12 Virtual Activities for Kids That'd Be Fun Even If You Weren't Stuck at Home
Finding social distance-friendly activities for kids' playtime can be challenging. Thankfully, there are a bevy of interactive activities popping up online at every turn.
Keeping your child learning and having fun while navigating this difficult time is no small feat for any parent. As the weeks go on, it can feel particularly challenging to find enriching, engaging activities for kids that they can do from home that don't feel like the same ol' screen time. For instance, tweens and teens can't get enough of TikTok, but they can only do the "Holy Moly Donut Shop" dance so many times. Thankfully, there are a bevy of virtual activities that kids of all ages would love regardless of stay-at-home orders.
From "smart" soccer to DIY zoos, here are 12 fun, at-home activities kids for all ages will adore.
1. Practice Soccer Skills in the Living Room
If your kid is already on a soccer team, it's possible they'll be able to stay connected with their team and coach through FaceTime sessions and assigned drills. But if they're just starting out, consider signing them up for virtual classes, like SoccerStars at Home, which connects kids with their friends and a coach via screen share so they can receive group and one-on-one attention. Lessons are designed to play in small spaces with no formal equipment needed.
Or snag the DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball, which works with any phone or tablet and connects to your TV via Apple TV or Chromecast and helps kids improve footwork through one-on-one virtual coaching sessions and 30-day programs.
2. Take Zumbini Classes
If you have a little one who's 4 or younger, check out virtual Zumbini classes. By combining music, movement, and play, the 45-minute classes aim to bolster little ones' emotional development, cognitive skills, balance and rhythm, social skills, and the bond between parents or caregivers and children. The company is encouraging people to sign up for their own "ultimate bonding experience" with a local instructor's virtual session so that once it's safe again, they can "continue the fun, learning, and bonding in person."
3. Learn How to Play an Instrument Online
Smart instruments make it easier than ever for kids to learn how to play piano or jam out on a guitar sans in-person instruction. Check out the The ONE Light Keyboard, a first-of-its-kind smart 61-key MIDI keyboard for kids 3 and up. It works with the free ONE Smart Piano app (iOS and Android) to offer three different ways to learn: 100+ interactive video lessons, piano games and 4,500+ LED-guided sheet music variations.
There's also Yousician, which offers guitar, piano, bass guitar, ukulele, or singing lessons—and you don't have to choose which to focus on, as membership gives you access to all instruments.
4. Take Digital Tennis Lessons
Net Generation, the official youth tennis brand of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), is offering educational ideas and digital lessons. Activities and tips are updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Plus, these resources are also accessible to children with autism, a community the USTA has been committed to serving for years through programs like ACEing Autism and Buddy Up.
5. Visit an Aquarium or Zoo
Aquariums and zoos all over the country are featuring special virtual content for kids. For instance, the National Aquarium is offering at-home aquatic activities from word finds to coloring books to octopus mask-making. Kids can also check out tank cams of blue blubber jellies, Pacific coral reef, and the Blacktip Reef exhibit.
The San Diego Zoo has a dedicated website and YouTube channel for kids, as well as live webcams that allow people to peek in on the habitats of pandas, burrowing owls, elephants, polar bears, koalas, giraffes, tigers, condors and more.
6. Attend Camp Hello Bello
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard's virtual Camp Hello Bello launched on April 1 and will continue all month long. Participants can also look forward to sing-a-longs, exercise and cooking lessons, dance parties, arts and crafts, and magic. Basically, all of the engaging activities that kids might enjoy at a summer camp by a lake will be covered by the virtual classes.
7. Do Projects with Port Discovery Children's Museum
Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore is filling their Instagram with #PlayatHome projects for kids—from a simple slime recipe (plus info about animals who create their own slime naturally) to painting with slinky to creating sensory rice bins.
8. Learn to Paint a Masterpiece
Little ones will love getting in touch with their inner artist by following this baby block painting tutorial from No Time For Flash Cards founder Allison McDonald, B.A, B.Ed, M.S. If you have a child who's 6 to 18 years old, check out Sparketh, which offers unlimited access to 1000+ art video lessons. The first 30 days are free.
9. Take Magic Lessons Online
Kids can become magicians from the comfort of home, thanks to a variety of lessons offered online. Check out magician Daniel Jaspersen, who is offering a free, quarantine-inspired series on YouTube or the Ultimate Magic Academy for children in grades 2-6.
10. Program a Virtual Robot
Wonder Workshop invented Dash, a robotics platform used in more than 25,000 schools across the country and recommended by Melinda Gates as the best way for children to learn to code on her blog. Now, kids will be able to use the Dash Simulator to program a virtual Dash robot in a rich virtual world using the same apps they use to program physical Dash robots. Children can test and refine their programs on the virtual robot and can test these later on the physical robots. The programs can be shared easily from their home devices to the devices they use at school, so that they can carry these programs back and forth as they want—or share it with their teacher easily.
Wonder Workshop is currently accepting sign-ups for beta access and it'll be widely available for use in May. In the meantime, from now until April 17, parents and educators can check out a free, virtual series of webinars, speakers, and workshops on how to engage kids in the exciting topic of coding and robotics.
11. Hang Out (Virtually) With a Tiger or a Hedgehog
You might not be able to hop in the car and head off to the zoo, but your kids can spend time with a slew of animals virtually. If you have an AR-ready device (aka iPads or iPhones running iOS 11 or higher or an Android phone that's ARCore compatible—here's a list of all the devices that support the technology from 9to5Google), you can bring up a 3D animal from Google search. Then, hit "view in 3D," and take a screenshot or screen capture video with it. Check out a detailed how-to on CNET.
12. Do Yoga
Pretzel Kids is helping kids stay healthy through online yoga classes. There are classes for kids of all ages and flows specifically aimed at tweens and teens. And for little ones up to 6, the company is offering Kinderyoga. Some of these are one-time classes, while others are offered in three or four-class sessions over the course of the next two weeks to month.