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The Parent’s Guide to Entertaining Kids During Social Distancing

Now that most public spaces are closed, what are you going to do? We found fun (and educational) ways to keep the whole family entertained at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Schools, museums, recreation centers, and libraries are closed and extra-curricular activities suspended, so what’s a parent to do with kids at home for weeks? Here are 12 ideas to keep the family entertained and learning.

1. Explore Remote Library Services

Libraries are the headquarters for budget-friendly family entertainment. Though branches are shuttered all over the city, families can still explore the library’s many digital options. Depending on the district, you can stream music, download eBooks, audio eBooks, comics, or movies, read digital magazines, and find learning resources. Many of the districts also offer online registration for a library card or temporary account.

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2. YouTube It

Whether kids want to learn how to knit, say hello in Mandarin, or juggle, there is a YouTube video to teach them. The YouTube Kids app is helpful in limiting viewing options to kid-friendly videos, but parents should still set parental controls and monitor use, says Common Sense Media, an independent, nonprofit source for technology and entertainment recommendations. Check out their Ultimate Guide to YouTube Kids.

3. Order In

Restaurants are closed for dine-in, but families can still support local eateries through pick up and delivery options. DoorDash and Grubhub deliver from many local and chain restaurants. Also, check websites and Facebook pages of your favorite restaurants for delivery specials. For instance, Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery is offering a free kids mac and cheese with any $25 order through DoorDash (with the promo code CSKIDSMAC).

4. Watch Zoo Cams

Denver Zoo and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are closed, but you can watch videos on the Denver Zoo YouTube Channel or check in on the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s popular giraffe herd through online Giraffe cams (accessible daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.). Other zoo cams from around the country give you a chance to peek in on happy elephants, busy baboons, napping lions, and graceful jellyfish, among others. With a little patience you may even see a butterfly emerge on the Butterfly Pavilion chrysalis cam.

5. Phone-a-Story

Missing storytime? Denver Public Library maintains a Phone-a-Story hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 720-865-8500 to listen to a variety of songs, riddles, or stories for preschoolers through fifth graders, and longer stories for fifth through eighth graders.

6. Walk, Bike, or Hike

If the kids are going stir-crazy, head outside. A morning or evening walk or bike ride are still acceptable activities while practicing social distancing.

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7. Armchair Travel

No need to leave the house to visit great museums. Families can browse the collection at The British Museum through The Museum of the World by Google Arts & Culture. Explore the history and culture of Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania through art and artifacts. Pick an era in history, then click on dots to read more about artifacts or hear a curator speak. Explore more museums and collections through Google Arts & Culture.

8. Take Flight

Any young fan of airplanes will enjoy a visit to the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum YouTube Channel. Watch episodes of Behind the Wings, as host Matthew Burchette gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing aircraft in the Wings collection. Season two premieres on Rocky Mountain PBS on March 19 at 9 p.m. And don’t miss the March 26 episode that will take viewers inside the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

9. Write Notes and Draw Pictures

Many seniors in the community are cut off from their families and visitors due to safety measures. Ask kids to write notes, call, or send printed photos to grandparents or a great aunt or uncle who may be feeling lonely. They can also draw pictures and write positive caring notes to be shared with seniors at a local care facility.

10. Test out Remote Learning 

Schools may be closed, but there are a number of online learning resources to keep young brains busy. Scholastic announced its free Learn at Home website, where parents can select a grade level and find learning activities centered around a story or video. Khan Academy, a free educational resource, is offering daily live streams on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for students, parents, and teachers. The site also provides instructional videos, exercises, quizzes, and tests.

11. Bake & Decorate

D Bar restaurant in Denver is offering to-go cookie kits to help keep families entertained. Each kit comes with five baked sugar cookies, five bags of colored frosting, and various sprinkles for $18. Call to reserve a kit (24-hour notice required): 303-861-4710.

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12. Just Have Fun!

Above all, remember to enjoy this time with your kids. Play board games, build forts, watch favorite movies, and make some special memories.

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