Keep Your Family Entertained at Home During Coronavirus Social Distancing

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girl reading a book

Wondering how to entertain your family at home during coronavirus closures?

With schools closed, activities canceled, and social distancing the new norm, hectic days and busy evenings have been replaced with empty calendars and nowhere to go. The result is that suddenly, we have more time than ever to spend with our immediate families.

Here’s how my family and I are adjusting to the “new normal.” – Collin

An abundance of family time can end up being a bright spot in the midst of a very serious situation, or a mixed blessing for anyone with bored kids. Once you’ve exhausted your board game collection, read all your books, and put together that 1,000 piece puzzle, what’s a family to do?

To help pass the time, we’ve rounded up a list of fun, family-friendly distractions that will keep you and your crew entertained without breaking the bank.

Here are some inexpensive ways to keep your family entertained at home…


girl logging into Adventure Academy

Help your kids keep their skills sharp. 

Who knew that 2020 would be the year we all became homeschoolers? In an effort to help kids make the transition, many educational websites that normally charge a subscription fee are now offering extended free trials or removing their paywalls altogether.

Lean into your new role as your child’s teacher by exploring this massive list of free learning websites with them. You’re sure to find a few new favorites, and it’s screen time you can feel good about!


girl baking in kitchen

Try some new recipes.

Life has suddenly taken on a slower pace, and you may find yourself with more time to try some new things in the kitchen. If you’re looking for inspiration, we have a large collection of easy, delicious, and comforting recipes for every meal of the day. Check out our sister site, Hip2Keto, for some simple and satisfying low-carb recipes too!

I am planning on doing a “culinary pastry camp week” with my daughter and creating a fun new spring-themed baked item each day. – Hip team member, Jami

Many of our recipes can be made with common ingredients that you may already have on hand, and lots of them are simple enough that you could easily include the kids in your cooking or baking adventures.

Check out social media for some celebrity inspiration too. Folks like Martha Stewart, Alton Brown, and Chrissy Tiegen are giving us a peek inside their kitchens and sharing what they’re making at home. Follow along next week as our very own Stetson learns to cook at home too. If he can do it, so can you! 😉


woman working out at home with 2 kids

Exercise!

There are so many ways to exercise right in your own home, so gym closures are no excuse for putting your fitness goals on the back burner. In fact, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy, so get the whole family involved!

We’ve compiled a list of fun ways that you can work out without ever setting foot in a gym, and you can read them all right here. With so many gyms and studios moving their classes online, there are more options now than ever before. Best of all, every workout on our list is completely FREE!


Broadway at Times Square in New York City

Take in a Broadway show.

While Broadway’s live shows have been suspended through at least mid-April, you can still catch an old favorite or discover a new one right from the comfort of your own couch.

BroadwayHD, a streaming service that features shows from Broadway, London’s West End, and other elite venues around the world, is now offering a FREE 30-Day trial through April 30th for new customers. There are musicals, plays, ballets, and hundreds of performances to watch!


actress Amy Adams holding up a children's book

Enjoy storytime with a celebrity.

Many celebrities have taken to social media to read stories and find other ways to connect with children who may be looking for a little extra comfort these days. Here are just a few:

  • Actresses Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams have partnered with Save the Children, No Kid Hungry, and their celebrity friends to read to kids who are stuck at home. Visit SaveWithStories.com to support their mission and enjoy storytime with the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres, and Pink.
  • Storyline Online, an award-winning children’s literacy website, streams videos featuring celebrities reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
  • Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Frozen’s Olaf, is using his famous voice to read kids a bedtime story every night on Twitter.
  • Author and illustrator Dav Pilkey, creator of the Captain Underpants books series is offering how-to drawing classes and read-alouds through The Library of Congress and Scholastic.
  • Storytime From Space is a website that offers videos of astronauts hosting read-alouds for kids from space!

girl dancing outside

Show off!

One of the many side effects of school closures is the fact that countless concerts, musicals, recitals, and sporting events will be canceled too. Kids who have been practicing for so long won’t get the chance to perform or compete after all of their hard work.

If your child is eager to show off the skills they’ve been practicing, take a video and share it online. Everyone from your in-laws to Jennifer Garner wants to see what they’ve been working on. In fact, you can upload a video of your child performing or playing their sport to Instagram and use the hashtag #heyjenlookatme.

Of course, you can always choose to share videos of your kids privately too, so that only select family and friends can see your children as they show off their skills!


Acadia National Park

Tour a national park.

Thanks to the magic of Google Earth, you can still explore 31 of America’s beautiful national parks without ever leaving your couch.

Take an even closer look at five of these gorgeous landscapes (Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Bryce Canyon in Utah, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Dry Tortugas in Florida, and the Hawai’i Volcanoes) with an in-depth tour from Google Arts and Culture.


woman standing in walk-in closet with clothes and organized shoes

Declutter!

If you haven’t been keeping up with our 30-Day Declutter Challenge, now is a great time to get started! Tackle one area of your home every day for a month, or get the whole family involved and fast-track your way to a clean house!


Combination lock

Make your own escape room.

After extended periods of time cooped up with your family, nobody would blame you for feeling like you need a little bit of an escape! While it might not be possible to get too far away, your family can have loads of fun by having an at-home “escape room” experience.

A quick Internet search will yield lots of ideas for creating an escape room puzzle that can be easily set up at home. There are many inexpensive teacher-created ones on Teachers Pay Teachers too, which is free to join (and you don’t need to be a teacher).


girl painting at table

Make arts and crafts.

If you’re looking for fun crafts or easy DIY projects that you can do with the whole family, we have tons of inspiration for you right here! There are lots of other options too:

  • Michaels has several at-home boredom busters on its website, and they’re hosting a Facebook LIVE featuring a fun family activity every Wednesday at noon CT.
  • Step 2 is hosting a daily DI-LIVE on Facebook every weekday at 3:00 PM ET. Follow along for a FREE DIY craft using supplies you may have on hand at home
  • Mo Willems, author/illustrator of Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus and other beloved children’s books, is inviting kids into his home studio. Every day at 1:00 ET, he’ll post a new episode as a way to connect with children and teach them how to draw.

You could even start a neighborhood art gallery by asking kids to hang their artwork in the windows of their homes. This would give your kiddos a chance to show off their creations and it would add a little visual interest to your family’s next walk around the neighborhood!


Colorful building with museum signage

Explore a museum from your couch.

With museums and other cultural centers closed, you can still see artwork from over 1,000 museums thanks to Google Arts and Culture. Although you won’t get the full experience of standing inside the echoing halls of your favorite gallery, the zoom-in feature will let you get a closer look at famous works of art than ever before.


people watching netflix while eating popcorn

Have a movie marathon.

If you’ve been thinking about trying a new streaming service, there is no better time than the present. Check out our comprehensive list of the most popular video streaming services and how you can try many of them for FREE!

Movie marathons are always fun and you can definitely tie in some fun educational activities for the kids with those. – Hip team member, Stacy

And because the Hallmark Channel knows exactly what we need right now, it’s gifting us with a weekend-long movie marathon packed with nothing but their original Chrismas movies. What could be more comforting than that?!

I’m having a Star Wars marathon. – Hip team member, Stetson

Thanks to a Chrome extension called Netflix Party, now you can even host a movie night that includes your long-distance friends and family! Read more about how to do that here.


Pirates of the Caribbean sign

Take a virtual ride at an amusement park.

Although there’s no substitute for a real-live stomach-dropping ride on a roller coaster, YouTube is loaded with first-person point of view ride-through videos from amusement parks all across the world.

Even though every Disney Park on the planet is closed at the moment, you can still take a virtual spin on Space Mountain, relive your last ride through Pirates of the Caribbean, or plan your next trip on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.


two women looking at their kindles

Start a family book club.

Although it may not be possible to get out to a library or book store for a while, there is so much free reading material available online. If you’re a member of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, you’ll have plenty to read with over 1,000,000 eBooks, audiobooks and current magazines. Now through April 30, you can even get a 2-month trial of Kindle Unlimited for FREE!

For a limited time, Amazon is also offering select Audible books for FREE to kids and teens during school closures. Pick one of these free titles and get the whole family involved in a book club. You can even include long-distance family members by hosting virtual book club meetings online!


boy wearing paper bag with cutouts of organs glued on it

We love doing STEM activities related to books. For instance, we read the book After the Fall (a fun twist on Humpty Dumpty) and I set out an assortment of items for the kids to choose from and gave them the challenge that they had to find a way to parachute an egg down from the top of the playground without it breaking. It was a ton of fun, and they got really creative! Another one we did was the book Madeline and we turned paper bags into organs/body parts (she gets her appendix out in the book). – Hip team member, Stacy


concert

Attend a virtual concert.

As music festivals, concerts, and other performances are canceled, more musicians are using social media and streaming platforms to perform for their fans. NPR Music is keeping a running list of live audio and video streams categorized by date and genre, which they will keep updated until there’s no longer a need.

While some of the streaming services in the list may require registration or a subscription, many are FREE! In many cases, there may be a digital tip jar or other opportunities to support the artists by buying their music or merchandise.


kids playing with giant bubbles outside

Get outside!

Unless your area is under strict shelter-in-place orders, try to spend a little extra time outside. Play with the kids in the yard, walk the dog, or just get out and look for signs of spring.

We’ve been having whole-family Nerf battles in the back yard, going for walks and bike rides, and looking under rocks for creepy-crawlies. Since sports practices have been canceled, we’ve been having fun playing baseball and soccer with the kids to keep their skills sharp too. – Hip team member, Jenna


tiger

Virtually visit a zoo, aquarium, or botanical garden.

Many zoos and other attractions are now offering live streaming, virtual tours, and home safaris. Visit your favorite zoo, aquarium, or botanical garden online to see if they’re offering virtual walkthroughs or any other free content during coronavirus closures.

In the meantime, here are a online attractions to check out:


Check in on friends, family, and neighbors.

  • Call your people on the phone. Texts are great when you’re short on time, but with people craving connection these days, make time for a phone call or video chat when you can.
  • Help older family members master the basics of Skype or FaceTime.
  • Send someone you love a handwritten note or card.
  • Have your children send letters or artwork to far-away loved ones.
  • If you’re venturing out to the store, ask a vulnerable neighbor what you can bring back for them.
  • Check in on the “essential personnel” in your life, like health care workers and others who can’t stay home from work. They’re going to need some extra encouragement during these times.

How are you and your family passing the time these days? We would love to hear from you – please share!


Need a boost of optimism today? Let these acts of kindness inspire you!

Join The Discussion

Comments 21

  1. Bernetta

    This is the best list! All ideas from everywhere! You’ve combined all the resources, I love it! Thanks for all you do!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      You are so welcome!

  2. dblD Amber

    Netflix and chill!!! Came across so many new shows and now have all the time in the world Bing. I have noticed slower internet speeds with so many people at home and online.

    • Jess

      You know what Netflix and chill means, right?

      • Diane

        Probably will be a baby boom in 9 months.

      • dblD Amber

        I do now, lol. And yes statement still holds true.

      • A

        She knows what it means she always has something borderline inappropriate to say ☹️

        • freestaci

          A little light-hearted fun is welcome at these times. I found it funny.

  3. Crafty Bargainista

    I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old at home now and a job I have to work from home with them around. I wish I had time to binge on Netflix! 🥺

  4. Lisa

    I love these. Stacy, do you have any sites that you got your STEM activities from..or could you share more? Thanks

  5. Kenzie B

    We FaceTime our friends and play battleship.

  6. Teah

    I suggest turning UP the music and have a dance party! Just let your self go!! That’s what we did this afternoon and it was So fun and therapeutic!

    • jennap

      Teah, that is such a great idea and sounds like so much fun! Thank you for sharing <3

  7. Suzanne H

    Metopera.org for free opera performances. Might not be everyone’s thing but I actually like opera.

  8. Jane Faught

    We set up the tent in the backyard with a movie projector and made smore’s – yum!

    • beth-3

      I wish the weather was nice enough for that in NEOH. It’s chilly!! I was impressed though my kids decided to play basketball on their own today despite the grey chilly weather.

  9. megannt

    I see all of these stay home posts but I work in health care. It’s still a 40 hr week with 2 kids at home and their daycare closed. Long mentally challenging days. Stay safe all.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thank you, megannt! We certainly recognize the sacrifice you are making! 💗

  10. mlj211

    We’ve been listening to Josh Gad every day at lunchtime. It’s so great he is doing this! The kids don’t quite grasp the concept that he is Olaf but they like hearing the books.

  11. ~Ann

    Rosetta Stone is offering a 3 month subscription to all students.
    Your choice of language. You don’t need to enter a credit card & you don’t need to have an edu email account.
    You can sign up for a subscription for each kid – they just tell you to use a different email address.
    Look for the banner that says 3 months free for students – don’t just take the 7 day free trial.

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