Learning Activities for Child Care Programs

There are many ways support children’s health, well-being, and learning while following COVID-19 recommendations.

Click on the icons below to jump to that section.

Teaching Children about COVID-19 Health and Safety

All staff and families should be educated about the risk of outbreaks and the importance of maintaining safe practices, such as handwashing and mask-wearing in recommendation situations.

Children should receive age-appropriate education about COVID-19 risks. Children should also learn about best practices to avoid risk.

  • Teach children about handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing.


The CDC has resources for teaching children about handwashing that may be appropriate for your program.


Zero to Three has tips for talking to young children about wearing masks that may be helpful for you or families.

Supporting Children's Mental Health

COVID-19 may have affected children’s mental health. Children may feel worried or anxious, or they may miss family or friends. Learning activities can help. 

  • Model using your eyes, hand signals, and body gestures to express emotions. Encourage children to use their eyes, hand signals, and body gestures to express their emotions.
  • Offer exercises, yoga, or dance while practicing six feet of physical distancing for five minutes a day. Movement can soothe children who may feel overwhelmed and anxious.
  • Ask questions and encourage children to talk about how they feel.


Ask open-ended questions after story time to allow children to express their thoughts and feelings.

On June 25, the LA Child Care Response Team shared a presentation on navigating the new normal and supporting mental health after COVID-19. Find the recording and slides here.

Other Resources to Support Mental Health

Here are many resources that can help you help the children in your program with stress or anxiety they may be feeling.


COVID-19 guidance says that masks are required indoors for everyone in an early learning program, even people who are fully vaccinated.

Social distancing is not required when masks are worn. When masks are not worn indoors (while eating, drinking, and sleeping), six feet of social distancing is recommended.

Masks are not required when outdoors. However, three feet of social distancing between staff and children when outdoors is recommended. 

This section shares ideas for activities that can be done independently or in groups with social distancing. These ideas may continue to be helpful for you in thinking about indoor and outdoor learning activities in your program.

Making slime

Individual Activities

Individual activities can be done with children sitting at different tables or stations. Children can do the same activity at the same time, with individual containers of supplies. Or, children can do different activities, with supplies and toys being cleaned and sanitized in between children. Individualized activities may include:

  • Coloring
  • Painting
  • Putting together puzzles
  • Using building blocks
  • Crafts
  • Making play-doh or slime
  • Water and sand play
  • Any other toys or activities the children in your program like to do alone
Making slime

Group Activities

Group activities can be done 6 feet apart. Place children’s chairs, mats, or rugs six feet apart. Group activities may include:

  • Clapping games
  • Storytelling
  • Yoga
  • Singing, but only outdoors and wearing masks
  • Sprinklers for water play—have children take turns and keep six feet apart


Use the outdoors! The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much lower outdoors, and masks are not required. If masks are not worn, it is recommended that children stay 3 feet apart outside.


Provide individual containers for sand and water play for each child so that they can play 3 feet apart.

Best Practices
  • Distance children naturally, using the environment as your guide.
  • Use disposable household items (like q-tips and cotton balls for painting) and natural items from the environment (like stones, sticks, leaves) as materials, so that there is less to clean and sanitize.


Hold and cuddle children. Use your eyes and voice to express emotions. This is critical to working with infants and toddlers.


Help children express their feelings in words to foster their literacy development. Create a feeling board where children may add and move around their names.

Ideas for Your Program

Ideas for individuals | click on any photo to enlarge it.

Ideas for groups | click on any photo to enlarge it.

Related Links