Of course, you can’t ride a bike if you don’t know how. Because one of my children had significant gross motor and motor planning challenges, his physical therapist recommended a no training wheels method of learning to ride. We ended up using this method with both children because it was so easy. I’ve posted two videos showing this approach. Although it is not mentioned here, we found trying this on a surface with a very slight incline allowed them to coast further without peddles, using that time to focus on just learning to steer.
There’s a lot more to riding a bike than just knowing how. Everyone, no matter how long they’ve been riding, could use an occasional review of bicycle safety.
Now you just need a place to ride. Virginia Bike Trails offers statewide suggestions, including several in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area.
But what if bicycling isn’t so much about going some place as it is about doing stuff? Here are some interesting things kids can do on bike’s without going far from home. Some of these activities might stand just a little tweaking for social distancing.
A Virtual Pot Luck! Share a meal with friends and family, even when you can’t be together. Pick a few families you want to celebrate with by way of phone or video platform. Before the fourth, each family can share one simple recipe so that everyone can enjoy one another’s contributions together. Since each family will have to prepare all the dishes in this virtual pot luck, keep it simple.
Social Distance Picnics. Or follow CDC guidelines and these ideas, if you are feeling ready to join a small group for an outdoors picnic.
Awesome 4th of July Sidewalk Art. Create a spectacular Independence Day Sidewalk Art Exhibition. Put on a chalk art fireworks show. Shoot yourself out of a cannon. Fly away on an eagle. With art, you can do anything.
Have a 4th of July parade on your street. Dress in red, white, and blue. Fill the holes of swim noodles with streamers and other decorations. You can march with them like a drum major’s baton, plus they have the added benefit of being useful to measure out social distance. (They’re short a few inches of 6 feet, so give’em a little allowance), Keeping that social distance, include some decorated bikes and trikes in your parade. Come up with your own ideas, serious or fun, for a social distance parade down your street. And don’t forget the dog!
Ready to escape? Aren’t we all? You can escape in place by creating your own Escape Room. It can be as simple or complicated as you want. If you have never been to an Escape Room, it could be helpful to view a few videos of live Escape Rooms to get the general idea. The video below is a bit long, so you may want to scroll through.
Here is a simple, but creative homemade Escape Room to give you some ideas. Unlike some DIY Escape Rooms, it is not themed.
Locks aren’t the only material used in Escape Rooms, but they are heavily relied on.This mom delighted her kids with fancy new locks, which might not always work for families on budgets. Consider putting the word out to friends that you would like to borrow locks, or look on eBay. Puzzles are also essential. Puzzles and plans are available at several sites, including Lock Paper Scissors and Big Escape Rooms. Using a pre-made plan is recommended as a good way to get started on creating home Escape Rooms.
When you are are ready to jump into design, you can get guidance from escape-kit. Engaging your children in designing Escape Rooms for each other, or virtual Escape Rooms for friends, will not only be enormous fun, but also a great way to develop creative and critical thinking skills. Not to mentioned the content knowledge that can be worked into the creation of your room.
When the time is right for you to visit live Escape Rooms, there are two facilities in the Charlottesville. Check their sites for information on COVID-19 opening plans.
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.
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 email@example.com if you have additions.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.