Fun (and Safe) Activities for Children of Essential Workers at Daycare During COVID-19

ACTIVE Network
April 7, 2020

COVID-19 has disrupted schedules, it’s created inconveniences and it’s forced many of us to move most of our daily activities online. But that's not true for everyone. There are still some essential businesses that are open. That means there is still a need for childcare at YMCAs. But we don’t have to tell you that. At this point, a few weeks into our shared new reality, your bag of tricks is likely running low. We’re here to help with some suggestions that will keep the kids engaged and entertained and shouldn’t require an investment in any new equipment from you.

We tried to pick a list of activities that are fun but can also help you keep the kids safe. You’re likely already wiping down surfaces regularly. You’re having the kids wash their hands frequently and handing out sanitizer when that’s not possible. These ideas include limited use of materials. When possible, it’d be a good idea to have kids avoid sharing those items.

If you have decks of cards ...

Consider playing an exercise game. Keep the kids busy and get them moving with a simple deck of cards. Start by assigning a specific exercise to each suit in the deck. For example, hearts are push ups, clubs are sit ups and so on. Have children draw a card. They must then complete the exercise associated with that suit. (Be sure they are spread about while completing the exercises.) The number on the card (2through 10) is the total reps they must complete. For the face cards, Jacks would be 11 reps, Queens are 12 reps, Kings are 13 reps, and aces are 14 reps.

If you have pairs of dice …

Consider a simple math skills game. A game that’s easy to play but fun for kids of different ages is called Knockout. Break the kids into groups and give those groups pairs of dice, then have them chose one of four “knockout” numbers—6, 7, 8, or 9. The kids then roll the dice. Anyone who rolls their knockout number is out of the game. Roll until there’s only one child left.

If you have paper and pencils …

Consider taking a texture walk. This is something you can do inside or, if you have and outdoor space available, outside. The idea is pretty simple. Have the kids walk around whatever space you have and try to find as many different textures as the can. Look for things that are smooth. Look for things that are rough. Look for things that are bumpy. Etc.

Once they find something, lie the paper across the top of it and run the sharpened side of the pencil lead at an angle over the top. This should create a transfer of the texture on the paper.

To add a bit of competition to the activity, turn it from a walk into a scavenger hunt. Give the kids a list of different textures and challenge them to a race to see who can find all of them first.

Consider creating sketchbooks. Need something that’s a little quieter? Have the kids create their own sketchbooks and then draw their autobiography in pictures.

Creating the sketchbooks will require a pair of scissors to make a single cut. Otherwise they are made by folding a piece of paper a few times. There are plenty of videos explaining the process on YouTube. This one is our favorite because it’s short and simple.

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