April 20, 2020 | 12:00 AM

John Robert Powers

By now, most people are experiencing cabin fever being holed up in their homes due to the quarantine. This COVID-19 virus may have forcefully locked us up in our homes to keep it from spreading but let’s not give it more power by making us idle and unproductive!

Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other guardians of children find themselves in an inescapable situation that they may either cherish or endure or both! Children become restless as they have been taken out of schools and their regular routines. Since they need constant stimulation because they now have too much time on their hands, here are some suggestions that can be done with them at home:

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Bring out the toys that allow them to move!

You may have in your storage: badminton, bowling or mini-soccer sets or even an inflatable pool! This is the time to use them to lure the children away from their overused gadgets and engage in some physical activity. Take them out to your backyard and let children play with them. When inside, board games and puzzles are great boredom busters too, and it is more fun when the whole family is involved!

Get children busy in the kitchen.

Many people have stocked up on food supplies and are at a loss on what they can cook, with the family being at home the whole time. Children can be assigned to do simple dishes that allow them to wash, pour, toss, mix, peel, grate or even slice soft ingredients with blunt butter knives with adult supervision. No-cook recipes such as salads, spreads, sandwiches, wraps, tacos, juices and shakes and even simple desserts such as pastillas, polvoron and frozen delights are also manageable for even young children to make. They can also help out in cooking and baking but with adequate adult supervision.

For more ideas on kid-friendly recipes, visit:

Unleash their creativity through arts & crafts

Art materials that have been gathering dust due to non-usage can now be brought out for children to use for simple art projects.  Aside from drawing and painting and making collages, why not go 3D with some materials that you can easily find at home? Try to breathe back life into old boxes, used gift wrappers, ribbons, scraps of cloth, nutshells, even eggshells, among others.  They can create masterpieces for real or just for fun.

Here are terrific links for more ideas:

Start a book or movie club with them

Children need to know that they can do reviews of other people’s works.  Allow them to take turns choosing a book to read or a movie to watch and afterward discuss it while having dinner or during a selected time. Discuss the characters, the setting, the plot, and all the other story elements and ask their opinions. Allowing them to think more critically by sharpening their observation skills; analyzing the plot; comparing and contrasting it to other books or movies; giving it constructive feedback, and listening to others’ opinions, will go a long way in developing higher-order thinking skills.

Let their imaginations soar with creative writing.

Aside from reading books, let them also read poetry, essays, and short stories. Empower them with the thought that they, too, can be authors and let them create their own books by providing them with pages with a template: a square space for their illustrations and a free space for their text. Compile the pages in order and let them create an interesting cover with artwork. Let them add a captivating title and their names on the cover as the author and illustrator.

For poems, let them come up with a poster featuring their original poem. They can also create memes with their original quotations. If they are tech-savvy, they can use create these on their digital devices as well and share it with others.

For some ideas in engaging children with creative writing, visit: or

Take time to organize their things.

It’s never too early to teach children the KonMari method of organization, inspired by the Japanese master organizer, Marie Kondo. Let them sort out all their things into containers to dispose of, donate to others or to keep.  They should take time to choose which things “spark joy” for them so they still get to keep it. For those they decide to donate, let them choose to whom. It can be to some friends, or to a charitable institution.

In organizing the things they want to keep for themselves, let them come up with a system that they can follow and then create labels for each drawer so they understand that everything has its own place.

Kids with Parents 3

Make music together.

These days, coming up with family production numbers can be captured on video so that the family can have a record of the musical memory.  You can also channel your inner musicians by singing with your children or playing musical instruments with them. This quarantine time can be the perfect time to teach them how to play the piano, guitar, or any musical instrument. For fun, you can also create your own if you do not have any musical instruments available. For ideas on how to fashion musical instruments from junk, check out .

Come up with a short video together.

Create a video as a family! Encourage the children to actively contribute their ideas! Here are some things you can do and record:

  • Come up with a documentary of a family vacation and compile pictures and videos of the trip in a short video. Add suitable music to make it even more captivating.
  • Collaborate with the children on a script for a short movie. Appoint the characters and rehearse each scene. When everyone’s ready, let the camera roll!
  • Do an interview on a certain topic they are interested in with the child as the interviewer and the family members as the interviewees.
  • Have a fashion show with all the family members dressed up in their zaniest attires!

Get to know science better through experiments.

Staying home shouldn’t keep children from developing their academic skills. They can even discover how much fun some subjects are, like Science, when they learn it first hand and not just through a textbook.  They will get a better understanding of various phenomena especially when their experiments are supplemented by research.

For some ideas on scientific experiments, visit

Do something proactive for the frontliners and patients of this pandemic.

Finally, if there is one thing children should learn during this quarantine period, it is to be grateful that they are safely home with their families and provided with all their needs. They should also learn compassion for the victims of COVID-19, and make ’get well soon’ cards for them. They can also create ‘thank you’ cards for the frontliners who sacrifice their health and safety in helping the patients recover. The frontliners are our current superheroes as they stake their lives to keep us all safe at home.  Creating these special cards will help uplift the spirits of patients and frontliners especially if it is made with love.

A Final Note

Having children around the house round the clock can test the patience of parents and other family members especially if they become idle and restless. However, if you think about it, this quarantine period is a rare opportunity for extended bonding and learning with them as well as creating new memories that they will keep in their hearts as they grow older.  Following some of the tips here hopefully engages their attention and sustain their interests as they build knowledge and skills for their own growth and development. For parents, the activities are meant not only for the children but also for you to enjoy. Being their lifelong teachers and guides, relish the journey with them while they are still young. One thing we can thank the virus for is keeping us home and strengthening our bonds with our children. You will not regret it when they are older and are raring to spend more time outside their homes as they spread their wings to fly!

About the Author

Annie G. Manlulo is a veteran educator who considers herself a life-long learner. This means that every time she teaches her students, she derives much learning from them as well, and she enjoys this while enhancing herself, as well as her learners. Her teaching experience spans from early childhood to adulthood, covering a wide range of developmental stages. Hence, she endeavors to study each learning group to customize her lessons to be appropriate for them. She is an advocate of learner-centeredness and strives to address all her learners’ needs.

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