7 Fun Activities to Build Connection with Your Kids During COVID-19

*Originally posted on WellWomen

Just a week before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) took the world by storm, I was enjoying some holiday reading. Scanning through the Amazon titles, I stumbled across Mandy Arioto’s book, Have More Fun. After a stressful latter half of the year, I was drawn to the title. I needed more fun! I had no idea what a timely read this would be for my family and I as the COVID-19 outbreak began.

In chapter 6, “Have More Fun When Things Don’t Go as Planned,” Mandy says this: “Our baseline happiness can be increased not by having cool things happen to us but by merely choosing to find the fun and joy in the midst of the hard stuff. Because the opportunity for fun is always there.” She goes on to say that, “choosing fun when life doesn’t go as planned is life changing.”

I love fun! I love to laugh, I love cake, and I love impromptu dance parties, all of it. But in situations like the present, I, like Mandy, tend to feel other emotions bigger; fear about my kids health, worry about my own personal sanity, and the panic of not knowing when this is going to end.

I often remind myself that I will find what I am looking for. If I am looking for disappointment, I will find it. If I am looking for something to worry about, I will indeed find it. Mandy goes on to say, “When we only focus on what is lacking, we fail to notice the things that are good in our lives.”

How can we choose gratitude when we feel stuck? Whether you are stuck in a city in Asia or stuck in another situation, we are all in an in-between space waiting for our “normal” to resume. Do we simply wait it out? Mandy suggests that the “fun response” is to “do what we can, with what we have, right where we are.”

Maybe our problem, whatever it might be, isn’t a problem, maybe it’s an opportunity for fun. With that in mind on February 1st I began something called, Fun-ruary, (because it’s pretty easy to understand and I couldn’t think of a cleverer name) and invited friends all across Asia to join me.

** Although February has come and gone, for many in other countries the social distancing and school cancelations have just begun. I’d love to share some of our Fun-ruary activities with you. It’s true, my family is living proof, that choosing fun in the midst of the hard stuff changes the atmosphere in your home and builds an amazing connection. Let’s make this time about connection even as many of us are in isolation.

What is Fun-ruary?

Fun-ruary is a call to gratitude over worry and fun in the midst of the hard stuff. As moms (parents, grandparents, god mothers), we have the amazing opportunity to be the catalyst for fun and joy in our homes.

How do you Fun-ruary?

Fun looks different to everyone. For me, this month I plan to do ONE fun, engaging activity with my family a day. We’ve been practicing Fun-ruary in my household since January. Everyday before lunch, we do something fun together. We’ve made volcanos, painted, had sock-ball fights and scavenger hunts for candy treats. Some days I genuinely don’t feel like it but the connection it has built in our family over this past week is stunning. I know it’s worth pushing through the momentary lapse of fun-atude.

Let’s make March fun too!

1. Balloon Treasure Hunt

🎈Balloon Treasure Hunt Supplies: balloons, little candies, little notes with tasks, tape, scissors, dice, a safety pin, marker, a board or wall you can tape the balloons to

🎈 Balloon Treasure Hunt Prep: ⚠️this seems prep heavy but it only took us 15 minutes, I promise! 1. Write little tasks on tiny pieces of paper 2. Roll up the paper and slide them into un-inflated balloons 3. Slide little candies 🍬into un-inflated balloons 4. Blow up the balloons and tape them onto your surface 5. Write a number on each balloon corresponding with the numbers on the dice (1-6)

🎈 Balloon Treasure Hunt Play: 1. Roll the dice 🎲 2. Do the number of jumping jacks that you rolled 3. Find the corresponding number to the dice on the balloon and pop it with the pin to reveal the treat or task 4. Repeat, repeat, repeat

🕰 Extension: 1. Tasks! Our tasks were making videos for all the grandparents telling them something we love about them. 2. More tasks! We made a number matching game task too because Big Brother is beginning number recognition. This would be so simple to do with colors or letters or anything you want your little to review. You just need an egg carton to complete the match game.

2. Veggie Stamp Art

Supplies: a selection of chopped vegetables and leaves to use as stamps, paint (preferably washable), paintbrushes, paper, paint tray or plate

Veggie Stamp Art: 1. Chop veggies to make stamps 2. Put a selection of paint on the tray 3. Paint the veggies and stamp all over your paper.

🕰 Extension: 1. Make a veggie bouquet by stamping on the top and middle of the paper and adding a few green stems. 2. Try fruit stamps too!

3. Pass the Drawings

✍️We just had the best time doing a session of pass the drawing. They turned into really hilarious works of art.

Pass the Drawing Supplies: Paper, pens or pencils and multiple people.

Pass the Drawing: 1. Everyone gets a sheet of paper, a pen, pencil, or marker and begins to draw. 2. At random say, “stop and switch” and pass around the papers. 3. Repeat

I have to admit, I’d never attempted this game with a 6 and 2.5 year old before, but it worked!

4. Balloon Science

🎈 Balloon Science Supplies: a balloon, an empty water bottle, baking soda, vinegar, funnel (optional & helpful)

🎈 Balloon Science: 1. Insert the funnel into the balloon 2. Pour about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the balloon 3. Fill the bottle about 3/4 full of vinegar 4. Carefully stretch the balloon over the top of the bottle NOT releasing the baking soda into the bottle just yet 5. Once the balloon is tightly fit over the bottle, stand the balloon up to empty the baking soda into the bottle and watch the magic happen 6. Have supplies ready to repeat!

🕰 Extension: 1. Grab a couple rackets and knock around this weighted balloon 2. Try different supplies: I hear the same result comes from coke and pop rock candy

🆘 Toddler: Having an extra balloon on hand kept little brother (2.5 years old) busy until the action happened. He blew and blew and tried to blow up the balloon.

5. Nature Smash

🌺 🔨Nature Smash Painting Supplies: water, spray bottle, toy hammer or heavy toys, heavy weight paper (think watercolor or construction paper), colorful items from nature: flowers, dirt, berries, leaves

🌺 🔨 Nature Smash Painting: 1. Spray your paper so it’s good and wet 2. Let your little one experiment by placing different items on the paper and smashing them with hands, feet, hammer, toys

🕰 Extension: 1. Before the painting begins go on a nature color hunt and gather material in the yard.

6. DIY Lava Lamp

Lava Lamp Supplies: cooking oil (any kind will do), water, food coloring, a clear bottle, fizzing tablets (such as all’s-seltzer or vitamin tablets), a tray

Lava Lamp: 1. Fill your bottle about 1/2 full of oil 2. Pour about 1/4 water into the oil 3. drop about 20 drops of food coloring into the bottle 4. Break the Fizzing tablet into small pieces 5. Slowly, one by one add pieces of the tablet to your bottle and watch the magic begin to dance.

🕰 Extension: Repeat, repeat, repeat by simply breaking another fizzy tablet and adding to the same bottle.

7. Painting With Ice

🌈Painting with Ice Supplies: water, food coloring and/or paint, ice tray, little kabob/popsicle sticks, paper

🌈 Painting with Ice: 1. Fill the ice tray about half full with water 2. Drop 2-3 drops of food coloring in each OR 1/2 teaspoon of paint and carefully mix 3. Place a stick In each section 4. Freeze overnight 5. Pull the colorful cubes out by the sticks and let the painting begin as the cubes start to melt.

👉🏼 I did mostly food coloring as little brother likes to eat ice! The food coloring made for the beautiful soft watercolor affect. The bolder yellow and green were made with paint.

🕰 Extension: 1. Place the remaining cubes in a cup with a little water and watch them melt. Add different color cubes for a little color mixing lesson 2. Re-freeze the remaining cubes to paint again with later.