The Covid Crisis: Tips for homebound kids

Special to the Mountain News

Editor’s Note: As school close and families sequester themselves at home, millions of families world-wide are wondering: what do we do with the kids? Here are some ideas from a young woman on the front lines in Seattle.


By Gayle Deacon

In the time of Covid 19 the world is quieter. Schools, events, and even work are cancelled for an unknown amount of time for many. We are being urged to stay home as much as possible. The availability of certain essential groceries is spotty, and we need activities to occupy us through this time.

Speaking from the perspective of a childcare provider, and with those who aren’t making special trips for supplies to occupy their children in mind, I want to share some ideas. The silver lining of social distancing is that families are together with fewer of the usual strains on their time. Any groups that are still meeting are doing so in smaller numbers, and in general there seems to be more room to just exist.

The following activities are jumping off points to whatever kids and families want to make of them, with whatever they have lying around to do it with.

But first you should wash your hands, and while you’re at it why not make it fun.

You can play with your soap!

My childcare kids and I made Ivory Soap clouds, then smooshed them up and added water and food coloring until they became either sticky soap dough or slippery sudsy soap soup.

Say Slippery Sudsy Soap Soup five times fast.

It was a great exploration into how water and air expand when heated, the different states of matter, density, viscosity, texture, and color mixing.

Unfortunately, it seems that Ivory brand soap may be the only kind that works to make super-fluffy clouds that don’t stink up the kitchen. You just need to microwave them for about a minute and watch the magic.

But I don’t want this to only work for people with Ivory soap, so I’ll share a few other “clean” ideas below.

If you have:

  1. Any kind of bar soap
  2. Something to grate the soap with
  3. Water
  4. Optional molds, modeling tools, food coloring, edible or biodegradable glitter, sprinkles, scents…

You can make soap flakes and add a bit of water at a time until you have a moldable material. Of course, your kids may not want to stop at just a bit of water and that’s fine too. If they dump in their water, they will get a similar result to the slippery Sudsy Soap Soup.

You can also try soap carving instead. I believe we used clay modeling or rubber stamp carving tools to carve into Ivory soap in high school art class, but I imagine other bar soaps and other tools can be used.

Whichever way you choose to go, the result can be used for playing, displaying, and washing.

If you have:

  1. Liquid dish soap
  2. Water     
  3. A dish or cup for mixing and dipping
  4. A bubble wand (or something to bend into a custom wand, like wire or pipe cleaners)
  5. Optional food coloring or paint

You can mix the soap with water and optional colorants to make a bubble blowing solution. I don’t think we ever measured the amount of soap we added to our water growing up. We just added some, tried to blow a bubble, and added more if it didn’t work.

If you do add colorants you can blow the bubbles at a sheet of paper for a cool abstract art project. Try it with a selection of colors.

If you have:

  1. Liquid Dish Soap
  2. Milk, fresh or spoiled
  3. Food coloring or thin paint
  4. A bowl or shallow dish

You can make a wonderful color-mixing science experiment by dropping your colors all around the surface of your milk, adding drops of liquid dish soap, and watching how the soap seems to chase the colors around and mix them up.

This experiment was great fun to do in a workshop in which I assisted a few years back. We were discussing how scientists and writers use similar powers of observation and methods of experimenting.

And a bonus idea that I haven’t tried myself, but now want to…

If you have:

  1. Liquid body wash, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, or lotion
  2. Cornstarch, or other body safe and biodegradable thickener
  3. Optional molds, modeling tools, food coloring, edible or biodegradable glitter, sprinkles, scents…
  4. Optional shaving foam for a fluffy effect

You can mix them together to make either a slime-like or a dough-like consistency, depending on how much of each you decide to use. The result can be used for playing and skin/hair care.

When your all done playing with soap and everyone’s hands are nice and clean, slip them into your next project.


 We are currently sanitizing, daily or several times daily, every little art supply, block, game piece, etc. that our childcare kids touch. With that in mind we went minimalist with our paper-bag puppet project. Adults dished out the paint on paper plates and the water in disposable cups, handed out the brushes and brown paper lunch bags, and let whoever wanted to make a couple of puppets have at it.

I am partial to puppet play, having run several youth puppet play workshops where we created paper bag and stick puppets and wrote plays for them to perform. These occurred before Covid 19 and were anything but minimalistic affairs. I gathered and dumped heaps of mostly household and holiday recycled materials for the children to explore, and they had a ball with it.

Of all the possible ways to make a puppet, I’ve stuck to the paper bag and stick varieties because they are straightforward and fun for most ages to work out.

If you have a paper lunch or small grocery bag or a popsicle/craft stick (or other stick like object, plastic spoons, disposable straws, take out chopsticks…), then you have a ready-made puppet base.

If you don’t have any of the above you may have to get a bit more creative and craft your own base. I couldn’t possibly list all the ways to accomplish this. But I can promise, with near certainty, that you have something in your house you can make work.

Then add any or all of the following:

  • Paper- construction paper, scrapbooking paper, gift wrap, newspaper, old magazines, junk mail, printer paper, candy wrappers…
  • Fiber goods- yarn, ribbons, lace, buttons, fabric cut offs, old clothes…
  • Adhesive stuff– tape, glue, stickers…
  • Drawing/coloring stuff– paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils…
  • Bling and Accessories- googly eyes, pipe cleaners or chenille stems, plastic gems, beads, glitter/glitter glue, tinfoil, neat looking stuff from the recycling bin…
  • Print-color-and cut templates– many can be found online

Keep the materials out while the puppets dry, and make props and stage pieces!

I like how open-ended and lasting this activity can be. If allowed to do so, kids might make a round of puppets, do a show, think up more characters and props to make, do another show… all while exercising their creative muscles, fine and gross motor skills, language skills, and more.


Gayle Deacon is a School-Aged Care Teacher with the YMCA of Greater Seattle. She enjoys art and literacy most of all, and is delighted when kids take her projects in directions she couldn’t have thought of (so long as she can keep the pandemonium at bay).

Ms. Deacon is a former intern at the Dispatch, and a former resident of Graham.

Gayle Deacon Headshot 107




This entry was posted in Covid-19, Culture, Family, Gayle Tice, preparedness, Self Reliance. Bookmark the permalink.

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