This just in from the No New News Department: Most area activity providers and family-friendly havens remain closed for business or have postponed events due to public health concerns related to the coronavirus. But if there is one thing all parents know, it is that life with kids must march on — and typically through every huge puddle. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a playbook of activities, outings, semi-educational media distractions and projects to keep the kids busy, entertained and safe (and your sanity intact!) during this unprecedented time.
Editor's note: We are doing our best to track all closures due to the coronavirus. Please check the latest COVID-19 information, take responsible precautions and practice safe social distancing when venturing out.
Play the fool.
Let's start the month off with a prank. From frozen cereal and fake OJ to googly eyes on their fruit, we've gathered 10 harmless tricks that will make your kids giggle on April Fools’ Day.
Tulips are blooming!
Choose a compass point and take a scenic drive. North: Behold acres of stunning flower fields in the Skagit Valley. Though sadly this year's tulip festival has been cancelled, tulips are still the cheeriest of spring sights (perhaps second only to baby farm animals). Consider donating a bouquet — to a hospital, a nursing home, or to a courageous member of our community — through Tulip Town's #ColorForCourage campaign, a great way to brighten someone's day and support a local grower.
Keep calm and craft on.
Set up your own makerspace to give your little shut-ins plenty of space to do their thing, then head to ParentMap’s DIY Central for dozens of inspiring ideas for filling all these lazy “crafternoons.”
Make your garden a magical oasis.
Explore Metro Parks Tacoma.
While Metro Parks facilities are closed, parks remain open for families to explore, while following public health recommendations. Play in the Discovery Pond play area and stroll the trails around Snake Lake on a free self-guided tour.
Never hear “We’re bored!” again.
Go on a virtual field trip.
Craving a culture fix? Check out our roundup of enriching and mostly free virtual tours, performances and other family “outings” to enjoy from the couch.
The fort is strong.
What time is it? It’s always fort o’clock at our house! Consult our genius roundup of ideas to take your pillow palace to the next level.
Green fun for little ones.
Get a hop on Easter.
Easter is April 12 this year — plan ahead for your most epic egg hunt ever with our basket of “egg-cellent” new themes and ideas.
Spring into clean.
Idle hands are a cleaner’s tools! Get the whole family on board with our clever tricks to encourage everyone to spring-clean the house.
Choose your own adventure.
Head to Washington Park Arboretum for a self-guided adventure. Fun themes include Sensory Buffet, Squirrel Chase, Identity Sculpture, Pattern Play and more. All you need is a phone, your family, the natural world around you, and maybe something to write with.
Make screen time work for you.
Now might be a good time to relax some of those screen-time rules. But if you want to keep the focus as educational as possible, check out our massive list of virtual learning ideas for kids of all ages, along with recommendations for tot-friendly shows.
Take a crash course.
Bone up on math and science, learn how to play guitar and more with our list of parent-approved YouTube series.
Plan a movie night that’s outta sight.
Create a blockbuster movie night at home, from red-carpet arrivals to cool concessions and more.
Rediscover your own backyard.
From a DIY musical wall to a mud-pie kitchen, we’ve got terrific and super simple ways to reimagine your outdoor play space.
APRIL 18: Be free in nature.
Get outside to enjoy our treasured national parks for free today. (When contemplating a visit to a national park, the National Park Service asks people to act responsibly with regards to CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.)
Another option? Google Arts & Culture teamed up with five national parks to offer virtual tours, so plop your fannies on the couch: A trip to Kenai Fjords National Park, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park or Dry Tortugas National Park is just a click away.
Skip the gym, not the workout.
Hide and go seek.
Boredom is the mother of many inventions.
Have a budding Einstein under your roof? Add a learning element to these long days with easy activities that encourage curiosity and a love of science. We can’t promise it won’t get messy.
APRIL 22: Happy planet day!
Celebrate Earth Day with DIY recycling games, art projects and more.
Go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Much like screen-time policies, our current housebound reality seems to offer plenty of ways for the rules to slip a bit — on purpose. An easy way to please a kid of any and pretty much every age is to let them pick out a favorite cereal that they might not get in “normal” dietary times. Why not host a cereal-and-cartoons party, people? Each kid (and parents, too!) picks out a favorite cereal to eat and a favorite cartoon (old- or new-school) cartoon to watch together.
April 24: Trees don’t cough.
Grab your favorite little Lorax and celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree, hugging a tree, yarn-bombing a tree, climbing a tree! Not necessarily in that order.
Venture down a garden path.
Wander through the beautiful Bellevue Botanical Garden and make your way across the exciting suspension bridge. (Psst! The restrooms remain open.)
Kids of all ages love to get creative in the kitchen. Make homemade play dough with one of our easy recipes, teach your kids to make a favorite family dish or stage your own reality-TV-style cooking competition. Subscription services KidStir and Raddish Kids are offering free kits to families along with plenty of recipe and activity ideas for fun in the kitchen.
Hit the beach.
Comb your favorite area beach for a variety of items — a unique shell, beach glass, sand dollars, a feather, a bit of sea fern. Bring your precious finds home and put them into a jar with some sand to remind you every day of your fun beach adventure. Find more nature walks and related craft projects here.
We know it’s muddy out there, and that is guh-reat! Playing in the dirt has health benefits galore for kids. Our awesome list of mud-play ideas will keep the tots busy for hours.
Read a rainbow.
Keep your bookworm in the habit of reading with our colorful list of dozens of great graphic novels, for toddlers to teens.
Explore far from the madding crowd.
From stairway climbs and kid-friendly trail hikes in and around the city to picnic spots and other serene, out-of-the-way nature escapes, we’ve assembled dozens of safe destinations to take your family for some fresh air and solitude.