.
Check out your local library online. Many have access to a variety of free books you can check out electronically and read from home.
Our state has the Tennessee Electronic Library, which is a large virtual collection for Tennessee residents. Your state may have something similar. You can sit in your lounger, stay in your comfy pants and access hundreds of books.
The Indianapolis Library has a free video read-aloud service. Just click on one of the dozen books you would like to read and have at it. No library card necessary.
The site weareteachers.com highlights some virtual field trips on their website. Kids can have a learning experience without ever leaving home, fighting in the car's back seat, complaining that they are hungry or asking when they are going to get there.
Check out a museum. The Boston Children's Museum provides many online learning opportunities.
Try investigating the International Space Station and stepping aboard this incredible vehicle, meeting the current station crew and taking part in STEMonstrations: science, technology, engineering and math demonstration on the ISS.
It's important to engage with kids, keep the learning going, help maintain their mental health and keep up their spirits. Hopefully these diversions will help during these trying times.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black write a syndicated column on fatherhood and are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Email them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.