Category Archives: Enrichment COVID-19

Enriching Children’s Lives During a Global Pandemic

September 21, 2020.

Looking back on the last day of the strangest summer most of us have known.

Early in March, I went to the beach with my family, thinking that when I got back it would be time to start focusing on our summer inclusion collaboration with Charlottesville Parks and Recreation. I felt pretty relaxed about it, because so many of last summer’s Inclusion Counselors were returning, and one would be stepping into a new role to help coordinate the program.

These are just some of the emails my inbox contained in March of 2020.

By the time our four days at the beach were over, COVID-19 had been declared a pandemic. By the end of the week, Governor Northam had closed the public schools for two weeks, and we had no idea if they would re-open nor how summer would play out for the children of our community.

It soon became obvious that we needed to plan for a summer like no other. Our work is about out-of-school time, and man were the kids in our community out of school!

Crises and tragedies have a way of forcing people to think outside the proverbial box.

It is our hope that these three actions we took in response to the pandemic will be of lasting value to children and families with limited access to enriching activities:

  • Blog Posts Featuring Affordable, Inclusive Enrichment Activities for Social Distancing
  • Enrichment to Go: Delivery of Enrichment Materials to Families Through Food Distribution Programs
  • A Zoom Poetry Workshop

Our next few posts will talk about each of these activities, starting today with

A brief tour of the our 2020 Spring/Summer Blogs.

From our popNpoems posts.

Our first response was to share activities that are enriching, inclusive, and available even while quarantined or social distancing. I wrote up the blogs, but I had great help from board member Sue Smith and volunteers Amy Vandenburg and Lily Zhou-Mei Ji  who identified many of the activities shared. Lily even got in her car and took a picture of Beta Bridge for one post. Thanks so much to you three imaginative people.

When we began posting, we were all under stay at home orders, which is reflected in our earliest posts. We looked primarily for activities that actively engaged children and youth in movement, science, and the arts. We also included games that promote strategic thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Ideas for transformative staycations were posted three times. Here are just a few examples of the activities we found or created and shared: build-your-own theme park; sidewalk art; escape rooms; magic tricks; forts, shelters, and cities; backyard naturalists; converting regular board games to cooperative games; recycling art.

Inclusion is a core value and we made every effort to find activities for a wide range of abilities and interests. You will also find some stories in ASL and on audio files, and some movement activities suitable for people with limited mobility. We would be very interested in hearing from you if you have links to inclusive enrichment activities.

With 60 posts typically featuring 4 activities each, we feel that we have a good supply of activities to help children stay engaged in meaningful activities outside of their regular school hours. We will add a few seasonal COVID friendly activities as fall and winter go on, but will be focusing on new activities less frequently. Most of our activities are not age specific, but because of our efforts to offer a wide range of activities as well as ideas for adapting activities, you should be able to find activities suitable for different age groups.

Although these posts went up during the pandemic, they will always be relevant. They were specifically posted for children stuck at home, but most of them would also make great activities for afterschool and week-end programs. Sharing information about out-of-school time curricula has been identified as a strategic goal in our three year plan, so expect to see more links to awesome out-of-school time activities for all children in the year and years to come.

Stay well, stay hopeful, and stay devoted to making the world an enriching place for all children–Mary Anna Dunn, Director.

Virtual and Social Distancing Enrichment Fall 2020

AREA ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS DURING COVID-19

Access to enriching activities for all children and youth has never been more important. And it has never been more challenging. Out-of-school time providers have outdone themselves in rising to the challenge. We’ve created a new web-page to share what we learn about programs offering virtual and social distancing activities, with regular updates through the fall.

This list is not exhaustive. We are reaching out to local programs and will update this post regularly. If you know of a program that should be added to this list, please contact us at mail@enrichmentalliance.org. Please also contact us if we have missing or inaccurate information about your program.

Covid-19 After School- Read Alouds

May 11-12. Read-alouds are for always.

There are numerous benefits of reading aloud to children, no matter what their age. Even when they are able to read independently, reading aloud can increase pleasure in and comprehension of reading. Reading together is such a valuable way to spend time with your children, and we have a list of suggested readings for that, but with children home while parents are working, it can be good to have some online resources to augment family reading time, so we have included two resources for online stories.

Storyline features children’s books read by celebrated actors, including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Rita Moreno, Viola Davis, Jaime Camil, Kevin Costner, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, Betty White, Wanda Sykes.

Stories in ASL has a similar catalog for young children, but also goes up beyond age eight. including classics for older children, such as Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and even some posts suitable for adults, such as “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Eveving.” Their website is updated weekly, so check often for new posts.

Read Aloud America is a list of books suitable for reading aloud to everyone from babies to adults. It’s updated annually and the latest update was posted this spring. If you are away from your children, grandchildren, or other significant kids in your life, pick a story and read it to them on ZOOM.

But if that’s not enough, did you ever consider reading to your dog? According to this article, reading to dogs benefits children. Presumable the dogs enjoy a good plot, too. Especially plot hounds.

Enrichment Online. The Night Sky.

April 21.

Tonight should be a very good night for star gazing. The moon is waning and will be at 3%. The next two nights will be even darker, but the skies should be overcast, so get out tonight and do some stargazing. First, figure out where your home is relative to the four cardinal directions. If you have a cellphone, use the compass on your GPS.

Star Chart. This star chart is from the Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center. You may find some of the constellations a little hard to identify in the actual night sky, but watching this video first should help. Now head out and see if you can identify some of the constellations on the chart. Hang onto that chart because you might want it for the next activity.


Starring You. Try doing some constellation yoga. Look at your star chart. Does it suggest any other poses? Lie down on the floor and try posing as a constellation, like Orion or Ursa Major. Have someone take your picture. Send your star chart and the picture to a friend and see if they can guess which constellation you are. Print your picture and draw or paste stars where they would appear on that constellation in a star chart.


Wondering what the stories are behind the constellations? Here’s a video that shares a few stores about the stars grouped around the arrangement we often call the big dipper. And if you that leaves you wanting to know more stories about the starts, download The Legends of the Stars.

April 15. Home Quarantine Enrichment. We’re egging you on!

Okay, enough with the eggs already. Easter was three days ago. What to do with all those eggs? Well, you can put them in bottles. Or transform them into beautiful vases. Or just make them disappear.

Art and Literature

Egg Vases. Use your empty eggshells to create a lovely vase. This one uses a white egg, but shells from dyed Easter Eggs would be beautiful. Consider decorating your eggshells with bows or glitter.

Science and Math

Who knew eggs could be this fascinating?

Egg in a bottle. Make a hard boiled egg drop down into a bottle without even touching it. Don’t be a spoiler! This experiment is especially fun if you don’t tell the kids what’s going to happen to the egg. The activity is extremely popular with kids. It does require close adult supervision, because it involves burning a slip of paper.

Disappearing egg. This activity was posted earlier this week on the Virginia Discovery Museum website. They are posting activities daily, with a material list for the week also provided, so visit VDM@Home for more ideas.

Movement

Move the furniture if you try this inside!!! Your going to need a LOT of space. Better yet, take all that energy out of doors.

April 14. Inclusive Enrichment Activities During Quarantine. Building Bridges.

Movement

Neighborhood Bridge Walk. Take a walk around your neighborhood and look for bridges. You may see some bridges that have a lot of meaning to our community, like Beta Bridge, Belmont Bridge, and Free Bridge. You will surely find small bridges as well, maybe so small you never even really noticed them before. Look closely. How are they made? How old do you think they are? Do people use them in other ways besides crossing to the other side? How do they create and support communities? Take pictures, draw, or describe the bridges you see. If your bridge crosses water, play Pooh Sticks.

Here are some more great ideas for neighborhood walks.

Science and Math

Paper Bridges From 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments, by Rachel Miller, Holly Homer, and Jamie Harrington. Page Street Publishing, 2016

Now that you’ve visited neighborhood bridges, you’re nearly ready to build some bridges of your own. First, you need to figure out how to make your bridge strong.

Let’s try at least three kinds of bridges and test each with weight to see if it holds up.

Bridge #1: Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise (hot dog style).  Place two cups upside down on a table about three inches apart, so that the paper “bridges” the space between the cups.  Place pennies onto your bridge until it collapses.  How many pennies did it hold?

Bridge #2: Cut a second piece of construction paper in half lengthwise.  Fold each strip on the long sides.  Tape the strips together.  Place the paper on the cups as before and put pennies on it until it collapses.  How many pennies would it hold this time?

Bridge #3: With your final piece of paper, fold it like an accordion.  Balance the folded paper between the cups and place the pennies on it as before.  How many pennies did it hold?

Which bridge held the most weight?  Why do you think that was? Do you have any other ideas? Different folds? Different materials? Can you make a bridge strong AND beautiful? Google famous bridges and look at some of the world’s most amazing and important structures.

Video Version. Here’s a video of a very similar activity if you are the kind of person who learns by watching.

Art and Literature

Here are two stories about bridges and neighbors:

The Bridge, This is a story about two brothers who still fought, even though they were now grown. One of the brothers hired a carpenter, who solved their problem in a surprising way. Suited for all readers.

The Bridge to Terabithia. Two children, from very different backgrounds, build a bridge…and an imaginative new world. Some emotionally difficult material which some children may find upsetting.

April 10/11. Inclusive Game Night Ideas During Home Quarantine.

Due to a power outage, this post was delayed and will cover the 10th and 11th.

Drawing Room Games.

Today’s activities link you to games that involve drawing. You don’t have to be a great artist to play, in fact, a lot of the hilarity happens when the drawings are less than perfect. We have adapted one activity for players who are non-verbal or unable to hold a pencil. We also have additional suggestions for modifying these activities. All of these games can be played using apps like Zoom or FaceTime. Please tag us at enrichmentalliance when you share your fun.

Draw my picture. Two players back to back, each is drawing the same thing. Or are they?

Drawception. A personal favorite, this hilarious game is a little like “Telephone” but with a delightful twist that makes it ten times the fun.

And the list goes on. We gave you links to two great examples. Want to keep going? Here are 15 more! But why stop there? Invent your own drawing games. Find Enrichment Alliance of Virginia on Facebook and share your rules with us.

Adapting Drawception. For non-verbal players and participants with fine motor differences, fill a basket with objects, especially small figurines, matchbox cars, and other representative items. Set up a barrier such as a trifolded piece of cardboard large enough to conceal the scenes created by the players. Put the basket behind the barrier. For this modified game, begin with the image, not the caption, Have the player pick a small number of objects and arrange them behind the barrier. They may take a picture of the scene to share later or, if playing remotely, to send to a friend.

A second player looks behind the barrier and writes down or dictates a caption on a piece of paper which is then folded in half. The figures are returned to the basket and put out in view of other players. The caption is passed to the next player, who tries to illustrate the caption either by drawing or through same method of creating a scene behind the barrier. Proceed with the above rules for Drawception using these modifications.

Other Adaptations for Differing Abilities. Here are a few more ideas for adapting these games for people with fine motor challenges:

  • Engage gross motor skills instead by drawing with large chalk on a sidewalk or driveway,
  • Or using paint and cotton-balls, draw on chart paper or other large paper.
  • Work in pairs drawing side-by-side, step-by-step. (Team Member One draws a circle; team member two draws the circle, etc).
  • Work in pairs, taking term. Team Member One draws a circle; Team Member Two draws eyes in the circle.
  • Work in teams and let one person dictate while the other draws.
  • Use play-dough instead of drawing.
  • Copy paste images from the internet or Boardmaker
  • Use your assistive device.

Field Trip Day. April 6.

Science and Math

Home Safari at 3:00 Daily. Come on a Safari! The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting a daily tours highlighting different animals and sharing activities to do at home.

Art and Literature

The Art of Autism. Go on a gallery tour. During Autism Awareness month, Apple is offering a gallery of art works created on iPads by people with autism. These beautiful works will probably inspire you to create some art of your own.

Virtual Jam Session. And the Children’s Museum of Atlanta is offering a jam session today. Visit their website anytime for this and more daily virtual activities.

Movement

The Brooks Family YMCA Virtual Membership offers live youth fitness activities Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3:00. Visit their website to learn more about this and other great ways to get moving.

Movie Night. April 5.

More Magic. Yesterday, we suggested this quarantine would be a great time to read or re-read the Harry Potter Series. Here is a very diverse list of movies about magic. This list has movies suitable for everyone to from young children to adults with notes to help you decide if the themes are appropriate for you and your family.

Maybe you’d rather make your own magic.

Notice how the artist is tracing the figure from the previous page and then making a very small change.

The whole concept of “moving pictures” evolved from the illusion of motion caused by watching a rapid succession of images that are just barely changing. Make your own movie flip book with a few sheets of paper stapled in one corner.

Rock On! April 4.

Art and Literature

What could be a better time than to dig into the Harry Potter series, whether for the first time, the second, or the 30th? This series is especially suitable for older readers. For younger readers, see below.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is perfect for today’s theme, and can be downloaded at Jefferson Madison Regional Library. Remember, you can download a temporary library card, too.

An audible download is available for people who read by listening.

Here’s a guide to finding your own rock, but don’t stop with one. You’ll need two: one to keep and one to share in the next activity.

Movement

Painted Rocks Hunt. Join the painted rocks craze. Paint a rock (if you celebrate Easter, it could be fun to paint it like an Easter Egg.)

Now hide your rock somewhere in the community, and post a clue on Cville Rocks. If you don’t live in Cville, you might have a similar group in your community. While you’re on the page, look for posts about other hidden rocks, and see if you can find them. PLEASE, DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING, TAKE PICTURES BUT DON’T TOUCH THE ROCKS YOU FIND! And when you take the pictures, don’t forget to tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram.

Science and Math

Make your own rock. Even after you find your own rocks, it’ll still be fun to make one yourself. Don’t forget to tag us at enrichmentalliance.