Homebound? How to keep the kiddos happy, healthy, and entertained
With Coronavirus precautions in mind, parents are suddenly faced with the challenge of keeping their children occupied while they’re at home. If you’re running out of ideas on how to keep the kids busy, here are some fun options for quality family time, free activities, as well as tips on keeping your kids healthy while keeping up their day-to-day routine.
Keeping Your Family Healthy
Sing A Song While You Wash Your Hands
We know that everyone’s saying it, but that’s because it’s the most effective and easy way to stay healthy when it comes to the Coronavirus – but only if you do it right! Washing your hands for a full 20 seconds is the key part of making this an effective method.
So how can you make this fun for kids AND make sure they wash their hands for the full 20 seconds? Here are a few songs that will help you master your handwashing skills:
- Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice
- Recite ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’ twice
- Sing the ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ chorus twice
- Sing the ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ chorus twice
You don’t have to use ‘fancy’ soap or even antibacterial soap either! Any plain old soap will do. It’s the friction of scrubbing, and not the soap itself, that removes the germs.
Hand Sanitizer To The Rescue!
If you’re in the car or somewhere soap and water isn’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a great alternative if you can get your hands on it. It’s great to keep some in the car and do a quick spritz of sanitizer when you’re leaving or going somewhere.
Stay Indoors Except for Daily Walks or Grocery Runs
Limiting how many people you come into contact with by only going out to get groceries or exercise is a great way to practice social distancing. Try to maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing or have a fever. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
Cover Your Mouth When You Cough or Sneeze
We’re not saying this just because your mom told you so or because it’s good manners. If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose into your elbow or a tissue. Be sure to throw the tissue away immediately and, you guessed it, wash those hands again!
Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose & Mouth
You may have recently realized just how much you touch your face! Hands touch many surfaces that can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
Keep Your Family Active
Help your kids get their energy out while you get in your steps for the day and fit ‘Fido’s’ walk in while you’re at it. Go for a walk, whether it’s at your local park or just around the block. Take a basketball, frisbee, or soccer ball with you for some family fun- or better yet, have a family picnic at the park and play some games or ball while you’re out of the house.
Create a Family Schedule and Stick To It!
Homeschooling your kids while you may also be working from home is no easy task, but keeping your kids in as much of a routine as possible will make this transition much smoother! Here are some ways to get in the groove of your new family routine:
Wake up on time and start off with a healthy breakfast. Going about your usual routine, getting dressed, and drinking your coffee before getting the kids up will help set the tone of your day. Treat this time like you would a normal school week instead of making it feel like a vacation. This is key for your kids to keep their day-to-day as normal as possible. Summer will be here before you know it anyways!
Continue healthy oral habits. This is a good opportunity to teach kids about the importance of hygiene – especially oral hygiene. Continuing to take care of your child’s teeth and gums are essential to preventing the spread of bacteria. We even have some DIY activities at the bottom of this blog post that help kids understand the importance of oral health and encourage them to keep up with their tooth brushing routine.
Set a schedule and put it where the whole family can see it. A great place to put your new family schedule is on your fridge or where your kids will be doing their school work. Make sure to incorporate a little bit of everything:
- Spread their school subjects out during the day– this will help the kid’s schedule not blend together, make sure to dedicate an equal amount of time to each of them
- Activities and exercise – recess and PE outside
- Quiet time – 30-minute nap for the little ones or reading time
- Tech-time – limit their tv and computer time to an hour for some much-needed alone-time
Make this time fun for everyone! Though this time shouldn’t be treated as a vacation, take advantage of everyone being home with some quality time after the school hours have passed. Play some board games, stream a Broadway play on TV for FREE or try a new recipe that the whole family can help with. Set out any games, toys, or activities where the kids can take their pick.
Healthy eating and snacking. Have you lost track of how many times the kids have asked for a snack? One easy way to make snacking easy (and healthy) is to dedicate a small basket or bin for each child with their name on it. Put in 2-3 healthy treats for the day- this will encourage them to spread out their snacking throughout the day without having to ask you every time! A few kid-friendly yummy snack ideas are grapes, nuts, yogurt, mandarin oranges, string cheese, or pretzels!
Incorporate daily chores with a points system. List out all of the family chores- harder chores are worth more points. More points equal additional tech time or a later bedtime!
Free activity ideas for the family:
- Stream a Broadway play on TV for FREE
- Play board games, put together a puzzle, play charades, play hide and seek, or do a scavenger hunt
- Cozy up with a book on the couch
- Go for a walk or jog at the park, play frisbee, throw the ball around, or play some soccer
- Build a pillow fort
- Take a virtual tour of a museum or watch a live stream of penguins at the zoo
- Try a new recipe with whatever ingredients you have on hand
- Hold a family coloring contest
- Have a family picnic on the lawn or at the park
- Go ‘camping’ in the great outdoors AKA your backyard
- Do crafts with random items in your junk drawer or check out our dental crafts at the bottom of this blog post
- Host your own American Family Idol karaoke competition
- Challenge your kids to learn a new skill – teach your kids how to sew, learn a new ‘big’ word each day, teach them how to ride a bike, practice handstands, or play chess
- Make a backyard obstacle course – time to get the junk out of the garage and make some use of it in the backyard. Have the kids build their own obstacle course, race each other, and the winner gets a prize.
Fun DIY Activities to Encourage Healthy Habits
DIY Toothpaste Recipe:
- 4 tsp. Baking soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Flavoring (such as peppermint extract)
- Mix and store in an airtight container.
- Extra fun: name your toothpaste and create a label for the container.
Plaque Attack Activity: Carefully cut the bottom off of a plastic soda bottle. Paint it white to resemble a tooth. Make a runny paste with flour and water (add food coloring if you like) and splatter it on the tooth to resemble food and plaque. Let it harden. Have children attempt to brush the flour mixture away. Show how difficult it is once it has hardened versus before it has had a chance to sit on the “tooth”.
Monster Mouth 3D Activity: Cut apart a white styrofoam egg carton to make little “teeth”. Give each child their own “tooth” and have them select a snack from a list of foods that include both tooth-friendly and unhealthy options. If they select a tooth-friendly food, use a highlighter or dry erase marker to color food spots on their tooth. If they select unhealthy food, use a Sharpie or permanent black marker to color food spots on their tooth. Now give the child a toothbrush to brush away their food spots. Explain that healthy foods are easy to brush away but the unhealthy foods are hard to brush away and can lead to cavities.
For the most up-to-date information on possible vaccines, treatments, FAQs, news and more, please visit the following official health organizations:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
If you have questions or concerns, please call us at 1-877-PDA-KIDS.
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