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  • jilliankwells

Spring Break 2.0

Updated: Mar 18

Hi, my neighbors! Happy St. Patricks Day! Hope you're festively wearing green! But don't worry -- with all this going on, I'm sure no one is going to randomly pinch anyone. Ha!


Now, I know I normally approach this blog and these posts with the hopes that we're sharing all the fun and happy and frivolous things this life out west has to offer -- but we know these are different times we're in, I suppose. We've all seen a big change in our daily lives within the past few weeks. Kids are out of school, we're all in various stages of social distancing, restaurants and bars and businesses are closing, we're all doing our best to hide our anxiety (oh, was that just me?). It's a new way of life for a bit, right?


That being said, I think one of the biggest hurdles we're facing from a Mom/Parent perspective HAS to be that the kids are at home and aren't in school. I heard another mom call it Spring Break 2.0 the other day, and I guess that's true -- but no school?? And no fun activities?? No Urban Air? No Zoo Trips? No play dates? Now what?

And I totally get that being stumped at the idea, 100%. I mean, I'm no teacher! So I thought something fun I'd share are some fun things I've seen shared/ideas, activities, toys, etc. to keep kiddos occupied that aren't simply "tv/screen time".

** DISCLAIMER: Y'all. You'd never find any mom-shaming here. Please know that I am in NO WAY shape or form saying TV/screen time is bad and I'd be a big ol' liar if I even attempted to say Bella doesn't beg to watch TV half the day. Heck, some of these suggestions I'm offering involve some aspect of screen time. We're all in this together, if that's what's helping you keep the kids happy today YOU'RE WINNING, I promise!


Virtual Field Trips!

Okay! So I recently found the neatest websites that offer Virtual Field Trips for kids! I think this is the coolest collection of "places" for kids to visit that all ages would enjoy; there is something for everyone. For example, my kid is animal obsessed and asks everyday to go the Zoo -- so today, we took a "field trip" to the San Diego Zoo! A section of their website has live cameras where you can watch more than 15 types of animals LIVE from your computer screen! How fun!

Some other options include:

- The surface of Mars! Yes, for real! How cool is that! With video footage taken from the Mars Rover!

- The Boston Children's Museum

- Yellowstone National Park

- The Great Wall of China

- The Louvre

And so many more other sites offer similar virtual tours! Such a fun thing to try with the kiddos that could keep them interactive and entertained! We can't wait to do the Yellowstone tour tomorrow; I've never been!


Instagram/Facebook Live

In this same train of thought, I've seen so many Instagram/Facebook pages jumping on the bandwagon of LIVE streaming (for example) "Keeper Chats" from various zoos around the country. One in particular is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden that has committed to going on their Facebook Live at 3pm ET each weekday where they "will highlight one of [their] amazing animals and include an activity" that kids can do from home. I think this is so SO neat! We'll be tuning in!

Their instagram is @cincinnatizoo and I'll include a direct link to their Facebook here for anyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon. So thankful for things like this!

I've also seen some various Instagrams (such as @petethecat) that are going LIVE on their Instagram pages for Virtual Storytime where authors are reading stories for kids to follow along with in the comfort. of their own homes. There are a million more examples of businesses/organizations stepping up to help during this time and if you know of any, please feel free to share!


Toys/Games/Store-bought Activities

Of course, we have to throw in these fun things the kids can do that simply requires the swipe of a debit card or a click around the old faithful Amazon (cause believe me, I'm right there with ya!) I just placed an order with Amazon at the end of last week in anticipation of this week so I have a few suggestions that work in my house!

- Melissa and Doug ANYTHING (ha!) -- but we're big fans of the Water Wow coloring books, Wooden Puzzles and stamp sets!

If you're interested in shopping small and local, Chloe's Closet in Old Town Katy is a Melissa and Doug Vendor and are allowing customers to purchase via Drive Through! Such a great option!

- Crayola Color Wonder Activity Books -- y'all know I ain't trying to have marker stains all over my house! Ha! They have themes for whatever your kiddo might be into like Mickey Mouse, Frozen, Paw Patrol, Lion King, or simply blank pages that your little ones can draw whatever they like on. We love these in my house!

- Young, Wild and Freidman Activity / Sensory Kits -- Okay, so essentially, this is play dough kit. And you, of course, could simply go buy yourself some inexpensive play dough but I just felt like I had to include some semi-local, small business love for this awesome company called Young, Wild and Freidman. She's a mom and a wife who has developed this successful business in Activity / Sensory Kits and I think this whole idea is just fantastic. The play dough is all homemade with various flavors that are tailored to suite the theme of the box itself. And again, she stocks kits with something for everyone in mind from unicorn-themed boxes, to dinosaurs, puppies, space, princesses, ice cream, etc! And they're adorable. Oh, and mine LOVES them! I've included an image from her website -- I mean, are you kidding me? How cute!

Instagram Accounts to Follow for Activity Ideas

Instagram is the new Pinterest, y'all -- I hate to say it, but it's true. I've been scouring around and found some fun Instagrams that offer various ideas on DIY and crafty fun things to do with the kids. I'll be quick here; this is list of some of my favorites:

- Molly with Little Ones Learn

- Susie with Busy Toddler

- Rachel with I Heart Crafty Things

- Sheryl with Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

So of course, I realize some of these seem geared towards toddlers, but there are fun activities even your older ones might like in these pages too!


Online Learning Resources

A few of my teacher friends have made some suggestions for teaching printables and online sites that are great for kiddos that I thought I'd also leave here. Some are paid, some require a couple bucks and others are free -- Just depends on what you're looking for but here is a jump start!

- Scholastic.com -- Includes suggested book lists (by age) and also includes activity and printable ideas (by age). Excellent resource!

- Teachers Pay Teachers -- This site is a paid site, full disclosure, and includes resources for elementary, middle and high school kiddos. Prices range from as low as a $1.00 to $20 or more depending on what you're looking for. But this is a great resource if you're looking for truly educational things for your kids to do.


Other fun activities ideas include a Scavenger Hunt for the older kiddos -- there are a ton of online resources for printable with regards to these -- as well as just getting outside and having fun! Bella and I have been going on a good walk every morning in between Breakfast and Lunch that is getting Momma some good exercise too! I bet my Apple Watch must think its been stolen and someone else is using it with all this "activity" I've been doing. Ha!


YouTube Channels

YouTube channels are also proving to be a great resource for fun, interactive entertainment for the kids! I just have to mention Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube! This is such a fun, interesting little YouTube Channel that I recently found scrolling on Instagram and kids seem to be loving it! My kiddo started warming up to it, but we're still a work in progress! This is another great way to keep kids occupied and moving/getting exercise that would also be good for rainy/indoor days!

Bo on the Go! is another channel that features story-driven, movement-focused activities that allow viewers to actually physically participate along with the characters. This is a great option for the 3-6 range!

What are some things you're doing with your kiddos to keep them happy and occupied during these trying times? Let's all help each other!

But in all seriousness, neighbors, its times like these that we have to realize how truly lucky we are and keep focused on the positive; I sincerely hope that you and yours are staying safe and healthy out there, please let me know if I can do anything for you!


Until next time!

Jillian

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