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Illustration by Art Hondros

Building Young Brains When Schools Are Closed, Part 2: Online Tips and Activities

Our Top Tips for Parents and Caregivers

This is part 2 of a a three-part series. Read Part 1 (Offline Activities) and Part 3 (Outdoor Tips).

How are you doing? No, really. Are you taking care of yourself? Brushing your hair? Remembering to eat? Reaching out to friends and family when you’re feeling stressed? Are you running out of ideas for keeping the kids engaged? Last week, we provided offline activities. Here are ideas for online exploration.

  • Moo Till the Cows Come Home. Scholastic’s Learn at Home Kit (find it here, complete with username and password) offers books, videos and activities for learning about animals and other living things.
  • Find the Math. Here’s one from Marley Jarvis, University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS): “The Outreach team has recently started an instagram account (@finding_math) offering fun prompts for parents and caretakers. Each post provides something to ‘find’ at home, like a math scavenger hunt in your daily life.The idea is that math is truly everywhere–and it’s not just about numbers. It’s a great way for playing with younger kids and/or giving older kids something to do.” (Read more: Synchronized Movement: The Story Behind a Prizewinning Video on Preschool Behavior)

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Outdoor Tips and Activities.


Tips from Dr. Megan McClelland

Director of Oregon State University’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children & Families

  • Read!! Draw/paint pictures about characters in books.
  • Do lots of playing, art projects, building forts in the living room and puzzles.
  • Pull out the board games.
  • Play games, especially ones that are movement- and music-based with rules that change (freeze dance to slow and fast music and then reverse the rules).
  • Spill the Legos. What will you build?
  • Create dance and acting shows
  • Get outside! (as long as you can with social distancing). Go for walks and pick up leaves and small sticks to make a collage.

Don’t miss: A parent’s guide to surviving COVID-19: 8 strategies to keep children healthy and happy from two of our favorite researchers: Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.

Mark Swartz writes for and about nonprofit organizations. He lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife and two children.

Illustrator Art Hondros received wrist-slappings for his cartooning activity in both high school and the US Navy. His sequential features have appeared in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine and Packingtown Review in Chicago. He produced a graphic novel based on a lost 1920s silent film in 2018. He is a member of the collective known as DC Conspiracy that publishes the free comics newspaper, Magic Bullet.

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