Μένουμε σπίτι - We stay at home

We stay home

Activities so as not to get bored

Schools across the country have been closed for some days as part of the preventive measures for the new coronavirus Covid-19. In general, we all restrict our travels and keep our friends and family safe by staying home. This will slow down the spread of the virus, giving the health system more time to respond. At the same time, we are reducing the possibility of transmission to people in high-risk groups.We stay home.

It is difficult to convince our minors to stay home for two weeks or more. Children and adolescents, as well as we, need socialization. Unfortunately, due to the anti-virus measures, the interactions with their peers are reduced for a while. However, you can be inventive and make this all-day co-living at home more “painless”. Here, we are collecting and constantly updating links that we find with ideas and activities for this very purpose. In the following in-house survival guide/article, we have chosen some of these solutions, but also some that we have thought of, to make your time at home more enjoyable, creative and educational. The activities proposed are aimed both at you and your children or teens at home.

Opportunity to read

Remember those books you had on the shelf and never read? Here is your chance! There are wonderful books for adults, teenagers and children. Classic literature, mystery, fairy tales and many more. Choose what suits you, sit comfortably with your children and a mug with the beverage of your choice and enjoy this journey. Another solution now that we stay home is the free online books you can find and read. Here you can find a big collection of ebooks and audiobooks.

Extra tip: Another idea for more creative minds and hands is to encourage your children and yourself to re-illustrate the covers of the books you selected after reading them. Create your own book covers, just as you imagined them while you were reading them.

Puzzles and board games

When was the last time you solved a puzzle? Make room on the table or floor, buy a 500, 1,000 or even 3,000 pieces puzzle (for strong solvers), and get to work with the family.

Many scientists and experts have occasionally discussed the benefits of solving puzzles. These are the reasons why you and your children should be playing with puzzles:

They have soothing properties. By solving a puzzle, you develop cognitive and social skills and improve your visual perception. Aside from the obvious benefits to the brain, such games keep you alert for hours. Specifically, puzzles have the dual function of helping the mind relax (by distracting it from the causes of stress), while also activates many brain functions. They enhance patience, concentration and confidence.

Recent research suggests that just observing the pieces of a puzzle and studying the possible options allows the mind to relax and go to a gentle state of meditation. This brings calmness and results in better stress management, helping to increase productivity. One of the strategies used by adults and children to solve puzzles is to keep in memory the different pieces that may fit. This process enhances memory, but also helps concentration, which is an important asset in any occasion. Finally, the puzzles help to exercise both sides of the brain. The left hemisphere thinks logically and follows a sequence, while the right one is creative, intuitive and emotional. When solving a puzzle, one mobilizes both abilities as both hemispheres are used [i]. Still not convinced?

If, on the other hand, you do not have a free surface to commit until the puzzle is complete, you can turn to board games. From classics, like chess, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Taboo, to imaginative board games for all ages, such as those created by the Greek company Kaissa. Board games sharpen the mind, teach skills and bring the family closer!

Virtual museum visits

There are now more and more museums offering virtual tours or presenting their collections online. Museums and galleries around the world offer digital tours to those who are unable to visit them physically, and, in this case, to all of us, that we stay home. Here’s a list of collections we’ve discovered, with links, so as to virtually visit them gratis with your family [ii].

1. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan: Visit online here.

2. Vatican Museums, Rome: Visit online here.

3. Archaeological Museum, Athens: Visit online here.

4. Louvre Museum, Paris: Visit online here.

5. Museum of Prado, Madrid: Visit online here.

6. Uffizi Gallery, Florence: Visit online here.

7. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Visit online here.

8. British Museum, London: Visit online here.

9. Hermitage, St. Petersburg: Visit online here.

10. National Gallery, Washington: Visit online here.

You can also take virtual tours to famous Greek Museums, which you can find here.

Finally, in recent years, many museums and cultural organizations have created web applications and games hosted on their websites to bring children and adult audiences closer to the exhibits and offer them a unique cultural experience. Find online games from museums that bring kids closer to culture , arts, science, etc, here.

Digitized theater

We don’t limit ourselves to museums! The situation of confinement at home with our children requires flexibility and many ideas so that they don’t get bored. The National Theater of Greece has digitized many good children theater productions, directed by well-known and beloved Greek artists, such as Carmen Ruggeri, Marianna Toli and more. We can enjoy them only in Greek either in audio file format or in video format. So, visit the National Theater’s digitized archive and enjoy Carmen Ruggeri’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Czar with the Long Beard” online, Marianne Toli’s “Around the World in 80 Days” and Stavros Tsakiris’s “Don Quixote”. For non-Greek plays, the Digital Theater provides  many good classic theatrical productions, such as “Don Giovanni” or “Hamlet”. With a small monthly subscription, you can enjoy classic theater productions at home with your family.

Extra tip: Encourage your children to create their own play, inspired by what they watched. Help them make makeshift sets by using boxes, fabrics, and anything else you come up with. Then, let them prepare their own plays and present them to their beloved audience, you!

Singing and dancing!

Now that we stay home, let’s not neglect our physical health. Now that the gyms are closed, we have the chance to work out at home with the whole family. How? One idea is, by dancing! Place a mirror in your living room, wear your sweat-suits and sportswear, play your favorite tracks and enjoy dancing. When dancing, we train our body, we move all body-parts, we sweat and we spend quality time with the whole family. After all, dance has no age. Don’t worry if you think you’re not good at dancing, no one watches you. Feel free and do whatever you feel. The point is to work out and have a good time. The same as with theater, you can show your children choreographed videos and encourage them to make their own choreography and present it to you. You can do the same with a gymnastics program instead of dancing.

Extra tip: When you are done with the dance, practice your vocal strings with karaoke. On YouTube you will find many songs, both Greek and English, to sing for hours!

Online lessons

Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language but it was not your first priority? Have you always been fascinated by history, science, art, or any other subject? This is your chance! Sure, 14 days is not enough for you to delve into a new language or subject, but it’s an important start to learn the basics and develop your knowledge over time. We suggest a variety of online learning opportunities for you and your children. Their advantage is that they also function as a game, with incentives and rewards that are very likely to keep children’s interest alive.

Duolingo is a free learning platform for over 30 languages, available online and as a smartphone and tablet application. Especially for those who learn Greek, there is also the iLearnGreek site. Khan Academy is another educational platform, for various subjects. Khan Academy is also available in tablet and smartphone applications. There are more free or very affordable learning platforms for various subjects online or as applications for smartphones and tablets. At Coursera, OpenCulture and EdX, you can find free top university courses from around the world. Udemy offers 100,000 online courses, starting from 11 euros. And many more, which you can find simply by typing “free online courses” in any browser.

Katheti also provides free online painting lessons to everyone who is interested. Learn more here.

Science for all

Bodossaki Foundation supports Mathesis course, addressed to young and older scientists, entitled “Science for All: A Series of Experiments with Simple Materials”. A journey of exploration into the wonderful world of physics, having as starting point everyday life and the wonderful surprises it hides for the ones that experiment with the laws of nature! The courses are only in Greek.

At the end of each lesson, students have learned the basic principles of physics through simple experiments. Following the steps for performing the experiments, they discover the laws of nature and embark on a journey of exploration into the magical world of science. The materials used in the experiments are available at every home, or can be easily found  at low cost, and the main themes studied are: Experiments with Air, Experiments with Water, Experiments with Light, and Experiments with Electricity. The American Museum of Natural History also provides online science games, that you can find here.

For something more… innovative, you can construct with your children a visual game that was popular in the 19th century, the Thaumatrope!

I stay and learn my home

Finally, an activity that we would recommend not only for now but also generally, is a program we call “Living and Learning our Home”. Together with your young cohabitants, experiment by cooking new foods; do the laundry, iron, wipe and dust your home like a game. We stay home together and take care of it and its people. This way, children kids will learn how to use domestic appliances, as they are much easier to use than a common tablet or smartphone. Through these activities, all family members learn to contribute equally to the home chores and acquire skills that will prove very useful in their future lives.

More ideas for activities can be found in this Greek article, by the Greek Scouts, or here for non-Greek readers. Here you will also find activities that do not require screens for children of all ages.

Following you may find a daily program proposed by NESCA. You can of course customize it to your own habits or decide that you don’t need a program at all. Every family is different and sets its own rules!

If, however, you don’t like programs at all, you can use the table below and leave it to luck ! Print it, cut at the dotted lines, turn the papers with the white side up and the children can pick a paper and do what it says.

Of course, we can always stay home and do nothing, just relax from the fast-paced routine of life. In any case, we stay home as much as we can and follow the official guidelines. We stay calm and we don’t stop being creative even at home.

[i] Source: https://almaradio.gr/eikoniki-episkepsi-se-mouseia/?fbclid=IwAR2A6atHjIAKdifnFitgOA9JBT_PYXwvpLeWOngfkX-4XH98HqVytLOrMJU

[ii] Source: https://steamtoys.gr/index.php?route=journal2/blog/post&journal_blog_post_id=59

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