My wife recently received a positive COVID test, so my family was starting a 14- day quarantine. Since the initial lockdown in our state, this will be the third time we’ve had to hunker in for two weeks of solitude. We’ve played every board game, finished every puzzle, and watched just about every movie ever made. How are we going to get through another two weeks? Maybe you’re in a similar situation to us. Maybe you’ve never come out from the first lockdown. Maybe your kids are home from school for a few more weeks and are driving you nuts. Let’s take a look at some websites that offer creative, engaging options that can help you start 2021 off right.
Scratch & Scratch Jr. (https://scratch.mit.edu/)
Coding can empower your child to be acreator, a designer, and a problem-solver. Scratch was designed by students at MIT in 2003 as a tool for anyone who wants to learn to code. The university continues to update and maintain the application 18 years later. Scratch uses block coding that allows kids to snap pieces of code together like a puzzle.This dynamic programming language enables kids to create just about anything they like. Kids will find the site is filled with examples from other creators. There’s also an active online community of Scratch programmers when they need answers or inspiration. Scratch is suitable for children ages 8 to 16. Younger coders should check out Scratch Jr. Scratch Jr uses a similar model but focuses on students ages 5-7. This is a great way to fill an afternoon and learn a new skill at the same time!
Science Bob (sciencebob.com)
Experiments that’s an option for kids of all ages. ScienceBob features more than 45 fun ideas that challenge youngsters to use household items for science-related projects. The plans are called demonstrations and only become experiments after kids answer a set of questions related to the process. Each demonstration includes a downloadable PDF with instructions on what you’ll need, how to perform the task, and an explanation of what makes it all work. Some highlights include the exploding lunch bag, blobs in a bottle, and lava in a cup. ScienceBob can engage your kids in fun, active learning for hours.
ArtfulParent is the place for creative activities. The site contains more than 500 kid friendly ideas, guides, and inspirations designed to bring out their inner artist. The simplistic design of the website makes it very easy for children (and adults) to search through the catalog of creation. Children can choose from categories such as painting, drawing, and playdough. Go to the website and select “Find a Fun Art Activity” to get started.
Art Hub for Kids (artforkidshub.com)
Art Hub for Kids is a family-friendly YouTube channel that teaches children how to draw in a fun way. Each video includes the leading artist, Rob, and one of his four children drawing alongside him. On-screen, he’ll draw a line or shape, and then his co-artist will draw the same thing. The camera shows both drawings side by side so the viewers can see exactly what to do. Kids can pause the video while they draw or rewatch a section if they don’t understand the instructions. Rob does a phenomenal job of emphasizing that every artist is different. It is perfectly OK if your drawing at home doesn’t look exactly like his. The artwork is colored and shaded when it is complete. The result is almost always something your child will be proud of. The most challenging part is choosing what to draw from the thousands of options available. You can find the channel by searching for Art For Kids Hub on YouTube. If you’re not a fan of YouTube, check out ArtForKidsHub.tv. It is a paid site ($5.99 a month) run by the same family that allows you to access all the Art For Kids Hub videos in a friendly, ad-free environment.
Magic Tricks for Kids (magictricksforkids.org)
Magic tricks can provide hours of entertainment, but only after the magician has put in the time to ensure the trick is believable. Mastering a magic trick is an excellent way to teach a child that “practice makes perfect”. Magic Tricks for Kids has a collection of almost eighty different illusions that your youngster can choose from. The majority of the options use everyday household items such as cards, paper bags, and rubber bands. The best feature on Magic Tricks for Kids is the site’s use of video to explain the slight of hand. In addition to the written walkthrough, each trick includes a link to a YouTube video with a detailed recreation of the hocus-pocus. Magic may not be for everyone, but I’d encourage you to have your kid(s) visit the site and poke around. The only downside to this website is the author hasn’t updated the content in a few years.
Bubblesphere encourages kids to experiment with the formula for blowing bubbles. The website provides three simple formulas. The recipe for “super bubbles” appears to be the most popular place to start. Students are tasked with altering the ingredients and then observing the results. Bubblesphere is a great jumping off point for this activity. A quick search on Google for “Bubble making formula” delivers several additional ideas.
Funology is a catch-all website that includes a collection of experiments, crafts, and recipes for kids. Most of the crafts and experiments can be done using common items found around the house. For example, there’s a science experiment that uses vinegar to turn a penny from brown to green. Another fun one uses a chemical reaction to inflate a balloon. Funology is a fantastic resource when you’ve exhausted one of the sites above.
ChopChop Family (chopchopmag.org)
Mixing ingredients, stirring pots, and whipping up something delicious is a fan favorite in my household. ChopChop Family is our go-to site for kid friendly recipes. The site features a wide variety of ideas from simple smoothies to skillet lasagna. ChopChop is sure to have a few options for even the pickiest of eaters. Along with the ingredients and cooking instructions, each recipe includes the total amount of time families can expect to spend creating their tasty masterpieces.