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Social Distancing and Outdoor Play

Social Distancing and Outdoor Play

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, public officials are recommending “social distancing”. So, what does social distancing mean, and how do you explain that to your child without freaking them out? First off, gather your information from credible sources so that you understand the need. The World Health Organization is reporting that the reproductive number (the number of secondary infections coming from one infected person) is between 2 and 2.5. The goal of social distancing is to lessen the reproductive number and help slow down the rate at which people are becoming sick and requiring hospitalizations.  We need to avoid close contact with others in order to avoid both catching the virus and passing it onto others.

Once you have a better understanding of COVID-19, give your children the facts (you can read more about how we suggest talking to your children about this virus here). Basically, COVID-19 can be spread in two ways. The first is when someone coughs close to you and the germs spread into the air; these germs usually don’t travel more than six feet, so that is why social distancing is so helpful. The second is when the germs are on a surface, and you touch the surface and then touch your face. The New England Journal of Medicine is reporting that the virus can live on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces for up to 72 hours; that is why it is so important to wash your hands, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, and clean frequently touched surfaces. If you are not feeling well, you should stay indoors and away from others. But for those of us without symptoms it should be perfectly fine to get outdoors; just stay away from crowded places and limit your distance between non-family and close friends!

So…how do we teach our children about social distancing? Get creative! Cut a length of ribbon, string or yarn into 6-foot lengths. Have your child hold one end and you can hold the other – take turns walking around each other in a circle like a compass. For older kids, draw a chalk grid with 1-foot squares and practice walking through it staying six blocks away from each other. Greet others with a wave while keeping a safe distance away.

On the verge of cabin fever? Playing outside is good for helping children practice their physical abilities. However, bringing your child to a playground can come with many challenges. You must practice excellent hand hygiene by washing your child’s hands (and yours) frequently since it's difficult for kids to avoid touching their face.

Running, jumping, and playing ball not only strengthens little muscles but also helps with gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. With unstructured play, kids have space to move around and work off their energy. They also can learn to take turns and share, thus improving communication and organizational skills. Fresh air and free play reduce stress levels, and sunlight elevates your mood, helps you to sleep better and helps your body produce vitamin D to strengthen your bones and boost your immune system!

Try mixing it up with toy-centered outdoor activities, too! The obvious outdoor toys like scooters, stomp rockets, balls and kites are fantastic. Your favorite bedtime story can be brought to life when you try acting it out in the yard or try bringing out some musical instruments (show of hands - who wants to be cooped up in the house with musical instruments and bored children?) and pretend play toys too! With the “right” dress up costumes and super hero capes, it might just turn into an impromptu parade as you walk around the block. Don’t forget to bring your hand sanitizer!

If you are looking for interesting stories to act out, try starting with Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs, Barnyard Dance, The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Make Way for Ducklings.

Looking for other ways to entertain, engage, and keep your kiddos motivated? Reach out to the us anytime via email at questions@mbeans.com for suggestions on outdoor toys, musical instruments, dress up, and more! You can also contact our Toy Experts via phone (866-600-BEAN) during business hours (M-F, 9 am-5 pm EST), by utilizing the Product Expert Chat on our website, or by setting up a free video consultation. Ask us to include a 6-foot length of ribbon with your order!

Be well!

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