Revisiting Socially Distant Family Literacy

Revisiting Socially Distant Family Literacy

With all schools in Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah and Behchokǫ̀ closed and all children’s extra-curricular activities cancelled, families are thinking about the many days at home and how to pass the time together. As a parent at home with my three- and five-year-olds, I’ve been trying to think of activities we can do. I decided to revisit a blog post I wrote last year, hoping it helps other families. I would love to hear your ideas as well.

From March 17, 2020:

This time of social distancing is a great opportunity to do some special family literacy activities at home. My family took time this weekend to make a list of all of the things we would like to do together during this time. It was fun to do this as a family and hear all of the things that each person thought would be fun or important to do.

I have included some of my family’s ideas here, as well as others found online or from friends. Many of these activities can be done at home or outside, with few or no special materials. Please share your ideas, and we will also update this list as the school closure period continues. Please also follow our Family Literacy Pinterest Board.

Indoor ideas:

  • Science experiments: Our Science FunRecipes for Fun! and 25 More Recipes for Fun! resources all feature science experiments and activities you can do at home with common household items.
  • Cook together: Our Little ChefsEating and Learning, and Everyone in the Kitchen resources have yummy recipes, kitchen activities and books about food  you can read together. My daughter has requested that we make cupcakes and a snowman cake, so I found these two recipes online:
  • Tell stories: Take time to share your favourite stories with each other. This can also be a chance to go through your book collection to see if there are books you don’t read any more and refresh the ones on the top of the pile or most accessible on the bookshelf.  Bring pillows and blankets to one area or room to make a reading nook where you can all read together. Our Storymakers resource has ideas for story-telling tools and crafts you can make.
  • Clean together: This can be a great time to get some spring cleaning done, and you can make it fun as well as educational. Here are some ideas:
    • Pick a room for everyone to clean at the same time so you are all together.
    • Think about jobs that are age appropriate for each person.
    • Ensure any cleaners or tools being used are safe and kids are monitored with them.
    • If you are cleaning out kitchen cupboards or the fridge, talk about the foods that you have, including how to check best before dates and why some things are in the fridge instead of a cupboard. You can even make a game of creating recipes with things you take out.
    • When cleaning the bathroom, talk about hygiene and things we can do to keep ourselves from getting sick.
    • In each bedroom sort through clothes, taking out items that are too small or worn out. Children can practice folding and putting away their clothes. Children can pick special books they want in their room, as well as put up artwork that they’ve made that they are proud of.
  • Play!
    • Play board and card games. There are lots of fun trivia games online and so many different ways to use a deck of cards.
    • Do puzzles. You can even find ones online that you print and cut out.
    • Get creative and make crafts or blanket forts.
    • Kitchen sinks or bath tubs can become water tables for sensory play:
      • Fill them with water and add soap for bubbles if you want.
      • Then children can add objects to the water to play with them.
      • Add on to the play by asking children if they think different objects will sink or float, or what they think will happen if you add soap to the water.
      • Remember to have towels ready in case water is splashed!


Outdoor ideas (updated for the weather in May 2021):

  • Hiking: Research online or ask friends about new trails to explore, or visit ones your family enjoys. Children can help pack a bag of essentials such as water and snacks, first aid items, and extra clothes. You can collect items along the hike and make a nature collage when you get home.
  • Mud cooking: Use old kitchen utensils like measuring spoons or cups, recycled yogurt containers or anything else you’d like to “cook” with outside in the mud!
  • Have fun with sidewalk chalk.
  • Make a list of playgrounds and plan to visit all of them.
  • Create an obstacle course on your balcony or in your yard using items such as benches, chalk, rope and other items you already have.


- Katie Johnson, Family and Community Literacy Coordinator

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