Drama Activities for Children During Social Distancing

A Play’s the Thing. June 24-27.

Add some drama to your life. We’ve found a few resources you can use to create a play or puppet show in your house.

You’ll need a script.You can find free scripts for kids thought.com and a2z homeschooling. Drama Notebook offers 50 scripts; there is a $10.00 subscription fee.

Maybe you want to write your own script. Pen and Pad has guidelines for adults working with children on writing simple plays.

So, how do you put on a play and social distance? One possibility would be to create and film a puppet show. That way all the characters can be played by people living under the same roof. Film your puppet show and share it on your favorite platform. Below are some links with ideas for creating puppets and puppet theaters.

Maybe you’d rather act the play out yourself. You still can.

One way would be to do outdoors theater, keeping your characters 6 feet apart. Masks have been traditionally worn in drama throughout the world. Try some of these theater masks, but be sure to add two layers of fabric following CDC guidelines.

Or have a blast with technology. You can put on a play with friends with the most amazing scenery imaginable by sharing the backgrounds that come with the platform or loading your own. In your search engine, enter “zoom free virtual backgrounds” or simply the type of scene you want, such as “spaceship” or “medieval castle”.

Want to dig further into theater? Virtual theater classes are being offered throughout the country. Locally, Live Arts is offering classes. Enter “virtual theater classes” in your search engine for more ideas.

Family Staycations, Part Three

June 13-16 Virtual Tours and Activities In and Around Charlottesville

To give a little glimpse of what you can look forward, here are some COVID-19 posts from local attractions. To make this a true vacation, you’ll want:

A Gift Shop.

  • Buy some blank post cards and draw a picture of the sites you visited. Send them to a friend.
  • Make some small models of objects you saw on your visit.
  • Create some books. Gift shops typically have not only books about the site you visited, but also non-fiction and fiction related to the site.
  • Get some fabric markers and make tee-shirts, hats, and tote-bags with images from your visit.

A Snack Bar

Be sure to include a few selections related to the site you are visiting. For example, maybe serve some watercress or other Maori foods.

A Hands-on Learning Section

Some of these sites already have an activity section, but here are a few more:

  • Create a costume room. Look at some old clothes, clothes, and accessories in your closets and WITH PERMISSION :), the closets of people bigger than you. Can you transform some of these into period clothes or clothes from another part of the world?
  • Set out some materials to try out crafts or music related to the site.
  • Put out some construction materials, such as Lego’s, Plus Tubes, and Lincoln Logs to make models of the place you visit.

Now Enjoy Your Tour.

These are a few local attractions I found with online offerings. I’m sure to have missed some great ones. Message us on Facebook or write to mail@enrichmentalliance.org if you have additions.

Enjoy your staycation. Send us a card!

Gifts Kids Can Make at Home, Part Two

June 10-13

Some of these ideas feature Dads, but they would really make great gifts for any important adult in your life, male or female. Make a gift for an adult who means the world you you.

Calm key chaos with a beautiful cardboard key holder.

Transform an Altoids Tin. Love this. Take any tin box, it doesn’t have to be an Altoids box really, and turn it into…. a case for something small that needs organizing, a game, a work of art, just a few ideas offered on this website and you’ll probably think of more cool ideas.

Mustache Mugs are easy and trendy. Just don’t paint someone’s favorite mug without asking 🙂

Homemade Cards can be truly awesome. This link provides instructions for cards that go WAY beyond your classic folded piece of paper with a drawing in crayon.

Family Staycations, Part Two

Beyond your own backyard. June 6-9

This is the second of two parts. Last weekend’s post focused on transforming your home and yard into a destination. This weekend’s post shared information about potential destinations in the Charlottesville area, or close enough for day trips. The situation is very fluid, so rather than listing open destinations, we are providing links. Check these links often for updates.

Whether you have decided dining out is a safe choice for your family or are looking for the carryout for the beautiful restaurant you created in your home (see last weekend’s post), find out what local restaurants are currently offering. Staunton has closed four blocks of city streets to enable more outside dining.

During Phase Two more attractions will be opening up, but please weigh the risks carefully before deciding what is safe for your family and your community. Social distancing, hand-washing, masks, and other measures recommended by the CDC are still critical, and staying home remains the safest choice.

For information on a few local and regional parks and natural areas that are at least partially open:

Albemarle County Parks and Recreation.

Augusta County Parks and Recreation.

Blue Ridge Parkway.

Charlottesville Parks and Recreation.

Claudius Crozet Park.

Greene County Parks and Recreation

Ivy Creek Natural Area.

Nelson County Parks and Recreation

Shenandoah National Park.

Wildrock Park.

Other destinations and activities that are partially open include:

Brooks Family YMCA.

Carter Mountain/Chiles Family Orchards.

James Madison’s Montpelier.


Check out this interactive map to get some ideas for day trips in Virginia. But please don’t let down your guard. The virus is still out there. Most popular tourist destinations in Virginia have virtual tours, downloadables, and online activities, and we’ll be sharing some of those next week-end for Part Three of Family Staycations.

Enrichment During Shutdowns. Rowling’s World.

June 3-June 5.

Did you know that Jk Rowling is releasing a new children’s fantasy novel, one chapter at time, at no charge as a gift to us all during social distancing? New chapters of The Ickabog are posted daily, but you can start at the beginning, not matter when you first access her website.

It gets even more exciting, because for each chapter, Rowling provides suggestions for illustrations. Children between the ages of seven and twelve can enter their drawings in a competition to have their illustrations included in the book when it is published in November!!! All royalties of of the book will go to people impacted by COVID-19.

So let’s load you up with some great tools for illustrating a child’s fantasy tale. We’re picking a few links on drawing fantasy beasts, followed by a few general links to some of the items listed in her suggestions. These links are deliberately selected for children of all abilities, so if one looks too hard or too easy, just check out a different link.

Rowling’s new book is not a part of the Harry Potter world, however it does feature a legendary beast. Some videos on drawing fantastic beasts might help get those creative ideas rolling (pun intended).To get some more basics on monster drawing, visit this wikihow.

Drawing dragons is always a useful skill, is it not? And some say the Ickabog is like a dragon. Try a simple step-by-step dragon, perfect for any age. Or, if you are up for a challenge, create a more intricate dragon, using the same techniques professionals employ.

Now, let’s look at just a few of the specific items Rowling lists in her suggestions.

Royalty, Simple.

King, Moderate Difficulty.

Cheese, Very Simple.

French Pastries, advanced. (Don’t do this on an empty stomach).

Peacock, Simple. Peacock, Moderate Difficulty. Peacock, Advanced. Dog, Simple. Bush, simple.


For more ideas to get you going, enter “how to draw” plus the name of the item, and you are likely to get a useful hit. These are tutorials: just a place to get you started. Try them out. Master some skills. Then start having fun by changing things up. This is YOUR art, not anyone else’s. Now that you have learned how one person draws a king, what’s your own very unique way?

Family Staycations During Social Distancing

May 30 – June 2

Whether vacation plans for the summer were cancelled by quarantine, or a family vacation was never in the budget to begin with, it’s still important to set aside a time to to exchange the same old routine for some fun and relaxation.

Every vacation takes planning. A staycation is no different. If you can’t get away this summer, or even if you can but quarantine has you in the doldrums for now: it’s time to plan a staycation. If you have a child with developmental differences, you may want to prepare for these changes with social stories or visual schedules, since changing a routine in a familiar setting may be especially confusing without some preparation.

Begin by finding out what’s important about vacation to your family. A change of scene? A change in routine? Freedom from daily chores and meal planning? Make a list with your family and start thinking about how you can create opportunities at home. Read more about planning a staycation for your family.

Engage your children as much as possible in these activities for physically transforming your home into a vacation destination. For example, do your folding with the kids a few days in advance and set the towels and napkins aside until the vacation begins. And remember, if it feels too much like work, it’s NOT a staycation. If it’s fun, fold a towel like a swan. But it could feel just as special to roll your towels up and put them in a basket.

An Inn in Your Home. If the novelty of sleeping in a new place is a named as a reason your family loves vacation, make your home extra, extra special for a week. Kids might find that rearranging their bedrooms gives them a feeling of waking up in a new space. Or would they like to sleep in a different room? Maybe swap rooms with a sibling, or sleep in a cardboard “fort” (see May 27 post). Turn your bathroom into a hotel bathroom with flowers, guest soaps, and specially folded towels. And don’t forget to fold that little triangle at the end of your toilet paper roll!

Dining Out Dining In. Probably dining out will be mentioned as a favorite vacation experience. It may be that it works for your family to visit some local restaurants. If so, to create the novelty of vacation, try some restaurants you haven’t been to before. But if weather, budget, or health concerns mean you prefer to eat at home, you can still make it new. This article on turning your dining room into a restaurant offers some great ideas. Here are a few more:

  • Rearrange your eating area or move it to another part of the house.
  • Fold your napkins like the pros. Here are a video and a set of written step-by step instructions with photos.
  • Change up your place setting.
  • And try some recipes you’ve never prepared before, or order from a new restaurant.

Backyard Destinations. Of course, there’s more to vacation than sleeping and eating. There is. Really! Mini golf is usually a vacation favorite, so why not set up a golf course in your backyard? You can make it as simple or complicated as you want. This video tells how to make a hole with a cardboard box and a cup, but you can also dig tin cans into the ground. Put some big toys near your holes to create a theme. No clubs and golf balls? Improvise with sticks and small balls. After a few rounds of golf, you’ll be hot, so you might want to visit a water park next.

What’s your favorite destination? Try entering the destination with the phrase “Turn your backyard into a …” or “turn your house into a …” Some hits will be off topic, but you’ll get some cool ideas, too. Next week-end, we’ll share some day trips that are open in Central Virginia.

Forts, Shelters, and Cardboard Cities

May 27-29

What could say constructive, creative out-of-school time better than cardboard and sofa cushions? Such simple materials can absorb a child’s attention for hours. And older children (adults too) can get just as caught up in constructive play if you exchange the cardboard and cushions for sticks and branches.

How Do You Build a Fort? Describes 7 types of forts, from something as simple as a sofa cushion fort, to a tree house contraption that could rival a treetop adventure park.

Cardboard constructions of all kinds, by no means just forts, are featured in a playideas.com blog on cardboard forts. Cars, castles, entire cities are included. Preschoolers are featured on the blog but really these constructions could be appropriate for any age, especially if incorporated into a theater activity.


As our attention shifts from lost school and after school time to the summer programs many children will be missing, it’s a good idea to be thinking about awesome outdoors activities.

There is no one, no one, too old for stick forts and shelters. I’ve seen an entire middle school art curriculum built (pun intended) around stick shelters, and adults use them for survival shelters. The can be built like giant Lincoln Log houses. They can be built with long branches and leaves. Make sure you and your children can identify poison ivy and other poisonous foliage in your yard, and be alert for insects and snakes.

Celebrating Memorial Day During the Pandemic

How will you spend Memorial Day Week-end with pools and parks closed, and social distancing guidelines still in place? A Texas website has a blog post on this question. Most of the suggestions work anywhere, but a few are specific to Texas, so if you’re looking to safely get out of the house here in Charlottesville/Albemarle, The Rivanna Trails , Claudius Crozet Park and Ivy Creek Natural Area grounds are among just a few local natural areas reopening. George Washington and Jefferson are opening some trail-heads today. If you do go out, plan for restrooms and other facilities, such as play areas to be closed.


Whether you visit a natural area or observe Memorial Day at home, Monday will be a beautiful day for a picnic. But it will be an even better day with farm fresh strawberries! Read about how local pick-your-own farms are adapting to social distancing. Due to the limited number of people allowed in farms at a time, it’s a good idea to check on the best time to arrive. You may also be interested in learning about curbside sales.


So what are you going to do with all those strawberries? You might try some of these kid friendly treats such as homemade fruit roll-ups and strawberry oatmeal bars.


Once you’ve acquired a taste for fresh strawberries, you’ll be pleased to know how easy they are to grow at home in containers. And even better news: there are varieties of strawberries that you can grow from spring into early fall. You’ll get the highest yield in a short time with June-bearing strawberries (they begin producing in May in Central Virginia.) Other varieties will keep you nibbling for months. Check with area garden stores about safe pick-ups for June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral strawberry plants.

Enrichment at home: It’s a Rap

May 20 – 21

Rap is basically spoken poetry with a strong emphasis on rhythm and rhyme. Below is an incredibly moving music video made by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris for the 2018 Super Bowl. Ludacris’s rap is embedded in the song. It’s a special kind of poem: an acrostic. Each line emphasizes one letter from the word “Champion”, so that reading the first letter of each of these words down a page of lyrics would spell the word,

Although the next video may be most suited to preschoolers, the truth is anyone would love this rap of Fox in Sox. And fortunately, it’s one of a series. Younger kids will love listening. Here’s a challenge for older kids: see if YOU can rap a rhyming children’s book. A great way to connect with younger cousins or other tots you are missing right now would be rap the a book by video chat or record a book for them.

As discussed, rap is essentially spoken word poetry with a strong instrumental beat. Not all poetry places the emphasis on rhyme and rhythm found in rap and other spoken word poetry. So what makes a poem a poem?

Next is a link to a video on how to rap that adults may want to view before before sharing. It is a clean video with excellent tips on rhyme and rhythm. This was chosen for it’s emphasis on language, however in contains sales pitches and refers viewers to other rappers families may not be comfortable with. Parents can look for other resources using the search terms “rap beginners kids.” For teens, drop “kids” but parents may especially want to screen for content. There are some wonderful videos on the poetics of rap, but they may contain violent language or other material that is not suitable.

Movement

Rock Podcast.  Spare the Rock is a weekly radio show out of  KUTX 98.9, Austin.  This web link takes you to their blog, where if you scroll down you will find their most recent playlist.  Now, we put this under movement for a reason, so grab your phone, connect with your friends, and throw a virtual dance party.

Science and Math

But Why This semi-weekly NPR “kids and family” podcast digs into life’s pressing questions, like “How Do People Fall Asleep?” and “Do Animals Get Married?” This podcast does cover some topical issues, such as the COVID-19, so some parents might want to pre-screen or discuss the podcasts. Technically, these aren’t all Science and Math podcasts, but … close enough.

Art and Literature

Today’s reading subscriptions will appeal to younger children. To make this suitable for older readers, consider having them create their own read aloud recordings to share with younger children. They should think about how they would introduce and conclude their reading, and how they will use vocal tone to make it interesting.

Story Podcast Circleround is a weekly podcast from WBUR 90.9 Boston.  The website includes links to coloring books and soundtracks. 

Kids’ Books Read Aloud. Adapted. If listening to read-alouds doesn’t work for you, this YouTube series features books you can read along with.

March 26

Podcasts and Subscriptions

Movement

Rock Podcast.  Spare the Rock is a weekly radio show out of  KUTX 98.9, Austin.  This web link takes you to their blog, where if you scroll down you will find their most recent playlist.  Now, we put this under movement for a reason, so grab your phone, connect with your friends, and throw a virtual dance party.

Science and Math

But Why This semi-weekly NPR “kids and family” podcast digs into life’s pressing questions, like “How Do People Fall Asleep?” and “Do Animals Get Married?” This podcast does cover some topical issues, such as the COVID-19, so some parents might want to pre-screen or discuss the podcasts. Technically, these aren’t all Science and Math podcasts, but … close enough.

Art and Literature

Today’s reading subscriptions will appeal to younger children. To make this suitable for older readers, consider having them create their own read aloud recordings to share with younger children. They should think about how they would introduce and conclude their reading, and how they will use vocal tone to make it interesting.

Story Podcast Circleround is a weekly podcast from WBUR 90.9 Boston.  The website includes links to coloring books and soundtracks. 

Kids’ Books Read Aloud. Adapted. If listening to read-alouds doesn’t work for you, this YouTube series features books you can read along with.

March 25

Science and Math

Zoo Live Cams.  Take a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo.  Visit koalas, polar bears, tigers, and many more animals in real time.  This website also has a wide selection of activities including video games and arts and crafts activities.

Art and Literature

Dioranimal   Now create your own zoo. Look at this Pinterest Board to get some ideas and create a zoo in your own home. Take US on a field trip. Tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram.

Dioramas Adapted.  If you like a little more direction when you make things, this video walks you through the steps of creating a diorama with cardboard and magazines. If you don’t have access to magazines, print or draw your animals.

Movement

BE an Animal. Here’s a game you can play with your friends, even while you are social distancing. Learn some animal moves from this exercise video and use FaceTime or other social media to create a “live cam”.  Act out an animal and ask your friends to guess what you are.

March 24

Anansi and The Turtle Younger children will enjoy the video for its own sake, but older children will probably appreciate this more as an introduction to storytelling. How does the story teller use her voice and body to engage the viewer? See the Movement link below to connect this video to a storytelling activity.

Movement

Storytelling  Scroll through these lesson plans from Scholastic to get ideas retelling a story.  Focus on exaggerated movements..  The Fox and The Stork would be a great one to pair with Anansi and The Turtle.

Science and Math

Turtle Salad.  Scale this down and make a Turtle Salad for your family.  But leave out the turtle meal!

Turtle Salad Adapted.  This salad recipe is pretty similar, but includes step-by-step instructions with pictures.

March 23

Art and Literature

Story Generator. On this intriguing website by Scholastic, an animated machine generates story prompts at the pull of a lever.  The settings can be adjusted by grade level.

Adapted.   The level of the story generator above can be adjusted, but if you need a more concrete activity, try these “meaningful story prompts” from Old Dominion University. Scroll down to Story Jars and you will find an activity similar in nature to the story generator. Unfortunately, there seem to be some formatting issues on the document, but the idea still comes through.

Science and Math

Hand sanitizer is no substitute for good old fashioned hand washing, but your kids can make their own hand sanitizer to have in a pinch if you have access to these ingredients. The essential oils are optional.

Movement

Indoors bowling.  Recycle empty bottles into an indoors bowling alley. This website recommends adding a little water if the bottles tip too easily, but you might want to substitute something less messy, like pennies or a few pebbles.

March 22

Science and Math

Rube Goldberg Inventions Ideas for zany inventions inspired by the Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist whose ridiculous “time-savers” were more trouble to put together than the task itself ever might have been.  This site offers video examples, ideas to get you started, and lists of materials you might find around the house.  If you don’t have one of these items, just try something else. Maybe small books will work as well as dominoes. Try paper towel rolls if you don’t have plastic tubes.  And we sure will want to see your pictures and videos for this one, so please tag us on Instagram. Just google Rube Goldberg Inventions if you want to see more.

Movement

Obstacle Courses This website lists 25 ideas for obstacle courses, several of them themed.  You may not have all the items suggested, but they should give you some ideas for using the materials you do have.

Obstacle Courses Adapted  These are slides from a presentation on wheelchair obstacle courses in a school setting, so not all of these will be practical to create at home. There are, however, ample images that you could recreate or adapt for use in your house or apartment, so go ahead, try this at home.

Art and Literature

Cambodian Myth of Lightning, Thunder, And Rain. This TED animation is a beautiful presentation of a Cambodian Myth.  A lesson plan is available and there are additional TED animations of children’s tales from around the world.

March 21

Sticking with a spring theme a little longer, today’s enrichment activities allow children to play and create with the wind.

Movement

Be a Wind Dancer.  As March blows through, get outside and blow with it. Take along scarves, ribbons, anything that flows. Watch the wind blow on natural objects like trees, grass, flowers, leaves. Make up some dance moves based on how the wind moves these objects. 

Art and Literature

Wind Sculpture.  Create a fanciful wind sculpture and put it outside or in front of an air vent. First watch the video linked on the left for some inspiration.  Now watch this video on creating wind sculptures, and let your imagination go wild. Besides the materials in this video, what can you find around the house to create a kinetic sculpture at home?  Search YOUTUBE for “wind sculpture” and “kinetic sculpture” for more mesmerizing videos. And of course, please tag enrichmentalliance when you post your amazing pictures!

Science and Math

How fast is the wind? These simple directions show how to use household materials to make an anemometer, an instrument used by meteorologists to study wind speed.  If you can’t find the exact materials at home, try out different materials and let us know what works for you. 

Science and Math Adapted

Pinwheels. Step by step instructions, with pictures. Try different types of paper to make a variety of beautiful pinwheels, and show us what you made. You can take these outside and let the wind blow them, or run and dance with them.  Did you know that blowing on a pinwheel can make you feel less stressed?

March 20

This is the first full day of spring! All of our activities today are themed on nature. Use your science and movement activities as inspiration for writing poems about nature, and consider submitting to the Washington Post Nature Poem contest, linked below. The National Parks have opened to the public at no charge, so if you have a park nearby and a way to get there, you might do your nature studies there. Just remember social distancing.

Art and Literature

Nature Poetry Contest. Take a good look at this beautiful spring day. Maybe you’re looking out your window, maybe you’re taking a walk or a hike. Write down six things you see in nature (examples: bird, tree, cloud). Write down six things that are happening in nature (examples: soar, sway, float). Write down six things to describe what you see (peacefully, green, soft).  Now use these to write a poem.  If you are the kind of person who needs a little structure to write, see Arts and Literature Adapted below. PLEASE NOTE, IF YOU ARE SUBMITTING TO THE KIDSPOST CONTEST, DON’T SHARE THESE POEMS WITH US BEFORE APRIL 22.

Art and Literature Adapted

Nature Poem Activity.  Our POPnPOEMS workshops use pop songs suggested by participants to explore poetry.  This activity, built around “Deep in the Meadow” from “Hunger Games” includes visual aids, word banks, and patterns for creating poems.  If you are interested in submitting your poems, see the entry above. This entry is from our director’s personal website, which contains one additional poetry activity.

Science and Math

Nature Camera-Scavenger Hunt.  Grab a cell phone or a pencil and paper, look for items on this list, and draw or photograph them . Or create your own scavenger hunts and use social media to challenge your friends.  We’re dying  to see what you find, so please tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram. This website includes additional outdoors spring activities.

MOVEMENT

Nature Walk.  This blog offers great guidance for turning an everyday walk into  a nature museum.  Activities in this blog combine beautifully with the poetry and scavenger hunts described above.

Science and Math

March 19. Rain in a Jar. Can’t leave the house? Don’t let it RAIN on your parade. We chose this activity because it requires only a jar, ice, and hot water, and because it was a popular activity when our director taught elementary school. This requires parental involvement because it uses boiling water. For related activities, type “Science in a Jar” in your YOUTUBE search window.

Tag us to show off your #raininajar

#enrichmentalliance; #kidsscienceexperiments; #scienceathome; #covid19kidsathome; #covid19kidsactivities

Movement Adaptive

March 19. OT Sensory Dance Video. Set to “Uptown Funk,” these moves were designed for children and youth on the autism spectrum, but should work well for other Developmental Differences. Have fun. Don’t try to be perfect. Just enjoy these moves, and maybe make up some moves of your own.

Movement

March 19. Kids Hip Hop Class. An on-line dance studio offers lessons on dance moves. This sample lesson is just one of a series. Check out their other online lessons. Have fun. Don’t try to be perfect. Just enjoy these moves, and maybe make up some moves of your own.

March 19. Epamdimonimous. (We can only guess at that spelling!) Donna Washington is a captivating NC storyteller who delighted our after-school students when she presented her engaging workshops here. To stream more stories, visit donnawashington.com and click videos.

Social Distancing Butterflies

May 18-19

Use materials from around the house to make a butterfly feeder. It might attract hummingbirds as well, although for hummingbirds you may need to position it differently. Craft foam is listed in the materials for the project, but we made ours without any. Use what you have on hand. That makes it YOUR project.

You’ll want to know who’s visiting your feeder, so try some of these identification activities, including the butterfly scavenger hunt.

All the butterflies you’ve been observing could serve as inspiration for some gorgeous art work. This Pinterest board is filled with butterfly themed arts and crafts activities suited to all ages.