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The Art of Keeping Your Kids Occupied

It’s not your worst nightmare, but it’s close.              Both you and your spouse are working from home for a period of not less than two weeks. And your kids are all home from school with you. No playdates. No movies. No food court. They can go outside, and as siblings, ride their bikes, fly drones, walk, run, and skateboard. But there’s rain in the forecast. Soon, you will lose your sense of humor.              If the current coronavirus is making you feel like you’re in an alien episode of Modern Family, you’re not alone. Well, technically, yes, you are alone. But your local band of creatives from the SoCo Arts Lab has a few ideas for you. Not surprisingly, they’re all about making things. Likely, your source things are things you probably have lying about the house.  Simplest idea first: use old magazines to make collages  1) cut out random shapes and things… 2) glue the cutouts on construction paper to make faces… or other objects, like a robot… Idea and photos from SoCo Arts lab member Anita Ewing. Kids can give their characters names and even tell stories about them. 

Another easy and accessible idea: Puppet shows. Dig through your dresser to find a few old pairs of sacrificial socks. Buttons, ribbons and other sewing accoutrement can be used to make faces on the toe ends and voila! You have a cast of characters and the potential for a complete performance. Photo: Rion / Creative Commons, Idea: SoCo Arts Lab member Lora Moran-Collins  Now that your magazines are shredded and your old socks have been donated, it’s time to send the kids outside for some sidewalk crack art. First, they need to find an appropriately deteriorating walkway, so that could keep them occupied for a while.  Next, they need to take a photo, bring it home, and print it out. Now it’s time to find the hidden animals and creatures lurking in the cracks, and bring them to life with colored pencils, markers, or crayons.  More detailed instruction can be found at: (look under “Free Stuff”/Kids’ Art Week 2019) Idea: SoCo Arts Lab member Ruth Bailey Out of art supplies? Word games require just a pencil and paper (perhaps threatened species in some households!) Foldingstory is a group storytelling game.  Just find a standard sized piece of paper. The first person writes a sentence, then folds the paper so no one can see what’s written. The next person writes a sentence, then folds the paper. And so on. After everyone has written a sentence, read the whole story out loud. It’s usually pretty hilarious.  If your kids lean more towards poetry, try having them write a Haiku (three lines, first line 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables, last line 5 syllables) by passing a paper, each person contributing a line. Or try a Tanka poem, which is one sentence of 31 syllables, each person contributing a word.  (word game ideas: SoCo Arts Lab member Kim Jones) Now that you’ve got the kids occupied, what are you going to do with your adult alone time? Some thoughts… Catch up on your correspondence. Aunt Lulu would love to hear from you.  Everyone has a story: Get going on that memoir or bit of family lore  you’ve been wanting to write.  Keep a journal. These are unprecedented times. Record the happenings (and non-happenings) so you can pass them on to your grandchildren. One day they’ll be fascinated by your personal account of the virus which stilled the world, and how you kept their parents safe and happy throughout.  This one’s from me: Terese Schlachter, SoCo Arts Lab Writer-in-Residence 

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