Staying Occupied: Helpful Links

Note: This series was created due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible. I hope that despite all the closures and the crazy grocery store lines, you can still find opportunities to stay calm, enjoy the extra time with your loved ones, organize the areas that need to be addressed, and find something (book, movie, craft) to bring you enthusiasm. Choose to be as balanced as possible and stay healthy.

This started as an email that I shared with friends and family. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have them all in one place and for others to find it too! Please remember that I have done my best with all of the links, I have no affiliation with them, and I can only be accountable for the fun you may have!

Please keep coming back to this post! It will be updated as interesting links are found. The *NEW* links for the day will be marked. This post was last updated Friday, April 17, 2020.

ZOO SAFARI:

INSTAGRAM:

STEM CAMP PDF:

  • Little Sprout went to this camp last year and really enjoyed it. We plan to attend this year too. They are sending a daily email to their subscribers that includes an activity, an experiment, and links for parents and children. You can join the fun here.

FITNESS/YOGA:

  • *NEW* One piece of chalk, 8 active games from Active for Life.
  • Boks Kids has fitness workouts for the entire family available as Facebook Live events or YouTube.
  • ParticipACTION has 15 ways to keep your family active during this time.
  • I did a children’s workshop with Andrea a couple years ago. She is doing Instagram Live classes for families. Next one is tomorrow (Saturday).
  • Les Mills is the class programming used by Goodlife Gyms. They have a free workouts area online and it includes family friendly fitness called Born to Move. Do this as a family to get everyone a moment of fitness. They also have a paid program with hundreds of workouts, in a variety of styles.
  • Children’s meditation … with bubbles from Young Yoga Masters.
  • YMCA 360 has a variety of free videos – Bootcamp, Yoga, Weightlifting, Tai Chi
  • Planet Fitness is posting a video each day to keep people moving.
  • Lululemon announced today that they are bringing their community classes online.

CREATIVE ACTIVITIES:

  • *NEW* Learn how to make five different LEGO dinosaurs.
  • The Educator’s Spin On It has a great list of Easter themed crafts and activities that look fun and have educational elements (including STEM).
  • Washi Tape has fun patterns and many of us have several different ones lying around (if not, Dollarama usually has some). You could have the family make their own Easter Egg Decorations or if you want to create some personalized art, you could create some letter wall art.
  • Torn Paper Art is a way to use up scraps of paper or magazines. It can be used as Art Therapy for Adults, for fine motor skills for toddlers, or art for all ages.
  • Make a Shadow Box Theatre out of a cardboard box, paper, and sticks/straws.
  • Have some soda cans lying around? Get crafty with them!
  • We are continuing the Drawing a Day Challenge on my blog – April’s theme is MUSIC.
  • A quick and creative activity that has a little bit of numeracy are dot-to-dot pages – The Spruce Craft have a variety of choices with different levels of difficulty.
  • Cardboard Weaving Circle looks like a good way to use up little bits of yarn and odd beads. I would probably paint the cardboard though … but that’s just me.
  • This felt bunny will be fun to make and keep in your (pyjama) pocket.
  • Aside from our Drawing a Day Challenge, I also like following the Photo a Day Challenge by Fat Mum Slim. April’s theme is GRATITUDE.
  • If you have chalk leftover from last year, write/draw messages at the end of your driveway or on the sidewalk.
  • Make a Tassel Flower Crown and then play make believe.
  • Pom Pom Worm Puppet made out of pom poms, thread, and a stick. Why make this? Because it is cute.
  • Although these are called Bad Hair Day Bookmarks you could also use this to turn yourself into a Troll or treat as a thought bubble.
  • We all need a little love right now so why not make some sun catcher hearts out of tissue paper?
  • Most of us have markers in the house – how about using them for calligraphy instead?
  • Whole family home means lots of empty toilet paper rolls. Turn one into a bird feeder for the backyard and then work on identifying the birds that visit.
  • Create you own Wacky Creature using this template and a roll of the dice
  • Wood Fence Artwork – This works if you have a nice stretch of wood fencing, green tape, and chalk. Create a geographic pattern with the tape, colour in the gaps with the chalk, and then remove the tap to reveal the masterpiece.
  • Niki is a local mom and a SweetLegs Distributor (FYI – super comfy and tons of sizes) and is running a Design Your Own Leggings contest on Facebook.

EDUCATIONAL:

  • *NEW* Michelle Obama will be reading on PBS Kids Facebook and YouTube on Mondays.
  • *NEW* Struggling to understand what 2-metres looks like in an open space? Watch this individual walk down a Toronto street with his 2-metre circular contraption.
  • My friend recommends Operation Ouch on YouTube to teach your children about the body and medical ailments.
  • A free book explaining the virus to children is available by Nosy Crow; the illustrations are done by the Gruffalo artist Axel Scheffler.
  • This can be educational and fun. If you login to PressReader through the Toronto Public Library  you have access to newspapers and magazines in 100 countries and 60 languages. You can read about the daily news, then flip through a craft magazine, followed by a food magazine for dinner inspiration.
  • Learn about the planets and stars with the Ontario Science Centre astronomer on April 8th at 2pm.
  • CBC Curio is normally offered to educational institutions but access is available during our self-isolation. There is access to math, reading, and nature.
  • Ken Ken Puzzles challenge you to use math and strategy to complete the game.
  • The International Space Station will cross the moon tomorrow (Saturday April 4, 2020) evening. 
  • Forget the kid, I want to do this myself! Create a child size human body – bones and organs – with this template and some craft paper.
  • National Film Board of Canada has home school activities – watch the video and answer some talking points. 
  • Scholastic has a Story Starter Generator to help your primary aged child write a story.
  • Little Miss is really enjoying EPIC and has already gone through 100 books in their 40,000 collection. We have set up a 30-day trial but you might be able to get FREE access from your school.
  • If you have a large LEGO base plate, you can create a marble maze out of different LEGO bricks.
  • My daughter created a ‘muscle system hand‘ at STEM camp and we were fascinated by it.
  • For nearly a year, I lived about 15 minutes from the British Museum … and I think I only visited twice. Good thing I can now go online and virtual tour.
  • Writing prompt BINGO was one of the first activities sent home by Little Sprout’s teacher to complete. Two Can Do It has a printable
  • I used to love the show ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ and they have a ton of resources online that can be filtered by grade, subject, and activity type.
  • Have you realized that we are living history? This will be in history books and you are part of the story – write/video/photograph your story.
  • Learn a language using Duolingo or BBC Kids or how about a family member? My parents’ next door neighbour is spending an hour on the phone each day teaching her teenage granddaughter German
  • Every day is a different day with Mother Nature. Have your child track the weather and then work on a weather related activity.
  • Create a virtual book club with a friend. Choose a book to read and then either write a report to each other or call/text/video to discuss with each other. 
  • Your child may have already used Scratch – an MIT coding program – at school. You can create a free account for them to create projects. When the libraries reopen, watch your local branch for free workshops.
  • Struggling to remember when to use ’there’ or ’their’? Check out this handy tip!
  • Some families will decide to use a daily calendar with hourly blocks to plan the daily activities. If this doesn’t appeal to you or it is creating tension, how about a planning tool that visualizes the activities but doesn’t dictate the timing? Tiny Toy Co is founded by a teacher and she has provided a template that you can use. 
  • Math colouring pages allow children to practice their numeracy and art skills.
  • This is an activity we did when Little Miss was in kindergarten to help her with sight words and constructing sentences. We even presented it at school to other parents during a Kindergarten Open House. 
  • Pearson Canada has online access for resources Kindergarten to Grade 12.
  • Need someone to read your child a book while you have a chance to breathe (or pee, or have a shower, or pour a glass of wine)? Let a famous actor or actress read them a story at Storyline Online.
  • This will be great for those students needing to practice sight words – Make your own word search at Discovery Education.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT:

  • Check with neighbours, friends, and Facebook neighbourhood groups to see if a Socially Distanced Easter Egg Hunt will be happening in your neighbourhood.
  • Bring Canada Together and sing the National Anthem on Sundays at noon.
  • If you live in a house, perhaps you can create a fun chalk sidewalk activity for walking neighbours – hop scotch, long jump, or lines to follow with instructions (e.g. arrow to walk on that leads to a circle that says 5 jumping jacks). There are lots of ideas online.
  • Some of you might be looking to tidy your homes during this time. Perhaps you found a surplus of grocery bags stuffed into cubby space? How about learning to turn the grocery bags into mats for the homeless?
  • Looking to have a get together without getting together? How about creating a High Tea with friends? You can drop off supplies to each individual (sandwiches, treats, tea bags) and then use an online meeting platform to gather. I have friends that have done adult versions of this with beer and takeaway!
  • Homeschool Spirit is the new School Spirit! A different way to dress each day this week.
  • Our principal sent out a video this morning so we can stay in touch as a school community. He read the students ‘What A Wonderful World’, illustrated by Ashley Bryan (there are various readings on YouTube).  He then asked the community to listen to two musical versions – Louis Armstrong and ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’ole – and think about how the versions are same/different.
  • There will be several children disappointed that their birthday party was cancelled. Remember to create a piece of art or card to email and then connect by phone, text, or video. In the U.S. one child got a birthday parade (!) – since this is a non-essential activity, I do not recommend, but it was creative.
  • Check with local seniors/retirement homes about emailing letters/drawings to the residents. Many residents are missing their visits with friends and family and need a little pick me up.
  • You know the cute Little Free Libraries on front lawns? A few people have turned them into Little Free Pantries! Still supporting community needs.

SOMETHING TO WATCH:

  • *NEW* Watch the global presentation of One World: Together at Home.
  • *NEW* A Mile Long Wooden Xylophone Plays Bach When You Roll A Ball Down It (WHAT?!?)
  • Cirque du Soleil is posting 60-minute specials on their YouTube page. While there, check out the Behind the Scenes and Day in the Life videos too.
  • Yo-Yo Ma has been playing quarantine cello concerts on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber is showing a musical every Friday on YouTube (I’m so sad to have missed last week’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat)
  • The Berklee College of Music got over 70 students to do a quarantined version of Love Sweet Love.
  • National Arts Centre are hosting online concerts – their April schedule is here.
  • NPR has a running list of musicians to watch live on various platforms.
  • Dolly Parton will be reading books from her Imagination Library collection on Facebook Live.
  • The iHeart Radio Living Room concert hosted by Elton John.
  • Beyond the Brick has videos on LEGO creations and how-to builds.
  • Your family can go on a virtual rollercoaster with Canada’s Wonderland.
  • Sitting in Isolation Bay” by some of the member’s of Ontario band Rayzor’s Edge.
  • TVO Archives is full of programming including Today’s Special which was one of my favourite shows when I was a child. There are two episodes you can share with your children or re-watch yourself. 
  • This is the broadway version of Car Karaoke – I’ve linked to the 2018 video and the 2019 video will hopefully play straight afterward.
  • If you are missing your local entertainment, there is now videos of Toronto Artists playing from their living rooms.

FOR FAMILY AMUSEMENT:

  • Need to get outside for a bit? Use a backyard scavenger hunt to keep the children entertained. No backyard? How about adding it to your exercise walk (if you are doing one).
  • The Greater Toronto YMCA are running a variety of events online – storybook readings, games, and fitness.
  • TIFF is running a Stay at Home Cinema series. They have a chat session first on Instagram Live and then the movie runs on CRAVE.
  • Learn the basics of improvisation with a Second City profession in this online course (fee applies).
  • Bring Hogwarts into your home with Harry Potter at Home.
  • I would LOVE for someone in my friendship group to recreate a famous painting just like the ones seen in the Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine Instagram account. You can read more about it in this Classic FM article.
  • This is the story of the Stay at Home Superheroes – it helps parents and children discuss why we are staying home.
  • Learn how to type accurately … all of you … with the fun game Z-type.
  • A LEGO reminder to wash your hands!
  • Play a game virtually – FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger – we played Boggle today with a friend. 
  • Want to interact with a tiger, panda, or a hedgehog in your own living room? Google AR can help with that!
  • Our long hallway from our foyer to the master bedroom is often used for a quick game of soccer. Use these long, narrow spaces for bowling (use toys as pins), play mini sticks hockey, or marble races.
  • This idea comes from the Tiny Toy Co on Instagram. “All-Ages Family Boredom Buster: Choose a cute or whimsical toy character, and take turns hiding it around the house for others to find. 🧐 Whoever finds it can either cheer about it (younger kids) or quietly re-hide it in a new spot (tweens & teens).”
  • Create an Indoor Scavenger Hunt or find a printable online like this one from Organized 31.
  • In case you haven’t heard, Audible has made their children’s books free to listen to while schools are closed.

FOR PARENT AMUSEMENT:

  • This might not be amusing but a good certification for an adult to have; Smart Serve is providing their course for free this month.
  • Cityline’s Tracy Moore will be hosting Instagram Live segments each day next week.
  • This one is for the Doctor Who fans out there – Jodie Whittaker – as Doctor Who – gives us some self-isolation advice.
  • For those that need a little space from their kids … check this idea out.
  • I saw this on Twitter and shared it with my musical friends. If you go to the tweet, you will also see video versions of it that people have shared … Coronovirus Rhapsody (Thread Reader aka easier to read version).

APPS:

  • Toca Lab: Elements is a fun game that introduces children to the 118 elements. Each element is a little monster that can go through experiments (e.g. freeze, heat, etc.) so children can see how they react and change. 

I’M HUNGRY!

SPROUTING BALANCE BLOG: 

  • I’m running a ‘Staying Occupied’ series on my website; I hope to post something everyday showing something we have done as a family.
  • Lil’ Sprout loves to draw so I decided we needed a Drawing a Day Challenge! Join us on Instagram #sbdrawingaday
  • Since health and wellness is my business, I thought it was a good idea to share some fitness links to keep us healthy. I will update the post Staying Occupied: Fitness Links post once or twice a week.

Please share links with me that I can add to this post. Let’s create an awesome resource that we can all enjoy!

16 Replies to “Staying Occupied: Helpful Links”

  1. heartbeatz_halbert on instagram is organized by a local daycare. It’s a variety of simple crafts/activities for the kids to do. From Kindie to grade 6 is the target audience.

    Liked by 1 person

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