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Helping Kids Through the Disruption
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 03/26/2020

By: Karen Thomas, Penn State Extension

It's fair to say families' day-to-day activities have been disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many parents and children are at home. Normal daily routines have been interrupted. Even though our regular schedules have changed, it's important to continue to provide structure in our children's lives.

Below are some ideas you can employ to keep kids busy, learning, and having fun during the disruption.

Set a schedule. Wake them at the same time each day. After breakfast and morning hygiene routines, plan activities that promote fun and learning rather than prolonged exposure to television and computer screens.Also, set up an evening schedule just like your morning routine. The schedule might include eating dinner, bathing, brushing teeth, and reading a story and bedtime.

Plan time for reading. This promotes children's literacy skills as well as provides a distraction for children from what's happening in the world. Have your kids tell you about the books they are reading. They can even write a short essay to practice their writing skills.

Take a virtual field trip. Some of the world's famous art museums like the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City offer views of their collections online as well as activities for children. Learn more about exotic animals like the sloths and gazelles by visiting the San Diego Zoo. Or check out the live webcams at the Georgia Aquarium's website to see Beluga whales, African penguins, or California Sea lions.

Get some daily exercise. We all know that exercising is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Take a walk or plan a nature scavenger hunt. Ride bikes together as a family. If the weather isn't cooperative, do some indoor physical activities like dancing to music or setting up an obstacle course in the house.

Do some hands-on craft and art activities. Set out coloring books, construction paper, glue, markers, and other art supplies. Create crafts like modeling clay. Mix 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and water. Mix the flour and salt together. To color the clay, add powdered paint to the dry mixture or food coloring to the water before mixing with the dry mixture. The clay should be kneaded until the right texture, adding more water as needed. To store, keep the clay in an air-tight container for four to six weeks.

Play board and card games. Have fun together as a family! Take turns having members of your family select a movie they'd like to watch. Pop some popcorn and enjoy!

Cook or bake together. Being cooped up at home offers a great opportunity for children to learn about food preparation and healthy foods. Kids of all ages can help. Younger children can cut up soft fruit with a plastic knife or stir ingredients in a bowl, while older children can help clean and cut vegetables. Children can practice math and literacy skills, hone their fine motor skills and even learn some science while cooking. They can read the recipes, and you can teach them about counting, measuring, and volume. Don't forget to talk about food safety such as the importance of washing hands and cleaning up!

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