Getting a free day or two to stay home from school has always been a welcome event for kids. Not so in these days of Coronavirus and forced home sheltering. Cabin fever sets in rather quickly. For parents of special needs kids with limited attention spans, the stress is higher in trying to find things to occupy their children.

We’ve tried to compile a list of activities being used around America. These are suggestions being promoted on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. We are in this together.

Keeping to a schedule is most important, Your children need structure in their day. But don’t set time blocks just to have time blocks. Use them to entice and draw upon their five senses. In fact, why not make one of those daily blocks about each of the five senses?

TOUCH: Create a coloring book
No need to go out to pick up coloring books as long as you have a copier and plenty of paper! Courtesy of the folks at Stencil, you can find free templates to create one page or a booklet of drawings. From flowers to animals to— well, you even have the option to create your own pictures entirely from scratch.

SOUND: Listen to a story
Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, has made a collection of stories free for kids to stream on desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet while schools are closed. And they are presented in six different languages!

SIGHT: Visit Virtual Zoos
Zoos around the world are obviously closed. But thanks to the internet and live cams, your kids can visit a different zoo weekly or even daily!!! Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! And more.

San Diego Zoo
Zoo Atlanta
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Blair Drummond Zoo, Stirling, UK
Dierenpark, Amsersfort, Netherlands
Additional webcams can be found at And take the time to teach your kids about time zones around the world.

TASTE: Recipes to sample
This is an exciting option that changes daily. Joanna Saltz, editorial director at Delish website (and her kids!), are sharing live cook-along videos every weekday at 1pm EST. Videos will be saved on the Delish Instagram account for 24 hours. Samples include Cheesecake + Quesadilla= Cheesecakeadilla and Easter Egg Strawberries.

SMELL: What is in the jar
Take whatever you have in the house. No need to go to the store (unless you are already going). Create a delightful and fun sensory experiment and challenge for and with your kids. Orange peel? Sure. Pencil shavings? Maybe. Paprika?

We don’t know when the world will go back to normal, and school sessions will resume. As parents, it falls to us to keep our kids’ minds active and curious.

This post was written by Anthony M Scialis. Find him here.