MONDAY, APRIL 6:
After spending a few weeks with everyone in the house all the time, make cleaning a family fun time.
Sign and Sing Story Time with Communication Junction
SUNDAY, APRIL 5:
Alphabet picnic game
Imagine all the delicious things you might bring to a picnic, in alphabetical order. Check out Genius of Play for this memory game and more play ideas.
Doe a deer
Here are two ideas for learning about deer from Kristi, a member of the Peoria Park District’s amazing environmental team – a printmaking activity that teaches children what deer tracks look like, and a game to try and stay quiet as a deer.
SATURDAY, APRIL 4:
Watch and Create
Watch the trailer for Pixar’s upcoming movie Soul, or another featured clip, and then use your artist or inventor skills to add a character or create a tool to help a character. These activities and some context for parents are from the Creativity Children’s Museum.
Meet a snapping turtle
Listen as Jessica, Curator of Education at Peoria Zoo, introduces you to Stanley, an Alligator Snapping Turtle. Learn more about Alligator Snapping Turtles and how Peoria Zoo is helping to reintroduce them into Illinois Watersheds.
FRIDAY, APRIL 3:
If it’s fun, can I be learning?
Get ready for baseball season (someday) by learning how to throw, catch pop ups and fly balls, hit, and toss. (And parents, when this is over, we look forward to signing you up to help coach PPD sports!)
THURSDAY, APRIL 2:
Meet a tarantula
Listen as Julie, an Educator at Peoria Zoo, introduces you to Madonna, a Desert Blond Tarantula. Take a tour and meet tarantulas from the National Zoo, the Cincinnati Zoo, and the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. Learn more about tarantulas here!
Design a superhero (or a superhero sidekick!)
This activity was inspired by a “Mystery Box Challenge” from the Children’s Creativity Museum – see more of their ideas here, and tips for designing and facilitating activities like this for children can be found here.
Get a library card
Peoria Public Library is making it possible for Peoria Residents to apply for a temporary library card on line, in order to access their amazing online resources, including audio and e-books, music, homework help, and research databases.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1:
Make dinosaur garden
Collect sticks, rocks, leaves, and other natural elements, and arrange them into a place where the dinosaurs can roam! (Don’t have any plastic dinosaurs, and feeling artsy? Make your own!) Loving dioramas, and want more ideas? Check out this site for kid-friendly tips.
Keep the kids active while practicing soccer skills such as passing, shooting, and agility. Practicing passing is a particularly good activity to do with another child while keeping a safe social distance!
TUESDAY, MARCH 31:
Make a nature collage
Go on a walk and collect sticks, leaves, pebbles, and other bits of nature, and make a collage. (Hint for Tuesday: get some extras while you are at it!) Find full instructions, thanks to the National Park Trust, here, and more activities from the same source here.
Miss bowling? Or just looking for something active to do inside? Start collecting plastic bottles now so you can try Bottle Bowling!
Meet Tony the Tiger Salamander
Listen as Jessica, Curator of Education at Peoria Zoo, introduces you to Tony. Did you know that Tiger Salamanders are the Illinois State Amphibian? (Did you know that we had a state amphibian?) Learn more about state amphibians here and pick one to research further!
MONDAY, MARCH 30:
Make a Pet Hospital for your stuffed animals
The Kansas City Discovery Center shares these instructions for creating your very own veterinary play space for your stuffed animals. Take good care of those much-loved pets!
Baseball Practice: Infield Play
This video will get you ready to get your kids ready for baseball! Learn how to field a groundball with National Alliance for Youth Sports.
SUNDAY, MARCH 29:
Time to dance
Glazer Children’s Museum made this Spotify playlist for families to dance to.
There’s More to Explore through “frottage”
“Frottage” is the artsy word for rubbings. It’s a great way to explore texture, and to get some cool ideas for new artwork. Grab a piece of plain paper – printer paper or newsprint – and a crayon with the paper taken off. To make a rubbing put the paper on a textured surface – for example, a leaf, the side of a tree, or a wooden floor – and use the side of the crayon to rub. (If this is unclear, watch this video.) Explore your house or your neighborhood, and make a texture collection!
Want to turn your rubbings into art? Learn about how the Surrealist artist Max Ernst did this with this video from the High Museum of Art.
SATURDAY, MARCH 28:
Try some family yoga
Reading (by listening) time
Tired of the books in your library? Audible has made all of their children’s books available for download for free. Check them out and let us know your favorites!
FRIDAY, MARCH 27:
Messy morning baking soda
Enjoy these “STEM boredom busters” from the Kidzu Children’s Museum – four activities that teach kids how baking soda and vinegar react. And from Wonderopolis, and explanation of why they react this way (quick explanation: vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base).
Make a puppet and put on a show!
Sock puppets: All it takes is a sock and a marker, or some fabric and either fabric glue, needle and thread, or hot glue. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Need more instruction? Try this. Paper bag puppets: Even easier! Kids inspired and ready to perform? Make a puppet theater with a spring rod and a curtain in a doorway!
THURSDAY, MARCH 26:
Plant some beans
Here are simple steps to planting a bean plant in your kitchen, from Peep and the Big Wide World. Learn more about beans with Britannica Kids. And here’s a recipe for bean salad you can make with your kids!
It’s for the birds
Learn about birds! Hear the different sounds birds make with this great website. Seeing (and hearing) birds in your backyard? Learn more about them here. Inspired to make some bird-inspired art? Kids ages 4-18 can enter their masterpieces in Mass Audubon’s ‘Taking Flight’ International Juried Bird Art Exhibition!
Soccer drills: Individual dribbling
This video will get you ready to get your kids ready for soccer! And even if they are not soccer players, this is a great way to get them outside, moving, and working on their motor skills.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25:
Adopt a tree
“Adopt” a tree to learn more about our ecosystem and the changes seasons bring, while practicing observation and critical thinking skills. Use this resource as your tree journal! Need something for younger kids? Try this resource: Connecting Kids to Nature. Want to make this into a deeper STEM exploration with your children? Check out these resources!
Adapt a fairy tale
We love fairy tales, but sometimes they can seem a little sexist, outdated, or otherwise irrelevant … Why did Hansel and Gretel use bread crumbs instead of GPS? Why didn’t Belle just tell the Beast to stop harassing her, and leave? Listen to Amy Poehler’s retellings of three fairy tales, and then pick a fairy tale to rewrite for the 21st century.
Take a song challenge
The 30 day song challenge has been popping up on social media. Create a shorter, kid-friendly version and find songs with these five things: a song that mentions a color; a song with a number in the title; a song that makes you want to dance; a song that makes you sad; a song that makes you think of yourself.
TUESDAY, MARCH 24:
Put your left foot in…
Need a little post-lunch work out with the kids? Check out the BrainDance Hokey Pokey!
Give your kids a fizzy, hidden surprise while teaching them about the Scientific Method. Want to learn more about chemical reactions between baking soda and vinegar? Here is more information (and a video reaction!)
Meet Rango the Chameleon!
We introduced Rango on today’s Facebook post – pop in and say hi! Chameleons are the only lizards that can see in two different directions at once. Watch as Rango’s eyes move independently of each other. Chameleons can also “zoom focus” their eyes just like a camera to enlarge what they are viewing. Learn more about Rango and other animals here.
MONDAY, MARCH 23:
Work out #2!
Another great #StayAtHome workout from our RiverPlex trainers Ryan and Raquel to get you going on this Monday morning!
Neighborhood scavenger hunt #2
We love these ideas for interacting with your neighbors while keeping a safe distance! Try this “Chalk Your Walk” idea we heard on Facebook. Chalk your favorite saying, your favorite shape or anything that is colorful and fun! Share this idea with your neighbors, and then go for a walk and see what you find!
SUNDAY, MARCH 22:
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Try a few mindfulness activities
This is hard, guys! Socially isolated, worried about your family and the world… Try relaxing with these two mindfulness activities from Pathway 2 Success. We think these are great for any age! (1) Dragon Breathing: Sit up straight, breathe in, stick your tongue out, and breathe out like a dragon. It might feel super silly at first, but it helps to bring the idea of deep breathing down to their level! (2) Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1 – Look around your current surroundings and find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
SATURDAY, MARCH 21:
Go for a walk
Spend some time outside today, even if it’s just a quick walk in a local park or on a tree-lined street. From The Globe and Mail:
We are isolating ourselves for safety and the walls are already beginning to close in. Given the threats that are coming, and the uncertain path in front of us, we’ve decided to get out each day to a park, for as long as we are allowed….. We will be cautious. We’ll stay far from the playgrounds and we will touch no one. But we’ll get outside into the grand places that our society has built and maintained for us: the lungs for the city. We each need to take a breath.
Meet Tank the Armadillo
Listen as our animal expert, Julie, talks about Tank the armadillo, just one of the amazing armadillos at the Peoria Zoo. Tank is a role model for all of us for sheltering in place. If you have kids at home, ask them to curl up into a ball and be an Armadillo, or pose like another animal.
FRIDAY, MARCH 20:
Stream Ken Burns’s Baseball
Missing baseball (and basketball and hockey) season? Take advantage of this moment to watch at 18+ hours of Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary, streaming for free now on PBS. And then sign your child up for our youth baseball program this summer!
Start a nature journal
Make your own journal with a stack of 4 or 5 sheets of plain 8.5×11 printer paper, folded in half. Put a few staples along the fold, making sure to catch all the pages, so your book doesn’t come apart. Then decorate the cover. Now use your new nature journal today, and over the next few weeks to watch spring appear. Capture the world changing every day. Do you see a tree visited by different animals, green shoots starting to flower, or birds building a nest? Include drawings, poems, descriptions, and the changes that you observe over days, weeks, months, or even years!
Create a neighborhood scavenger hunt
Collaborate to create a neighborhood scavenger hunt! We love this idea from Johanna Christiansen in the Uplands neighborhood in Peoria: Cut a piece of colored paper (or plain paper, or newspaper, or anything you have) into a big shape, then post the shape in your window for kids to find while they are out walking. Share this idea with your neighbors. Then tomorrow, go for a walk and see how many you can find!
THURSDAY, MARCH 19:
Time to exercise!
Missing the RiverPlex ? The RiverPlex is missing you, too! In the meantime, please enjoy the workouts available on the RiverPlex Facebook page and, for RiverPlex members, access to the free Les Mills workouts. Attached to this post, please find an at-home workout developed for you by trainer Ryan Patterson. If you don’t have weights at home, use things around the house for resistance – cans of beans, water jugs, packets of rice, or paint cans!
Learning about animals behavior
This is a simple imagination game that can also be used to demonstrate animal behaviors. Go outside, and find a magical stick. Any stick can be magical if you decide it is! When waived around and the magic words are said, this stick will transform kids (and the adult holding it!) into an animal. For example, the stick holder might say, “Alacazam, Alacazoo, turn these kids into a kangaroo”- at which point the adult might start hopping around and the kids likely will too. Ask kids for suggestions of what animal to do next. And be sure to transform littles back into a human being or the game could go on forever!
Create stop motion animation
Use these great resource to help your kids create a stop motion animation video. 1. download an animation app on your phone – something like Stop Motion Studio (for Apple products) or ClayFrames (for Android). 2. Use these great instructions from Tinkerlab to make a stop motion animation. https://tinkerlab.com/easy-stop-motion-animation-kids/ 3. Share your movies with us by emailing [email protected]!
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18:
Write a letter
Write a letter thanking someone for something. It can be a gift they gave you, or just letting them know that you are grateful to have them around. It can be to an author thanking them for a book or a character, or a musician thanking them for a song you love. Want to see a model? Check out this link for some great thank you letters by famous people:
Patchouli is a Forest Park Nature Center favorite – listen to one of their songs here (and join us on May 16th to hear them live!). Then, make your own music! For older kids and adventurous adults – here are the lyrics to Patchouli’s “After After All”. Write your own lyrics for this song. Younger kids – make a music instrument. What can become a drum? What sounds can you make by banging spoons together, or banging on different sizes of pots? What else can you make music with?
TUESDAY, MARCH 17:
Paint while listening to music
Different types of music can inspire you to think, see, and imagine in different ways. The artist Wassily Kandinsky thought he could “see” music. Set up a work space with paint, crayons, or markers. Listen to these three pieces of music and make art while you listen. How does different music inspire different art? When you are done, share pictures of your art with us in the comments section below!
Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
How many of these can you find in your backyard, around the block, or in a nearby park? If you can, take a picture of each thing you find. When you are done, share your favorite picture with us, along with any questions about what you found!
Downloadable nature scavenger hunts
Build a blanket fort
Using sheets or blankets, build a cool space that’s all your own. Need inspiration? Check out these ideas! Once you are done, share pictures of your blanket fort with us!