Parents are hunkering down in our city. While three weeks for the kiddies at home first sounded like an extended Spring Break (yay!!) it quickly escalated OMFG what are we going to? Every attraction that was on our list is temporarily closed. We are faced with days to fill and snacks and lunches to have ready to go at any given moment (why are they always hungry?). WE. CANNOT. EVEN. GO. TO STARBUCKS. to linger over lemon loaves and hot chocolate!…and okay, some want to make sure their kids are still learning.  Some have even made routines and schedules around valuable time away from screens. Some have said “screw it, we’re going to sleep in, go for bike rides and make TikToks every day”. Hey, whatever works for you and your family. All good.

If you have kids that are a little older and Paw Patrol, counting out 100 little things, and making sidewalk chalk drawings don’t excite them anymore, here are 10 ideas to do that may be more interesting during these most extraordinary times. Don’t forget, keeping up the fun and remember that learning can be a family activity! Take advantage of the time together and get some fresh social distancing air in between your work-from-home conference calls and reports. And, hey don’t worry too much about screen times and extra carb loading for now, okay?

LEARN PIG-LATIN: igpay atinlay. Say what? I was amused recently when I heard a family of four who spoke to each other in Pig-Latin in a line up. I hadn’t heard anyone speak it since hubby taught one of our kids years ago. Never heard of it? It’s not an official language per se, but a made-up language game that alters English words. It’s like speaking in code. Here’s how it works: First, pick any English word. We’ll use dictionary. Next, move the first consonant or consonant cluster to the end of the word: “ictionary-d.” Now add “ay” to the end of the word: “ictionary-day.” That’s all there is to it; you’ve formed a word in Pig Latin.

Here’s an example:

TAKE A VIRTUAL MUSEUM TOUR: There are numerous museum tours offered online from all around the world and easily searchable. But we love the Canadian site  where categories are well organized with visuals and descriptions in both English and French. Learn about Kirkland Lake that made NHL famous, or explore the St. Lawrence through a virtual Scavenger Hunt (Musée maritime de Charlevoix) through 10 itineraries. Follow #museumfromhome for what’s available out there.

NEW FILM RELEASES: Movie theatres are shut down but Universal Studios has said they will make some of their global theatre film releases available on the same day for home viewing. Great alternative to delaying releases as seen by other film studios. Watch for the films on streaming platforms including iTunes and Google Play in coming weeks.  Disney+ also recently released ‘Frozen 2’ available for streaming three months ahead of schedule.

#TogetherAt Home Virtual Mini-Concerts: Musicians around the world are starting to put on mini-concerts for fans by uploading videos or hosting Facebook Live events performing a variety of songs. John Legend is doing it. Coldplay has already done one.  Here at home, Jann Arden also announced a free live performance online on Monday afternoon. Arkells took to Instagram Stories to offer up guitar lessons. No doubt this will continue to catch on with more artists joining in.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW! There are endless tutorials and classes online to find something fun to learn. Do your kids love music? They can mash up their own tunes using the Garage Band app (available on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Personal Computers). The music program is great to explore with tons of music genres, beats, instruments and editing tools. Fun (and for adults too) way to express yourself through the power of music. I’m also picking up my iPad and Pencil and taking advantage of free Kawaii Drawing tutorials. Hit up Youtube and learn how to play the ukelele or guitar. Search up a dance choreography or even learn ASL (sign language). Have some fun with trying out some photography tricks with your phone. Here are some ideas.

SCHOLASTIC “LEARN FROM HOME”: The educational website has launched a FREE online learning hub with curated daily courses for students from preschool to grade 6+. The site is divided by grade level and subjects include STEM, science, social studies and more. Each daily course offers up approximately 3 hours of learning each day includes writing and research projects based on nonfiction articles and stories, virtual field trips, reading and geography challenges, and more. Before your kid turns away, get them to check out the age-appropriate content. Even I, as an adult, lost myself in the fascinating topics like the popularity of K-Pop, what our dogs are trying to tell us, and how some of the most popular sour candies are made.

GIRL.STRONG.: Virtual classes by this Toronto-based organization are designed to help kids plan out the next three weeks while learning about the important habit of “Begin with the end in mind”.  Topics covered include growth mindset, mindfulness, gratitude, 7 Habits of Happy Kids (the children’s version of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), STEM and more. Classes are being held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 am to 11:45 am for kids (yes, both girls and boys) between the ages of 6 to 12. Classes are FREE. Register for a spot here.

LIVE FEEDS FROM ZOOS: Zoos are also temporarily closing but places like the Cincinnati Zoo have arranged for Facebook Live events every day from 3pm to 3:30 pm on their home page. Each day they’ll feature an animal at the Zoo and an activity for kids to do. Toronto Zoo is hosting various live feeds as well where you can check in with zoo keepers and the animals they care for. Check Facebook pages for upcoming dates and times.

Photo credit: The Toronto Zoo

ORGANIZE A NEIGHBOURHOOD SPRING CLEAN: The weather is only getting better and while you’re keeping your “social distance” we can all still pick a date and do something good. Grab your garden gloves, or old winter gloves and that yard waste bag — then get outdoors, crank up the tunes and clean YOUR OWN front/back yards. It’s even more fun when the neighbours all get out and clean up their yards too.  Or offer up to help clean up neighbours’ yards who can’t get out. While the City of Toronto has cancelled official Community Clean Up Days due to the current situation, we noticed their handy Safety Tips here.

HELP WITH DINNER: Since most  fridges are well stocked, enlist the kids to create a meal (or two) each week. From planning a menu to cooking (if old enough) to plating. Or go all “Master Chef Canada” and give them a mystery ingredient to start. Stream episodes here for inspiration.

Got any other ideas to share with us? Feel free to drop them in our comment section below!