Hello, friends! What a crazy world we’re living in right now. I pray you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. I suspect most of you, like our family, are home with kids out of school, employers asking people to work from home, and practicing “social distancing.” You’re probably looking for ways to keep your kids engaged or from saying “I’m bored” for the 1,000th time today.
Good news is, there are so many amazing companies coming together to share their resources for FREE during this difficult time. I started bookmarking them and sharing with friends, and now I’m sharing them with all of you!
The first thing I realized that needed to happen, for everyone’s sanity, was to create a schedule, just like they’d have in school. My 5th grader happily and excitedly helped me plan out our day! Since schools are closed and currently they’re not required to keep up with the curriculum, I’m more concerned about keeping them busy and engaged with age-appropriate activities. And I don’t want them to be on electronics all day long!
There are lots of things the kids can do to help out around the house. Mine already help feed our pets, empty the dishwasher, and put away their laundry. But we’re going to create a specific time every day for them to wipe down all the surfaces we touch frequently (door knobs, light switches, faucets, etc).
It’s also important to give them some fresh air and time to run around, even if they can’t play with friends.
Here is our schedule, which may change once we start living it!
But here is a blank schedule for you to print out and fill in with whatever works for your family. Just right click on the image and save to your computer.
So what are we going to fill those time blocks with? Well, let me tell you, the Internet has not let us down! So many businesses have stepped up to give free resources to kids and families during this coronavirus pandemic.
First of all, National Geographic Kids has a great article on what kids need to know about coronavirus if you’ve been anxious about what to tell your children. I also shared this article with them because it has some awesome visual simulations to show them the importance of flattening the curve. It helped them to understand why we’re doing what we are and making these sacrifices for the greater good.
Schoolclosures.org has some very helpful resources for people that rely on schools for more than just education. Go there to find out where to get food for your child, get psychological help, and also find some great resources to help them at home.
So here we go… since we can’t travel the world right now, let’s get started with…
Museums & Virtual Tours
Scroll through time at the British Museum of the World in London and uncover amazing artifacts. There are even audio clips to tell you about each one, so little ones don’t have to read.
Using Google Street View, you can virtually walk the iconic spiral staircase at the Guggenheim in NYC and discover incredible artwork.
Visit the Louvre with three different online tours, including Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and the Galerie d’Apollon.
Feel like you’re walking the halls of Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, thanks to Google Street View. See if you can find a Rembrandt!
If you’re a fan of Van Gogh, you must walk the halls of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It houses the largest collection of artwork by the ingenious painter, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters.
There are literally thousands of museums in Google’s Street View that you can walk through! Who knew! Go take a look and explore a new moment in time.
Even if we can’t go to China right now, you can still walk the Great Wall of China… virtually, at least!
Check out this Google Doc of so many virtual reality tours around the United States and the world! See animals, go back in time, even outer space! Every link leads to a 360° video (meaning that you can turn the point of view all the way around you) that can be viewed with any device. Here’s how to use the videos:
- Click on a place (or animal) that you want to see.
- If you can hold your device (i.e. a cell phone or a tablet), you can physically turn your body around any way you’d like to see the different views! This is the best way to view these (well, maybe except with Virtual Reality goggles)!
- If you have a touchscreen device, use your finger to swipe in any direction on the screen to move the point of view.
- If you do not have a touchscreen device, use the arrows on the gray circle at the top left corner of the screen OR use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the point of view.
- Have fun exploring! ?
Zoos, Aquariums & Farms
If animals are more your thing, the San Diego Zoo has eleven animal cams, so you can feel like you’re at the zoo, watching the penguins dive or the apes play. They also have fun activities and games!
Join the Cincinnati Zoo for a Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3pm where they will highlight one of their amazing animals and include an activity you can do from home.
Watch a live feeding as the keepers feed sea otters and penguins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Get up close with the pandas watching Zoo Atlanta‘s panda cam.
Giant pandas, elephants, lions and naked mole rat web cams at the National Zoo.
Take a live look at elephants, giraffe and even leaf cutter ants at the Houston Zoo’s six animal cams.
Go underwater at the Georgia Aquarium and watch colorful fish swim around the coral reef, plus beluga whales and jellies!
When you take a virtual field trip to a zoo, print out a free printable worksheet to have your kids dig a little deeper into the life of their favorite animal. There’s one for an aquarium, too! Then maybe watching Finding Nemo and see if they can identify some of the fish!
Discovery Education has some really cool virtual tour videos of the Polar Bears on the Tundra, Johnson Space Center in Houston, or get a behind-the-scenes look at a pharmaceutical lab where scientists are working to create medical breakthroughs.
Take one of eleven different 360 degree virtual farm tours of a Canadian farm and see cows, pigs, sheep and more.
Have your child create a time capsule for this crazy time we’re living in. Here are some printable pages to get you started.
Join Science Mom and Math Dad on a Facebook Live every weekday from 11-1 for Quarantime, featuring science and math lessons, crafts and games. You can support them as they support us by helping educate our kids, and find all their videos and printables on their website.
Keep kids thinking, reading and growing with Scholastic Learn From Home.
I loved Highlights as a kid. They have a lot of fun activities, jokes, games and crafts on their website like this DIY tabletop soccer. Listen to podcasts like the Worldwide Wave of Kindness and watch videos like How Maple Syrup Is Made.
Get your kids coding with this huge list of free classes, web tutorials and apps.
Download monthly writing prompts from Lakeshore Learning. This gives your child something every day to write about! And they don’t need a device!
Who doesn’t love Olaf?! Have Josh Gad, the famous snowman’s voice, read to your child. He is sharing these videos on his Twitter stream to give you at least a ten minute break at bedtime. I will try to keep up with posting all the books. So far he’s read:
- Olivia Goes to Venice
- The Day the Crayons Quit
- The Day the Crayons Came Home
- The Giving Tree
- Icky Peck Architect
- The Bear and the Piano
- The Remember Balloons
- The Rabbit Listened
- Happy Birthday To You
- Artemis Fowl
- Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems
Storyline has a whole bunch of famous people reading books! Check out Betty White reading Harry The Dirty Dog and search for books read by other favorite celebrities, like Oprah, Kristen Bell and James Earl Jones (he could read the phone book and I would listen for hours!)
The Atlantic White Shark Conservency will be hosting a Facebook Live shark story hour every day at 10 am, followed by a shark Q&A. They will share the videos to watch at a later time as well. Here is the first reading, Hark! A Shark!
Download the Libby app onto your kids’ (or your) device and you can borrow e-books and audio books from your local library! You just need to connect your account, but it is free!
Print out some book comprehension bookmarks to make sure your kids are getting the most out of their reading time.
Visit Seussville, where you can learn about your favorite Dr. Seuss characters and help Mr. Knox before he falls into the chewy, blue goo!
My youngest especially LOVES the Narwhal and Jelly books! And author Ben Clanton is doing a Facebook Live virtual author visit on his Facebook page. If you missed it live, you can still doodle along with him here and here. He also has some awesome coloring pages you can print out! If you watch the live videos, Ben likes to create what he calls Miximals, where he combines two (or more) animals to create a new animal. My boys have now created a game based on this fun idea! They like to name it, think about where the creature lives, what it eats, etc. It’s amazing and they want to do this all day long now!
Have Storytime in Space – read children’s books with astronauts!
One of my all-time favorite books is The Dot by Peter Reynolds, and he is going to be reading a book daily while in self-quarantine. Check out the videos on his Facebook page to follow along! Here is the video of his reading of his newest book, Be You.
We also love Oliver Jeffers books. He will be reading books daily because “we’re all home but not alone.” Go to his Instagram Live at 2 pm to read along (they also stay in stories for 24 hours). He’s also sharing to You Tube to watch later. So far he has read:
- How To Catch A Star
- Lost and Found
- The Incredible Book Eating Boy
- The Way Back Home
- The Great Paper Caper
Have books read aloud to your child with Bookflix.
In partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, many celebrities are reading stories on Instagram to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Your donation will help Save the Children and No Kid Hungry make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep brains and bellies full.
Stories help. They entertain. They teach. They keep young minds active, alert and engaged. For as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories for FREE on Audible, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on a computer, phone or tablet and require no log in.
Join McHarper Manor live on Facebook every weekday for a new online art class! Supply lists are posted in advance. Come make peg dolls or a galaxy!
Elementary art teacher, Kecia Mountz, has some fun step-by-step art projects for young kids on her Instagram page.
Grab a DIY bracelet kit and have fun creating your own jewelry from home. You can follow the sample pictures for inspiration or make up your own design!
Make is also hosting live art classes on their Facebook page. Click here to watch the video on drawing faces.
Monochromatic self-portraits, colorful villages and galleries of gratitude are just a few of the fun home-based art education classes from Cassie Stephens.
One of my favorite art resources as my kids have been growing up is Red Ted Art. Sponge paint some cute bunnies, create some fun corner bookmarks, or make one of these 79 crafts with all those toilet paper rolls! LOL!
I’ve loved The Kitchen Table Classroom for a long time, and the artist, Jodi, has over 60 free art printables to keep kids creating and learning about the elements of art, art vocabulary, artist biographies and more.
The Art for Kids Hub You Tube channel has wonderful videos to teach kids how to draw some of their favorite characters step by step.
Our family ADORES Mo Willems and all his wonderful characters, Pigeon, Elephant & Piggie, and Knuffle Bunny! During this Covid-19 pandemic, Mo is going to hold Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems (for free) in his home studio every weekday at 1 p.m. to draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing! You can also view the video anytime afterwards (you don’t have to join live). You can also print out this worksheet to draw your own pigeon!
Disney Animator, Michael Woodside, has set up a You Tube channel with his videos on how to draw your beloved Disney characters.
For The Whole Family
The Nurtured Nest is providing some awesome support resources for the whole family, including pantry organization and mental health strategies.
If you’re really feeling extra, you can even print these fun signs by Playful Paper and hang them around your home! The free printable pack also includes a daily lesson plan and classroom rules!
The kids are home, now what?! The Positively Dad podcast may be a great way to help us through!
Kids still bored?
And if your kids are still looking for something to do, here’s a list of 101 activities to keep you and your littles busy during the Covid-19 isolation!
Stay safe, friends!
I will continue to add to this list as I discover new and exciting resources. If you know of any others, feel free to leave them in the comments below!