There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. With toilet paper scarcities, empty grocery store shelves, and school and work closures, it’s easy to feel anxious about what the future holds.
We’ve chosen not to share news of it with our children (our oldest is only three) and have been focusing on praying together and cultivating a spirit of worship in our home. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” We are choosing prayer over panic and faith over fear.
Because of social distancing, many of us are finding extra space during our days, time we would normally fill with playdates, field trips, and classes.
Maybe you’ve been considering homeschooling. And now with your preschooler home, you’re giving it a trial run over the next few weeks. Or maybe you’re just trying to get through the next few weeks until schools re-open.
Maybe you’re already a homeschooling mama but are wondering how to fill the extra hours with your little ones, especially now that classes are canceled, and libraries are closed.
Maybe you’re using this as an opportunity to try out homeschool curriculum you’ve been curious about, since many companies are offering extended free trials.
Regardless of your scenario, we all know days with small children can be long, especially when you are stuck at home. I’ve compiled a list of ideas and resources.
Although traditional classes might be canceled, the great outdoors is always open. We’ve been spending most of our days in our backyard. We sit in the sun and read books, play, and eat snacks. Amelia, my three-year-old, digs in the dirt and makes “stone soup” from bits of grass and sticks. Even Charlotte, my 4-month-old, loves rolling around in the grass.
Being outside is calming and restorative. Drink in the fresh air. Feel the grass under your bare feet and the sun on your skin. Take a deep breath. Spring is coming. God is still on the throne.
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider heading to a local park or arboretum or simply stay in your own backyard. Make mud pies together. Paint rocks. Hunt for worms. Set up a nature scavenger hunt and look for signs of spring. If you have a nature guide on hand, take it along and see what you can discover and identify!
Tinkergarten offers a wonderful resource of outdoor activities. Select your child’s age and any specific skills you would like to focus on, like fine motor or critical thinking skills, and Tinkergarten generates a list of ideas.
Little Pine Learners compiled a list of 100 Backyard Activities for Kids. As a list-oriented person, I love these types of resources.
Many companies are offering free educational resources during this time of social distancing.
Southern Living compiled an amazing resource of 12 museums offering virtual tours. From Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum to New York’s Guggenheim Museum, you and your preschooler can explore famous museums around the world.
The Metropolitan Opera has closed its doors through the end of the month but is offering free virtual performances for viewers worldwide. Tune in every night at 7:30 p.m. to watch Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s La Bohème, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and many others. Although perhaps geared toward older children and adults, young children may still appreciate an introduction to beautiful music.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is offering a Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3 p.m. They will highlight animals and feature activities to do at home. I’m particularly excited about this one!
Kentucky-based art studio Make is offering free art lessons on Facebook Live. Founder and classically trained artist Kijsa Housman wrote a note about her live-streamed lessons: “Creativity can ease stress, expedite learning & allow us to see circumstances in different ways. Since we will all be home gathered together over the next few weeks unexpectedly, it is the perfect time to discover and grow new talent!” Tune in each weekday at 1 p.m. Central Time for her lessons. She will teach to a variety of age ranges, but the beginning is specifically reserved for little artists!
I found this database of 30 virtual field trips for kids. Take a trip to Mars, the Great Wall of China, or the Boston Children’s Museum. Pick one place to “visit” each day.
Other Goose is offering a three-week free trial. I’ve been curious about this program and signed up to give it a try. It offers daily lessons designed according to your child’s age.
Playful Learning is offering a 30-day free trial. With units about rocks and minerals, animals in winter, and insects, this looks like a great resource to explore!
The Peaceful Press, one of my favorite companies, has a variety of free resources available on its website.
If you are planning to talk to your preschoolers about Coronavirus, Mindheart put together this free downloadable resource to explain the virus in simple terms. Print it out and work through it with your child.
Even though you can’t visit friends, you can still find ways to spend time together. My friend Sarah and her preschooler are sending pictures, cards, and crafts in the mail to keep in touch with friends. If you need craft inspiration, check out this list of 5 minute crafts for kids.
Set up a time to FaceTime friends and family and have a dance party together. Text pictures of the activities you’re doing. Mail a box of homemade cookies or pictures your child drew. Need activity ideas? Nook compiled a list of at home activities, Amazon supplies, and books for your kids to enjoy at home. Busy Toddler also has some fantastic ideas.
Check in on your grandparents and elderly neighbors. Offer to do their grocery shopping or pick up prescriptions for them, so they don’t have to leave their homes. I’ve witnessed so many gestures of kindness in my local Facebook groups and have been encouraged by the ways people are coming together to support each other. This is a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in a very tangible way. It is also an opportunity to teach our preschoolers about the importance of serving the people around us.
Focus on Jesus
We have been spending extra time in prayer. We’ve been praying specifically for our president and leaders, medical and emergency staff, and our country and globe. We’ve been praying for God’s mercies, wisdom, and healing.
We’ve been reading scripture together and playing worship music during the day. Listen to God’s Big Story, a podcast produced by The Village Church. Episodes are under 20 minutes and feature Bible stories and songs. It’s available on all major podcast platforms.
We listen to Ellie Holcomb’s Sing: Creation Songs album multiple times a day. It brings me so much joy to hear my three-year-old singing along to the beautiful, scripture-filled lyrics. My husband and I even love singing along to it!
We keep screen time to a minimum but have been loving Minno Kids, a streaming service featuring Bible-based shows. It’s packed with animated and live action Bible stories, missionary biographies, songs about scripture, and so much more. Minno Kids offers a 7-day free trial.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but simply resources I’ve found or use myself. I’d love to hear what you are using. Will you tell me in the comments?
Follow me on Instagram @chelsearmoore for more ideas on activities to do with your preschooler in the midst of social distancing.
Photo credit: iStock.