Published on November 24, 2020

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With the holidays and winter break looming, already-overwhelmed parents are likely concerned about how to occupy their kids for what will no doubt feel like an endless amount of time. Sure, there’s no substitute for getting outside and having fun IRL, but with the way the world is at the moment—and cold weather on the horizon—screen time is often the only (and also, let’s just admit, easiest) option we’ve got. 

Contrary to the idea that all screen time is bad, we’re looking to bring some interactive fun to going online—while sneaking in a dose of learning, too. With home Internet from Verizon Fios, the 100 percent fiber-optic network, an array of meaningful, hands-on projects will be at your fingertips. Fios has an unmatched capacity to keep the entire family online, and can handle all the streaming, gaming, and socializing everyone—parents, kids, teens—throws its way. 

“I don’t think we really know where all this screen time is taking us quite yet,” says Amy Blessing, who runs the modern needlepoint company Loop Canvas with her sister Sarah. “Everyone always told me to get my nose out of a book and go outside. Can you imagine someone telling you to stop reading now?” she says, laughing. “Now we’re telling our kids to get off the computer. But we can use screens to help kids connect.” And what better way to learn a new skill than to look it up on the Internet?

Beyond knitting, the Blessing sisters (and a third partner, former editor Sari Lehrer) are in the process of developing and launching the Noodle, a content platform and community “for makers by makers” that will help kids get into activities like baking, cooking, crafting, and flower arranging.

“The onslaught of stuff that comes with kids’ crafting is intense,” jokes Sarah. “I personally don’t want my house to look like a craft attack, but I still want to promote my kids doing it and want them to love making.” Amy adds: “Our goal with the Noodle is to have your child do and try new things, whether it becomes their passion or not. We want it to be a place where you can give your kid the computer and say, ‘Spend as much time on it as you want.’” The Noodle will feature kid-friendly demos and tutorials so that are easy to follow along but also make sense for how our lives look now.

Until the Noodle launches next year (how to wait!), here is a list of hands-on activities for kids that can make good use of their screen time in the meantime. 

Cooking

Weelicious’s Catherine McCord, a mom of three, knows how to teach kids about healthy and delicious homemade food. Her quick-fire videos (a favorite of Amy’s 9-year-old daughter) are both manageable and easy to understand. Children will enjoy making grocery lists and rewatching for instructions before tackling the recipes—ranging from coconut chia breakfast pudding to grilled pizza roll-up bites—themselves.

Baking

When it comes to kids’ baking, there isn’t a more child-approved authority than YouTube star Rosanna Pansino. Her cheerful demeanor, proficiency in kid culture, and knack for cracking goofy jokes make even the simplest of recipes feel like a fun undertaking. With 463 recipes to choose from, you’ll be thankful for Verizon Fios’s unmatched capacity to handle all that extra bandwidth; its mix-and-match plans also ensure that you’re only paying for what you need.

Art

Rope the kids into checking things off your holiday gift list by making presents for friends and family members. The Tate Museum’s kids site has a host of art-based activities, like an hour-long tutorial on how to make a collage, that are accompanied by iconic examples from the greats of 20th-century art.

Decorating

Put your kids’ craftiness to work by having them create festive decorations for your home. With Fios’s YouTube TV partnership, which allows families to create six individual accounts and stream on three different devices (at the same time!), kids can watch cherished resource Art for Kids Hub and follow different prompts, like how to make wreaths from colorful paper and how to fold three-dimensional pumpkins. Add glitter for some extra sparkle.