FRANKS’ TAKE: Neighborhood kids are getting creative with their time

How are kids going to remember the coronavirus?

They are having to process a lot right now — parents worried about when they can return to work, listening in on family conversations about grandma and grandpa and how to safely check-in, or get them food for this week.

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But without school, extracurricular activities, organized sports or hangouts with their friends, I’ve seen lots of parents and neighborhoods get creative to give their kids something positive to look back on after we’re out of the trenches.

Vickie Pitrof lives in Dayton, but her sister-in-law who lives in Atlanta has been getting especially creative with a neighborhood game of I Spy.

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“We’re seeing so many families out walking lately, which of course, is a healthy and fun diversion for these days of isolation,” wrote Karen Campbell in an email to the Atlanta neighborhood group. “My daughter had a great thought and I want to spread the idea.”

“Here’s the plan — every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, let’s stick a picture of something on our front doors or a front window. When families are out walking, the kids can see how many of that day’s symbols they can ‘spy’ on houses as they walk by.”

Many Dayton-area Facebook groups have popped-up in various neighborhoods to collaborate on social-distancing friendly activities like this. For example, the Atlanta neighborhood group chose to make Saturday’s symbol a heart. On Tuesday, kids will be on the look-out for pictures of flowers in their neighbor’s windows.

“Bear Hunts” are also popular with families of younger children where they get to search for neighbors’ homes who have hidden a teddy bear in a window.

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Plenty of Dayton area families have posted to social media the fun ideas they are seeing as their own neighborhood kids make the most of their time at home.

A two-day “Chalk Your Walk” activity was organized on Friday and Saturday in the Stoney Ridge neighborhood in Dayton that left dozens of sidewalks and driveways covered in colorful, encouraging messages. Families can now head outside to take a walk and look for their neighbors’ messages.

Crafting homemade bird feeders to hang on neighbor’s trees and bringing out the old walkie-talkies were a couple other popular ideas posted to neighborhood social media pages. And Cate Tankersley’s daughter got outside Friday to do some push-ups after the cancellation of softball practice.

Although it might not feel like it right now, this coronavirus chapter will pass.

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Years into the future, I like to imagine a child who will look back at the fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic as a blurry background to happier, nostalgic memories they’re currently making while at home with family.

Sarah Franks is a Dayton Daily News reporter who will be writing a daily column on what people can do during the coronavirus outbreak. Have an idea or know someone who is doing something amazing? Email her at or on Twitter @sarfranks.

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