Ten Things to Do If School is Closed This Week
January 12-16, 2022
Like many families this week, we got hit with an unexpected school closure on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday. As I was typing this, his teacher emailed us the notification that – yes – distance learning continues on Thursday. Yesterday was pretty much a wash. There were Zoom difficulties and meltdowns over math. Today has been better, thank goodness!
Tulsa Health Department posted earlier today that “we have run out of shades of red to express how severe the case counts have become,” along with the following image. They continued, “Omicron is highly transmissible. Please take a layered approach to lessen the spread: testing, masking indoors, watching distance, washing hands, staying home when sick & eligible individuals getting a primary shot or booster. We are all experiencing pandemic fatigue, but we must continue protecting ourselves and others.” So it will be no surprise if there are more school closures in the coming week(s).
Image from a THD Facebook post, posted around 2 p.m. on January 12, 2022
In case this helps anyone, here are some random activity suggestions, if you’re also unexpectedly working from home this week. Of course, teachers are doing their best to move learning online, so it’s not like there’s nothing to do. But if your kids find themselves with free time after completing assignments, here’s some inspiration:
1. Pepper Faces
A friend sent me some photos of pepper faces a couple weeks ago. Yesterday seemed like the perfect time to give this simple activity a try! If you have a bell pepper lying around, possibly shriveling up in the fridge – and some googly eyes – give it a go! Let your kids make their own pepper faces and take funny photos around the house. This activity did not disappoint.
Download the mematic app to make some memes of your own!
Dead garden? THE HORROR!
Messy room? OH, THE HUMANITY!
This pepper is the perfect mascot for the past couple of years…and 2022 so far, in my opinion.
2. Philbrook Cat Trophy Scavenger Hunt
Today through Sunday, Philbrook is going to be hiding cat trophies around town, one per day, if I understand correctly. They hid today’s trophy at the Golden Driller, making the announcement on social media around noon. Joss and I RACED to the car as soon as I saw it (one of the benefits of being a social media editor), and arrived just a minute too late. A nice midday adrenaline rush!!!
Baking is math, chemistry, art…a nice, educational activity with tasty results! Natalie Mikles shared some yummy oatmeal recipes in our January magazine. I can confirm that the oatmeal cookies are healthy, easy and delicious! This article by Natalie has some more difficult recipes for more experienced bakers, as well as some that would be good for beginners: tulsakids.com/kids-cooking-challenge.
We may try making lemon rosemary muffins together. Joss discovered my muffin-shaped muffin baking book, and I haven’t tried that recipe! As we have rosemary dying in the garden….maybe this is a chance to save some. (This recipe looks similar.)
4. Famous Cat Portraits
This is a fun activity Joss and I have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks, and it incorporates some art history! Look up famous portraits and recreate them, to the best of your ability, as animals. My favorite is our “Cat with a Pearl Earring.”
Now, we haven’t tried this this week because so far, I’ve been doing most of the sketching and painting. Joss offers coloring suggestions and draws in the faces. So it’s not the best activity for me while trying to work. But if your child is more self-motivated to do this, it’s quite enjoyable.
5. Lego Stop-Motion
A friend shared this video to Facebook last week:
Since then, Joss and I have gone down the stop-motion-Lego-cooking rabbit trail more than once. Fascinating! I can only imagine how much time goes into creating something like this. (The salmon is probably the most elaborate I’ve seen; others are simpler, but still mind-blowing!)
If you have a lot of Legos at home, why not challenge your kids to recreate some food items out of Legos? They wouldn’t have to do a video, just think about how they’d make the food. If they’re up for trying their hand at stop-motion, all the better!
I’ve raved about Tulsa Library’s eBook collection before. (I assume!) How it’s saved me so much money because I always check there first before ordering something. And they have lots of audiobooks, too, including books for younger readers. Here’s a list of their “Available Now” Audiobooks in the Juvenile Fiction category: tulsa.overdrive.com/collection/87337?subject=43&sortBy=mostpopular. Set your child up with some headphones and drawing paper so they can draw as they listen, perhaps!
7. Draw Pictures for Loved Ones
This is something Joss doesn’t often want to do. But why not take this opportunity to draw some lovely pictures to give to relatives and friends you haven’t seen in awhile? Or maybe a nice photo to give to a teacher once school is back in session. Or possibly write belated Thank-you notes for Christmas gifts! 🙂 I always try to encourage Joss to think of something that the recipient likes, and theme his photo around that. If he’s having trouble coming up with ideas.
8. Go on an Outing – Try Something New!
If you’re working from home, you may not have a ton of time to do this. But maybe you need a lunchtime adventure, and getting out of the house may help re-set a difficult day. If we come to desperate times, two things I’m looking forward to doing soon are: 1) Visiting the new Whitty Books location in Kendall-Whittier. 2) Visiting the new Rose Rock Microcreamery location in the Philtower building. (They also have a fairly new location in Broken Arrow.)
Another idea would be to take Betty Casey’s recommendation to visit Cobbler Mom. We joined her at the tail end of that outing, and I can confirm that the cobbler is DELICIOUS!! Recently, we visited Saint Amon Baking Baking Co. at 81st and Lewis for the first time. They just recently moved into this location after months of waiting. Delicious croissants and other French pastries, and a nice way to start what might be a difficult day.
Also, I tried the new Dracula Sandwich a couple weekends ago. The “Lestat” (“Sweet tea brined chicken, bread and butter pickles, pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes and mayo”) was incredible, and they have lots of fun, local market items to browse as well.
9. Physical Education!
Here are a few suggestions for getting wriggles out:
- Go Noodle
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
- The Body Coach TV Hey Duggee Workouts (I haven’t tried these, but it seems to be a popular channel. And if they got a Hey Duggee partnership, I’m guessing it’s legit? The channel also has other options for kids and adults alike.)
- Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course
- Backyard Tag or Scavenger Hunt
- Neighborhood Walk
- These ideas (both outdoor and indoor) from Shape Your Future. If you need a break as well, check out this video with some quick and easy physical activities kids and grownups can do together:
10. Play Your Own Version of Taskmaster
I’ve previously written about my love of Taskmaster, a British comedy panel show. The premise of the show is that a panel of five British comedians is assigned to do totally random tasks, and then are judged on how well they complete the tasks. This would be easy to adapt at home. (There’s even a board game available for purchase, which I totally have.) All you have to do is come up with your own family tasks ahead of time and then assign them to your kids. You can be the designated Taskmaster and judge how well they’ve done. Here are some ideas from the Board Game to get you started, but you could also take inspiration from what they’re learning in school to create your own:
- Put the most things that are bigger than a marble in a sock. You have three minutes.
- Using only a slice of bread, make yourself the best eyebrows, moustache and beard, then capture them with a selfie. You have five minutes.
- Write down as many hot things as you can within the time it takes the kettle to boil.
- Make the best packed lunch. You have four minutes. (Bonus: You don’t have to make lunch!)
- Write down the most things you can sit on. You have two minutes.
- Perform the best dance to a mobile ring town. You have five minutes to choreograph your dance, and one chance to perform it.
Task: Change your hairstyle. Most drastically changed hairstyle wins. You have three minutes.
Obviously, this can be tailored to your needs. If you need more time between tasks (to get work done), give the kids longer to complete them. You can start or end the game by having the kids create the best trophy. At the end of the game, the winner gets all the trophies! If you have only one child, then maybe you could come up with a fun treat for them for doing a good job.
11. (BONUS!) Enter TulsaKids’ School Spirit Photo Contest
Have your kids don their School Spirit gear and snap a photo! Then, upload it to our School Spirit Photo Contest by Jan. 31 for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card. Easy peasy, and a nice chance to show support for your favorite school.
How are you coping with school closures? Do you have family members or sitters to help? A huge thanks to Joss’s teacher for continuing to meet on Zoom! And for posting assignments to Canvas – even if I had to re-learn how to use it! But all of that is so helpful.