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By Lorrie van Voorthuijsen


So . . .  school has begun at home– the assignments are in from the teachers, the computers and tablets are up and running, and YOU are the new substitute. And teaching was not what you expected to do this spring. 

Welcome to Spring Semester 2020 – the teachers will take care of the courses, but you get to “handle” everything else!

You’ve heard the old proverbial saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It means that without time off from work (schoolwork included) a person becomes both bored and boring. Here are some different “play” activities for all ages that can help you handle the weeks to come. 

Indoor snowstorm:

You can use any kind of paper – paper that’s being recycled is the best for the environmentally savvy! Take the sheets of paper and spread them all over the floor of a certain room and close the door. When it’s time to play, lead your kids to the room, peek into the room just a little, close the door, and say, “I think it just snowed in there.” Open the door again, and when they say, “This isn’t snow!” you can say, “Yes, it is  – it’s Florida snow!” and then pick up a piece of paper, crumple it up, and throw it at the nearest doubter! The snow fight has begun! Play for about 15 minutes and then ask all the kids to gather a bunch of the snowballs and hide somewhere in that room. Turn off the light and invite your husband/wife (pre-arranged, of course!) to come into the room. When the door opens, everyone pelts the “unsuspected intruder” with the snowballs. Retaliation follows, and the fight goes on! At the end, designate all the kids to be the “sun” and melt the snow by gathering it up it into a big bag. 

Indoor flower garden:

Your kids can make beautiful flowers out of white coffee filters and diluted food coloring. Use ear swabs as paintbrushes. Open the coffee filter and paint each “flower” in a variety of colors – the colors will bleed into each other, making gorgeous artwork. When the “flowers” have dried, your kids can cut the filters into various flower shapes or just keep them as circles. If you have fuzzy chenille wires, these can be attached to the flowers as stems. 

*This project may be best suited for the outdoors, where the sun can dry the artwork quickly and the food coloring only stains the grass!


Sardines is like a backward version of hide and go seek. In Sardines, only one person (the “IT”) hides while the rest of the family closes their eyes and counts. When the counting is done, those who counted look for the hidden person (IT).  But, when the hunters find this person (IT), they do not make that known. Instead, when no one else is looking, they join that person (the IT) in their hiding space. This is why the game is called Sardines because eventually, all the players will be in the hiding spot. *This game is for virus-free households ONLY!* 

Mini Musical Maestros:

Everyone has a favorite song. A fun activity can be to write new lyrics for that song. My dad was a school bus driver in the ’60s; he changed the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” lyrics to “Yellow School Bus” and had all the elementary school kids on the bus rewriting those lyrics. We sang those revised lyrics for years, on class, and car trips! The rewrite doesn’t need to be elaborate – just incorporating the names of people and pets from the family into a simple song makes the singing memorable.

One last note – Spring has sprung and the weather outside is delightful! Not all education has to be within four walls! Many subjects can be studied outside in the backyard. Scientists have “found that direct experience with/in nature increased children’s attention spans and abilities to focus, their creative thought processes, problem-solving abilities, self-discipline, and self-regulation.” Being outside also “help(s) relieve stress in children.”* 

So . . . enjoy your kids during Spring Semester 2020!

*Driessnack, Martha.Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing; Hoboken Vol. 14, Iss. 1,  (Jan 2009): 73-5.