The past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we shop, work and gather for all kinds of social activities. We are challenged to find activities that can be done indoors.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean boredom and isolation. From homeschooling tips to porch decorating competitions, try out some of these fun and creative ideas.
There’s no better time to dive into books you haven’t had the chance to read yet. Sitting down with a good story can help ease tension—and you can support local businesses.
Streaming footage of a zoo’s animal exhibits has become a popular trend in recent years. While it is not quite like being there in person, webcam feeds are the next best way to marvel at some amazing animals until zoos reopen.
- Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.: nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams
- Miami Zoo Meercat Cam: www.zoomiami.org/animals#item=429890
- San Diego Zoo: zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams
Activities for Youngsters
Keeping children busy and helping activate their young brains while school is closed can challenge families. Resources to help parents are plentiful.
Scholastic, Mystery Science and Khan Academy are free resources for at-home learning and activities. Khan Academy is ideal for high school students, and offers free ACT, SAT and AP test prep help. Scholastic has activities for many age ranges and lists ways for parents to discuss COVID-19 with their children.
Toddler-specific sites offer activities for homeschooling environments—perfect for helping little ones release their crankiness and promote indoor independent play. Days With Grey sells materials, with prices ranging from $9 for a PDF activity card to $42 for activity bundles. Busy Toddler offers its Playing Preschool—190 days of at-home learning—for $39.90, or $69.80 with two e-books.
- Toddlers: www.dayswithgrey.com, www.busytoddler.com
- Scholastic Learning K-9: classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
- How to talk about COVID-19: classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/coronavirus.html
- Mystery Science, K-5: www.mysteryscience.com/school-closure-planning
- Khan Academy, ages 4-18: www.khanacademy.com
For Older Adults
Because they are in a higher risk category from the virus, seniors may suffer the most from self-isolating.
Covia’s Well Connected is a phone and internet program that offers classes and support groups to seniors from the comfort of their home. It is free to anyone 60 or older. All phone numbers are toll-free.
AARP’s Connect2Affect offers a database of resources for seniors to help mitigate social isolation. It can be searched by area and has an option to highlight activities compatible with social distancing.
- Well Connected, Covia: 877-797-7299; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.covia.org/services/well-connected
- Connect2Affect AARP: www.connect2affect.org
Porch Design Competitions
Residents in Jacksonville, Florida, decided to keep their neighborhood connected with a front porch design competition. It’s a simple idea anyone can replicate with holiday lights, cardboard and a little creativity.
To hear more and see photos to inspire ideas for your own porch, check out the reporting.
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune: www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200326/coronavirus-florida-residents-host-porch-decorating-contest
Free University Courses
At-home learning does not have to be exclusive to students currently enrolled at a university. Many schools and e-learning sites feature free classes and educational content to keep your mind sharp. Open Culture’s e-learning site offers free e-books, audio, movies, lectures and more. To find free college courses throughout the world, check out Classroom Central’s website, which catalogs free university courses. It even has an Ivy League-specific section for the extra-ambitious.
- Open Culture: www.openculture.com
- Classroom Central: www.classcentral.com
The outdoors might have felt far away in recent weeks—especially for those without gardens or backyards.
Epic Gardening offers tips on indoor gardening for beginners interested in reconnecting with the natural world.
For a step into the more fantastical, consider an indoor fairy garden, which can be a great activity for the entire family. HGTV’s article offers step-by-step pictures to get your fairy garden started.
- Epic Gardening Tips: www.epicgardening.com/indoor-gardening-for-beginners
- Fairy Gardens: www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/make-an-indoor-fairy-garden-pictures
Virtual Tours and Exhibits
Like zoos, museums have temporarily closed. Many have adapted, offering free virtual tours and online content.
Google Arts and Culture provides free virtual tours of the Guggenheim Museum, the Louvre Museum and the Uffizi Gallery. It also features 360-degree interactive virtual reality views of iconic sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.
Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida—which houses the largest American collection of the famous surrealist’s stunning work—offers an interactive tour.
- Google Arts and Culture: artsandculture.google.com
- The Dalí: www.thedali.org/virtual-tour
Exercise and Relaxation
Many who rely on gyms or exercise classes have had their normal routines upended. Luckily, gyms including Planet Fitness, Corepower Yoga and Moda Yoga are offering online classes to keep you moving. Some are free. Moda Yoga suggests a $5 to $10 donation.
- Planet Fitness: www.facebook.com/planetfitness/videos
- Corepower Yoga: www.corepoweryogaondemand.com/keep-up-your-practice
- Modo Yoga: www.instagram.com/modoyoganyc
Artists are taking the show online to share musical joy.
Billboard staff regularly updates its list.