Gov. Eric Holcomb has issued an order telling all Hoosiers to stay at home from March 25 until at least April 7 to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the virus that has infected at least 259 people in Indiana and more than 350,000 worldwide.
That means responsible Hoosiers will continue practicing social distancing, and for many families that means a lot of extra time at home with the kids.
That extra time comes with a serious challenge- how do we nourish their budding curiosity while keeping them entertained?
Public and private organizations have taken up the challenge and offer a series of environmental activities to help kids learn, laugh and live safely.
Environment America has a list of 50 activities you and your kids can do to learn more about the environment and how people affect it.
Your kids can become energy waste detectives that find out where energy is wasted around the home, engineers that can upcycle items to create new art or adventurers by taking virtual tours of our nation’s national parks.
And that’s only the beginning. You can check out the full list of fun activities here.
Let the ocean hold you in its net of wonder right in your own kitchen.
German oceanographer Mirjam Glessmer has created a fun way to teach kids about the essential complex processes that power our oceans, which cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and provides about 50% of our oxygen.
With just a homemade latte you and your family can learn about ocean layering, a cup of tea can teach how substances are transported under water and some bottles of water and a little cooking oil can what topographic mixing is and how it works.
These are all really easy to do and can greatly expand the appreciation of the natural processes that happen every day.
Check out the “24 Days of Kitchen Oceanography.”
CUTE AND FUN SCIENCE COLORING PAGES
Science is important and, in the right hands, can be really fun for kids.
Rachel Ignotofsky, author and illustrator of books like I Love Science and The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, has made available free downloads of her educational illustrations that have your kids learning about topics like the inner workings of a plant cell or soil ecosystems while coloring.
The coloring pages are cute, educational and free for use in your home or the classroom. You can find them here.
CHECK ON YOUR FAVORITE ANIMALS
If your child has a favorite animal, chances are there’s a way you can see it from the comfort of your own home.
From meerkats in Miami to elephants in Indonesia, EarthCam has the links to a wide variety of live cameras to see how animals are living around the globe.
If you want to tune out and relax, check out the jellyfish cam at California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s pure bliss.
For nonstop activity, meerkats are your best bet. The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens’ meerkat camera tracks the little guys right in their exhibit.
Observe animal behavior at your leisure here.
GAMING AND LEARNING
It’s no secret that most kids would rather play games than sit down and learn. How about going with that flow and letting your kids play some games that will expand their mind and teach them new things about the world?
The Smithsonian’s Science Education Center offers a series of free online games about nutrition, engineering, animal habitats, caves, disaster response and much more.
Funbrain offers similar games for children of different age groups. The games are separated by grade, so there’s games for everyone from kindergartners to 8th graders.
PBS Kids also has similar games featuring some familiar characters.
STORYTIME, BUT ONLINE
With libraries around the state closed for health reasons, parents face limited choices for access to books.
You can check out your local library system to check out electronic versions of books.
You can also let famous actors and other personalities read books to your kids online.
Storyline Online features members of the Screen Actors Guild reading children’s books accompanied by illustrations, sound effects and music accompaniment.
With more than 50 books of all varieties available, it’s sure to keep your kids entertained for a while.
The Sierra Club and its local branch, the Hoosier Chapter, have an expanding list of fun activities to do. You can check out their list here.
For more information about COVID-19 in Indiana, check out the state’s coronavirus information page with the latest facts and recommendations from state and national authorities.