Fifteen-year-old Clara Thompson was cast in a lead role in the musical Curtains in Pleasant Grove. Three days ago, the show was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

“It was sad to see her work so hard to prepare for something and then have it canceled. She was going to be so good in the role,” said Clara’s father, Jeff.

The family decided to do something about it. Clara assigned each character in the show to a family member. They gathered around her copy of the script. Together, they read and sang their way through the show as she performed her role. She received a standing ovation.

“It was really memorable. We love theater, but we’ve never done anything like that before. It was an activity we wouldn’t have done otherwise and I think we’ll always remember it,” Jeff said.

Our challenges differ as we adjust to COVID-19 social distancing recommendations. Single people are vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. Parents struggle to keep kids entertained. Healthcare workers are figuring out how to juggle their kids’ school closures with work. Many seniors in care facilities are unable to receive visitors.

Here are some suggestions for things to do by yourself or with family while maintaining social distance. Thanks to my friends on social media for all the great recommendations!

Get out of the house

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. There are plenty of things to do outside that allow you to maintain distance from others while not touching what others have touched.

“Going on a walk or hike is a great idea. Just treat the humans you encounter like the wild animals they are: don’t try to feed them, pet them, or take a selfie with them. Always stay at least 6 feet away from them,” said Dan Leslie.

Other ideas include bike rides, tennis or pickleball, gardening, jumping on the trampoline, flying a kite, and having a dance party in the yard. You can have kids grow their own vegetables. They can stargaze at night, using an app to identify constellations. Create a list of items for kids to cross off while on a scavenger hunt drive. Share successful ideas on social media to help other parents.

If you are itching for the outdoors but can’t get out of the house, check out virtual trails offered by National Parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Hawai’i Volcanoes.

Get in touch with your artistic side

Order some watercolors and pull up a Bob Ross video. Brush up on a musical instrument or write a poem. Get on YouTube and try something new — like cooking, drawing, or crocheting.

Want to stay cultured? Several music artists have replaced concerts with live streaming from home. You can watch many of these for free. There are an increasing number of artistic venues offering performances online, like the Metropolitan Opera. Google Arts and Culture has partnered with thousands of museums around the world to offer virtual tours including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre in Paris.

Sharpen your mind

Play your family’s favorite board games. If you are alone, try an app that lets you challenge friends remotely like Words with Friends. Do a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or use a memory game app like Lumosity. Read books, play with Legos, listen to podcasts, learn a new language, or a new skill like auto repair.

Want to turn your kids on to science? Search online to learn how to grow sugar crystals, use lemon juice to make invisible ink, make homemade ice cream in a bag, create a sundial out of a stick and some rocks, make a tornado in a bottle, or make a lava lamp out of water, vegetable oil and salt. For a friendly competition, have them build sailboats out of newspaper or tin cans and see whose can float the longest or furthest. Get online and let them take a virtual trip to Mars with NASA.

Be social in safe ways

We’re lucky to have platforms to stay connected, especially with high-risk populations. You can use Facebook Portal TV, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or other conference platforms to video chat with multiple people. Have grandkids create videos for their grandparents. Get on Zoom with your grandkids and virtually visit one of the many zoos and aquariums that are offering live viewing of animals. Get on Marco Polo and send family video updates. Create a book club and Zoom in for the discussion.

Get everything in order

Now could be a good time to complete a home project you’ve been putting off. Clean the garage and finish unpacking any unpacked boxes. Declutter. Backup your computer and organize your files. Scan and organize old photos from before digital cameras.

Relax and de-stress

How about that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to watch? There are also several stress management and meditation apps that offer free activities. Treat yourself to a bubble bath or some warm herbal tea to help you feel relaxed.


There are plenty of opportunities to serve right now. Pick up groceries for older, immunocompromised or sick family members and neighbors. Consider sharing some of your excess toilet paper with those who cannot find any. If you have health-related experience, there may be volunteer opportunities available with the local COVID-19 hotline.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to wash your hands, cough into your elbow, try not to touch your face, maintain distance from others, and self-quarantine if you have any symptoms — fever, dry cough or shortness of breath.

Dr. Sarah Hall is a professor of public and community health at Utah Valley University.