Libraries may be closed due to COVID-19, but many librarians are coming up with creative ideas to keep people entertained and promote literacy. One of those creative ideas is free virtual escape rooms. With a variety of themes, some may be fun to do on your own, others as activities with the kids.
Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA created this Hogwarts Virtual Escape Room. She shared this tutorial on how to create your own virtual escape room, which seemed to spark the creativity of many other librarians.
Some amazing librarians all over the country have been busy creating virtual escape rooms with a variety of themes.
- Alice in Wonderland Digital Escape Room – Created by Erin Honeycutt, Children’s Librarian at Moultrie-Colquitt County Library System in Moultrie, Georgia
- Cinderella’s Escape – Created by Stefanie Reed, Youth Services Supervisor at Henika District Library in Wayland, Michigan
- Dog Man Digital Escape Room – Created by a humble School Library Media Coordinator
- Escape from Star Killer Base! (Star Wars) – Created by Richmond Hill Public Library
- Escape the Fairy Tale: Part 1 – Created by Marissa Lieberman, Children’s Librarian at the East Orange Public Library, New Jersey
- Golden Girls Escape Room – Created by Tomeka.
- Hogwarts Virtual Escape Room – Created by Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania
- Marvel’s Avengers: Escape from the Hydra Base! – Created by Richmond Hill Public Library
- North Carolina Escape Room – Created by Shannon Grimes, Outreach Storyteller and Youth Service Assistant at the Davie County Public Library in Mocksville, North Carolina
- Pete the Cat and the Birthday Party Mystery – Created by the Abington Free Library in Abington, Pennsylvania
- Pikachu’s Rescue – Created by High River Library
- Sherlock Holmes Digital Escape Room – Created by Sherlock the Musical
- Space Explorer Training- Digital Escape Room – Created by Morgan Lockard, Adult/Teen Services Librarian at Campbell County Community Library
- Spy Apprentice Adventure – Created by Lauren Rura and Felicia Brock, Adult Service Librarians at Washington-Centerville Public Library in Centerville, Ohio
- The Minotaur’s Labyrinth Escape Room – Created by Karen Liu (Salt Lake County), Teen Librarian at The County Library’s Riverton Branch
Special thanks to the Humboldt County Library in Winnemucca, Nevada for gathering info on many of these escape rooms. Follow them on Facebook for their storytimes and weekly Facebook Live Science Time on Fridays.
Reading, playing, and doing art projects are always great ways to entertain children and keep them physically active and learning. It’s a good idea to limit screen time. But, in this time of social distancing, technology can play an important role in allowing kids to see and connect with the world outside of their homes. Many online resources are popping up to create those opportunities.
Here are five to get you started:
And if kids have questions about the coronavirus, Live Science has created an ultimate kids’ guide to the new coronavirus that has lots of information and is appropriate for school-aged kids.
It is good to offer kids a balance of independent play time and play where you are actively engaging with them. You can make toys they may be bored with, feel new and exciting, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Try some of the ideas below as a starting point.
- Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes in your language.
- Using English and/or your language play games where you are ordering food like in a restaurant. Take turns with who will be the waiter and who is the customer.
- Come up with silly food combinations. For example: Who wants pickles on their slice of cake?
- Play a guessing game where the children have to figure out what food you are talking about. For example: I grow under the ground in the dirt. People eat me fried, mashed and baked. What am I? (a potato)
- Play a game with setting the table using your language to ask for the different items (plate, spoon, etc.)
- Ask the children to divide the foods up into the different food groups (vegetables, meat, dairy, etc.)
Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys
- Divide up all of the blocks between the people playing, by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
- Suggest specific things to build (robots, houses, mountains etc.) and build together.
- Challenge everyone to use all of their blocks.
- Sort the blocks by color or shape and make patterns with them (red, blue, red, blue or square, triangle, rectangle.) You can create a pattern and ask the child to fill in what comes next to continue the pattern.
- Make the tallest block tower you can and let them knock it down (over and over again, if like most kids, they like destroying things.)
Mr. Potato Head
- Teach your host children the names of the different parts in your language and play a game asking them to put on the body parts by name.
- Play Hide and Seek with Mr. Potato Head. Have the children cover their eyes and count, while you hide Mr. Potato Head, then they go looking for him. Switch things up by letting them hide Mr. Potato Head and then you are the one to locate him.
- Play the same game above, but using Simon Says. Simon Says is a game where the leader gives commands by saying “Simon says” first. For example, “Simon says, put on the nose.” The players are only to follow the commands when the leader says “Simon says.” If the leader doesn’t say “Simon says” first and just says, “put on the nose,” and the player follows the command, they are out of the game. Repeat the game multiple times, so all kids get a turn to be the leader at least once.
Photos: Lisa Maxwell (top) & Tom Smalls (bottom)