These programs are a fun, free and enriching way for kids to spend time while sheltering at home.
- Posted on Mar 31, 2020
Thanks to Covid-19, school is out for the foreseeable future. Parents everywhere are learning to homeschool their own children, often on top of regular jobs. This can be exhausting, demoralizing and at times, just plain difficult. After a few hours teaching her 6-year-old and 8-year-old at home, showrunner Shonda Rhimes tweeted “Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”
Between trying to teach fractions, squeeze in a work call, or struggling to keep the peace between siblings, parents could use some help. Luckily, the internet has plenty of simple, educational activities to keep your kids entertained and learning. Here are a few of our favorites:
What do you do if your kids have too much energy and nowhere to go? Send them to P.E.
YouTube Fitness Instructor Joe Wicks live streams child-friendly workouts every weekday morning from his London home. Complete with a warmup, workout and cool down, these livestreams last 30 minutes and are popular with schools all over the world. “I'm going to get your kids moving, fit and energized, positive and optimistic," Wicks wrote in an Instagram post. His workouts help kids (and parents!) start the day off right.
If your kids love animals, there are lots of ways to learn about them without leaving the house. Zookeepers across the United States are live streaming hippos, penguins, pandas and more. In California, The Monterey Bay Aquarium posts regular streams of jellyfish and sharks set to background music, as well as Facebook Live videos with staff members answering questions from viewers about fish, otters, and other creatures. Weekdays at 11 a.m., the Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania offers “Zoo School” from Facebook Live, where Educators introduce viewers to Animal Ambassadors like Pokey the porcupine. The Smithsonian National Zoo also hosts a 24 hour live stream of Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, the giant pandas. And that’s just to name a few!
Any future astronauts will enjoy roving around a digital 3D replica of the surface of Mars, compiled from photographs from the Curiosity rover by scientists at NASA. Learn about the Curiosity mission by clicking highlighted points of interest, or just move from point to point to explore terrain. The 3D model was originally used by NASA geologists to study ancient Mars, but now it’s a fun, interactive way to take a break being stuck at home.
For Fans of Frozen, what’s better than falling asleep to the voice of your favorite, friendly snowman, Olaf? Since March 13, Josh Gad, better known as the voice of Olaf, has been reading books like The Giving Tree to kids through his Twitter account. “I’ll try to provide at least 10 minutes of daycare to you and your families a night while we’re going through this unprecedented global event,” Gad said. “I love you all.” Parents, if you can make it to seven o’clock, Gad has you covered.
Need something with a bit more structure? Scholastic is offering free online courses to fill the gaps of regular school. The Scholastic Learn at Home program offers three hours of learning per day for up to four weeks.
The program offers instruction in English language arts, STEM, science, social studies and social-emotional learning. “Our hope is that even though daily routines are being disrupted and students may not have valuable time in school with their educators, together we can support meaningful learning at home while it is necessary,” said Lauren Tarshis, senior vice president and editor-in-chief/publisher of Scholastic Classroom Magazines in a press release. The program requires no sign up, and is accessible on all devices.