By Jordan Beach, LSW – May 5, 2020 –

As I am writing this I am following our state’s stay-at-home orders by practicing social distancing and working from home. For a lot of us this means working with children and spouses also in the home.

It’s not necessarily the most ideal work environment, but we make the best of what we have, and personally I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue working. Even though I’m checking in with my gratitude, it can still take a toll on my mental health. It definitely creates new stress when trying to work and meet deadlines while also trying to meet the needs of our children.

With the goal of completing our own work and ensuring our children have enriching experiences at the same time, we’re going to look for activities you can set up for them at home. Obviously it is impossible to have activities that will keep all age groups busy, so if you have a home with differing abilities like my own, you might need to have a couple of different activities going for this to work.

Sensory play is a great way to keep your littles busy for extended periods of time. This can be something prepared before it is needed (like the night before) and used for multiple days. It doesn’t need to be more difficult than necessary. Use items or ingredients you have around your house that are safe for babies and toddlers. We like to use cooked noodles (you can dye them if you’d like). Other easy ideas that are baby safe are dried cereals, Kool-Aid playdough or do-it-yourself moon sand (2 cups of flour and ¼ cup oil). You could separate the dry cereal and moon sand for older children and hide small toys in them.

When sensory play gets old, and it will, I suggest scavenger hunts for older children. This does not need to be something extravagant. I write alphabet letters on paint samples and hide them around the house. If age-appropriate, your children can work together to find all of the letters. This activity keeps them busy because they not only need to find the letters; they have to keep track of what letters they’ve found and still need.

I also like swapping out toys. This one takes a little more forethought. Keep some toys put back so your children don’t have access to them all of the time. When you bring out the toys they haven’t had access to for a while they will think it is awesome. These “new toys” will keep them more occupied than the ones they have regular access to.

Even with distraction plans, working from home with your kids underfoot is not simple. Hopefully some of these small tips will help keep them busy just long enough for you to check some more things off your to-do list.

In this video, Al talks to children about feelings they might be having from missing their friends and teachers and staying home, and the importance of staying healthy. Al sings the “I’m a Healthy Child” song that reminds children that being healthy means taking care of their bodies and talking about how they feel.

In this video, Al encourages children to talk to trusted adults about feelings they may have from missing fun events and friends due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Al sings the “Be My Friend” song and reminds children that he will always be their friend.

Select a color for each feeling that you have felt in the last week. Write the color and feeling on the right and color how much you have felt each feeling in the heart.

Example: If you use the color pink for happy and you’ve felt mostly happy in the last week, use more pink to color inside your heart.

Discussion about Expressing Feelings

You might begin the activity by talking with children about the importance of expressing our feelings in a constructive way – and of understanding others’ feelings. Expressing and acknowledging feelings is an important tool for resolving conflicts. And trying to understand another person’s feelings can help de-escalate conflict.

When someone doesn’t use words to say what they’re feeling we often try to guess what they feel by interpreting their facial expression or their body language.

In Feelings Charades, students will have a chance to demonstrate one emotion. The rest of the family or class will guess what the emotion is. The person who is doing the charade cannot speak – they must use facial expressions or body language to get classmates to guess the emotion.

Write down different feelings/emotions on slips of paper. Place them in a bowl and take turns pulling them and acting them out. Once the correct feeling/ emotion is chosen the person that guessed correctly gets a turn.

*This activity can help expand vocabulary as there are many similar emotions. (See emotions wheel below.)

Yoga helps kids relax, relieve stress and anxiety, sleep better, improve emotional regulation, increase empathy, and improve mood and affect. Try these fun poses with your kids at home!

Source: 5 Zoo Yoga Poses for Kids (Printable Poster) – Kids Yoga Stories

Play the game UNO with the standard deck, set up, and game rules. To add the twist, each color represents a different emotion:

  • When a player lays a yellow card, the player shares a time they felt happy or something that makes them happy.
  • When a player lays a blue card, the player shares a time they felt sad or something that makes them sad.
  • When a player lays a red card, the player shares a time they felt mad or something that makes them mad.
  • When a player lays a green card, the player shares a time they felt calm/relaxed or something that makes them feel calm/relaxed.
  • On the next page is a 5-Point Scale that you and your child can complete together.
  • This scale will not only allow your child to understand their emotions, but you as a parent or guardian can gain a better perspective.
  • These scales provide a guide that assists students with becoming more self-aware.
  • After completing, try and think of coping and calming skills to utilize while in those escalated stages.

When trying new things like exercising Mindfulness, your child may wonder what it even means to be mindful. You can explain mindful as a skill that helps you:

  • Pay attention better
  • Be less distractible
  • Learn more
  • Stay calm under stress
  • Avoid getting too upset about things
  • Slow down instead of rush
  • Listen better to others
  • Be more patient
  • Get along better
  • Feel happier and enjoy things moreIf this sounds like a superpower, it is! Being mindful helps people in just about every part of life. Learning how to be mindful when you’re young gives you a chance to get really good at it and use it always.

Source: KidsHealth