Witnesses to History

We are all witnesses to history. Few of us have ever experienced the things we are going through now, and hopefully we’ll never have to again. Masks, social distancing, sheltering-in-place, closed stores, restaurants, parks, playgrounds, and schools. Lots of people getting sick. Many dying. Quarantine. Every person is affected in some way.

I’ve met with many students around the country and spoken about the power of writing, how it can help you in school, get jobs, and right wrongs. I shared how writing can help you figure things out (“How do I know what I think until I see what I say.”). But there’s even more. Writing can help us stay connected with other people, and it also can help us heal.

I’m offering this forum for you to share your thoughts, your hopes, fears, and dreams. What is your life like during this time? What’s the hardest part? What’s going well? What do you hate? What do you wish?

No requirements here. I invite you to share a word, a sentence, paragraph or more. Just press the Comment button and add your words. As always, I encourage you to read over your words before pressing Post Comment. Make sure they are what you want to say and how you want to communicate. You can add your age and/or your location if you’d like. You can also make comments about what others have written. Just press the Reply button.

**Note to adults: While this post is primarily targeted to kids, I invite you to add your words as well. What a great opportunity to model writing to the kids in your life!


  1. Taryn Szymanski says:

    Here’s a New Jersey point of view for you.
    During this time of crisis in the world, staying inside is the best answer. Though staying inside is crucial, it’s still good to go out just to enjoy the fresh air. I love going on bike rides, walks, and working in the garden. I’m experimenting with baking and cooking and I realized how much I enjoy it. This time may be boring to some people but I think it’s giving people a chance to explore interests and what they like. I didn’t realize how much I like going on bike rides so much until all of this started. Staying home helped me realize how lucky I am to live in Pitman (which is a really small town). I never really thought about the fact that not everyone can just go out after school and walk to friends houses or to shops. Having that taken away from me because of all this really sucks. The hardest part about being home is thinking about what I could be doing instead of being here. I could be out with friends, getting ice cream, going to school dances, and so much more. Just thinking about it makes me sad. On the other hand, I’m learning to focus better. In my opinion, having school online is a lot better than going to school. I can work at my own pace and don’t have to wait 46 minutes until I can move on to another class. I’m less distracted while home. In class I feel bored like it’s never going to end, but with school online I can take breaks and relax while working. I do miss seeing my favorite teachers and my friends, but at least I don’t have to deal with annoying people lol. Though I enjoy being home all the time, I really want this to be over. I want to be able to go out with a huge group of friends and have fun. Even if this “quarantine” goes on for a lot longer, I just hope we are allowed to have bigger gatherings so I can see my friends.

    Taryn (7th grade)

    • areswhy says:

      I appreciate your insights, Taryn. It’s interesting what you say about focusing. It seems like online learning could be more of an efficient use of time for learning, but I’ve read that the overall success rate for those taking online courses is quite poor. For people like you, though, it would probably be fine. I wonder if this pandemic will permanently change the nature of schooling. Stay tuned!

      p.s. Bikes rock!

      • Scott says:

        After she wrote this, we talked about that focusing part. She said she can focus better at home because she’s not surrounded by people. She likes being able to sit in her room and focus on one thing at a time, take a break, and come back to do more work. I get it.
        In my case, I’m not so sure. I always wanted to work from home – hated the commute, the annoyances of a “cubicle farm” at the office. But now I’m starting to think I was able to focus on my work better at the office. I find too many distractions in my house. Go figure!

        • areswhy says:

          Interesting, Scott. I guess we can file this under “The grass is not always greener.” Working at home takes a whole new perspective. You have to ignore the dust and dirty windows and the dishes and the broken screen and the weeds and the dog barking next door and the… It’s indeed, a challenge. Good luck with it!

  2. Angel says:

    Hi Robert it’s Angel your second cousin! Life as been out the norm being quarantined. Still keeping up my academics. Finding things to do around the house since now school is online and no interaction with classmates. Have taken drives to see the Sakura which was beautiful. Have been watching TV on my new state of the art system which has been nice! Waiting to get out more to do tennis which I miss. Hope you all are staying healthy and safe! Take Care and cannot wait time for your visit so I can hear more of your adventures!

    • areswhy says:

      Hi Angel! Great to hear from you. Glad things are going well in PA. Where you you going to view the Sakura? DC? I didn’t know what it was so I had to look it up. Haha! Maybe you can share more about that, and its meaning. Are you studying Japanese? You need to visit when things calm down. How is Alyah doing? What are things like being quarantined? Most of the people commenting here are from Oregon. It’s nice to get another perspective.

  3. Raelynn says:

    I am also am out of my house in the front yard and the backyard and did some gardening with my mom and I played with my brother on my bike.

  4. Ellie T. says:

    I really enjoy having the extra time to play outside, read, and paint. I really miss my friends though. Me and my friend, Aurora sometimes play video games together, and I also text Bella, but it is not the same as being in the same room.

  5. Raelynn says:

    I like Ballet because of the dancing and art work of the dancing and during this time I have a zoom meeting with my ballet teacher Ms.Broke.

  6. Jessica says:

    It’s actually interesting.

  7. Clayton says:

    It’s kind of fun being in quarantine! The only thing that I don’t like doing is homework. I have been mowing in the pasture, pressure washing, playing baseball at my house,and playing basketball with my cousins. Tomorrow my cousins and my cousins friend are coming to my house to bat in my batting cage.

  8. areswhy says:

    Have fun with your cousins! And your homework!! : )

  9. Raelynn says:

    I am a ballet dancer and I love it.

  10. june says:

    It’s hard, but with a family like mine I will survive.

  11. Adelyn says:

    I wish quarantine never happened. I don’t get to see friends. On my birthday, I can’t invite friends which is sad, and the best part is having friends. At least I still have presents. Our family planned a trip to Hawaii in June, and we might not be able to go. I really want to go snorkeling because I would be able to see tropical fish and maybe a sea turtle. I hope not to see a shark.

    But I do like sleeping in and staying up late, so I can read graphic novels.

    Are you planning on making a graphic novel?

    • areswhy says:

      Yes, it’s tough now Adelyn. I’m glad you are healthy, though. You have the rest of your life to get to Hawaii. And yes, the animals will still be there!
      I have written a graphic novel. It’s about a man who gets hired to hunt down a wolf that “cannot be captured or killed.” I am currently sending it out to publishers.

    • Ava says:

      Adelyn, sorry about your birthday changes, my birthday is in June also! I think that you are finding the best things about quarantine … SLEEPING IN, YES; and STAYING UP LATE to read your favorite books!!!! I like practicing Spanish ❤️

    • Ellie T. says:

      I had to miss out on having friends over on my birthday too. I might have like a redo birthday party with my friends when quarantine is over. Are you planning on doing anything like that?

      • Adelyn says:

        I am sorry you had to miss out on friends. Yes, we are going to have friends over to celebrate once quarantine is over.

  12. Blake Bender says:

    Hi Robert
    I have been writing songs and have been doing homework. I have also, been drawing and playing outside when it is nice out. I have been doing Baseball at home since my season has been cancelled. I have been building LEGOS, a Hello Neighbor House and will do more once my cousin comes to visit.

  13. Mason says:

    In times like this, it is hard to adjust to quarantine. Sometimes we are so used to our daily lives we are too busy to do relaxing and healthy things. While social distancing, you should take the chance to spend time with family, play a board game or watch a movie together, also you can use this time to take maybe needed time to your self, relax yourself. You could make this quarantine into a fun time to yourself or with family!

  14. Lucea Price says:

    How To Survive Quarantine

    As events and school are being postponed and even canceled, many people are trying to find ways to keep themselves and their children occupied for the time being. Today I will be sharing 10 ideas with you about keeping busy and always having things to do that do not involve the internet. Give some of these a try and get creative!

    Number One: I have found that putting together a puzzle is very entertaining and pleasant. Plus there are so many different pictures to choose from! If you’re looking for something small that kids might find a little easier, Melissa and Doug puzzles are a great option. If you are older though and you are looking for a little more of a challenge, you may find that Jigsaw Planet is a better fit for you!

    Number Two: Lately, one of my favorite things to do is coloring. I see it as being a very calming experience. Try to find out which colors go well with one another! You can just get comfortable and let the creative juices flow! Some good coloring book brands for adults are the “Adult Coloring Book” and for children “Little Bee Books” is a great option.

    Number Three: Also along the lines of creativity are baking and cooking. Whether it’s out of a cookbook or out of your head, your family will love the adventure of taste testing, and if that’s not fun enough you can have the people in your family act as food critics and tell you what they think! If you are looking to make something quick and easy as well as yummy, I think I have just the thing for you!

    Peanut Snacks!
    2 cups almonds or peanuts (no need to crush up)
    ½ cup almond or regular flour
    1 cup oats
    ½ tsp. Salt
    ¼ cup almond or peanut butter
    ½ cup coconut oil
    ⅓ cup – ½ cup honey
    2 tsp. Vanilla

    Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Then pour mixture into a 9⨉11” pan. Freeze for half an hour and store in the fridge. Enjoy!

    Number Five: When it comes to art, not much can beat tye dye! If you can’t go buy clothes at a store, at least you can color your own! There are many different designs from the classic swirl to a more intermediate design such as the water drop. All you need is a white tee-shirt as well as some dye!

    Number Six: Dominoes are also fun and there are many different ways to play. Chicken Foot, Mexican Train or Tiddly Wink are great games, or maybe just try lining them up in a row and watching them fall. Whichever way you want to play is sure to be a good time! You can even get special dominoes that have certain pictures on the back. They recently came out with some Frozen 2 dominoes for the kids!

    Number Seven: How ‘bout a fort! Turn your house into a fort mania! You can use blankets, bed sheets, chairs and tables to get creative with your hideout! Maybe even add in some christmas lights, glow sticks or a lantern! Even just setting up a tent or tipi may inspire some creativity.

    Number Eight: Mad Libs are great for expanding your vocabulary because you will need some good words to fill in the blanks. It’s a great way of learning while still having fun! There are even some printable ones for you to make. Click here to print off some fun mad libs: http://www.madlibs.com/printables/

    Number Nine: Board games are a great choice when bored. Here are a few of my family’s favorites: Ticket to Ride, Dix It, Clue, Aggravation and Hillarium. Card games can also be both fun and entertaining. If you are the only one around or no one in your house wants to play, solitaire is a great option. See if you can win a game all by yourself! You may even want to start a collection of decks of cards! They come with fun pictures too and you can often find some at state parks in their gift shops!

    Number Ten: Make an obstacle course! Stay active while quarantined by putting together an obstacle course around the house. Will it involve jumping over things or maybe some pushups? Get creative! You can involve bikes or skateboards as well as stilts or heelys!

    That’s all of my ideas and I hope you give them a try! With all of this time on your hands, it shouldn’t be too hard!

  15. In the midst of all of this disarray of my days, my weeks, my spring… I am finding joy. Feeling blessed to reconnect with my students as I reconnect with the beauty that is the Oregon spring. Grateful for gardens and chickens and ducks and rabbits and the hope they bring. Next week is the start of distance learning, and although nothing can replace the fall-on-the-floor laughter when we are together, I am imagining some incredible virtual author’s chairs and epic digital dance parties in our future. Children are resilient, and I am too.

    • areswhy says:

      Awesome, Tiffany! I’m sure you will make the best of the situation, and I hope to see some of your students’ words right here. Great modeling!

  16. Robert Young says:

    “Sheltering-in-place” is not a huge deal for me. I spend a lot of time at home, playing with thoughts, wrestling with words. My usual routine, however, is to balance that with outings and travel, meeting with family and friends, exploring the world. I miss those things. It’s hard not visiting my 97-year-old mom, who is locked-down in an assisted living home. We visit by phone and on opposite sides of her window, but it’s not the same as being in the same room. I’m glad, though, that she’s in a place that is taking this dangerous virus seriously. And serious it is, as you can clearly see by watching the news and learning how many people around the world are suffering.
    Lowell, Oregon

Leave a Reply to areswhy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.