Lockdown is tough. And tougher for some. Right now, parents are telling us that they are missing the social connections that usually happen via schools. P&Cs often have a central role to play in enabling social interactions between parents and building community. But that obviously gets much trickier once all your usual events have been cancelled. So, if your P&C has the capacity (and we completely understand if you don’t!) and wants to reach out at this time, below are some ideas and links you might like to consider.
Lockdown has produced some incredible examples of online community activities - from pub quizzes to mass raves. On a more personal scale, people are having online dinner parties, breakfast with the grandkids, or a shared cuppa over zoom. P&Cs can certainly leverage any one of these ideas to build community and connectedness online.
Right now, the wellbeing of volunteers is also paramount, so keep that front of mind and don't overstretch yourself or your committee. Make sure the way you run any event, its planning and behind the scenes keeps everyone COVID-safe.
Online meeting platforms have become common place and most people are familiar with a range now, but make sure you choose something that will work for your community. They are central to many – but not all – of the activity ideas below. We know that many are feeling “zoomed out”!
A drink and a chat
There’s a lot of be said for keeping it simple and just opening up an online meeting room at a well-advertised time for people to chat. The right words can entice people to join in and break down any stand-off-ish-ness. It could be ‘Coffee and Connect’, ‘Whinge and Wine’ (for those needing to offload), a ‘Remote Wine(d) Down’ or an ‘Online Tea Party’. People may feel more comfortable with a little structure and you could pose a question or an idea of a something to bring in the invitation for the session. It could be as simple as ‘bring your stories of home learning’, but it will allow people to come along armed with a least one contribution.
An ice breaker activity, or quick game might be worth a try too – see below for ideas - or breaking into smaller sessions based on school years, or parent interests.
Zoom scavenger hunt
Here’s one that could get the family involved... and running around the house. The idea is to announce an item to be found in the house and ready – set – go – turn off your camera and hunt it down. When you return with the found item, turn on our camera, show the item and score some points (or a round of applause). Check out the details.
Virtual night out
Many zoos, museums and other cultural institutions are offering virtual tours at the moment, and sometimes for groups (for example, see here).
If a paid event is something you’d consider, there are even virtual escape rooms you can book (I'll leave you to Google that one yourself!).
A well-crafted competition that taps into what people may be doing during lockdown can build a bit of community buzz and momentum over time. It might be for photography, lego building, cooking, colouring, rock-decorating, bread baking... let your imagination run wild! Encourage people to take the most colourful neighbourhood snap, or to recreate a local landmark with lego. Then share all the entries on Facebook, by email or some other communal means. You could add some prizes from local businesses, or some small gifts funded by the P&C, or a celebrity judge (even your principal) for a bit more hype.
Sharing a skill
Online learning can work brilliantly, and needn’t be professionally run or formal. It could be as simple as people in your community sharing a skill – a new dinner idea, cocktail making, terrarium building, or a garden walk-through. You could run a cooking class by sharing an easy recipe ahead of time, which uses simple ingredients people are likely to have at home then connecting over Zoom or Meets and cooking together under the guidance of someone who knows!
There are also scores of paid providers who would run a class for your community to participate in together, with materials sent in kits prior to the event (eg here)
So lockdown with kids can be frantic. Parents might appreciate sharing a mindful moment together once the day is over. There are a number of mindfulness or breathing Apps that you could use to guide a mindfulness session, or there is bound to be someone in the community with some years of personal practice that they could share.
Virtual games night
The possibilities here are endless - from professionally hosted virtual trivia nights to quirky online activities, or classic board games that got virtual makeovers. Adding something physical and shared can add that extra dimension – such as sending snacks, or a recipe, or a dress-up element to participants for the night. It could be a whole games night, with all the trimmings and a fancy dress theme, or just a little bit of fun to add to an online get together or meeting.
There’s a pile of game ideas that work for groups of people over zoom, plus mobile/online versions of Scattergories, Cluedo, Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity. Playingcards.io also has games like Checkers, Go Fish and the US version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire is also online.
Our extended family loves to meet online and play Gartic Phone - a drawing game where hilarious mistakes can result by passing a hand-draw picture or its description from player to player. And charades also works over Zoom.
We’ve also gathered couple of online ‘ice breaker’ ideas to start off your online event or meeting with some chatter and a laugh.
Write and show
Describe your day – or week – or how you are feeling now in a couple of words and write them on a sign to hold up for everyone to see. Or perhaps it could be a headline that reflects your mood.
“I have two dogs.” “I love gardening” “I speak two languages at home.” These are the kinds of personal statements participants share during a game of That’s Me.
Everyone starts with their cameras turned off. Then, one person comes on camera and shares a statement about themselves like, “I have a sister.” Anyone else who also had a sister turns on their camera and says “That’s me!” Then, everyone turns their cameras back off and the next person makes a statement about themselves.
There are more like these here.
There are more COVID-safe event ideas here.
Online contented created for members, September 2021.