Family photo of sock toy misfits, created by Marion May

During this period of isolation, we are virtually together but physically apart. We are being given a gift of time to connect with our children and create with our minds and hands. If you’re looking for unique, creative and playful activities to do with the kids—beyond the TV and computer screens—read on my friend!

Indoor fun for everyone…

Join a famous cartoonist for lunch:

Our favourite author, Mo Willems, author of the Gerald and Piggie series, is hosting a short series, every day at Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems during this period of isolation. I was hooked after watching his very first episode and I’m pretty sure you will be too. Doodle along with Mo in his studio. All you need is: a large blank sheet of white paper, a black marker or pen, crayons or coloured markers. Enjoy!

Ready, set, draw!

Grab a laptop or iPad, pencil, eraser and sketchbook. Find a video on YouTube or Netflix of people in action. Press play and pause the video midstream to catch the characters in an action pose. Quickly sketch what’s onscreen. Set a timer and see how fast you and your child can each sketch a composition.

Say hello to Grandma and Grandpa:

If your children can Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime with their Grandparents, encourage them to get in touch and share a special project they’re working on; a piano piece, gymnastics routine or a drawing.  This is an especially hard time for older people who may be living alone or living in a senior’s home where they can’t have any visitors.  If they can’t Skype or FaceTime, try phoning them.

Make sock toys and puppets from unwanted clothes and socks!

This activity is dedicated for one of my students—he detests wearing socks. He also happens to be the one who inspired me to start making soft sock toys. I ordered, Stray Sock Sewing, Making One-of-a-Kind Creatures from Socks, and haven’t looked back. (See my menagerie of Misfits above)

Some of the simple designs in this book, like Lucky Cat and Baby Sock Dolls would be possible for a child of eight and up to make—with some adult help.  If you’re looking for an activity to absorb a few hours, this is the one. It’s a wonderful activity for teaching a child simple sewing stitches and how to sew on buttons. The best part is, the final product doesn’t need to be perfect—every stray sock toy is unique!

The libraries may be closed but their virtual doors are open!

Got a public Library card and an iPad or laptop?

Buckle up for virtual travel through the library stacks of TumbleBook Library. These shelves house a gigantic, free selection of books, e-books, read-along books, videos games and much more.

Wait! Don’t put away your public library card,

before signing up for a free Kanopy account, which offers a free selection of movies, documentaries, foreign films and videos. Kanopy Kids also provides free, unlimited access to children’s TV series, Movies, Animated Children’s stories.

For more free audio books online

Check out audible.ca/stories. Some Apple Books are also being offered for free at https://www.apple.com/ca/apple-books/

Be kind to yourself and one another. With hope and our imaginations, we will all get through this very unusual period of isolation—together!

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Marion May is the Blog Curator and Content Writer for The Open Door blog as well as a reading and spelling tutor for The Open Door, tutoring children between the ages of seven and 10. Her blog content is “local, organic and specific” and is relevant for parents of children with dyslexia.

Marion formerly tutored teenaged students in a literacy remediation program at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School in Ottawa. She also worked as a paid fundraiser and grant proposal writer for The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, a national non-profit aimed at helping marginalized youth. She began her career in radio broadcasting and news writing and has worked in the area of promotional writing for several federal government departments and agencies, including the National Research Council.

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