Ideas to help your kids stay engaged and entertained at home

With area-wide school cancellations, here are activities kids may enjoy at home

Generic photo of children drawing.
Generic photo of children drawing. (Pixabay)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Area-wide school cancellations extending beyond Spring Break mean many children will be spending more time at home.

With that in mind, here are some ideas and activities for keeping them engaged and entertained.

Since I’m a meteorologist, my favorites are weather-related science experiments. I’ll try to keep sharing some of my go-tos over the next few weeks. Here’s one that requires very few items, since running to the store for supplies would defeat the purpose of social distancing.

This experiment is about making frost, but it also teaches kids about condensation and about how salt changes the melting point of ice. The idea is from STEAMsational, a website about STEAM activities for kids, and has tons of great activities.

You’ll need two empty metal cans, like canned soup or vegetables come in, with the labels removed and any glue residue cleaned off, ice (crushed ice works best) and salt.

Talk with your kids about how they think condensation forms, or how frost forms. See if they have any ideas for how they could make frost with the items given.

To start the experiment, fill both cans with crushed ice, then sprinkle one can liberally with salt. (Insider tip: the more salt, the faster frost forms. Also, if you shake the salt/ice can it speeds up the process.)

The learning points to talk with your kids about here:

  • The water that is contained in the air through evaporation is colliding with the cold side of the can and transforming back to water, and then to frost because the can’s side is cold
  • The water is removed from the air because of the lower temperature; cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air
  • The ice with the salt melts much faster than the ice without salt; salt changes the melting rate of ice -- that’s why they salt roads in areas that see freezing weather and snow

Bonus points if you make enough frost for your kid’s tongue to stick to the can if they lick it, then you can talk about how the saliva on their tongue froze because of contact with the can. Then you can talk about how the water you washed over the stuck tongue and side of the can melted that ice and freed their tongue.

That only took about 20 minutes, so here are a few more activities to do with your kids.

Check These Out

No need to risk getting on an airplane or being among large crowds to enjoy the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Lourve in Paris -- you can click here to see a list with links to 11 museums from around the world you can virtually explore from your computer.

Here’s a list of 10 free educational website your kids will love exploring, from hanging out with Dr. Suess and reading activities to all about animals, click here to see some great options.

This link includes a link to an incredibly diverse and extensive list with links to educational resources, from free printable activity sheets to entire online courses for free. You’ll have to do some digging or choose what is right for your kids, but click here to see all of the options.

Also, don’t forget the extensive digital materials offered online by the city of Jacksonville’s Public Library. It is free to access all of the materials with a library card. The actual library buildings are closed, but the digital materials are still available.

And assuming they’re not allergic, you could teach them some responsibility and get some furry love by fostering an animal from the humane society over the next two weeks.

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