guides

Tucson Isolation Survival Guide: Local Boredom Busters

Tucson small businesses are stepping up to entertain and educate us during social distancing

By East Tucson Macaroni Kid March 20, 2020

As some local businesses start to open their doors, others are still evaluating the best ways to bring the public back for visits, and still others have shifted their business models for long-term virtual classes and curbside interaction. At the time of this update (May 22, 2020), the information about many of our favorite local venues for families is changing daily. The local boredom-busters ideas below reflect some of the continued on-line offerings. We recommend you check with each venue before making plans for at-home fun or for venturing out. 

In the meantime, you might also consider participating in these surveys from Reid Park Zoo and the International Wildlife Museum to provide your input about reopening to the public. If we learn of any other surveys from local family organizations, we will share those as well.

If you know of a virtual event or other innovative local boredom buster, please submit the information here or contact me at kindler@macaronikid.com.

Updated 5/22/20

Several local organizations are offering live-streaming classes, video tutorials, grab & go art kits, and more. 

  • Art With Jenny K offers daily art tutorial videos on her Facebook Page, and you can find even more remote art-learning opportunity suggestions on her blog: http://www.jennyknappenberger.com/remote-learning-activities/
  • Creative Juice is continuing to offer Facebook live and Zoom painting classes for children and adults. You can use your own materials or order supplies to pick up curbside (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-6 PM). Log onto their Facebook page to see a schedule of upcoming virtual classes.
  • Color Me Mine (Park Place Mall) is OPEN, but continues to offer online ordering and curbside pick-up or delivery of supplies so you can paint at home. Shipping available anywhere in Arizona. Click HERE for more information, or go right to the page with fun and educational kits to order HERE
  • Ing's Facepainting has FREE coloring pages you can download and enjoy.
  • MOCA Tucson has FREE digital programs to promote creativity and connection, including a flip book, still life activity, and more. 
  • More to the Story Entertainment is offering several virtual options, including art lessons with a character, virtual storytimes, and a pen pal program with a character of your child's choice! Visit their Facebook Page for more details. 
  • The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures has a series of "How To" Tutorials for making miniatures, from little fairy doors to tiny crescent rolls. Click HERE to take a look. They've also provided some instructions for doing Kids Create projects at home. Scroll down to the bottom of the Kids Create page, HERE
  • This n' That Creative Studio is offering free delivery or shipping of to-go art supplies. String art, sewing projects, personalized t-shirt that kids can color, materials to do your own acrylic pour project, and kits for at-home paint storytime are among some of the great projects This n' That is offering. Call 520-849-7770 or message This n' That on Facebook to order your kit.
  • Tucson Clay Co-Op is offering virtual classes for adults and to-go kits with clay projects for the whole family. Learn more HERE

Cancellations of gatherings for children's birthday parties don't mean that there can't be fun celebrations! Here are some ways to make stay-at-home birthdays special, or check out what these local businesses have to offer in the way of activities to celebrate your birthday kiddo!

  • A Whole New World of Parties is offering Facetime/Skype visits with their magical characters. Your little ones can enjoy a story, songs, and fun conversation with the character of their choice, all from the comfort of your own home! Message them on Facebook or Instagram for details. 
  • Mildred & Dildred is offering on-line shopping with curbside pickup or free delivery in Tucson for purchases over $30, so that you can purchase a special birthday gift from a local business. Visit their online store HERE
  • Sign Gypsies Northern Tucson creates personalized, colorful yard signs for all kinds of special occasions. They come to you and do all of the setup and pick up. Other than the amazing sign in your yard, you'll never know they were there! Click HERE for more information and to order your sign today!
  • In addition to these opportunities, any of the art-making ideas listed above could help make your child's at-home birthday more special.

It's always important to stay active and healthy, especially during a time as stressful as the present. Whether you stay inside to workout or hit the trails, take care of yourselves!

  • Algorhythm Fitness is offering FREE live virtual stroller classes and Baby and Me fitness classes for voluntary donations. Check their Facebook page or the East Tucson Macaroni Kid event calendar for dates and times. 
  • YMCA of Southern Arizona offers virtual wellness classes and challenges using Facebook Live, Zoom, and the Y App. Learn more HERE
  • Most local trails are open, and walking, running, hiking, skipping, cartwheeling, and throwing (your own) ball around in the fresh air and sunshine are still recommended activities. Just be sure to maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone not in your immediate family. 

  • Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona is offering Girl Scouts of all ages a "virtual camp" experience, with new programs added every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for girls to create art, explore coding, explore outside, and more. Girls can earn badges and patches with these activities. Click HERE for more information. 
  • Mildred & Dildred has Isolation Survival Kits for kids of all ages. Toys, games, and books that will help keep your littles entertained. You can order online and pick up curbside (delivery may be available). 
  • Playformance is keeping Tucson kids moving and having fun by offering Zoom classes, "Games at Home" videos on YouTube , and fun ideas on their Facebook page
  • Tucson Village Farm has boredom buster ideas on their Facebook page and a healthy habits video series on their YouTube Channel. 

There are dozens (or more!) of storytimes popping up all over the place, read by everyone from actors to astronauts. The storytimes below are hosted by Tucson locals so that your children can see and hear some of their favorite, familiar friends and characters read their favorite stories. Additional virtual learning opportunities from local organizations are also included.

  • Arizona Public Media (local PBS/NPR stations) has a wide variety of learning resources that are aligned to educational standards. standards. Explore videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more for students pre-K through high school. 
  • A Whole New World of Parties is posting character storytimes on their Facebook page as often as they can. Previous stories are available in their newsfeed. 
  • Camp Cooper Online is a FREE online portal to environmental learning made fun and new. Camp Cooper Online is for children ages preschool through 5th grade, brought to you by the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning. Sign up HERE to receive a free weekly e-mail activity guide, starting Monday, June 8. 
  • Children's Museum Tucson is offering virtual storytimes on their Facebook page, also. 
  • Local literacy organization Make Way for Books puts on daily storytimes (during the weekdays) and has an App that provides book suggestions and activities for children from birth to age 5. Download from the App Store or Google Play.
  • Mildred & Dildred is doing virtual storytimes on their Instagram and Facebook pages. 
  • Pima County Public Library is now opened for limited services only, but their website continues to have a wealth of information and activities. You can access digital materials, find links to suggestions for virtual learning, and find other fun things to do online with your library card. Visit the library website at https://www.library.pima.gov/ and start exploring!
  • Reid Park Zoo's Zoo to You Online Classroom holds new virtual classes each Thursday at 11 AM and 2 PM. Registration is required for the free, live classes on Zoom, or you can view previous classes on the zoo website. 
  • UA Bookstore Storytime has posted their Paddington Storytime on their YouTube channel with a scavenger hunt activity and links to a corresponding craft. 
  • Circus Academy Tucson is offering online classes. Learn more HERE
  • Drama Kids Tucson will be offering virtual AND in-person summer camp options. Check out the Drama Kids Tucson Facebook page for more information.
  • Fox Tucson Theatre has offered some wonderful virtual events for kids and families over the course of the quarantine, and they have more events planned. Visit the Fox Theatre website or Facebook page for more information about upcoming programs.
  • Kindermusik at Musical Steps is offering Virtual music classes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Be sure to follow their Facebook page to find out about free demo classes and upcoming session schedules. 
  • Live Theatre Workshop is hosting Facebook Watch Parties for some of their classic children's shows. Watch the show "with" the cast and crew of these fun shows! Virtual classes for kids in kindergarten through high school start the week of April 14. 
  • Mr. Nature always comes through for Tucson kids! He will be hosts Story Jams on Tuesdays at 10:00 AM and Interactive Music Hour on Fridays at 10 AM, both on Instagram Live! Follow Mr. Nature's Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.
  • Unscrewed Theater is still putting on shows to make you laugh! Join their virtual House Parties on Saturday evenings for family-friendly comedy entertainment and Improv Drop-In Classes for improvisers at all levels. You can also visit their YouTube channel for a laugh. 

Live streaming cameras allow us to visit our animal friends without leaving the house!

  • The Desert Museum has new virtual "Discover the Desert" online classes weekdays at 10:00 AM, with topics like Animal Yoga, Reptile-o-Rama, The Science of Glow, and many more! Learn more and register HERE
  • International Wildlife Museum is posting Wildlife to Go Videos on their YouTube channel and posting fun facts and resources on their Facebook page
  • Reid Park Zoo has live streaming video of the elephants, giraffes, grizzlies, lemurs, and lions. Click HERE to visit your animal friends!
  • Tucson Audobon Society has live webcams to view hummingbirds and screech owls. Click HERE to check them out!
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens has a live webcam in the Butterfly Pavilion. Experience Butterfly Magic at home! Click HERE to watch. 


If you know of a local Tucson virtual event or distance entertainment/education opportunity please submit the event HERE or email kindler@macaronikid.com.

If you take advantage of any of these amazing local boredom buster options, please pass on the local love, and let them know you heard about them from Macaroni Kid!