We asked TFK readers and Kid Reporters to write about the pandemic. In this third part of our series, you’ll hear from Victoria, in Pennsylvania; Sophia and Valentina, in New Jersey; and Sammy, in Illinois. These kids sure know how to keep busy! Hiking, baking, skateboarding, language-learning, gardening—the list of new skills and activities they tried goes on for miles.
TFK Kid Reporter Victoria Hanson, age 11
Chadds Ford Township, PennsylvaniaCourtesy Sophia Hanson
My last year has been full of yummy new treats. While at home during the pandemic, I developed a tasty new hobby—baking. It all started with a major project to bake a six-layer rainbow cake. The rainbow cake looked amazing! There unfortunately were “technical difficulties” with the purple. So it was just five layers.
As I got better at baking, I made bigger cakes. I taught myself to use a piping bag to decorate my cakes with flowers. I also learned how to make fondant for specialty designs, such as animal shapes. The two most important lessons for bakers are to follow the directions in the recipe and to clean up their workspaces.
This past year has earned me a fancy new title. My new name is Cake Boss.
Valentina Efendiev*, age 6
Jackson Township, New JerseyCourtesy Karen Henriquez
I got a purple skateboard. I also like to roller-skate, ride a scooter, and ride my bike on my driveway and in the park. And I like to paint and color. I am starting to paint a mermaid on canvas. It has so many details. I drew a paw print and a flamingo in my art class. My class was on the computer. Now it’s in a classroom. But hopefully, soon it can be in the art room.
In the winter, we had a snowball fight. I hit Daddy in the glasses! He was okay. I made a big snowman. And I did a chat with my friends and showed them my loose tooth. They said it was really cool.
I used to ride horses, but the place shut down because my horseback teacher’s mom got sick. I was sad because I couldn’t do gymnastics, swimming, or horseback riding anymore. Now I don’t know how to swim. And I want to learn how to do a cartwheel.
*As told to TIME for Kids in an interview
TFK Kid Reporter Sophia Hou, age 11
Short Hills, New Jersey
When the pandemic first started, I didn’t know much about COVID-19. I thought it would be over soon. But March 2021 marked the start of our second year of remote learning at my school. At the beginning of this school year, when I would usually expect to be meeting my teachers and working on group projects with my classmates, I found myself sitting alone at my desk in my room with a computer screen staring back at me.
I really miss seeing my school friends. But I meet with them virtually to stay connected. It’s not the same, but it’s still something.
On the bright side, this year has had some positives. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, and our dog is really enjoying all of us being home. I’ve started learning another language, French. And I picked up two new hobbies, photography and gardening. I’ve made it through the chaos of 2020, and I know the rest of 2021 will be better.
Sammy P. Smith, age 5
Urbana, IllinoisCourtesy PJ Holder
This past year has been very different for me. Daddy never went on any work trips. I homeschooled all year long. I only got to go into two stores. I read hundreds of books from the library. I went to lots of empty playgrounds. I went on lots of hikes in the woods. I’ve spent all year playing with my little brother. I got to go to a drive-through zoo and see a real camel! I barely got to play with any other kids outside of my family. I am looking forward to getting my vaccine so I can make new friends and go to stores with Mommy and Daddy.
In the second part of our series of pandemic essays from kids, you’ll hear from Mira, in Kansas; Isaiah, in North Carolina; and Maria, in Texas. These three kids found themselves feeling difficult emotions, from sadness to anxiety. But they…