Coronavirus (COVID-19) has turned the world upside down for many of us. It seems each day something else closes, someone else gets sick, fears of job losses grow, and we’re all told repeatedly to practice social distancing. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region, we’re not immune to these difficult and scary times. That being said, it’s also more important than ever for our Bigs and our Littles to maintain their friendship, especially since many Littles may experience additional anxiety and uncertainty at home during this time. We don’t know how much longer the CDC will recommend social distancing, but here are some ideas for ways to spend time with your Little safely during this time.
1. Virtually Tour a Museum
One silver lining during this time of crisis is that some of the world’s most incredible art museums are opening up their doors, digitally, free of charge. You and your Little may never have had a chance to visit the Guggenheim, or the Uffizi Gallery together, but now you can! Hop on Skype or FaceTime, and follow the link to one of the many virtual tours for an unforgettable experience.
2. Read Together
Even if you’re avoiding being in the same room doesn’t mean you and your Little can’t enjoy the powerful experience of reading together. Local libraries around the country offer free e-book checkouts and audio books that matches can enjoy together. Set a time to join each other in a video chat, or even a phone call, and take turns reading parts of a book of your Little’s choice, and discuss what you read afterward. We strongly encourage our Lunchbox Learners matches to do this weekly if you can. For younger readers, many educators have begun offering read-along sessions via Facebook Live during COVID-19 social distancing.
3. Tour A National Park
Our greatest national treasures are open to you in a way they have never been before. Use this opportunity to explore one (or many) of our beautiful national parks without ever leaving your home. If you and your Little are used to spending a lot of time outdoors together, this could be something truly special!
4. Become Pen Pals
Rediscover the lost are of letter writing! Pen pals were common only a few years ago, and now is as great of a time as any to bring it back. Send your Little a letter, and ask for one back. Talk about how you’re spending your time, how your family or pets are doing, and what you look forward to doing together once social distancing is lifted. Include pictures if you would like! Just make sure to ask them to write you back.
5. Go To Space
Like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Alrdin did 50 years ago, you and your Little have the opportunity to explore the moon and other parts of outer space. Except this time, there’s no need for a bulk space suit! NASA offers a great virtual lunar tour with stunning photos and information about Apollo landing sites, robotic landing sites, and some of the moon’s most unique geographic features. For an even more out of this world experience, Google has set up Access Mars, a WebVR experience featuring incredible 360 degree images of the surface of the red planet, taken by the Curiosity Rover.
6. Join a Virtual Workout
If you have a gym membership, check to see if they’re offering virtual classes right now. Large gyms like Planet Fitness are offering these to their members (and in some cases non-members) during the COVID-19 crisis. Also, consider checking YouTube for additional workouts from home. This is a great way for you and your Little to stay active together! And if you both feel comfortable stepping outside, now is still a great time for a walk in the park or around town. Just avoid areas with large gatherings of people.
7. Enjoy a Craft Night
The internet is filled with hundreds of unique and free crafting projects and templates for people of various ages and experience levels. If you and your Little are able to meet in person, this is a great activity to do from the comfort of your own home. Even if you aren’t able to meet in person, you can still pick a craft to do together via video chat and share the results when you’re done. Just don’t forget to share with us on social media so the world can see your masterpiece!
8. Learn a New Language
Schools might be closed, but learning shouldn’t stop. Learning a new language is an easy thing you and your Little can do together to keep their mind sharp during this time of social distancing. Apps like Duolingo can help anyone learn for free. Commit to your daily lessons, and then get in touch with your Little over the phone or video chat, and have a conversation together in your new language!
9. Visit the Zoo
Local zoos all around the world are opening their doors virtually during the COVID-19 crisis for free. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit some of the world’s greatest zoos, including the ever-popular San Diego Zoo right from your home.
10. Just Talk
The fact of the matter is that this time of uncertainty could be very scary for your Little. In addition to possible concerns about the virus itself, they could be struggling with food insecurity at home, a parent being laid off, or a lack of social outlet. Many kids might also experience heightened anxiety or depression during these times. Your friendship with your Little is critical right now. If nothing else, please consider calling or texting them every couple of days, just to check in. Be that person who is there to listen and offer strength and guidance during this difficult experience.