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Here are some free ways to keep your kids engaged at home

These are some ideas to keep your child and family active and engaged in creative ways.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — The next few weeks will be challenging for kids and parents.  We've compiled some ways to keep your children engaged and learning during this challenging time.  

  • Take a virtual field trip: Some of our favorites are Discovery Education, National Geographic 360 videos or visit your favorite museum site for virtual learning.             
  • Monitor animal cameras: Visit Explore for live videos of all different animals or a zoo cam to check in on the residents at the Smithsonian or San Diego Zoo.
  • Utilize free subscriptions from education companies: Our top picks right now are Scholastic and circletime.  
  • Create some screen-free activities: Flash card games or print out activities from websites like BoardMaker are great resources.
  • Learn to code: Code.org courses for ages as young as 6.
  • Listen to a podcast: Visit Kid Listen’s website to help you find some great ones for your kids.
  • Get creative: DrawKidsDraw offers a fun creative outlet for kids.
  • Move around: GoNoodle is a great way to get your kids to move around in a fun way.
  • Read a book: Pull out a traditional book or find an e-book for free on Amazon, Kindle or Open Library.
  • Facetime or video chat with a grandparent or a relative: Ask them to read a book or share a story. 
  • 50 activities you can do at home with your kids: An online list of ideas courtesy of Twin Cities Mom Collective

Minnesota Children's Museum is temporarily closed but they're promoting play. 

"We're recommending, let the children lead the play. Empower them to create a list of what they could explore while they're home during this time," said Jamie Brother, family learning program manager for Minnesota Children's Museum. 

Brother suggested putting all the ideas into a bowl so kids can pick one when they want ideas for activities. Other ideas include building a fort, creating an obstacle course, science experiments and journaling. 

"It gives them an opportunity to use that creative and critical thinking about how can they think about how to take care of their mind during this time. This time is kind of stressful and play is a way to escape from that," Brother said.  

Brother also recommended the LEGO Foundation's hands-on tool for learning called Six Bricks

The key to success may also lie in having a schedule. Photojournalist Jason Steussy and his wife are experiencing this first-hand. They implemented a schedule with their children as they stay at home through this period.

Minnesota Children's Museum also has a list of resources online

"We are halfway through the first day of school being off and already my kids are even struggling and so am I," said Beth Zustiak, founder of the resource website Twin Cities Mom Collective. "I think the main thing parents need to remember is that this is going to be hard. So giving a lot of grace, probably throwing that screen time rule right out the window and just knowing that whatever it takes to get through with everyone healthy and in a good spot is what's most important." 

Twin Cities Mom Collective has a list of 50 activities kids can do from home. The website also has resources to help parents too. 

"It's like oxygen mask mentality. You gotta put your oxygen mask on before you can help other people. If we're not in a good spot, our kids won't be in a good spot and we can't do anything to help them if we haven't taken care of ourselves," Zustiak said. 

Have other ways you are keeping your kids entertained? Send your ideas to community@kare11.com.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here.

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