Photo: YouTube videos can give your children the ride of their virtual roller coaster life. Shutterstock.
The current crisis leaves people all over the world at home with their families. While this is a great time to get more “family time” instead of your usual busy days, it seems that most kids are becoming bored with what is around the home. If it’s not electronic, they don’t want much to do with it. Of course, as parents, you know that sitting in front of electronics all day long is not ideal.
Unfortunately, like so many other parents around the world, you’re running out of ideas to keep your children busy. On top of this, you’re also finding yourself getting bored, which doesn’t help the situation. You’re wondering what to do? Let this article be your guide on helping you develop 35 ideas for a staycation with your kids.
Bring Out The Old Board Games
You might need to explain to your children that they’re board games and not boring games, but you’ll find that your kids enjoy them more than they think. It doesn’t matter if they’re back in your closet and filled with dust, bring out the game of Monopoly, Yahtzee, Uno, Life, or whatever you have and watch them become more interested in the board games instead of their electronics.
It’s true, you might need to persuade your teens a little more than younger children, but they will all have more fun than you imagined. You might even create a nightly board game night after the current crisis is over!
If you have trouble getting your children interested in old fashioned board games or you don’t have any, then you can look at online board games. It might be an easier way to show your children about Monopoly or Trouble because you can do so with a device.
The trick is, you want to make sure that the whole family is involved. If you have trouble selecting a game because your children can’t decide, give them each a day. This decision will allow you to take a couple of hours out of each day and dedicate it to playing online board games.
Once one entity started putting a virtual tour on their website because of the current crisis, others quickly followed. Soon, there were websites dedicated to all the entities from national parks to zoos that allowed people to visit from the comfort of their homes and in their pajamas.
You can access the National Park service and educate your children at the same time by touring the 277 miles of the Grand Canyon. Do a little research as there are tons of National Parks at your fingertips. You can also see Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin Live-stream Webcam!
Before the days of television (you might need to explain this one to your kids), families would gather around for nightly reading. Sometimes the father would read part of a book while other times, each family member had their book to read.
Now is the perfect time to start bringing this activity back into the home. Set aside time every day to read. You can all do this together in one room and even allow other people to join you through Zoom or FaceTime. One of the best benefits is that it gets your children away from technology.
It is possible that your children felt they’ve read every single book in the house. No matter what you say or what book you bring to their attention, they’re just not interested in the book. Don’t force them to read something they’re not interested in reading. Instead, get an iPad or laptop and download a book online.
You can get books from nearly every library, Kindle, or other apps. With the world at the touch of their fingertips, your children are bound to find dozens of books that they want to read.
You can use any type of app that allows you to see other people, such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Using one of these apps can help you throw a party with your friends while everyone is safely in the comfort of their homes.
You can throw many types of parties from dance to tea. You can even have lunch with each other like you would on any given day. If you have decorations around your home, you can include them in the party, but it’ll be more fun for everyone to have them hanging in view.
Get outside and have as much fun as possible. Most countries are still allowing people to go out in their yard as long as they keep at least 6 feet away from people during the current crisis.
Therefore, you want to make sure to get your children outside for some time. One way to do this is by helping them become a sidewalk chalk artist. This idea can entertain children for hours and leave your sidewalks full of wonderful pictures you can share on social media.
Usually, people only take their Halloween decorations out once a year. Of course, you might always have them out, but even if you do, let your kids find a few more decorations you have hidden and build a haunted house.
You can even add in a few events to make the haunted house even more fun, such as telling ghost stories. Let your kids’ imaginations run a little wild and crazy with the haunted house idea. Don’t forget to be scared as they take you on their haunted house tour.
If you’ve recently seen a horror movie about needing to escape from a particular place, you probably want to focus on a different virtual field trip first, but there are many great escape rooms that you can see from the comfort of your own home. It can also put your mind at ease if the movie made you a bit nervous about these activities.
Breakout EDU is a great place to start for students who are in school. This website uses online games to help bring out the fun of an escape room into their home.
If you have Netflix, you can use the “Netflix Watch Party” feature to have fun with your family, friends, and anyone else who wants to join in. You can watch any Netflix movie on this feature, but you do need to download the extension which is only available on Chrome.
This feature also has a chat box that allows you and everyone else to communicate with each other while watching the movie. It also allows you to see who joins in on the party. You can also simultaneously pause the video for bathroom breaks or any other reason.
One of the best field trips many kids take in their school years is visiting a planetarium, providing they live near one. It’s a great way to see stars, planets, and receive a considerable amount of information about space. One of the best websites to check out is Star Atlas, which lets you see more than 60,000 stars, planets, and even watch a solar eclipse.
All you need to do is enter your location, and you’ll see all of the constellations that are visible in the area that you live. Then, you can take your children outside on a beautiful and clear night and see if you can find them in the night sky.
It’s important to get outdoors for your mental health. Of course, this all depends on where you live in the world as some countries don’t allow you to step outside except for essential reasons. But, if you’re lucky enough to go out into your yard and it’s warm enough, you should look into planting a garden.
You can make planting a garden and turn it into an educational opportunity that your children and follow throughout the summer. Not only can they learn about nature, but they can learn about science as well. It can also teach them a bit of responsibility.
One museum that you need to take a virtual field trip to is the Roald Dahl Museum. If your children like anyone of his books, they will love the museum. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is located in London, so it’s not always easy to go-to for many people.
Furthermore, the virtual tour is a free way to visit the museum, which also has online activities for children and stories that they can read out loud.
Along with movies and parties, you can also attend concerts while sitting in your living room…or even taking a bubble bath, and no one will know (unless you say something). There are a few musicians who are throwing a concert from their living room and allowing you to watch it live.
For most of these concerts, you don’t need to purchase a ticket, but you do need to ensure that you can get the link, and everything will work on your end. You’ll also need to watch the time because most are going by their time, which means you might have to watch the concert at 3 in the morning.
I’m not talking about a regular blanket fort; I am talking about a fort that you take time on, and your children can spend days in. You will need certain art supplies, such as markers, paints, stickers, stamps, glue, and anything else. Of course, all those Amazon boxes will also work great in building the fort.
You can have your children build the fort for fun and then incorporate it into history lessons or have them create their own play.
You can also take a trip on a safari, thanks to websites like Africam. This website has several webcams set up so you can watch animals in their natural habitat. Not only will you see birds, but you can also see leopards, elephants, and lions. Oh my!
From the comfort of your own home, you can see Kruger National Park, Tembe Elephant Park, Nkorho Bush Lodge, the Olifants River, and others. All you need to do is check out a website and choose one of the cameras. If you want to bring a little more education into the video, look up facts about the animals that your children can read after they watch the animal live.
There is much talk about making sure your children get a good education while they’re held up in their home because of the current crisis. But, you also want to look at other factors, such as building up their self-esteem and helping them understand the value of self-care.
You can do this by watching Ted Talks that allow your children to listen to people who will inspire them to reach their goals. You can also do this by taking the time to show your children how to take care of themselves and letting them know you’re proud of them.
When the current crisis hit the world, museums were told to close as a way to limit exposure. However, museums decided that they would do anything they could to ensure that everyone can view the museums right from home. In a sense, they knew that you would need to entertain your children, so they decided to change the way you can view the museum.
Some of the world’s well-known museums have guided tours on their websites. They also have lesson plans and other tools for entertainment purposes. You can get a virtual tour of the Museum of the American Revolution, art museums, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon home.
Camping isn’t just for a trip to a National Park or miles away from your home. You can always go camping in your backyard or right in your living room. While younger kids will probably enjoy this more than older children, you never know until you try.
Get out blankets and even make s’ mores. If you’re outside, check your location limits to see if you can have a little fire or use your grill to help roast marshmallows.
Another way to get out and keep the kids busy (other than their regular outdoor activities) is to create a nature scavenger hunt. You can also turn this into a Bingo Game. All you need to do is create a list of words that can be found in nature, such as rock, stick, grass, and tree.
If you follow the Bingo game route, you’ll need to create your Bingo cards. If you follow the scavenger hunt version, you need to create a list for your kids to check off. You can also hide individual items in the back yard that they’ll need to find.
Try to find a YouTube video that will get your children moving throughout the day. Set up times where they have “gym” or a physical activity time where they can dance to music, learn Yoga, or exercise with you. It’s essential to ensure that they continue to burn off some calories, stretch, and wiggle throughout their day, so they maintain a healthy weight and promote healthy habits.
Then again, you might have children who have no trouble maintaining energy. In this case, you can check out websites like Cosmic Kids Yoga that helps them become mindful and practice relaxation techniques.
Another way to pass the time during the current crisis is to take an online class. Some are great for adults, while many are also great (and fun) for kids. You might find an online art class or a silly little class that your children will find interesting.
The biggest struggle you might run into is making sure that your children don’t feel they’re going to school and are having fun with the class. Fortunately, places like Coursera and others have dozens of types that will interest everyone in your home.
It seems that everyone is getting involved in the free remote learning category due to the current crisis. You can even become a Walt Disney Imagineer, which brings the creative force behind Disney to you. In a way, it proves to your children that they can imagine a new Disney movie just like the innovative team behind the film.
Khan Academy and Pixar teamed up to create Disney Imagineer, which you can take for free at Khan Academy. The free course also allows everyone to get a behind-the-scenes look at certain Disney films. You can also get a sneak peek if you have the Disney+ app.
You don’t need to tell your children that they’re education websites until they’ve found a few things that keep them interested. Let’s face it; we all know how many children tend to back away from the word educational. Some of the best websites for children include Elementari, Nickelodeon’s NickHelps.com, and Mystery Science.
Through these websites, you’re bound to find something to interest your child of any age and interest. For instance, if your child is into science, you’ll want to look into Mystery science while you can find some history on Elementari.
Even if you live in a rural area in the American Midwest or among another farming community – even if you live on a farm – visiting another farm is a great way to spend an afternoon. A website called Farm Fresh allows people to see Canadian farms through a 360-degree virtual tour.
You can see how to make milk, raise pigs, and even learn about the growth of apples. There are several virtual American farm field trips as well.
It’s true! You can bring your kids to space right in your living room. You can see the surface of Mars with a site called Access Mars. All of the surface you see was recorded by NASA’s Curiosity Rover. There is also a place where you can watch NASA recordings all the time at NASA TV, which is found on YouTube and NASA’s website.
But this isn’t all NASA has to offer. You can also take a guided Virtual 3-D Tour of the International Space Station or view thousands of interstellar photos.
Broadway plays are one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime. While you can’t go to Broadway in New York City to see one now, you can use this time to watch them from your home. The best part – you don’t need to pay for tickets!
Some of the most popular musicals are available on several streaming services, such as Netflix. You can also watch some of the best Broadway talents like Kristin Chenoweth and Billy Porter on the Actor’s Fund YouTube channel. Show your children the magic of live theater right in your living room.
One of the best parts of the world is that you can see mammals that live in the water through aquariums around the globe. Some allow you to see them from underneath, while others allow you to see them in other ways. The water is incredibly clear, which enables the mammals to to see you as well.
With the current crisis, heading to your local aquarium is not possible. However, many have set up cameras so you can watch the mammals from your home. One great benefit of this is that you don’t need to pay to see them. Another one is if you don’t live near an aquarium, your children now have a chance to see one online.
Do your children love zoos? Are they interested in cuddly and cute animals that they usually don’t get to see? Since everyone is under lockdown during the current situation, many zoos have decided to bring their furry companions into your living room remotely.
All you need to do is look at zoos that have this feature and find the link, usually on their website, that allows you to watch the pandas, goats, giraffes, and many other animals doing their everyday thing. You can also go to sites like Puppies Galore or Kittens Galore to watch adorable puppies and kitties.
You know that parks, zoos, and aquariums are all part of the remote world and allow you to take tours of their exhibits or parts of their facility. However, there are also a large number of landmarks that you can see online in the same way. For example, you can get a 360-degree view of more than a dozen rooms of the White House that you wouldn’t see on an official tour.
You can also use this time to climb on top of the Empire State Building or The Great Wall of China virtual tour. This tour gives you a 360-degree view as if you were standing on the wall.
Just like you can find board games online, you can find card games too. Dozens of websites have card games set up online, some of them you’ve never even heard about, but will be fun for you and your kids to learn!
One of the best websites to check out is PlayingcardsiO, which will have new and old games. You might play your favorite game, such as solitaire or find Go Fish. There are games available for any age, so you don’t need to worry about not finding one for even your youngest family members.
Craft projects are not exempt from the current crisis so that you can do several crafts. One big craft project your kids can work on is building their own fairy house. Have them go around outside and find materials such as twigs, leaves, shells, and pebbles.
You can also use items around your homes, such as ribbons and cardboard. Find little decorations like mushrooms, tiny houses, and fake flowers to add as well. Your kids can create a small or big house.
Walk around your home and see what kind of craft supplies you have and then let your kids go a little wild. It might create a mess, but your children will have fun and find themselves busy for a while.
Furthermore, you’ll find yourself with new little craft items that they created with their own two hands (you know you love getting those small gifts that you store forever). Let your kids use whatever is safe and dig into their imagination, as this will allow them to use some brainpower.
While people can create their videos without the current crisis, you can take this time to video your family. Record memories of what you did during this time so you can look back at the videos next year and even 30 years down the road.
Take this time to explain to your children the importance of recording history and give them examples of people who did the same, such as Anne Frank. One day they will look back at what’s going on in the world now and forget details or have questions from their grandchildren to answer for a school project.
While the current crisis might end by the time fairs start, you can get your children into riding a roller coaster virtually through videos on websites like The Sharp Productions or The Coaster Views. They’re easily found on YouTube, and they let you feel like you’re actually on a roller coaster.
These rides are similar to some of the best you’ll find in places like Universal Studios, Six Flags, Cedar Point, and Disney World. However, you’ll want to make sure you have your puke bags close by because the videos don’t provide them.
“Working from home? Here are 37 spring break staycation ideas for your kids.” Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman, Tech Republic. March 2020
“40 Fun Staycation Ideas for Families.” Kayla Boyd, Cafe Mom. Mary 2018.
“25 Ideas for an Amazing Staycation with Your Kids.” Dawn Yanek, Momsanity. March 2017.