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Cooped Up? Time to Get Creative!

by David Engle | Mar 31, 2020 | 4 min read

Approximately 55 million public and private school students are now at home. No, summer vacation didn’t come early–this is simply the coronavirus way of life at the moment…and for the foreseeable future. Experts aren’t entirely sure when the “curve will flatten” or when the COVID-19 pandemic will reach a level of containment that will allow schools to reopen.

Numerous states have closed schools. And it is not over yet. Drastic? Maybe. But these are drastic times–this is a global health crisis unlike any we’ve ever seen, and it’s going to take these types of measures to contain this virus. Which brings us to…

You and your kids are at home. All day. For those of you who already homeschool, it’s probably not quite as much of an adjustment. But for those of you who work full time and whose children are in school for around seven hours each day…you’re probably going a bit stir-crazy. Since many states are enforcing some type of “stay at home” or “shelter at home” policy, there’s only so much to do. Homeschoolers most likely can’t get together with their co-op groups or hold group learning sessions. No one (veteran homeschoolers or those new to it) can even take a trip to a museum, zoo, or aquarium–they’re all closed. There is a silver lining here though. And no, that’s not my cabin fever talking. (Or maybe it is.) Having limited options can sometimes bring out the creativity in kids.

Sure, there’s still TV and video games and the internet and social media. Kids are going to take advantage of all of that while they’re home with presumably shorter school days. But this is where you, as parents, come in. Take away all of those things for an hour or two each day and see what your kids come up with. You’ll probably be surprised and impressed by what their imaginations can create during times like these. But in case you need some inspiration, here are a few ideas:

  • A Coronavirus Diary. It may sound strange, but just think about it for a moment…we’ve never seen anything like this (and hopefully never will again). COVID-19 has literally changed the lives of every single person on this planet. How we work, how we school, how we communicate, how we socialize, how we shop, how we live and breathe. It will pass at some point, but it’s most definitely a period worth noting–one for the history books, so to speak. So have your kids make note of it in any number of ways. Whether it’s a video diary, a written journal, or even a PowerPoint/Google Slides presentation with photos and website info, kids can give a quick rundown of the day, what developments and updates arose, any new statistics, how they’re feeling and what they did. This is beneficial in multiple ways: – Technical skills. If they’re creating a video diary, kids will need to know how to work different devices (probably not a stretch). As a challenge, have them add effects and graphics to the video, which will require some editing skill. If it’s a slide show presentation, ask your children to add audio and video to it.
    – Writing skills. If they keep a written journal, this obviously exercises their writing skills and grammar muscles.
    – Emotional maturity. Odds are, there’s plenty going through every child’s mind at the moment. They’re probably experiencing the same emotions as you are: anxiety, fear, boredom, frustration, curiosity. Keeping a diary or journal is an excellent outlet for kids (and adults) to express their feelings and not keep them bottled up inside.
  • Art Class. But not taught by you…think of it as an independent study session. Let them pick the medium and give them a couple hours to work on whatever they want to create using supplies from around the house. Maybe it’ll be a Play Doh flower garden, or perhaps a macaroni art portrait. Popsicle stick buildings, watercolor paintings, pencil sketches. Even sidewalk chalk if the weather allows. The world is their canvas! Collect what they create and set up a temporary art gallery in your home. It will definitely add some personality and color to these long days.
  • Puzzle Time. Now’s the perfect time to reach into the cabinet or closet and dig out some puzzles. Puzzles are fun, they stimulate the brain, and they take plenty of time. Plus, they give kids a sense of accomplishment once they’ve completed them. If you can’t find any around the house, Amazon has a huge selection of puzzles for any age level.
  • Make Your Own Science Lab. Turn your kitchen into a laboratory and conduct cool science experiments with household items. Kids love this stuff, and it’s pretty interesting for parents as well. Check out The Science Kiddo and Fizzics Education for a huge selection of fun and educational kitchen science experiments. If you want something specific, Amazon offers plenty of kits that focus on single experiments.

While being cooped up certainly poses its challenges, it also provides ample opportunities for imagination and creativity to take over. Whether you’re already a homeschool parent or you’re new to the experience, now is the perfect time to come closer (yes, even closer than six feet for immediate family) and make the best of a once-in-a-generation situation. There are plenty of lessons to learn and memories to make, even when you’re stuck at home.

How are you passing the time during the coronavirus lockdown? Share in the comments below!

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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