You might be telecommuting during the coronavirus pandemic, but your kids are on spring break. Your kids can still be entertained with this mix of fun and educational activities, while you work remotely.
Trips cancelled. Bags unpacked. Kids stuck inside. Yup, it's spring break coronavirus style. Not only are many parents navigating the new normal of remote work, but they're managing their kids' time too.
How can telecommuters work remotely while their kids are on spring break at home? Below are some sure-fire, family-friendly staycation ideas to keep your kids busy, sparing you some much-needed time to get work done.
SEE: 37 spring break staycation ideas for kids (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
1. Play online board games
When your child complains about their lack of board game opponents, direct them to one of the many online options of virtual play. Boardgamearena.com works in your browser and on most game consoles (no download necessary), and it offers 175 modern board games, like Incan Gold, and card games such as Sushi Go!. It's free to join, but a small monthly fee adds on perks like voice and video chat.
Tabletopia! is another online arena for virtual board gaming. Play directly in modern desktop web browsers on Mac and Windows platforms, or download on Steam, App Store and Google Play. It's free to play two simultaneous games. Or pay a nominal monthly fee to play anywhere from six to ten simultaneous games. Tabletopia! contains more than 800 board game including Parcheesi, chess, and Santorini. Pogo is another option for free board game play, with old-school favorites available like Yahtzee Party, Scrabble, and Monopoly.
2. Ride a virtual roller coaster
Forget the hour-long waits in line, videos on The Coaster Views, or The Sharp Productions (both on YouTube) lets you take virtual roller rides coasters from some of the best amusement parks including Disney World, Universal Studios, Cedar Point, and Six Flags (Puke bags not provided.).
SEE: 250+ tips for telecommuting and managing remote workers (TechRepublic Premium)
3. Watch a Broadway play
The curtain may have closed on Broadway in New York City, but it can rise again in your home thanks to the many live versions of popular Broadway musicals that are available via streaming services. Netflix is the home to many popular musicals. You can stream your favorite Broadway hits with BroadwayHD, which is offering a seven-day free trial. The platform contains more than 300 titles. You can also watch the talents of Broadway royalty like Billy Porter and Kristin Chenoweth on The Actor's Fund YouTube each day for free (Donations are encouraged to help fund coronavirus relief). This is a great way to introduce your kids to the magic of live theater--with the ability to pause for bathroom breaks.
SEE: The tech pro's guide to video conferencing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
4. Throw a virtual party
From virtual tea or themed-dinner parties to book clubs, talent shows, and Pokemon battles, there's a plethora of video conferencing options to keep quarantined children in touch with family and friends.
Apple fans can use the FaceTime app on any of their Apple devices--iPhone, iPad or Mac--for video chats with as many as 32 friends, assuming they all own Apple devices.
The Microsoft-owned Skype, is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac and offers video and audio calling, as well as a messaging feature.
Zoom video and audio conferencing is great for large group chats as it can host up to 100 participants. Although group meetings are limited to 40 minutes. For extended meeting times Zoom charges a fee. Zoom also offers free virtual backgrounds (outer space, beach scenes or the Golden Gate bridge, to name a few) that kids will enjoy accessing.
Google's Hangouts Meet, a video conferencing tool integrated into the G Suite platform, is easy to use if you're already familiar with G Suite tools.
Connecting face-to-face is effortless with the teen-friendly Houseparty app, available from the Google play store. The app alerts you when your friends are "in the house" and ready to chat so you can easily join the conversation.
5. Attend a virtual concert
COVID-19 has ushered in the availability of many musical performances from the likes of Diplo, Tinashe, Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus, Questlove and more while social distancing. Austin City Limits (ACL), the longest running music series on TV opened its online archives for free streaming. ACL concerts include the popular artists such as Billie Eilish, Janelle Monáe, Mitski, and Vampire weekend, to name a few.
Or maybe introduce the kids to Opera with some of the Met's nightly opera streams.
If classical music is more your thing, you can stream any of the 600 orchestral concerts from The Berlin Philharmonic free of change for 30 days with the code BERLINPHIL.
6. Take an online art class
Children's book author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka is hosting daily drawing classes on YouTube, and popular children's author and animator Mo Willems (of Piggie & Gerald and Pigeon books) hosts daily cartooning classes everyday at 1 pm EST. New episodes will be posted on the Kennedy Center's website.
7. Play online card games
Playing card games is another great idea for kids. Check out PlayingcardsiO for favorite card games such as Go Fish, Checkers, Spades, or Hearts. Another kid-favorite, UNO can be played directly on its site.
8. Become a Disney World imagineer
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to become a Walt Disney Imagineer, now's your chance. Khan Academy and Pixar teamed up with Walt Disney Imagineers to create Imagineering in a Box, a free online course that gives users a behind-the-scenes peek into theme park design. The free program is available at Khan Academy.
9. Learn something cool
For the kids who loves learning there's a bounty of fun activities and educational online resources for every age and grade.
Elementari is a K-12 online platform to read, write, code, share, and remix interactive stories using professional illustrations and sounds. Free access is available until May 2020 or school opens.
Mystery Science offers free, digital science videos, where kids can finally get the answers to questions like: Where pizza came from, and why do your biceps bulge?
Nickelodeon's NickHelps.com provides kid-appropriate, kid-directed information through original short-form videos, and downloadable activities.
SEE: Top 10 e-learning options for kids (TechRepublic)
10. Get your baby goat, puppy, and kitten fix
In the need for some cuddly cuteness? Check out the Beekman 1802 baby goat cam livestream from the 219-year-old Beekman Farm in Sharon Springs, NY. If it's puppies you prefer, check out Puppies Galore from Warrior Canine Connection, and watch WCC's puppies as young as four weeks old play with the help of staff and volunteers as well as U.S. military service members and their families. For cat lovers, Kittens Galore offers a glimpse of a private room at Kitten Rescue Sanctuary in Los Angeles.
11. Watch Netflix and chill with friends
A free tool for the Google Chrome browser called Netflix Party could make social distancing and self-quarantine a whole lot more tolerable. The tool lets you start, stop and pause a Netflix movie or show that you can watch at the same time as a group of friends and family. There's also a side chat bar where you and your friends can discuss what's going on in the movie -- much like you would if you were sitting together on the couch.
12. Get crafty
13. Visit an aquarium
Take a dive into the marine world by viewing a variety of aquarium webcams and virtual tours including the Georgia Aquarium's Ocean Voyager webcam, the "Jelly Cam" at Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Tennessee Aquarium's Penguins Rock cam and the National Aquarium.
SEE: 16 top laptops for business users in 2019 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
14. Read a book
Download the Libby app from the Google Play or App store onto your smartphone or tablet and check out thousands of ebooks or audiobooks from local libraries. Audible Books for kiddos and teens is providing free access to select audiobooks during school closures. ReadingIQ is a comprehensive digital library offering books, magazines, comics, and more for kids from ages 2-12 is offering a free 30-day trial.
15. Visit a zoo
Zookeepers across the US are live-streaming animals from some of their most popular exhibits. Panda lovers can spend hours checking out Pandas across the states while viewing the Panda Cam at Zoo Atlanta, two different panda cams at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., or the Panda Cam at the San Diego Zoo. For an up-close look at giraffes, gorillas or elephants check out the Giraffe Cam at the Houston Zoo.
16. Visit a national park
Thanks to webcams, virtual travelers can access the National Park service. Tour the 277 miles of the Grand Canyon, check out the active stratovolcano through the Mount St. Helens volcano cam. The National Park service's interactive maps are a great way to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Mud Volcano, and even an Old Faithful Geyser live-stream.
17. Build a haunted house
You know those Halloween decorations you only take out once a year? Let your kids go wild and set-up an indoor haunted house for the family to enjoy.
18. Plant a garden
Now is a great time for kids of all ages to develop their green thumb. It's science, it's nature, it's accomplishment all rolled into one. Plus, planting a garden--vegetable, herbs, flowers, etc.-- motivates kids to get in the sun, care for their garden, and helps alleviate supply chain demands for fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It's a win-win for everyone.
19. Take a safari
Elephants, lions, leopards may appear during the live safari cams from Africam, where six different cameras keep tabs on Kruger National Park, Tembe Elephant Park, Naledi Game Lodge, Nkorho Bush Lodge, the Olifants River and Pilanesberg National Park. Wild Earth takes viewers on a daily African safari all from the comfort of their home.
20. Play nature bingo or go on a nature scavenger hunt
Connect kids with nature by setting up a nature scavenger hunt or nature Bingo game. All you need are words of things found in nature (or just your neighborhood) to make Bingo cards or a scavenger hunt list of items to find. Better yet, have children hide items in the backyard for a DIY scavenger hunt.
21. Go to space
With Access Mars, you can see the actual surface of Mars, recorded by NASA's Curiosity rover. (Currently, the site is in the middle of an update, but the 360 mode offers a great digital view.)
NASA TV , a free, 24-hour video service found on YouTube and NASA's website where you can see what the world looks like from the International Space Station, or if you're lucky watch a live launch or landing.
NASA also recently released a collection of thousands of interstellar photos for the public to enjoy.
SEE: 17 realistic movies about NASA and space exploration (TechRepublic)
22. Build a fairy house
Fairies are not exempt from the COVID-19 quarantine. Have kids build fairy houses using materials found in nature like pebbles, shells, twigs, and leaves or scraps of ribbon and cardboard. These small structures can be as ornate or simple as the builder wants.
23. Visit worldwide landmarks
Much cheaper than buying a plane ticket, visit some of the most iconic spots in the world through virtual tours. See a 360-degree view of more than a dozen rooms that are not on the official tour of the White House. Climb to the top Empire State Building for a panoramic view of New York City. The Great Wall of China virtual tour shows a 360-degree view as if you were standing on the wall, or see what it's like at the peak of Mount Everest.
The best part about these field trips: No permission slips needed.
24. Become a sidewalk chalk artist
Outdoor chalk can entertain kids for hours. Use it to play Pictionary, Hangman or Hopscotch, trace shadows, draw pictures, or mazes. Color race car tracks or a city complete with roads that toy cars can drive through. Consider writing inspirational chalk messages to neighbors next to mailboxes or on sidewalks and driveways.
25. See bears in their natural habitats
Experience the tundra and polar bears just outside of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada at Discovery Education. A webcam at the Brooks Camp viewing platform in Alaska's Katmai National Park films brown bears fishing for sockeye salmon.
26. Visit a history museum
Consider a virtual field trip through the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and view exhibits on fossils, dinosaurs, precious gems, Egyptian life, ocean monsters, and much more. Visit the British Museum, London to get an up close look at the Magna Carta, cat mummies, and Hoa Hakananai'a - The Easter Island Statue, to name a few of their most famous exhibits. At National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, viewers can few archaeology and learn more about the history of Mexico's pre-Hispanic civilizations.
27. Visit a virtual escape room
Breakout EDU uses immersive online games to bring the fun of an escape room into your living room for students in grades K-12.
28. Visit a farm
Farm Fresh 360 introduces viewers to an assortment of Canadian farms and orchards, where you can see first-hand how to raise pigs, make milk and cheese, or grow apples. The American egg board is hosting virtual egg farm field trips, and Virtual Farm Trips features free recorded virtual field trips of farms.
29. Visit a planetarium
Star Atlas lets kids explore more than 60,000 stars, locate planets, and watch sunrises and solar eclipses. Enter your location, and you can see all the constellations that are visible in the night sky where you live.
30. Watch a TED Talk
At 18 minutes or less, these 35 Must-Watch TED Talks for Kids and Teens will inspire and entertain your kids. Start with Manoush Zomorodi: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.
SEE: Tips for becoming a Chromebook expert (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
31. Go camping
32. Visit an art museum
Say "hello" to the Mona Lisa or The Venus de Milo as you take a virtual tours of the Louvre, or view one of the 26 online galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where online exhibits range from "A new look at Vermeer" to "Coco Chanel: Modernism."
To further your art fix visit Google Arts & Culture has collaborated with more than 1,200 leading museums and archives. Travel around the globe to virtually view precious works of art from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Uffizi Gallery, Florence; and MASP, São Paulo.
33. Learn to code
Create with Code Live is a free, interactive virtual class for anyone interested in learning to code. The program is aligned to ISTE Standards for computer science education. Currently they are offering seven weeks of free, live coding classes until May 7.
34. Build a fort
Don't let all those art supplies (think markers, paints, stickers, and stamps) collect dust. Grab them, some scissors, glue and tape, and all those Amazon Prime boxes you are hoarding and have your kids build indoor or outdoor forts or castles. If you lack cardboard, have kids build a fort using pillows, blankets or towels, and household furniture.
35. Get moving with kid-friendly yoga and exercise classes
Have your kids burn off extra energy with GoNoodle videos, which help kids stretch, dance, and wiggle. Glenn Higgins Fitness lets participants exercise like their favorite movie character in workout sessions such as "Avengers Training Academy" or "Harry Potter's Enchanted Spells."
When it's time for kids to calm down, they can practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques with Cosmic Kids Yoga.
SEE: Top 5 ways to get to inbox zero (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
36. Visit a children's museum
Younger kids can still visit some of their favorite children's museums thanks to webcams, live streams, and virtual tours. The Children's Museum of South Dakota's Seize the Play invites kids to pick a topic and then complete a challenge. The Boston's Children Museum's virtual tour allows kids to click on arrows to explore the museum. The Chicago Children's Museum presents activities arranged by age group in its list of Recipes for Play at Home. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is sharing educational videos and experiments on its Facebook page.
37. Visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
If your kids loved James and the Giant Peach or The BFG, then a virtual tour of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which is located outside London, is a must-visit. The website also features activities for kids, craft ideas and stories read aloud.
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