Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers.

As we hunker down in our homes to help stop the spread of COVID-19, cabin fever is sure to set in. While there’s no definitive cure for boredom, we found some local hands-on activities and online events to keep your kids’ minds occupied, so you don’t lose yours!

Good luck, parents!

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1. Let’s go pens! at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Although a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium isn’t an option (it closed March 16), you can still go wild watching the resident penguins play. The live webcam captures Macaroni penguins (the ones with the yellow feathers on their heads) and Gentoo penguins frolicking on land and in the water. The flightless birds will be dressed up for the occasion, but you don’t have to.

Photo courtesy of Fired Up.

2. To-go pottery projects

Some local paint-your-own-pottery studios are finding a way to stay in business while keeping your little artists inspired. Fired Up Pottery Studio at 4151 Washington Road in McMurray is selling kits filled with pottery, pre-drawn canvas designs, paints and brushes. Customers can peruse the available products online and place their orders by calling 724-941-0302. Once the personalized kit is assembled, they can pick it up curbside. Katie’s Clay Studio at 3812 William Flynn Hwy. in Allison Park is also offering the service. FaceTime them at 412-486-2184 and they’ll take you on a virtual tour of their inventory.

3. Leave the entertainment to a pro

Pittsburgh-based theater artist Cassidy Adkins is happy to entertain your family during lockdown. Each weekday, she’ll post a 30-minute Facebook Live video covering a range of interests. Her schedule is: Monday, 3 p.m. – Dance Class; Tuesday, 11 a.m. – Story Time; Wednesday, 3 p.m. – No-bake Baking Project; Thursday, 11 a.m. – Yoga Story Adventure; Friday, noon – Music Party. Adkins has taught for Bricolage Production Company, Pittsburgh Musical Theater and the Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theater, as well as other local institutions.

4. The MakeShop Show

From 2011 to 2014, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh released a series of DIY posts and videos from its on-site makerspace, Makeshop. Now is the perfect time to revisit the online resource hub! The projects are aimed at kids ages 6 to 10, and feature tips on how to build furniture out of rolled newspapers, transform old books into works of art and turn a T-shirt into a tote bag. The Children’s Museum and MuseumLab plan to add more content soon. Stay tuned! Stay active!

Update 3/19/20: Be sure to check out  Museum at Home on the Museum’s website which offers do it yourself and homemaker activities for children of all ages,  featuring educational hands-on projects based on heir favorite making activities. Most of the projects can be completed with items found in the home.

5. Revisit Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

It’s quite possible your kids are unfamiliar with Fred Rogers, America’s favorite neighbor. Filmed at WQED in Pittsburgh, his beloved children’s show aired from 1968 to 2001. You can watch full episodes for free on the program’s official website. It’s one way to turn a horrible situation into a beautiful day.

6. The Write Stuff

In addition to being Mister Rogers’ home base, WQED is an educational resource for parents, teachers and students. The station is sponsoring a Writers Contest until March 31. Authors in kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to submit their original stories, prose or poetry complete with drawings, collages and photos. Channel all of that pent-up energy into creativity..

7. Virtual Frick

Staying at home can still be an educational experience. Take a virtual tour of the Frick, complete with art-based activities for the kiddies!

8. Snapology LEGO building challenge

Each morning on it’s social media pages, Snapology will post a LEGO building challenge. Parents can share their child’s creation in the comments section and the one that receives the most online engagements by 8 a.m. the following day will be awarded a build kit. Every week, one random entry will be chosen to win a free online class. At the end of the challenge we will choose one overall winner who will receive a free week of Summer Camp at Snapology’s Pittsburgh location or a LEGO building set of similar value. So far, design challenges have ranged from a leprechaun trap to a spring scene. Get building, kids!

For other activities, read Things to do in Pittsburgh (when all the events are canceled).

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.