Category Archives: COVID-19 Activities Special Needs

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.

Home Quarantine Activities: Game Night

April 24

Sometimes all you need is a deck of playing cards, and you’re good to go for hours.

Just on this one site you can find 15 different card games. There are a variety of types of card games here, as well as games suited for different ages and for different numbers of players.

Not everyone can hold cards in their hands, so we’re providing a link to products that hold cards for players.

When you’ve run through all the card games you know, and you still are looking for something to do, it’s time to build a card house.

Here is a video that does the best job ever of explaining how, but we’d suggest leaving out the cinder block!

Now that you have the basics, you can do some utterly amazing things. Type card houses into images.google or YouTube to see some architectural wonders. You’re sure to be inspired, and when you are remember to take pictures of your creations and tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram.

Quarantine Enrichment:Birds and Bird Nests.

April 19

Movement.

Go on a nest walk. Walk around your community, carefully looking for nests. The link to the left will give you some hints for looking. Follow the guidelines on the Cornell Nest Code of Conduct so you don’t disturb the nests, eggs, or fledglings. Take a camera if you have one. You can zoom in more, plus you may want some pictures for the final activity.

Art

You’re almost ready for the next activity, but you’re going to need a bird. We’re providing two sets of instructions for origami birds.

Origami Flying Bird. Recycle some gift wrap to make a bird with flapping wings. The instructions for this activity are presented in diagrams, with accompanying instructions detailed in words. There are fewer folds than the more common origami crane, so if you have found that one frustrating, you might like this one better.

Origami Flapping Bird. People who benefit from a “step-by-step side-by-side” style of instruction might really appreciate this wikiHow, which offers both written instructions and short videos.

Science

Make like a bird and build a nest. Now you are finally ready to make your own nest. The instructions say to make it big enough for at least one “egg” but let’s try making one big enough for your origami bird to warm that egg.


Take some pictures and take enrichmentalliance.

April 17. Inclusive Enriching Activities During Home Quarantine: Cooperative Games.

Cooperative Games are games in which the players are not pitted against each other. Instead they work together to compete against an element of the game. It could be a time limit or a goal, or there could be chance elements that have the potential to defeat the players. For example, in Snow Storm, players turn up cards as they try to complete errands and get home during a winter storm. Sometimes they draw a helpful card, such as a snow plow, but other times they turn up ice. Cooperative board games are available for all ages, including adults.

Why Cooperative Games? The article we have linked discusses commonly cited reasons for adding cooperative games to your shelf. In addition, cooperative games make playing more accessible and fair. We used cooperative games in our inclusive after school program. The games created a more supportive playing environment for children with differing abilities and reduced the stress level for children with anxiety.

Creating new games and adapting old ones. If you’re stuck at home during the pandemic, you may not have access to cooperative games, but once you have the basic idea, you should be able to adapt some of your own games or create new ones. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Group Goals. Cooperative Scrabble. Cooperative Monopoly. Set a goal to reach collectively. For example, when playing Scrabble, set a goal of reaching a combined score of 500. Raise the goal every time the team wins. If you hit 515 points this time, can you hit 550 the next time you play? Similarly, set a group goal for cash earned in Monopoly. According to some sources, the original version of Monopoly, The Landlords Game, had cooperative options.

Beat the Clock. Cooperative Dragon Strike Game. Set a timer, and try to help all players reach a destination or accomplish a task before it goes off. For example, in Dragon Strike Game instead of trying to collect the treasure for yourself, change the game so that players must get all the treasures out before the timer goes off. This may require passing a treasure to another player if you are in trouble, which can actually be a more interesting way to play .

Adverse Cards or Dice Rolls. Cooperative Candy Land. Many cooperative games depend on all players competing with the game to complete a goal before something bad happens. What if the goal was to get everyone to the Candy Land house before mice ate it? Mark some of the playing cards with a small drawing of a mouse. Every time you turn up a mouse card, cover 1/10 of the house with a slip of paper. (You can adjust the amount of it takes to cover the house to increase or decrease the challenge.) All players simultaneously draw one card per round, and may strategically exchange cards to help one another advance. These more complex, strategic goals may make the game more fun for older children.

Create your own games using these templates.

Commercial cooperative board games are readily available, and you will be able to find several curated lists by googling “cooperative board game.” Games are available at all levels, from preschool through adult. Parental discretion and a trigger warning: some have violent and/or macabre themes, and the most popular game, Pandemic, just might not seem like the best idea to some families! Here is one list of family-friendly games.

Printable cooperative games. Parental Discretion. This list, like many lists we found, is leveled for all ages and does include some games that may not be appropriate for all players!

April 16. Inclusive Home Quarantine Activities: Recycled Magic.

Art and Literature

Magazine Strip Crafts

Picture Tutorial. Ever see those colorful magazine baskets and wish you knew how to make them? This series of photographs takes you through the process step-by-step.

Video Tutorial. If you need a more detailed explanation, watch this video. The video calls for decoupage glue, which most people don’t have on hand. Try making this substitute.

Science and Math

Seed Paper

Turned used paper into seed paper. Gather up used paper from around your house and turn it into handmade recycled paper with embedded seeds. The whole page can be planted. These make fantastic greeting cards.

Movement

The Poetry of Trash

Cast Away Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shibad, finds treasure in trash, writing poems about objects she encounters in on her walks. Download this book, and play it while you take a walk in your neighborhood. Why do YOU notice while you’re out walking?

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 13. Inclusive Enrichment Activities During COVID-19. Field Trip Day.

Science and Math

NASA Virtual Tours of numerous facilities, many of these are truly out of this world. How about a visit to the Hubble Telescope or the International Space Station? But if you are looking for something a little more down to earth, virtual tours of several different NASA research centers can also be accessed.

Art and Literature

Gallery Hunt. If the International Space Station is a little too far from home for you, check out the tours and activities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This site has a virtual backpack you can fill with treasurers as you tour the museum.

Movement

Yoga Studios. By now, you’ll probably be ready to stretch and relax a little, so drop in on a yoga studio for some soothing stretching.

YMCA360: Try the kids’ yoga classes at the YMCA, and while you are there, check out some of their other on-demand classes.

Yoga For Down Syndrome: Offers some modified postures and instructions. And although the name implies it’s for a specific audience, really it is good for anyone who could benefit from some simple modifications.

Wheelchair Yoga: Move along with the instructor in these postures, adapted for people with mobility differences.

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.

April 9. Enrichment Tutorials. Inclusive Activities During Quarantine.

Get creative with coding, illustration, and dance, including wheelchair dance.

Science and Math

These coding tutorials have activities for all ages and at two levels: “beginner” and “comfortable.” Activities are self-guided and require no prior experience.

Art and Literature

During the quarantine, children’s illustrator JJK is offering daily illustration tutorials on his channel at 2:00 pm. You can watch previously published lessons at anytime.

Movement

This is just one of a series of seated dance tutorials by the choreographer. If you want to see the dance set to the music before you begin, scroll to the end and watch that first.
This is also one of a series of dance tutorials. Have fun with this and don’t expect to get it down perfectly.