March 25, 2020

The Stay-At-Home Survival Guide

By Barry Rudesill
Hey All! I just wanted to do things a little different this week. (That’s my #1 saying: “Let’s do things a little different!”) Anyhow, on my personal Facebook page, I’ve been reading comments from parents saying, “I don’t know what to do with my children!”
Well, if you’re struggling to come up with ideas, I had my teens come up with some to help you out! I asked them to NOT simply list video and movies that you could watch, and I also asked them to try to pick activities that didn’t require a lot of extra “props”. (I DID try to check every website, too, to make sure they were “kid-friendly” and didn’t contain links to things that might be considered objectionable.)
And here they no particular order:
1. Laser Pointer Pets
If you’ve never taught your pets to chase a laser pointer dot, now is the time! Both of our dogs go nuts doing this and it’s hilarious to watch. I’ve heard of people actually having their fish, mice, and other animals respond, too! Be careful NOT to shine the laser pointer in their – or your – eyes!
2. Learn To Perform
A company that I buy I buy illusions from is creating a series called “Boredom Busters” which will teach your children – and you! – some basic and fun tricks! You can check them out at: If you want more to play with, there is a free “digital DVD” for beginners here:
3. Paper Airplanes
It’s time to go “old-school”. When I was growing up and toys were harder to come by, we would make paper airplanes. Nowadays, though, they don’t just do “airplanes”; they make some pretty insane flyers! You can check out designs here:
4. Make Your Own Watercolors
My daughter suggested this and now I want to play! You can actually make your own watercolors out of food coloring! If you want more information on this, you can check out this website:
5. Karaoke
Don’t have a karaoke machine? No problem! There are free karaoke sites online. Don’t want to bother with that? Simply turn up the music, grab a hairbrush, and you are all set!
6. Write Letters
In the good old days, we used to actually sit down and write letters to people. (Unfortunately, the letters we get nowadays are either junk or bills.) Maybe it’s time to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while and let them know you’re thinking about them! (If you’re worried about spreading the coronavirus, you can wash your hands before writing and even use a light coating of Lysol to make sure.)
7. History In Your Pocket
Have your students get different coins and dollar bills. Have you ever stopped to look at who’s picture is on it? Why do you think they were selected? Why piece of currency features Monticello...and why? Have students look up the information that is featured on the different coins and dollar bills. (By the way, if you have international currency, this can be even more fascinating!)
8. Domino Chains
I didn’t realize that “Dominoes” was a game until I reached college. We always just had fun setting up ridiculously long chains of them and then knocking them down!
9. Card Houses
Continuing the theme of “building”, when was the last time you build a house of cards? When we were children, we were actually taught how to make a strong house of cards and then, after building them, we would put “weights” on them to see how much they could take before collapsing!
10. Chrome Experiments
Did you know that Google Chrome has a lot of different “experiments” that you can do with it? I didn’t, but my teens did! There is music-building, AI learning, and more! You can find links to them at:
11. Stop-Motion Animation
My son got into this when he was very young. We gave him an old digital camera and he used to do “races” with his Hot Wheels cars; moving each car in very small increments, taking a new picture, and then moving them again. He even used cotton balls to create smoke! (Which was very cool for when the cars crashed!) You can do this on your own, or you can get more information here:
12. Origami
If you have children who are ADHD – like me! - then you know that giving them something to do with their hands is an important thing. If so, why not teach them a beautiful art that they can play with for the rest of their lives? Oh, and by the way, you do NOT need the Origami paper to do this! Check out the instructions at:
13. Rube Goldberg Machines
And, just in case you need more craziness, why not learn to build a Rube Goldberg Machine? The goal of these is to complete a simple task in the most complicated way possible! (If you’ve ever played the old board game “Mouse Trap”, you know what I’m talking about!) For sample videos and ideas, check out this site:
14. Learn To Program Computers
If you want to focus on education, there is a project called “Scratch” by MIT that allows you to learn basic computer programming. It’s free-to-use, contains a lot of examples, and the possibilities are endless. You can find out more at:
15. Bake Cookies
My daughter suggested this, but I think it’s actually a hint to me. There are thousands of recipes for cookies and some require very few ingredients! (I have a Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that my kids love and I think I only need four ingredients and about 15 minutes of time!)
16. Train Your Brain
There are a lot of good websites out there with logic problems, memory training, motor skills, etc. The best part is that they are usually free to play AND they make your brain work! The one suggested to me is:
17. Podcasts
Now there are two options here: (1) listen to podcasts...which may get boring… Or, (2), create your own podcasts! Children can create their own audio or video “podcasts” using the microphone and webcam built into a laptop or a phone. Have them create reports of what they are doing and share them online with relatives. They can be news reporters and create their own news program.
18. Go “Old School”
My wife and I realized that we messed up. Both of us grew up playing Euchre, but we NEVER taught our kids how to play...until last year. We’ve also been teaching them some of the other games and activities that we used to do when we were children! Take a moment, think of some of your favorite things when you were a child, and pass them on. (Anyone else want to make “God’s Eyes”?)
19. Start A Family Journal
Grab some sheets of paper, staple them together – this doesn’t have to be fancy – and start creating a journal for your children to remember. Tell them stories about how they were born – my daughter, Lauren, was almost born in an elevator – tell them about your first job or some of the crazy things that have happened to you – my wife and I were STUCK in a glass elevator in Las Vegas! As you create the journal, have your children draw pictures of the memories that you share. Also, encourage them to create their own journal and, when they’re done, share it with the family!
20. Cooking 101
One of the things that we’ve worked on with our children is their ability to cook. The goal is that when they leave home that they don’t do what we did: eat only Ramen noodles and Cheetos! Because of that, we’ve taught them how to make Mac ‘N Cheese, hard-boiled eggs, hot dogs, spaghetti, and more. (They actually are pretty good cooks!) But instead of just cooking for your children, why not have them help you and learn a useful skill along the way?
21. Put On A Play
My kids used to borrow our clothes, dig out props from their closets, and put on “plays”. They weren’t something Hollywood would buy, but I loved them!
22. Make Musical Instruments
Okay, this comes with a word of caution: If your children MAKE the instruments, they will want to PLAY the instruments. If you’re locked in a small house or apartment, this may NOT be a great idea! My son sent me a link to this website:
23. Learn Something New
If you want “school”, be sure to check out Khan Academy! There are a bunch of online classes available and my kids loved it because sometimes the teachers on Khan did a better job explaining things than their classroom teach did! You can check out Khan Academy at:
24. Read The Bible
If you are following “The Bridge” series, now is a great time to do some Bible Study with your children. (Hint! Hint!)
25. Talk Trek
One of the projects we’re working on for the future is a series for smaller children. We want to take Trek ideas like “Self-Talk” and teach children how NOT to develop negative self-talk. But even though that program doesn’t exist yet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to your children now! What are areas in your life where you have struggled? Wouldn’t it be great if you could help your children avoid the challenges you faced?
26. Play Along
And for those of you who are really stressed, why not take a moment, put down what you’re doing, and join in the fun? When was the last time you had a “tea party” with your kids? When was the last time you colored and didn’t worry about staying inside the lines? When was the last time you made a paper airplane? Or sat down to play a “team” video game? One of the BEST things you can do for your kids in this time is to join them in their play. Who knows? You may have some fun, too! :)
Be well! Keep safe! And we hope you enjoy your journey!

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