Every weekday at 12pm we will post a Daily Diversion to help parents and kids find entertaining and enriching activities to do during this time off from school. Each day of the week will feature a different theme: Discover, Exercise, Solve, Experiment and Compete.
- Monday - DISCOVER Virtual museum/zoo tours
- Tuesday - EXERCISE Exercise/dance/yoga
- Wednesday - SOLVE Puzzles/solitaire games/creative
- Thursday - EXPERIMENT Home science experiments
- Friday - COMPETE Minute to win it games
If you have any suggestions for future Daily Diversions please contact us at email@example.com.
Mon. March 23 - Visit the Air & Space Museum
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is out of this world… the Google Arts & Culture app gives families awesome access to some of the world’s most beloved museums. Today we’re highlighting the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. There are currently 49 online exhibits available to view, including “Toys Inspired by the Space Shuttle” and “The Perplexing Problem of Designing Gloves for Space.” Each exhibit, which features high quality images or videos along with short descriptions, takes only a few minutes to scroll through. The Google Arts & Culture feature can be accessed by an iOS/Android app or it can be viewed on your computer by visiting: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/smithsonian-national-air-and-space-museum?hl=en
Mon March 30 - Union County Falcon Cam
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation takes you up, up and away… Did you know that there is a peregrine falcon nest atop the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth? According to Audubon, peregrine falcons nearly disappeared decades ago but have been reintroduced throughout North America and their populations are recovering. One of the world’s fastest birds, peregrine falcons are believed to be capable of speeds of about 200mph when hunting their prey. The female falcon who lives in the nest at the courthouse just recently started laying eggs so her and her partner are now taking turns incubating the eggs. Audubon says the eggs are typically incubated for about 32-35 days so in about a month you just might see those eggs hatching! The livestream is available free of charge on the County website, at www.ucnj.org/falcon. Don’t forget to check out the comments as other eagle-eyed viewers will help you understand what you’re seeing and let you know if you missed anything since the last time you checked the livestream. For more information about peregrine falcons, visit the Audubon website to read more: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/peregrine-falcon.
Tue. March 17 - At Home Dance Party
We’ve all seen the viral Tik-Tok dance videos and now is your chance to make your own! Standing Room Only Dance Studios on Jeanette Ave is encouraging the community to participate in a home dance party contest. Pick your favorite song, get the whole family together and get dancing! Submissions can be emailed to SRO at firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to Instagram tagging #srodanceparty #srostudios @srostudios. Don’t forget to tag @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj so we can see your creations too!
Tue. March 24 - Banana Banana Meatball
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation is definitely going to get stuck in your head… if you thought Baby Shark was catchy, wait until you hear Banana Banana Meatball! Created for the family fun site called GoNoodle, this song is all about encouraging kids to make their own song and dance based on repeating movement and word patterns. It’s not easy to describe in words but once you and your kids watch the video you’ll be chanting “make a pattern” all day long. Share your family’s “pattern” song and dance with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj so we can see your creation! To view the music video, click here: https://family.gonoodle.com/activities/banana-banana-meatball.
Tue. March 31 - Coach Mike’s Leg Exercise Circuit
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation, shared by Mike Firestone, will help you feel the burn… Mike is a physical education teacher and track coach at Linden High School. He also shares his expertise in strength and conditioning with local recreation departments to help student athletes get in shape. Mike recently ran a successful training program for the Union Recreation travel basketball teams to prepare them for their season. To help all of us stay active and occupied during our time at home, Mike recorded the attached video sharing his favorite leg exercise circuit. The exercises do not require any special equipment so all you need is your body and ten minutes! Here’s the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x636W3F6fo&feature=youtu.be
Wed. March 18 - Union Word Search
Everybody LOVES word searches and this Union school-themed puzzle will get you started. Making puzzles using an online generator is easy and fun -- have your child pick a theme and 10-12 words and the generator does all the work. This site allows you to complete your puzzle online but if you’re having trouble try this hack on your cell phone: zoom in on the puzzle so it takes up the full screen, take a screenshot of the puzzle then using your screenshot editing tool, use the highlighter pen to highlight the words as you find them. Puzzle link: https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/962960/
Wed. March 25 - Chain Reaction Machine
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation will create a chain reaction of fun… a so-called Rube Goldberg machine takes a very simple task (i.e. flipping the light switch) but purposefully turns it into a complicated chain reaction. The fun and the challenge is to create all of the steps that lead up to the final step. What can you come up with using your entire toy box? Key ingredients in your chain reaction machine might be dominoes, a golf ball, the toy train, dad’s tennis racket, building blocks and a teddy bear. Let your imagination run wild. This project is a great way for the entire family to work together because there are no wrong answers and everybody can contribute. Share your family’s chain reaction machine with us on Instagram at @twpunionnjrec and @twpunionnj! To give you some inspiration for the design of your machine, check out this video from the PBS Kids Design Squad: https://pbskids.org/designsquad/video/chain-reaction-machine/
Wed. Apr 1 - Online Jigsaw Puzzles
Today’s daily diversion from Union Recreation might be a little puzzling… have you and your kids already done every puzzle that you own twice? Have no fear, the Jigsaw Explorer website is here to help! Jigsaw Explorer is a free, ad-supported puzzle generator that is easy to use and customizable to your child’s skill level. The homepage has a number of featured images to puzzle over but there are plenty to explore by either using the search bar or the browse option (scroll down below the featured puzzles). When you start your puzzle you can change the difficulty by pressing the square icon to choose the number of pieces. As you slide pieces into the right place they make a satisfying click and then those two pieces stay together as you move them around the “table.” If you want to personalize your child’s puzzle experience, you can even create your own puzzle and share it with family and friends! Click here to get started: https://www.jigsawexplorer.com/.
Thur. March 19 - Homemade Bouncy Balls
You might have the ingredients at home right now to create your very own bouncy balls! This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to do it with common household ingredients like glue, borax powder, cornstarch, and food coloring. Today would have been the tip-off of March Madness so dye yours orange like a basketball! You could even use some things around the house to make a basketball hoop to shoot your bouncy ball at -- some cardboard for a backboard attached to a sturdy, round vessel like a mason jar or flower pot could do the trick! http://www.cometogetherkids.com/2011/06/make-your-own-bouncy-balls.html
Thur. March 26 - Blast Off!
This will help the afternoon “fly” by the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a huge selection of projects that can be created at home without much more than paper and typical household supplies. One of our favorites is the Straw Rocket Project. All you really need for this project is paper, a pencil, a straw, and some tape. If you have a printer at home, you can print the rocket body template but if you don’t you can still try making your own free-hand because it is a very simple design. Have everybody in the family create their own straw rocket and then see whose can fly the furthest. After the first test flight, tinker with your rocket’s design to see if you can get it to fly further the next time. To view the step-by-step instructions, click here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/make-a-straw-rocket/.
Thur. Apr 2 - Egg Drop Oops!
This will be an egg-cellent way to keep the whole family engaged for a few hours with Easter right around the corner, you probably have some extra eggs in the fridge. If you can spare a few, you should organize a family “egg drop” challenge. Instructions and suggestions for the “egg drop” STEM challenge are all over the internet but the best one we found is on a site called Buggy and Buddy: https://buggyandbuddy.com/stem-kids-egg-drop-project/. The site includes links to years’ worth of one family’s past egg drop design challenges to use as inspiration and also has a very helpful PDF sheet to help your child create their design. So what exactly is the “egg drop” challenge? Put simply, you need to use household items to protect an egg from cracking when dropped from a height. Encourage everybody in the family to participate and come up with their own design. When it comes time to test your egg-protecting contraption, we would suggest moving outside (to avoid a mess inside) and starting at a low height and building your way up. Kids should leave the heights to mom or dad, who could use a stepstool or ladder as they increase the drop height. The winner will be the designer whose egg survives a fall from the highest height.
Fri. March 20 - Cup Stack Race
So-called “minute to win it” games are popular online and are often easy to create at home with things laying around the house. If you have leftover plastic cups from the holidays or your Super Bowl party, you can put them to use in a number of cup stacking games. Today’s game was inspired by a video by the Outscord Party Games account on Instagram. Each participant starts with a stack of the same number of plastic cups -- start with ten and add more once you gauge how difficult the game will be for your kids. The cups all need to be the same color except for one, and that different colored cup starts at the bottom of the stack. (If you only have all one color cups, use a marker to clearly mark one cup.) Standing, with the stack of cups in their hands with the cup openings facing up, and the different color cup on the bottom, players need to race to complete a full revolution of their cups. The bottom one goes into the opening of the top cup, and so on. If somebody drops their stack they need to start with the different color cup on the bottom again. Once the different color cup is on the bottom again, that person wins! Each individual game won’t last long so create a round robin tournament where each member of the family matches up twice, record the standings and then have the two best face-off for the championship. Save those cups! You won’t want to drink out of the game cups once you’re finished but keep them for future games. Here’s the link to the Outscord video so you can see how the game is played live: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7lcaTsHkQo/.
Fri. March 27 - Use Your Noddle
Use your noodle… over the last two weeks many of us have stocked up on pantry goods like dried pasta and today’s minute to win it game will put some of that pasta to use for something other than dinner. The family fun website called Red Tricycle calls this game Noodling Around. Each player starts with one strand of spaghetti in their mouth and pieces of penne (or other small tube pasta) scattered around the table. The goal is to thread as many pieces of pasta onto the spaghetti as possible in one minute. The catch? No hands! Re-use the pieces of pasta so you don’t waste too many but each player should have their own piece of spaghetti. To see more of Red Tricycle’s games, click here:https://redtri.com/the-best-minute-to-win-it-games-for-kids/slide/8
Fri. Apr 3 - Coin Flip Fitness
This family-friendly exercise routine is called Coin Flip Fitness. There are ten rounds and each round calls for a specific exercise depending on the flip of a coin. Before you get started, read through the exercises and practice a few of each so that everybody, especially the little ones, know what to do when the exercise is called out. Each exerciser will need a few feet of space around them to make sure that nobody bumps into each other. Everybody can take turns being the coin-flipper to take a chance to rest. Don’t hesitate to mix-up the exercises and create a custom routine that suits your family, such as adding/subtracting exercises or repetitions. Click here for the coin flip routine.