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Indoor Kids Activities: COVID + Smoke Edition

I’ve been reaching deep into my creative toolbox and the internet over the last 6 months for kids activities that keep everyone engaged and entertained. Pre-COVID, we did lots of trips to the zoo, various museums, playgrounds, play-spaces, story time, and more to keep things interesting. 2020 has brought on a unique new set of parenting challenges. I am juggling my 3rd pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) while dealing with a pandemic, the ongoing racial injustices, all while coming up with kids activities for a 4 yo and a 23 mo. Thanks 2020, it has been an adventure. Nonetheless, we had a good routine going the last 6 months.

But, alas 2020 wanted to keep the punches rolling. So here we are in the latest chapter of the 2020 apocalypse: the West Coast wildfires. As a result, the Bay Area has been dealing with smoke and bad air quality for the last month. Our family has been fortunate to not have been directly impacted by any evacuation orders, although we have our emergency bags packed just in case. (Thank you to all the firefighters out there risking their lives to contain the fires! If you’d like to help here’s a great list of organizations accepting donations.)

The last month I’ve been pulling out all the creativity and I’ll be sharing some of our favorite indoor kids activities with you here. First up: Mocha Mud.

Kids Activity 1: Mocha Mud

Mocha Mud is one of the many indoor kids activities I recently used to keep my 4 yo and 23 mo entertained. I can’t remember where I first read about Mocha Mud, but I made a mental note to try it. I knew this would be a hit because my kids love any sensory activity, mud, getting messy, and construction vehicles. My husband was making coffee one morning and I quickly grabbed his used coffee grounds to get this kids activity started.

The Mocha Mud Recipe:

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coffee grounds
1/2 cup tapioca flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup of water

I added everything into a bin and stirred it up–warning it smells delicious! If you find the consistency isn’t thick enough, you may need to add more tapioca flour/cornstarch. Alternatively, if it is too thick add an extra tablespoon of water to the mud to thin it out. I stirred everything in one of our smaller sensory bins and then divided the Mocha Mud into two bins so each of my kids could have there own. They are both usually good about sharing, but I knew giving them each their own sensory bin would minimize the overall mess. I added in some of our trusty construction vehicles and a small shovel so they could load up on mud. I had them wear their art smocks to minimize clean up.

This kept them both entertained for a good 30 minutes. This is definitely an activity you will want to supervise. If you have kids that want to taste everything, remind them this isn’t food. While this is technically safe to taste, even used coffee grounds have some residual caffeine in them. I don’t know about you, but my two toddlers definitely don’t need any extra energy! Clean up was pretty easy, I had a wet towel on hand to wipe their hands and then we all washed our hands in the sink.

I hope this activity brings you and your kid(s) some joy and is a small respite during these challenging times.