We usually spend our summers here in Omaha enjoying the city, celebrating at community events and festivals, visiting family and friends, or traveling across the globe on vacation. However, the summer of 2020 is looking a bit different than usual, with a pandemic and social distancing rules in effect.
But while this summer might not be exactly like the rest, there are still plenty of ways to maximize your family’s time spent at home this summer! We rounded up a list of some of the best at-home activities you can do with kids, from reading a book together to attending a virtual summer camp. Plus, some of these ideas include ways you can support your community during this difficult time without having to leave the comfort of your home!
Show Off Your Artsy Side with Chalk Art
Chalk art is one of the easiest—and most affordable—ways to entertain your kids during a warm day! All you really need is some chalk from the store and a little inspiration on what to draw. We’ve loved seeing pictures of all the amazing, inspirational chalk art Omaha residents have been showcasing on their driveways throughout the past few weeks. One example is Brook Studt, a local artist who has been donning local driveways with special messages, birthday wishes and more through a new service called Chalk the Walk. Check out her Instagram page for some inspiration and get started on your chalk masterpiece!
Grab a Sweet Treat
When it comes to beating the heat, there’s no better tool than ice cream! First things first, check out The Best Local Ice Cream Shops in Omaha and Council Bluffs—many of which are now offering curbside pickup. Then head to your favorite, grab a few pints, and enjoy them with your kids during a movie night or outside on a hot day!
Sign Them Up for a Virtual Summer Camp
As time goes on, it’s looking more and more like 2020 summer camps in the Omaha area may be canceled. Luckily, many of these camps are planning on continuing the fun this year online! Local institutions like UNO, Omaha Girls Rock and even the Joslyn Art Museum are all offering virtual camps throughout the summer. Head to 7 Virtual Summer Camps in Nebraska for Kids to Attend This Summer, to learn more. No matter what your child is interested in—music, cooking, coding or acting—there’s a camp for them online this summer!
Learn Something New with an Easy Science Experiment
Science experiments are a great way to fill up a few hours with some fun AND learning during the summer! Plus, there are hundreds of easy experiments that you can do with items you probably have lying around your house already. Good Housekeeping has a fantastic and thorough list of experiments you can do with kids—from apple oxidation to walking water and magic milk. You can find the entire list here!
Go on an Art Adventure with Joslyn Art Museum
Joslyn Art Museum is now offering a free, weekly art series to help you and your family learn more about their collection and to make a bit of art while you’re at it. Art Adventures LIVE! happens on Facebook every Friday at 10:30 a.m. They list all of the needed materials on their website several weeks in advance so you can be prepared. Take a look at all the upcoming projects, here, and get ready to make some art!
Try Out a New Kid-Friendly Recipe
Indoor days are the perfect opportunity to try something new. And what better than learning how to cook? Luckily, Nebraska is full of helpful food bloggers who post easy-to-follow recipes every single week. We have a list of our favorite seasonal recipes from local bloggers, which includes everything from blueberry muffins to plant-based burgers, that are super easy to follow and allow for plenty of help from your little ones!
You can find the full recipe list here. If you’re looking for some recommendations, check out the 3 Ingredient Candied Popcorn (perfect for movie night!) from Hostess at Heart, these Lemon Berry Trifle dessert cups from Her Heartland Soul, or the Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders (minus the spice if your kiddos aren’t fans) from An Affair From the Heart.
Break out a Board Game
It may be the oldest idea in the book, but board games are a classic family indoor activity that we just couldn’t leave off of the list. You can’t go wrong with Hungry Hungry Hippos for little ones or Monopoly for the older kids—but if you are looking for some more recommendations, Good Housekeeping has a fantastic list of board games for the whole family.
You can keep your board game buying local by stopping by The Game Shoppe, an independent game store stocked full of both classic and modern games in West Omaha. Right now, they’re offering curbside pickup so you don’t even have to leave your car!
Plant a Butterfly Garden
It’s a simple fact: kids love butterflies! And if your child is a fan as well, why not plant your very own butterfly garden to help attract them to your yard? Not only will it give your kids the chance to watch something grow, but it will also give you the chance to teach them all about plant life and butterfly life cycles. Check out this butterfly garden guide from Nebraska Game and Parks that lists the best flowers and plants for attracting Monarch butterflies in our beautiful state.
Enjoy a Story Podcast Together
There’s just something about listening to a good story. Whether it’s an audiobook or a local radio production, having someone tell you a story turns it into a special event. Luckily, there are some amazing family-oriented story podcasts that you can download to your phone and listen to at any time! Story Pirates is a podcast written entirely by kids, but performed by adult comedic actors—so you’ll find it hilarious, too. Circle Round from NPR tells international folk fables to children and as a bonus, they create a correlating color page for every episode that your kids can color while they listen! Say Yes has a fantastic list of more kid-friendly podcasts if you’re looking for more ideas.
Set Up a Few Yard Games
Cornhole, yard dominos, giant Jenga, croquet, horseshoe, yard bowling and putt-putt golf are just some of the unique and interesting yard games you can set up for your kids! Here’s a list from Country Living of some of the best you can buy and make—from giant lawn Scrabble to a Backyard Dunk Tank. Set up a few and host your very own backyard carnival, complete with popcorn, caramel apples and s’ mores!
Create’s craft studio may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy creating something new from the comfort of your own home! They are currently selling “Craft Kits”—which include three or four paint colors, a brush or sponge, a paint palette, and other embellishments—that you can pick up curbside. There are so many projects to choose from, including ceramics that you and your family can paint, wood chests to decorate, canvases to create on, and more.
“Go” To Disneyland
While we can’t actually go to Disneyland or Disney World right now, fans young and old can experience their favorite rides virtually, thanks to these handy first-person YouTube videos! Whether you’re a Space Mountain person or a princess lover, you can experience the Disney magic through your computer screen, no matter where you are in the world.
Read a Book Together
Photo courtesy of The Bookworm
When you can’t venture outside, pick up a book and escape into a story for a little while. If you have little ones who are home from school or unable to attend daycare, reading out loud can be a fun activity for all of you! Whether it’s “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” or “Lord of the Rings,” you can snuggle up on the couch together for an all-day read-a-thon.
Even if you can’t leave your house, the library is still a great option for those looking to support the community. Just download the Libby app, input your library card information and voila—you can download free ebooks and audiobooks directly from your local library. And if you want to support a local business, you can purchase Kobo ebooks from The Bookworm, one of our favorite independent bookstores.
If you need some reading recommendations, we have a list of our favorite books by Nebraskan authors—which even includes a few young adult titles! You can find it here.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
It’s hot outside and you’re stuck at home so why not have a water balloon fight? Fill up a few bins with water balloons and go to town! For even more fun, try making up another game for your water balloons, like water balloon volleyball, a back-to-back race, a squat relay and more.
Have a great summer!
Let us know how you’re planning on spending the summer in the comments!