In The Age of Coronavirus, How Do Hawaiʻi’s Families Entertain Keiki At Home?

Social distancing. Dance parties. Yard workouts. Gaming with grandma. Here's how kids stay entertained while parents stay sane.


Photo: Getty Images

As schools across Hawaiʻi extend spring break—or move to distance learning to stop the spread of COVID-19 disease—families are finding creative ways to amuse their kids at home.  

We asked parents to share their ideas for in-home entertainment. We’d love to hear from you, too!

Please send us your tips, personal thoughts and funny stories, videos and photos to info@honolulufamily.com or tag us @honolulufamily on Instagram and Facebook.


Beth Blaney, freelance writer; mom of two children ages, 10 and 13 years


Photo: Courtesy of Beth Blaney

“My 13-year-old girl found a free app called “Workout Women.” She follows along and does the exercises when she’s bored. She also likes to dance in her room. It can get a little noisy when she’s jumping around to her favorite music, but she needs to burn off the energy. 

My 10-year-old daughter recently became interested in ballet, so we found some YouTube videos, such as ‘Miss Auti’ and ‘How to do Pirouettes For Beginners,’ that offer basic instructions.

Uno is always a family favorite when we need to set the reset button in our house.”

Kerri Mokulehua, advertising executive; mom of two children, ages 11 and 14

“The other day, I let them screen-time-it-up since it was day one of spring break and gloomy. But I will crack down on them and make sure they read at least two current-events articles per day and report back to me (they can choose via web or newspaper). 

I’ll have them take walks around the block, and exercise in the yard using fitness apps. Some drawing and painting each day, plus a diary of their ‘Spring Break 2020 Corona Lockdown’ to look back on. And cooking! I’m having them make something each day!”

Maggie Hong, freelance writer; mom of three children, ages 6, 10 and 14 years 


Photo: Courtesy of Maggie Hong

Maggie Hong and two of her three kids after a day of spearfishing.

“My 14-year-old convinced me to take him and my girls to snorkel and spearfish. We didn’t catch anything, and the trek was so muddy from the rain, but it felt so good to be in the ocean, and there was no one there but us. 

I have also been very intentional on crafting with my girls: we looked up easy craft ideas online and made a mini Easter basket out of craft sticks and molded clay animals on painted rocks. I also have plans to get them to write daily journal entries to keep up with their writing, learn and practice cursive, speak more Chinese, bake bread and make cookies together, and lots of deep-cleaning and home projects.

Another upside to this new normal is we get to do some things as a family for which we don’t usually have enough time.”

Andrea Pickard, expecting baby No. 2 in June; mom of one child, age 3


Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Pickard

“We usually have a portion of our day dedicated to schoolwork. We use the Mother Goose Time Curriculum and Montessori-based learning activities. 

For our free time, my son loves to be hands-on, so we do coloring, painting, sticker play, building Legos and tracks, and play a lot of board and card games! 

He also loves to help, so my husband and I always try to include him when we do things around the apartment. It makes things just a tad big longer, but we like that it keeps him off the screen when we can’t be totally present. 

Now that we haven’t been able to do a lot of outdoor activities, it helps that we still have an area in our building where we can take him to scooter or ride his bike. We still allow him screen time out of the day, but all of this has helped to keep it at a minimum! Creativity and having a designated space for messy play goes a long way!”

Stacey Makiya, senior fashion editor; mom of one child, age 14

“I am raising a moody teen, so during this time it’s important to give each other space—or, it won’t be a pandemic that takes us down, it’ll be each other. With that said, I’m giving her more screen time to FaceTime with friends and cousins, and watch Netflix. 

I am researching some fun crafts we can do together with things we find around the house: DIY hanging clipboard art, headphone covers and scrunchies. Same with cooking or baking, whatever we find in the freezer, pantry and fridge, will be turned into a culinary concoction like soups, pastas or everything-but-the-kitchen-sink desserts. 

We will take walks and go for runs around the neighborhood early in the morning or at night when there’s less street traffic—the fresh air and endorphins work magic. AND, if she’s still bored and her continual sighing makes me want to slap the **** out of her, we have a stash of board games, puzzles and cards (even hanafuda). 

BUT, the most important thing that I can do is let the little things go. If she doesn’t wash her dish right away, it’s OK. If she wants to eat an unhealthy meal, so be it. If she makes a mess in the kitchen or her room when doing a cooking lesson or craft, embrace the moments, not the messes.”

Kathlyn Clore, freelance writer; mom of two children, ages 3 and 6 years


Photo: Courtesy of Kathlyn Clore

“Caterpillars! My 6-year-old loves “rescuing” them from the Crown Flower tree near our house. We got a used fish tank off Facebook Marketplace and have converted it to a caterpillar house. On the first day of spring break, we released the last butterfly from our last round of caterpillars, cleaned out the tank and added eight new caterpillars. She watches them play on the items we put in the tank, draws pictures of them and writes about them. Those bugs buy me an hour of calm a day.

We always have a lot of art supplies on hand—I think COVID-19 is going to push our glitter glue stock to the max. We have a secondhand ‘art table’ where they can make a mess (we have an outdoor rug under the art table).

When they get really bored, I dump our box of scrap materials on the floor and leave the mess for hours, or sometimes days, to allow them to make whatever they want. I keep hoping they’ll make something amazing. Mostly, they just make confetti and a mess. But they’re happy.”

Laura Dornbush, contributing editor; mom of one child, age 3


Photo: Courtesy of Laura Dornbush

“Living in a condo, I’m trying to wear my toddler out for nap time by doing yoga videos, dance parties (Baby Shark every day on repeat) and pouncing on pillow forts we build on our king-size bed. 

Since we have family on the Mainland who are cooped-up in their condos too, we try to keep each other company with FaceTime calls, funny meme texts and emails. 

My son, Duke, likes to build LEGO cars and robots to show his grandparents and aunts and uncles. Yesterday, he played a Mystery Box game with his grandmother over FaceTime where she had to guess what toy he had hidden in a box based on the three clues he gave her.” 

Suzanne Sasaki, yoga instructor and freelance writer; mom of three children, ages 10, 14 and 17

“For active indoor family fun, turn your living room into a dance floor with video games like Just Dance (available on Wii, PlayStation, and Xbox). Or secretly learn the “Renegade” and dare your kids to make a TikTok video with you!  

“My youngest is still having playdates with two of his closest friends, as long as our respective family members remain healthy and without symptoms. This, of course, is subject to change.  I try not to plan for the teens; we take it day-by-day. The hardest shift for them has been the suspension of sports—practices, games, etc.—so we do our best to stay active.

Cathy Cruz-George, managing editor; mom of one child, age 10


Photo: Courtesy of Cathy Cruz-George

“Our family dog, Gizmo, entertains our daughter at home. (For the record, husband and I are at home, too. We don’t outsource childcare to the dog.) She plays hide-and-seek with Gizmo in our condo and dresses him up in doggy clothes she crafted from construction paper. They take daily naps together. It’s so sweet to watch our two kids caught up in their own little universe.”