Boston winters are long. They are really long, really cold, and really isolating. And then comes spring, which often brings rainy days, extreme wind, and continued time indoors. Factor in the closure of so many typical indoor activities, this may be the longest New England winter/spring since the Blizzard of ’76!
But there are some amazing virtual activities to help pass the time. Here are my top five picks!
See a show
Puppet Showplace Theater is a small theater in Brookline that has not been open for in-person shows since COVID began. However, they have run some amazing virtual experiences! You can also book a virtual birthday party featuring some of the organization’s most entertaining performers. In addition to running their own shows, their website directs visitors to the traveling performers’ sites to watch their streaming shows. It is a one-stop-shop for all things puppet show. Shows vary, but they’re generally great for children aged 2 to 7.
Meet some animals
Many zoos are holding virtual opportunities to see the animals up close. We attended a few over the December school break with Zoo New England and were really impressed with the event. You can ask questions of the zookeepers as they show off the animals and enjoy trivia questions and a lot of fun facts about the featured animal. And, because the world is virtual now, you can check out zoos all over the country — even all over the world! The Bronx Zoo has some great virtual content. The Toronto Zoo has a live panda camera to watch. Check out a favorite zoo, near or far, to pass the time from your living room.
If you are looking for hands-on virtual activities, or to get a little messy, consider an art experience. Essem Art Studio in Charlestown will get your youngest artist in the mood to create. Sophia Moon is an accomplished artist, as well as a mom. There are various classes and experiences for children of any age. If you are looking for functional art, check out a local ceramics studio. Ceramica in Stoneham does painting kits to take home. You are given the piece to paint, plus all the paints and brushes needed. You bring home the art, create it, then drop it back off to fire. They also offer some online instruction for pieces. These activities may wake the inner artist, so have plenty of extra paper and easy-clean paints to paint the day away!
Visit a museum
Although visiting a local museum is still a bit difficult, there are ways to virtually join the fun. Boston Children’s Museum has some fun at-home ideas that are sent out weekly in a newsletter. They have great “offline” activities to complete at home. Art museums, like the Peabody Essex Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts, offer virtual visits to take in the sights. If you are looking for something more structured, the Museum of Science has daily livestreams on their “MOS at Home” site.
Did your daughter play soccer every fall until 2020? Did your son love to work on his dance moves until his studio closed! Maybe your children practiced karate three times a week before the dojo was shut down? That’s about how things were in my house during the pandemic. Reach out to local studios, dojos, and sports organizations to see what they offer virtually. Many of these businesses have added virtual options for their students and are welcoming new students. You can also check out their social media accounts to find out about upcoming virtual opportunities.
When you find yourself cooped up in the house and the entire family is yearning for something to keep you all occupied, remember the small businesses and nonprofits that can benefit from your boredom. Many are pushing a lot of virtual activities in order to both retain customers and keep the lights on. In addition to keeping you entertained, you are supporting these places that we will need more than ever once we are in a “post-pandemic” world.