Pandemic Family Gathering Fun

Although I don’t recall the shows we watched the summer after my tenth birthday, the memory of gathering with neighbors at a drive-in theater makes me smile. While our moms shelled butterbeans beside the car, we kids fished icy bottles of orange soda out of a cooler to wash down the salty, butter-soaked popcorn. 

I recently enjoyed another drive-in experience. 

“Hurry, Honey, so we can sit––I mean park––on the front row,” I said to my husband as we visited a local church’s drive-in service. We stayed in the car (social distancing, you know) and listened to praise music and the sermon via FM radio. 

When we prepared to leave after the closing prayer, joy bounced around like kids on a trampoline as friends and strangers—adults and children—waved good-bye. Warm smiles from parking lot attendants spoke the final “Amen.” 

At the drive-in service, the familiarity of our regular spot in the worship center and squirmy children did not matter. Gathering with the family of God did. Christian fellowship refueled our joy in the middle of the pandemic. 

With park access, church activities, and summer programs prohibited or limited due the coronavirus, how can we engage children in wholesome activity and enjoy fellowship with other families?

A little creativity can add fun to summer days and help us stay connected. Our efforts will offer love and encouragement to those under our roof as well as others.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another.
·   Hebrews 10:24-25   ·


IDEAS for Family “Gathering” Fun 

Consider ideas that meet your community’s guidelines and your family’s health requirements. Enjoy activities as a family unit or with neighbors and friends. Why not print these suggestions and add your own?

› Bike parade

Encourage children to decorate their bikes and organize a bike parade on a safe street. Invite neighbors to wave or play patriotic music as the parade passes their house. 


› Sidewalk chalk art show 

Create sidewalk chalk art and write Bible verses at the end of the driveway. Designate a time for each family to draw part of a sidewalk mural.


› “Beach” read-a-thon

In a shady spot, spread out beach towels beside a kiddie pool. After water play, sit on the towels for a snack and story time. 


› Lawn concert 

If family members play a musical instrument, invite neighbors to a sunset lawn-chair concert. 


› Movie night

Enjoy popcorn and movie night inside. Or invite neighbors and project a movie onto a sheet stretched over a swing set frame. 


› Scripture art and memorization

Provide crayons and colored pencils for illustrating printed Bible verses. Glue the paper onto stiffer paper, tagboard, or light-weight cardboard. Cut the artwork into puzzle-shaped pieces. Children can recite the verse as they assemble the puzzle. Swap puzzles with others. 


› Cookout capers

Plan a family or neighborhood cookout. Help children create menus, decorations, and an after-dinner puppet show.


› Mail call

Provide materials for children to create artwork and messages for relatives and residents of care facilities. Mail them in decorated envelopes and pray for each recipient. 


› Virtual campout

Set up a campsite in the backyard. Roast marshmallows or make s’mores. Invite neighbors to do the same and use technology for shared stories around the fire. 


› Art swap

Encourage children to create art projects and write notes to place on neighbor’s porches. Invite neighbors to do the same.


› Science fun   

Find safe and simple science experiments to practice. Then share with another family via FaceTime or emailed videos and ask that family to conduct experiments the next week. Children can practice presentation skills while teaching others. 


› Widen the circle

Include grandparents or other adults who may be lonely by using technology to include them in family fun. Send photos by mail for those who don’t have electronic devices. 


Watching movies via the internet offers instant entertainment, but when I was young, sharing orange soda and popcorn with neighbors at the summer drive-in forged relationships and created happy memories. Drive-in church services, live-stream broadcasts viewed as a family, and opportunities to relax and laugh together offer opportunities to worship, fellowship, and create memories.

Family and neighborhood activities also allow us to teach biblical values to children and to share God’s love with others. In addition, we can foster peace in our corner of this troubled world by remembering, 

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.
·   Psalm 133:1   ·

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Pandemic Family Gathering Fun

  1. Wonderful ideas, Jeannie! Simple things, like campfires and movie nights, can mean so much–as long as we’re all together. My husband and oldest grandson recently painted an old wooden pallet to look like our American flag. They enjoyed the shared moments of messy work and then having something to proudly display. Two more grandchildren (ages 3 and 5) and I “wrote a book” last week 🙂 Their creativity was so much fun to watch as they dictated their tale of The Bear, The Dinosaur, and the Crash-Landing. Their “homework” from Grammy was to finish illustrating their “book.”
    I look forward to trying a few of your ideas this summer!

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  2. Jeannie, what great ideas to create lasting memories and a feeling of community with our family, friends, and others. Thank you for reminding us that it is in the smallest moments that we can create the most treasured memories.

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  3. Ms. Jeannie; I didn’t know they still have drive-ins in your neck of the woods in the 80s (when you were 10). 🙂 We don’t have drive-in church services during this time, but wish we did. On-line church enables us to hear God’s word, and worship; but the fellowship is missing. That’s honestly what I miss the most about our church family. I love many of these ideas. Am preparing to drop Netflix and select Pureflix instead here in our home (I mean we seldom watch TV anymore, so maybe at least we can see something wholesome). Perhaps movie night with my Ms. Diane is just the thing. Hoping this pandemic ends soon; probably after the election, so we can get back to fellowship time with those we love. God’s blessings ma’am.

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    1. J. D., It’s been a LONG time since I went to a drive-in theater. 🙂 We enjoyed our visit to a neighboring church’s drive-in service and we’ve been using Zoom for Sunday school and live streaming for worship from our church. Now we have limited seating available at our church with social distancing measures in place. Even with that, it’s great to gather together.

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  4. Jeannie, What wonderful ideas! These are fun for both children and adults. Another thought–children will need some help with this. Purchase a flat of lovely flowers (sometimes called bedding plants–there will be lots of young flowers in the tray, planted in individual cells). Will need some potting soil and larger pots. If you are like me, you perhaps have some pots with soil in them, leftover from a plant that died. Pull the weeds out of the reusable pot, stir up the soil (add more if needed) and transplant several of the smaller flowers into the pot. Give a good watering and in a few days, surprise a relative or neighbor with a lovely pot or hanging basket.

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  5. Hi Jeannie. I had to smile at your special drive-in memory. Took me back. It’s telling that you don’t recall the shows you watched, but you do recall the activities and the people around you.

    Wonderful ideas for family gathering fun. I have a feeling these type of activities will be the norm for a while. Not a bad thing at all.

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  6. Candyce, I agree these types of activities may be the norm for a while. As you said, that’s not bad. Enjoying fellowship with family members and friends builds strong relationships and allows children to learn to serve others. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. How fun. I was flooded with memories. I remember drive-ins from growing up in the 1950s and 60s. I attended the late Dr. Robert Schuller’s drive-in church in Garden Grove, California back in the 1970s. You give great suggestions for family fun.

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  8. Jeannie, you are a fountain of fun ideas and an inspiration to take action! My personal favorite is the bike parade. I remember when decorating my bike for the 4th of July parade was a big deal!

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