Tag Archives: Home Learning Coronavirus

Social Distancing Survival Tips for Parents with Toddlers

[Note: These tips are from KFDC contributor, Emily Moise, mom of two little ones. Most of my strategies have been more for school age children, so Emily brings a fresh perspective to this new socially distanced world we’re all still figuring out how to navigate.]

If you’re like me, you’re seeing the plethora of virtual events, free online courses, streaming exercise classes, and binge-worthy TV recommendations, and thinking, “If only I didn’t have two toddlers!” Even though many of these offerings are geared towards preschoolers, a screen opens Pandora’s box for my nearly 3-year-old daughter and isn’t doable for my newly 1-year-old son.

Here are my social distancing survival tips for parents and caretakers of kids in the 1-3 range, using minimal or strategic screen time:

Change the scenery. Toddlers physically cannot stay in the house all day. It just ends badly. If it’s nice out and above 40 degrees we get outside (a nursery school rule), at least two times a day. Back yard, front yard, open field, tennis court, or “nature walk.” If stuck indoors, we change up the scenery there as well. Whether that’s making bath time a foam party, setting up a tent, or just moving playtime from room to room.  

FaceTime. This was always part of our little ones’ routine for family in NYC, but now we’ve added friends, more family, and even a whole nursery school class to the mix. Using a smartphone as a phone feels good! Kids get to converse or listen to conversation, see friends they miss, and then we can hang up without them wanting to scroll or watch videos. If your preschool class has yet to schedule a live group chat, encourage them to do it! We used Lifesize.

Hone in on the distraction-proof activities. My child can do puzzle after puzzle only looking up for you to hand her the next one, but give her an easel and paint and she’ll be done, paint spilled in about two minutes. We haven’t given up on painting, but we are really playing up the things that give her laser focus to kill an hour. Tip: Search the Facebook Marketplace for more puzzles, Play-Doh supplies, etc. You won’t have to wait for shipping…just be sure to sanitize well!

Choose your parent-DIY activities wisely. There are so many crafty ideas for toddler activities circulating out there now—but some can take way more time to create than use. I recently discovered @busytoddler on Instagram and her ideas using stickers (like this one) was an aha moment for me. My daughter loves stickers, as in she loves to just peel them off one by one until the sheet is done—five minutes max. With @busytoddler guidance, I’ve since created sheets of words and landscapes for her to match stickers to.

Aim for 45-minute intervals. The majority of those gym and music classes our children cannot attend at the moment are just 45 minutes long. For us, on non-school days we would have one or maybe two classes/open gyms on the schedule. If we can set up one of our social distancing activities and go for 45 minutes, I consider that a win and there is less pressure on the rest of the day. This is a good way to think about digital activities like Cosmic Kids Yoga. You can also try starting an activity with 20 minutes of your own “circle time” using music like this.

Love thy neighborhood walks. When the workday is over, we’re likely strolling through our neighborhood with the little ones in a wagon. We find neighbors out on every block willing to have a 6 foot-separated chat, or giving the kids a friendly wave and smile—much needed, real-life face time! The sidewalk chalk art movement is making these walks even more cheerful for everyone. Tip: Search your toddler’s favorite characters on this drawing tutorial site and be amazed at your sidewalk art skills.

Lastly, find your child’s TV obsession and milk it for all it’s worth. My daughter is fan-girling over Paw Patrol at the moment. Our routine is to watch two episodes in the morning and two in the afternoon (~40 minutes total). So now that’s all she asks for rather than an endless stream of requests. If she asks for more we say, “But you already watched four Paw Patrols today!” —which sounds like a lot. We have a stash of activity and reading books to support the fandom without the need for more TV.

What are some of your strategies for this social distancing with toddlers? If you have some good tips to share, please do so in the comments!


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Filed under 2020, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend

Virtual DC Activities & Experiences for Kids at Home During the Coronavirus

Last year’s cherry blossoms… you may not see them live this year, but you can get a peek online!

If kids can’t get to some of their favorite local places and activities during this time, you can bring the experiences to them — virtually. From webcams featuring the cherry blossoms and zoo animals to special live streamed programs especially for kids to online tours of iconic spots, there are a bunch of ways to access DC and keep your crew entertained while you #optinside. Stay healthy and safe!

See the Cherry Blossoms
If viewing the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin has become an annual tradition you’re going to miss, view them online instead. The Trust for the National Mall just launched #BloomCam – a live, 24/7 feed of the blossoming cherry trees in DC as they hit peak bloom, bringing this beautiful sight to all the people who can no longer get down to the Tidal Basin because of COVID-19.

The Lane Anti Social Club
The Lane, the brand new play space/family social club, just opened its doors a few weeks ago, and already they have to (temporarily) close them. So, this is a fantastic was to entertain the kids AND support a support a local business: The Lane (Anti) Social Club offers virtual events for kids to help give parents a much needed break or concentrated time to actually be able to work. Their “pay what you can” model makes it accessible to all, but a contribution is greatly appreciated — any donations received are going directly to pay their staff to help them stay afloat during this time. The Lane is partnering up with some wonderfully talented people like Corinne from Crescendo Communications and local artist Megan Elizabeth, otherwise all of the events will put on by their awesome staff. Follow the link to sign up for a session or a few!

Story Time with DC Public Libraries
On Friday, March 20 at 10:30am, join DC Public Library for a virtual story time on Facebook Live. This is short notice, but I’m guessing this will be the first of many more, so be sure to follow their social channels for updates.

Lunch Doodle with Mo Millems
It may not be in DC, but it’s presented by a DC place, the Kennedy Center, so that counts. Every day, kids can virtually join Mo Willems in his studio to draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons weekdays at 1pm — and the sessions will remain online to be streamed afterwards if you miss it live. Post art to social media and use the hashtag #MoLunchDoodles!

Virtual Circle Time
Crescendo Communication invites you to join for song, dance, instrument exploration, storytime, and silliness. They are led by Corinne Zmoos, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist, who provides joyful & genuine music classes, speech-language therapy, developmental programming, and inclusion trainings.

Visit Animals at the Zoo
The National Zoo is closed, but its webcams are still running. You can catch live glimpses of lions, pandas, elephants, and naked mole rates. You may not always see much action — last we looked the lion was just sitting there and we saw piles of elephant poop, but no elephants — but you may catch some fun and entertaining moments. Also, the Zoo notes that while the “animal webcams remain online, volunteers will not be operating them, so animals may not be visible at all times.”

Explore our Museums
While we can’t go to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, kids can still explore many of them online through photo galleries, activities, and more interesting features just for young visitors. Start with the general Smithsonian page here, and access indivual museums here. You can also take a virtual tour of the National Gallery of Art, which is not part of the Smithsonian.

Virtual Family Game Night
Lincoln’s Cottage has come up with an activity the whole fam can enjoy — a virtual community game night to play together in creative ways. While the Lincoln family didn’t use computers or the internet to connect, they did enjoy spending time together at the Cottage playing games. Join on Tuesday, March 24 at 7pm with your imagination and these items: a cup, 2 coins, 2 pens, and a book. Together, you’ll turn these Lincoln-related objects into games that spark brave ideas.

Tour the Capitol & Library of Congress
Get a close look at the inside of the U.S. Capitol Complex, which includes the Library of Congress and US Botanic Garden, too. See the magnificent buildings — Virtually Anywhere has captured 360 degree photography in many areas, including the Capitol Rotunda, National Statuary Hall, Library of Congress, many important Congressional caucus rooms, and much more.

Virtual Camp
Badlands Play Space has launched a series of videos while they are temporarily closed. You can access them through YouTube or IGTV. So far, they’ve had a doodle session, a dance break, a science show, cooking with Tiny Chefs, and even a cocktails and mocktails class (for adults).

Do you know of other local places and businesses offering virtual activities for kids right now? Please share in the comments, if so!

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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Spring

What to Do on the Weekdays At Home During the Coronavirus

Our cat Lola’s “What are you still doing here” look that we’ll surely see a lot this week

For obvious reasons, the usual Where to Play on the Weekdays feature, offering ideas for activities with kids around DC each day of the week, is being replaced right now. We’re entering new territory as we begin this extended time at home that will include keeping up with school work, keeping everyone engaged and entertained, and — let’s be honest — keeping us all sane. Here are some ideas to help with all of that (be sure to check comments, too, for ideas shared by readers). Stay healthy and safe…and sane. 🙂

Get Schooled
Most of our kids still have assigned school work, plus we don’t want them to get out of the routine of learning. While many schools are setting up online instruction, parents may want to create a schedule for their kids to follow. Even if you have little ones who don’t have assigned work, learning activities and structure to the day could help them stay in “school mode” to make the transition back to the classroom easier. Here are some links I found to help.

* Kahn Academy is free and has tips, schedules, and programs especially for this time.

* Scholastic’s Learn at Home website is a free resource that provides children from pre-K to grade 6+ with 20 days of exciting articles and stories, videos, and fun learning challenges.

* Tips from homeschooling parents

* Kiwi Crate just launched this resource hub for parents to help with learning at home.

* Zoom is offering their video conferencing tools to schools for free (possibly something to share with your kids’ schools and educators)

* Here’s another suggested (perhaps, more realistic?) schedule.😉

* Here’s a huge list of all education companies offering free subscriptions now.

* Wirecutter’s recommended educational apps and learning games for kids.

* As an education institution, the International Spy Museum has free lesson plans (up to curriculum standards), resources, recommended reading, and at-home activities.

* On March 30, Capitol Teachers is launching, offering tutoring services, enrichment opportunities, and homeschooling programs to students in grades K-12.

* Kids and teens ages 8-18 can learn to code from home through live, online classes with CodeWizardsHQ.

* National Geographic is offering free access to all of their coronavirus coverage, including their Resources for Families with good articles and tips for being at home with the kids during this time.

* Adventure Theatre is going online with its classes for Grades K-5! Grades K-2, can join for PLAYlabs on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am to act out a different story every session. Grades 3-5 can join for Acting Up!, a journey through the process of acting using creative drama and improvisation techniques, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am. Classes begin April 13th.

* Ten digital education resources from the National Gallery of Art.

* Educational activities you can do at home from the National Zoo.

* JK Tutoring Group is now offering virtual tutoring sessions to maximize social distancing.

* The Nationals have created content especially for young fans offering free, online educational activities for kids in grades 1-6, including STEM lessons, reading resources, and fun pages.

* Flex Academies usually provides after school enrichment activities for students. With these new social distancing circumstances, they’ve gone virtual, and kids everywhere can now learn about the things they love with Flex Academies ONE!, ofering everything from Improv Acting to Taekwondo to Yoga and Mindfulness in a safe, secure, online program.

* Mully Lingua, founded by a local mom, provides language and cultural activities activities to families in the DMV. In response to COVID-19, services have been moved online and are available for free for the next few months.

I shared some links with suggestions for fun and games at home in this post, and here are even more ideas to keep everyone engaged, enriched, and entertained during this time.

* Air and Space Anywhere lets you enjoy the fave-of-many Smithsonian museum from wherever you are. Access virtual tours, games & activities, podcasts, K-12 programs and more.

* Art Bar Blog has been putting together this Art & Play Activity Guides for Learning at Home. (The rest of the blog is great for arts & crafts ideas, too!)

* Get the kids in the kitchen and cook together.

* It’s spring, so do some spring cleaning! This blog post has good ideas to get the kids involved.

* Kids will want to get moving. If you have a game system (or even if you don’t… apparently you can play it online), I highly recommend Just Dance.

* Let the kids capture this time… in photos! If they don’t have their own, give the kids your camera (ie, phone) and let them snap away. This website has fun ideas and activities to guide and encourage them.

* To keep everyone chill during this anxious time, how about some yoga? I found Cosmic Kids Yoga, which looks good for little ones. (Admittedly, I’m not much of a yoga person to know what’s good, so do a search for “kids yoga” on YouTube for even more videos.)

* Take a Virtual Field Trip while kids can’t go on real ones. There are a bunch of places around the world to explore (plus the moon!) online in fun and educational ways.

* While kids can’t experience DC in person right now, let them visit virtually.

* The Lane Social Club just launched “The Lane (Anti) Social Club” — virtual events for kids to help give parents a much needed break or concentrated time to actually be able to work. It’s a pay what you can model, so it’s accessible to all, but donations are greatly appreciated to help support their staff.

* The International Spy Museum can guide you to some intriguing home activities, including designing a spy gadget, cracking a top secret code, and a mind memory activity.

* Keep children active even when they can’t get outdoors with Kids Workouts to Do at Home.

* Kids of all ages can learn to code for free at home through online classes, websites, and apps.

* The very recently reopened National Children’s Museum launched a daily, digital “STEAMwork” Series on their Facebook page. Each day at 2:30pm, there are projects, challenges, experiments, and story times for children under 12 and their caregivers.

* Kidstir, a company that makes subscription boxes providing cooking inspiration for children, is giving away 15,000 kits to keep the joy of cooking and baking alive as families are affected by the coronavirus. Sign up to get one! (Note: there is a $4 shipping fee so they can support as many families as possible).

* Lots of kids love earning Junior Ranger badges from National Parks. While they can’t visit them right now, there are some badges that can be earned at home by mail, and this blog post lists all of them.

* If your kids are missing their league sports, consider activities that keep them “in the game”: You can search for easy at-home drills, find past games of some of their favorite teams on YouTube, and/or set up video chats with teammates.

* While the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore is closed, they have moved online, offering science activities and events (and even content for adults).

* While they can’t host their fantastic scavenger hunts in museums, Watson Adventures has come up with virtual activities to engage in some family fun: Trivia Slam, Family Edition is part trivia challenge and part home scavenger hunt as you compete against other teams all over. Our joined one and had a blast! They take place one Saturdays & Sundays through April and will likely be extended.

* Foublie, founded by a local mom, is full of ideas for free food-based activities with young children.

* A fun project with the kids: Grow a vegetable (and fruit) garden with your own scraps! More tips here.

* KID Museum has cool, free Make It! projects online. They also just launched Make It! Plus — live, interactive programming led by their Maker Educators, geared toward kids in Kindergarten – 4th grade for a fee.

* The American Visionary Art Museum has a bunch of online experiences available — how-to videos, instructions for projects, coloring pages, and more — that look really neat for kids and adults. Read more about the wonderful AVAM here.

* While we can’t be out and about in DC (and cities all over, for that matter), we can explore them virtually with Free Tours by Foot.

* Peloton just introduced Peloton Family, fitness classes parents and kids can do together! FYI: You can get a 90-day free trial right now.

* The Hirshhorn has introduced #HirshhornInsideOut, which includes creative ideas for kids at home that relate to their exhibits and pieces from the collections.

* It may be awhile before we can pitch a tent in the great outdoors, so why not do some camping indoors instead? REI has some great ideas for doing just that.

* A new Where’s Waldo-themed web portal has activities for quarantining families like downloadable activity sheets and fun videos.

* The National Museum of Women in the Arts has some online offerings kids can enjoy — the NMWA Coloring Book and the NMWA@Home Youtube playlist which now has several very charming “Story Time with Women in the Arts” videos.

* Tiny Chefs is launching Cooking Around the World, a virtual cooking series.

* Tinkergarten, known for their outdoor-based early childhood education programs, has just created Tinkergarten At Home, a free, weekly series of outdoor activity plans that help families keep young kids entertained, learning, and connected to nature during this challenging time.

* The Kennedy Center presents arts education@home, where they offer background and insight on a variety of topics, plus dance lessons, resources for kids, art prompts, and more.

Read Up
This is a great opportunity to get kids reading more. Implement a set reading time each day (and plan to join them with your current book if they can read on their own). Rather than offer specific book recommendations — because there are SO many! — here are some links to help you pick out and purchase books for your kids, plus other story time activities.

* Stock up on books and support local small businesses by shopping online while you’re staying home and/or their brick-and-mortars are closed — some even deliver! Check out Kramerbooks, East City bookshop, Solid State Books, Politics and Prose, and Loyalty Bookstores.

* These Amazon Editors’ Picks include recommendations for kids books by age up to young adult.

* Common Sense Media also has good recommendations, plus plenty of ratings and details to help you decide if it’s appropriate for your child.

* So, it’s not actually reading, but Audible for Kids is a good way to access books without having to wait for deliveries or if multiple kids want to hear it. Also, kids who don’t read on their own yet can listen to stories while you’re getting work done. Even better, it’s FREE for kids for as long as schools are closed.

* Also not reading, but these This American Life stories are ones that kids seem to like.

* National Geographic Kids is always great to check out with children.

* On Thursdays at 7pm, tune in for Goodnight with Dolly as Dolly Parton begins a weekly series of reading bedtime stories for children.

* Port Discovery, the wonderful children’s museum in Baltimore, has loads of tips and resources for at-home play on their website, from art to STEM to theatre to health & wellness to sensory to music & movement.

* Want a super cute way to support kids during this challenging time? Call a Sesame Street character.

* The National Park Service is celebrating National Park Week (April 18-26) by offering all kinds of digital experiences on their website.

* The Hirshhorn has introduced #HirshhornInsideOut to experience the art museum while their doors are temporarily closed, which includes art prompts for kids, too.

* This new Where’s Waldo-themed web portal with activities for quarantining families like downloadable activity sheets and fun videos.

* It may be awhile before we can pitch a tent in the great outdoors, so why not do some camping indoors instead? REI has some great ideas for doing just that.

Screen Time
I think we’re all going to need some good shows and movies during this period of our lives, whether or not we’re big on screen time. (For the record, I’m pretty loose about it, but my kids do plenty of non-screen activities, too, and aren’t distracted from their school work by TV.) Anyway, if you’re looking for stuff for kids to watch, you can find recommendations through these links.

* My friend Darcy’s old blog, No Monsters in My Bed, had the best Family Movie Night list.

* Here’s a quick link to Kids’ TV on Netflix.

* Lots of our t(w)eens have already discovered The Office and Friends, but here are a few more faves from the past to introduce to them: My So Called Life, Felicity, Beverly Hills 90210, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Veronica Mars

* Common Sense Media’s Best Movie lists and Best TV lists are quick and easy go-tos for viewing ideas.

* Sasha digs this YouTube show (even though I think it’s weird).

* Amazon just made a bunch of their kids shows available for free.

* Amazon also just introduced Prime Video Cinema, access to the latest movies that were just released (or would have been) in theaters.

* As kids are missing their sleepovers and hanging out with friends, Netflix Party is a fun substitute — it lets them watch a movie or show and chat at the same time.

* Arts on the Horizon, which usually presents adorable productions especially for really young audiences, is now doing a Virtual Storytime Series for little ones (also adorable).

* Timing and luck will play a big part in this, but you can try to view the Northern Lights via web cam.

Hang Out(side)
While it is best to stay at home as much as possible right now, it’s tough to keep kids inside 24/7. If you feel the need to get out, do it responsibly for this time, and go where there is plenty of space to keep good social distance. These links have ideas to help with that, just be sure to check ahead that locales are open before you go.

UPDATE: I can’t stress enough that it’s best to stay at home right now, as even outdoor spots might draw too many visitors to make them safe. The National Arboretum closed to prevent the spread after the masses started flocking there. I also recently heard from a KFDC reader who went shark tooth hunting at Purse State Park that she felt very uncomfortable with so many others there, and it’s usually empty. Thus, I am now recommending you don’t go to those places.

* Hiking is still permitted for outdoor recreation during the coronavirus outbreak, and this WTOP article has really good tips for doing it safely.

* The KFDC round-up of Walks in the Woods has info on good places to hike with kids.

* The flowers blooms may not be happening, but this KFDC post highlights gardens around the area where you can roam around.

* A shark tooth hunting adventure gets you outdoors with lots of open space, plus it’s fun and kind of educational.

* A walk or bike ride close to home may be enough to get the indoor willies out.

Do you have recommendations for activities at home this week? Feel free to share in the comments! I’m sure they’ll be much appreciated.


Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Educational, Maryland, Outdoor, Virginia