HOUSTON — Schools are closed, everyone is urged to stay home and parents are left to figure out how to keep their families sane.
First, don't panic.
This could be an opportunity to introduce children and teens to old-school family fun that includes everyone. You know, what people did before cell phones, social media and video games.
Here are a few simple ideas:
Take family walks or bike rides. Experts say it's safe as long as you practice social distancing.
Write positive messages and drawings on the sidewalk or fence with colorful chalk.
Some neighborhoods are having bear, safari or Easter egg hunts by putting pictures of animals or eggs in their windows. Drive through your neighborhood to spot them and wave at the neighbors at a safe distance.
In the backyard
The thought of being stuck inside with the kids 24 hours a day, has some parents breaking out in hives.
We all need fresh air, so look for things to do in the backyard.
Corn hole: This is a great game for all generations and you can find sets on Amazon for less than $30.
Croquet: It's been around forever and it's fun for all ages. If you have small children, there are kits available for pint-sized players..
Golf: If you have golf clubs, set up a putting green for the whole family.
Exercise: This can help relieve stress and keep those pounds from piling on while gyms are closed. Make it a competition and offer prizes! Who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks?
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KHOU weather school: Join our KHOU 11 meteorologists every afternoon on our Facebook page for interesting lessons about weather. Class is in session every weekday at 2 p.m.!
Dance parties: Take turns choosing the music, crank it up and dance like no one is watching! This is a good time for parents to polish up their moves by learning the latest dance crazes from their kids.
Cards and board games: Scrabble is a great way to keep everyone's mind from turning into mush. Monopoly is a good option for all ages. If you have younger children, consider classics like Uno, Candy Land and Operation.
Charades: It's a simple game that doesn't require anything except your imagination. Here are some ideas for charades.
Movie nights: Take turns choosing family-friendly movies
Virtual zoo: Every weekday starting at 11 a.m., the Houston Zoo is going live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to bring the zoo animals and science to your home. Zookeepers will hop in front of the camera and give daily updates of what the animals are up to while the zoo is shut down, all while sharing fun facts about the animals they’re featuring.
Virtual field trips: Other zoos and aquariums are also offering virtual tours.
Virtual Learning: The Houston Children’s Museum is offering daily lessons to make learning fun for children. Here's a schedule. They’re also sharing experiments, activity ideas and inside-looks at their exhibits on their social media platforms.
Virtual museum tours: Museums all over the world are offering virtual tours.
Books: This is a great time to introduce children to the joys of reading. Studies show children are more likely to enjoy it if they choose their own books. Nook and Kindle are full of options for all ages.
Cooking and baking: Let your teen fix dinner for the family or bake cookies and other treats with younger kids.
KHOU bedtime stories: Join us on Facebook each evening around 7:30 p.m for a bedtime story read by a KHOU 11 News anchors and local celebrities.
Puzzles: Record sales are being reported for this old-school activity and the entire family can take part.
Heart-to-heart talks: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has had more in-depth conversations with his daughter during this pandemic than they'd had in her entire life.
Someday, we'll all look back on this and share stories about how we survived the coronavirus crisis. Until then, this is a chance to make memories and share laughter with your family until life returns to normal.