During the last six months or so, my family and I have enjoyed a slower pace of life. With few museums and parks open, we’ve stayed safer at home together or going on outdoor excursions. My young children are pretty good at creating their imaginary worlds where they could play for hours. I think they are adapting to this new normal better than I am to tell you the truth. However, there will be weekends when we have all run out of ideas. Luckily, Opensource.com is chock full of boredom-busters for kids of all ages. In this article, I rounded up a few of our more recent open source activities for kids.
Create coloring book pages with Jupyter
My toddler uses crayons, markers, pencils, or any other writing utensil available on every sheet of paper in the house. Being surrounded by original artwork is fabulous, but he is running out of coloring page designs! With Jupyter, you can have an endless supply of coloring sheets at the ready for kids. Browse Creative Commons for images and use the magic of Python and Jupyter to turn them into one-of-a-kind coloring pages.
Go to an open source scavenger hunt
When I was a kid, my brother and I each had a massive map of the United States on our bedroom wall. Each time we visited a new state, we highlighted it on our map. Since he is a few years older than me, I was continually playing catch-up, but eventually we evened the tally. This early exposure cultivated a lifelong interest in maps for both of us. These days, we can access and contribute to maps right from the palm of our hands with OpenStreetMap. The StreetComplete mobile app makes it possible to find and complete quests the whole family can enjoy together. Go on a scavenger hunt while helping out your community!
Build a video game to learn Python
Seasoned educators know that the best way to teach a new subject is to turn it into a game. Author Moshe Zadka is one of those educators. He designed a Jupyter Notebook to teach people Python by making an interactive game. With Python and Git installed on your computer, you and your child can follow the steps in his tutorial. By the end, you will be having so much fun playing a penguin video game!
[Read next: Programmable tanks and Raspberry Pi: Try these kid tech projects]
Experiment with open source robotics
Last fall, author Jess Weichler shared a list of her favorite maker gifts for kids and teens. It featured Hummingbird, an open source robotics kit ideal for kids ages eight and up. Since it supports several popular programming languages, kids can have fun practicing their coding skills. Hummingbird is compatible with Linux, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, and iOS.
Play with virtual LEGOs
Have you ever stepped on a rogue LEGO brick? It’s a pain one never forgets. I love watching my daughter build cars, ice cream stands, and castles with her LEGO bricks. Our household’s cardinal rule is to keep LEGO bricks off the floor. This is easier said than done! Playing with virtual LEGOs is a much safer route to take. Seth Kenlon’s tutorial walks LEGO lovers through using open source tools to build and play with virtual bricks.
How have you been keeping yourself and the young people around you entertained? Share your ideas in the comments.