Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Children’s Activities in Quarantine: Board Games Revisited

April 8-10 Are you bored with board games?

You don’t need to buy new games to play new games. The games you have around the house can be played with new rules.

Changing up checkers. Bashni is a crazy Russian variation of checkers that involves moving ever growing stacks of checkers around the board.

Scrambling Scrabble. If you have a set of Scrabble tiles at home, there’s almost no limit to the different kinds of games you can play with those tiles.

Monopoly Not Monotony. Ever notice the rules you play by don’t seem the same as the instructions? Ever play with a friend who has rules you never heard of? There are all sorts of ways to vary Monopoly. Maybe you can come up with some new ideas of your own.


These are only a few ideas. Look at the game you have at home and type the name of a game plus the word “variations” and you may get some helpful hits.

Field Trips in Quarantine

May 4-5 Aquaria

(That’s the plural of aquarium not an astrological sign, in case you weren’t sure.)

As you may have heard by now, the penguins are taking field trips in aquaria (that’s the plural of aquarium. I just said that, right?) Join them on their tour of The Florida Aquarium.

Staff at The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are working incredibly hard to keep young people engaged in learning about marine life during the pandemic with activities and an animal of the day. They even have a virtual bookshelf.

Now you know enough to make your own aquarium, and you don’t even need live animals to do it. Check out this Pinterest Board to get some ideas for making an aquarium diorama. Maybe you’ll want to make two aquariums. No wait, that’s aquaria.

Activities During Quarantine: Printmaking and Foil Art

May 2-3

This promises to be a very lovely weekend, so get outside to collect some natural materials for these captivating art works.

Foil Art. Instructions for this activity suggest drawing with glue. The effect is marvelous, but here’s a suggestion: gather some natural objects and glue them under the cardboard as well.

Sun Prints. You may have seen commercially available paper for sun prints, but did you know you can make them if you have acrylic paints and a few other supplies?

We like to start every month with a gallery crawl. Visit the National Gallery print collections online to see some examples of beautiful prints through the centuries and from all over the world.

Quarantine Activities: National Poetry Month

April 30- May 1

The end of National Poetry Month is not an end at all. It’s the beginning of a new year of exploring the many gifts reading and writing poetry can bring into our lives. So we end April and move into May with a few ideas to keep you reading and writing throughout the year.

Blackout Poetry is a type of “found poetry” that involves darkening sections of previously published writing in order to create a poem. While this type of poetry often involves the use of black markers, it can be particularly creative and exciting to use colored media to create a visual artwork that interacts with the written words. We’ve linked a Scholastic article that takes this process step-by-step to lead you into creating beautiful works of written and visual art. The artwork feature today is all offered with permission from Stacy Antoville, the art teacher cited in this article. For more exquisite student art, follow her class on Instagram @art_o_ville.


We want you to get up and moving every day during quarantine, so here’s an activity to incorporate with a daily walk. Grab a pen or pencil and notepad, or if you prefer use a notepad app. Take a walk, preferably a good long one. Write down at least 5 things you see, 3 things you do, and 1 thing you overhear. Draw a quick sketch of one thing you see. You may or may not actually decide to use this in a poem later. The point is to notice details. (Adapted from an activity offered by Erika Meitner, VQR Writers’ Conference, 2019).


There are numerous audio and downloadable poetry books at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library. Temporary library cards are available online during quarantine.


Our director, Mary Anna Dunn, will be offering an online poetry class through Charlottesville Parks and Recreation’s Adaptive Recreation Program later this summer. Details TBA.

Enrichment During Home Quarantine

April 28-29 Big Just Got Bigger

Grow Gummy Giants. Well, this certainly changes the meaning of “growing your own food.” All you need are your favorite gummies, glasses of clear water, and a spoon. For a similar experiment and other activities to try at home find a copy of The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments ( Rachel Miller, Holly Homer, and Jamie Harrington.  Page Street Publishers, 2016).

A Growing Girl. Speaking of growing out of control, that certainly was a problem for Alice. When she wasn’t growing smaller and smaller that is. You may have seen a movie or cartoon version, but have you ever sat down and read or listened to the book itself? As the saying goes, the book was better than the movie so chose your favorite device and enjoy:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, audible. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, eBook.

Now Streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch. You may not get as tall as Alice, but still it’s a great idea to stretch those muscles, especially if you’ve been schooling online all day! Try these Simple Stretches or Wheelchair Yoga.

Enrichment Activities for Home Quarantine

April 25-27 Theme and Adventure Parks

Like Adventure Parks? This very cool activity from the Adventure Park at Virginia Beach will show you how to design your own adventure park.

How about a theme park? You can get some great ideas to get you started on creating your own theme park from Pinterest . Use what you have in your house and your own imagination to build a magnificent park.

Of course, every theme park has to have lots of roller coasters.

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.

Field Trips During Social Distancing

April 23

Local Trails

We’ve suggested numerous virtual field trips, and we we’ll be adding more below. But the outdoors is still, well out there. Some local trails are open, but if you visit them it is absolutely critical that you maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance. Outside provides some very sound suggestions for minimizing spread of this extremely contagious and dangerous disease. Please read their article before considering a visit to any of the trails below.

Wildrock. The Barn and Nature Playscape are closed but trails are open by appointment.

Ivy Creek Natural Area. Their barn is also closed, but their trails are open. Please follow the safe guidelines in the Outside article. Pay special attention to trail heads and other close areas.

Darden Towe Park, again, playgrounds and educational facilities are closed, but trails are open and include wheelchair accessible trails. Please follow the guidelines for safe outdoors activities.

Virtual Field Trips

Explore Maryland Science Center Activities in your own home. Just as if you were in a physical science center, you can move through a selection of activities, but using materials you are likely to be able to find at home.

You can go on Cultural Field Trips, too. artsandculture.google.com offers virtual museum tours (one led by a penguin!) and also has some creative activities involving works of arts and cell phones.

Earth Day in Quarantine

April 22

During quarantine, we’ve all been focused on how to live safely, comfortably, and happily in our homes. Sometimes that is hard to do. We run out of the things we need. We find out the supplies we thought could be replenished may not be in the stores anymore. We realize that we have to make sure our resources will last, because they may not be renewable after all. If you think about it, we are all permanently quarantined on the planet Earth. Even astronauts can only leave for a short while and must survive on what the Earth has provided for them. So, it is essential to make sure we can live safely, comfortably, and happily in our home. That’s why we set aside one day a year to focus on and renew our commitment to living sustainably in our home for life. This year is particularly significant, because it is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. We’re sharing a few ideas for celebrating within social distancing.

Fill all our windows and sidewalks with Earth Day Celebrations. Today an Agnor Hurt student is challenging children in our community to celebrate Earth Day with chalk drawings or posters. Read more.

National Geographic Kids has numerous links to games, slide shows, and articles to celebrate Earth Day remotely. Primary Games has also posted Earth Day Activities.

INVASION OF THE PLANTS!

But there is so much more to Earth Day, because in the end, it’s about action. So today we are going to share some information about invasive species and what you can do about them. Invasive species are plants and animals that have natural predators or other environmental challenges in their native environments that keep them from getting out of control. When they are deliberately or accidentally transferred to a new climate, that environment has not adapted to the species. The natural predators have not evolved. With no limits, they begin spread and crowd out native plants. Here is some information about invasive species in Virginia.

There’s one invasive species that is very threatening to native plants, but is easy to recognize and pull up. Watch this video on how to recognize and remove garlic mustard. And maybe apply some of you creative talents to making posters and spread the word about this and other INVASIONS!