Social distancing-approved weekend activities for kids

Here are a few ideas you can try this weekend with your kids. Despite the recommendations below, please make sure to follow your county’s most recent public health recommendations regarding COVID-19. Visit CDC for the latest information on COVID-19 and follow the latest guidelines.

By Tarana Khan, Ph.D., Daniela Valenzuela

Yes, family fun can happen even while social-distancing! Even though we have been asked by local health officials to limit our contact with other people and avoid all group gatherings, there are still plenty of social distancing-approved activities that will allow you to have fun with your kids (and maybe even learn together a little!)

Children running on a beach. | alobos life/Flickr/Creative Commons
Children running on a beach. | alobos life/Flickr/Creative Commons


Here are a few ideas you can try this weekend with your kids.

1. Have an outdoor family scavenger hunt

Make a scavenger hunt checklist of objects that can typically be found outside, including flowers of different colors and sizes, insects, trees, leaves, a puddle of water, or something in your child’s favorite color. Or you can print out Dot’s Nature Bingo Game to use as your scavenger hunt list.

Gather a magnifying glass, notebook, crayons, a collection bag and your list or bingo card and head outside to your yard or a nearby hiking trail! Help your kids carefully observe nature with their magnifying glass as they check off each item on the list or bingo card.

  • Tip: Print out Molly of Denali’s Field Guide to Birds to identify and learn more about birds in your neighborhood, local park, or hiking trail. There are some blank pages to draw pictures and add additional birds or animals you end up running into.

Take turns taking notes about what you observe and talk about the unique features of each item you find, comparing the sizes of small plants to larger bushes and trees. Encourage kids to take pictures of their favorite plant and animal sightings using your phone or camera.

2. Play outside!

Los Angeles Officials have said it is okay to go outside as long as you maintain a distance of six feet from other people outside. Go to the park, run around, kick a ball and enjoy the sunshine. Take a ride on your bicycle or scooter to release pent up energy. Remember to avoid playgrounds and playscapes for now because the COVID-19 virus remains viable on surfaces for a few hours up to several days.

3. Take a walk on the beach

Taking in deep breaths of sea-salty air as you listen to the waves crashing in the Pacific Ocean can be mentally and emotionally soothing for the entire family. Get some exercise in with a brisk and short seaside family walk. But please remember to keep at least six feet away from other beachgoers and that face coverings are required at all times.

And if you don’t want to leave the house this weekend, here are a few activities you can do at home:

4. Visit a Virtual Museum!

Learn about butterflies, dinosaurs, the first humans, and geology  through amazing virtual exhibits at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Museum from the comfort of your couch.

5. Put your kids’ culinary creativity to the test and whip up Peg + Cat’s Incredibly Popular Honey Cake!

You can turn baking into a fun math activity that allows young children to practice counting, measuring, and telling time. Count each egg as you crack them into the bowl, compare teaspoons to tablespoons and measuring cup sizes, keep track of how many minutes are left until the cake is done baking, and make pretty geometric patterns with strawberries on top of your cake.

6. Video chat with friends, cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles

Social distancing can be incredibly hard, especially when young children’s routines are already being disrupted, and seeing that other loved ones are also practicing social distancing may be comforting. Make some time to have an extended family check in over FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.

Other Important Reminders:

  • Remind kids to thoroughly wash their hands before they leave the house and when they return indoors.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizer while you are out and about outdoors.

This article was originally published on PBS SoCal’s At-Home Learning initiative.

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