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These viral photos show what reopening school looks like in other countries
@lioneltop

In a world where touch is dangerous and friends can't hug, what will reopening school in America look like?

That is the question on many parents' minds these days. In many states school will be out for the rest of the year, but we could be looking at a new kind of classroom come September.


Here's how schools in other countries are reintroducing kids to classrooms:


China 

In China, children have been back at school for months now and teachers helped the youngest kids with the transition by creating hats and costumes to help the little ones learn what 6 feet apart looks and feels like.

Balloon hats, like those shown above, were popular tools as were costumes with long wings, which are fun and also help kids learn to keep their distance from pals. See more here from Buzzfeed.

France

After preschool recently restarted in France, journalist Lionel Top tweeted photos of classes in Tourcoing, France. The pictures show children separated, playing alone in chalk squares.

"There was this sadness," Top told TODAY Parents, but he says that was mostly on the part of the adults. The children were happy.

"They laughed and played together but from far away," Top explained."The pupils did not see it like a punishment."

West Vancouver

In British Columbia, Canada, a number of schools remained open over the spring and summer to serve the children of essential workers, providing childcare and education from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to allow first responders to fight COVID-19 in the community.

Sandra-Lynn Shortall, director of instruction for West Vancouver School District, tells the Vancouver Sun that the kids (who previously went to different schools and did not know each other) "were instantly able to connect and play, build friendships and spread joy in this strange new reality."

The kids wash their hands often and play with each other from a safe distance. They're respecting the rules their teachers put in place to keep them safe.

"It's been absolute magic," said Shortall, who does miss seeing kids and teachers be able to connect without distancing themselves. "The hugs, the high-fives, the human touch," she says. "We all still want that and we have to catch ourselves when we get too close."

Quebec

In Quebec, Canada, primary schools outside of Montreal reopened in May after sitting empty for two months.

As CBC News reports, "Play structures are still off limits in the schoolyards and kids are expected to follow markings on the sidewalks and floors to ensure they are keeping a safe distance from each other."

Rebecca Hamel, a Grade 5 student in Quebec City, told CBC many of her classmates did not come back, and only eight kids were present in her grade. Teachers are making sure the kids play at a distance from each other, similar to the French system. "Outside, it was separated into four parts," she said. "We were in different parts."

Finland

Kids in Finland just went back to school on May 14 after eight weeks of lockdown. Teachers unions protested the move but so far, kids and parents are enjoying it.

"It's nice to go back to school and nice to see friends," primary student Lilli Lindgren told Yle. Lilli's mom, Raisa Lindgren, was also happy to see Lilli and her brothers return to school after 2 months of distance learning.

"In the beginning there was a bit of confusion but children and teachers quickly learned to use different communication tools. But it is also nice that the kids get back to school and catch up with daily routines," says Lindgren.

Denmark 

Denmark was the first country in Europe to reopen elementary schools and is making it work by enforcing hourly handwashing schedules and social distancing. Staff say the kids are keeping safety in mind most of the time.

"Most of them are pretty good with it and mindful of space. But they do forget," Dom Maher, head of the international section of St Josef's school in Roskilde, on the Danish island of Zealand tells the BBC.

[A version of this post was originally published May 14, 2020.]

12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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