Fun things to do at home while you're cooped up during 'coronatine'
With schools, restaurants, gyms, and shopping and entertainment centers closed for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as group activities suspended and many people working from home, cabin fever is almost a certainty.
Boredom doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of people’s new normal, even as they’re cooped up at home. There are lots of options for house-bound fun, learning, connection and exercise that anyone with internet access can easily incorporate into their new daily routines — and more and more opportunities are being announced every day.
Concerts, comedy acts, theater performances, poetry readings and other entertainment options are springing up on digital platforms and websites all over the world right now. Check out socialdistancingfestival.com as one example. The Historic Holmes Theatre is also getting into the act with its new "Live From the Holmes" web concert series.
The “Coronatine,” as some people are calling this time of social distancing and self-quarantining due to the coronavirus, is pushing a lot of things that are normally done face-to-face into the virtual realm, where there’s no fear of spreading the virus.
Even small gatherings, such as children’s story times at the local library, have been moved to the web. The Detroit Lakes Public Library, closed to the public for the time being, has shared links on its Facebook page to Stay-In Storytimes offered online. The library is also sharing links to other free online reading resources and information, and is working on promoting and beefing up its own eBook and eAudiobook collections (visit larl.org/ebooks ).
Reading is a very easy way to beat boredom. Other commonly recommended things to do during this time include cleaning and organizing your house, working on projects around the house, watching movies, cooking and baking, playing board games or cards, and taking walks, bike rides, or anything that can be done outdoors without having to go far from home.
For more ideas of specific things to do, particularly here in Detroit Lakes, read on.
‘Free Things During Coronatine’
This Facebook group, recently created by a few Detroit Lakes area residents, is a quick and easy resource for folks looking for ways to keep themselves and their kids busy.
As the group’s “About” description states, it’s “Just a group of us sharing what we can find for resources we can do at home while we all navigate this epidemic together.”
As of late Thursday, the group had about 300 members.
The links being shared on the page range from how to take your kids on “virtual rides” at Disneyland to how to explore National Parks via 360-degree virtual tours. There are links to free educational websites, classroom materials downloads, YouTube channels that offer free art classes for kids, free online science and reading courses, virtual field trips and school activities, and more.
“Thanks so much for everyone sharing resources,” one of the group's administrators, Chenoa Pickrain, posted on March 16. “In this time of uncertainty, it’s so reassuring to see others helping in both small and big ways. We are all in this together, after all!”
Get some exercise through Virtual PE
Kids don’t need a school gym or playground to get their bodies moving. A Detroit Lakes woman, who is also a professional health coach, has begun offering free, daily online fitness classes for kids and their parents.
Jessica Larson, who moved to town from Alaska about two years ago, is offering her live “Virtual PE” classes four times a day, Monday through Friday, at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Central Standard Time. Local kids are participating along with other kids from across the country.
“It’s something I came up with to help pull our communities together,” Larson said. “To help keep our kids active, and parents sane… It’s been fun to see the kids smiling, laughing and connecting.”
The classes are streamed on Zoom, a remote video communications service, with participants able to see and talk to Larson and each other from their home computers or other digital devices (you can also take part privately, if you don’t want others to see you). In this way, the classes provide a social outlet, as well as a physical one.
The class themes (dance, yoga, etc.) vary and are led by different instructors, but are always age-appropriate and meant to be fun. They are being offered free for at least the next two weeks.
To sign up, visit the Virtual PE group page that Larson has created on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/VirtualPE . There are step-by-step instructions on there about how to use Zoom. Larson is also available to answer any questions, at 907-841-7299.
“I’m just trying to give back,” she said of why she started Virtual PE. “I’m trying to keep the cool under these circumstances, really, because everybody’s lives have been turned upside down.”
Be crafty with kits from the museum
Here’s something you don’t need the Internet for: The Becker County Museum has crafting “grab bags” that families can pick up at the museum or have delivered to their homes.
Small bags start at $5 and contain all the necessary materials for four different small, simple crafts appropriate for young children. Large bags start at $10 and include everything for eight or nine crafts. There are also options to add more to the bags, at additional cost.
“We’re trying very hard to keep the costs very, very low,” said Emily Buermann, the museum’s program coordinator. “We realize every dollar counts for people right now.”
In addition to the craft bags, the museum will also be offering STEAM kits (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) “so kids can still do science and engineering and math” while at home, according to Becky Mitchell, the museum’s executive director.
The kits are being put together by instructors of the local STEAM Club, which usually meets at the museum after school. All the needed supplies for the featured projects will be included, at a cost similar to that of the craft bags.
Buermann said the new focus on at-home activities is “a little bit of a paradigm shift for us.”
“Kids usually come to us,” she explained, noting the crafting days regularly hosted by the museum. “But now we’re sending things out to them, instead.”
The craft bags (and, later, the STEAM kits) can be purchased through the museum’s online store, at beckercountyhistory.org , or by calling the museum at 218-847-2938. Buyers who wish to pick up their bags can specify a date and time that works for them. The museum is currently closed, but staff members are available to walk any purchases out to people waiting in their vehicles.
Pickup will be available beginning Tuesday, March 24.
Explore history (and science) from home
In addition to the DIY crafting kits they’ve put together, the staff at Becker County Museum are also offering some online STEAM classes, book readings, and videos and photos of the museum’s exhibits and artifacts.
“It’s all an effort to stay connected with our region and community, and to be educational and informative in times when people can’t be in the museum,” said Becky Mitchell, the museum’s executive director.
Two classes will go live next week: “Three Ways to Launch Things,” a STEAM course that guides kids through the creation and launching of three different homemade ‘rockets,’ of sorts; and “Hello Spring,” an art class in which kids will paint their own spring-themed picture on canvas.
The classes each require the purchase of a kit to make the items at home; then, the online courses serve as tutorials on how to make the items. The classes will be led by director Mitchell and her husband, Kevin. After a course goes “live,” it can be watched at any time, so families can take part at their own convenience.
Mitchell said there are additional class ideas in the hopper, should the school closure continue on longer than is currently expected.
In addition to online classes, the museum will also be reading excerpts from some of their history books online, as well as posting pictures and videos of artifacts and exhibits that are inside the building.
“Since people can’t go in and see it for themselves right now, we’re posting it for them,” Buermann said.
The museum’s Facebook page is the best place to find recent posts and information; beckercountymuseum.org is also a resource and is where to go to buy supplies. The museum’s phone is still being answered during the closure, and research requests are still being accepted, at 218-847-2938.
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