What are some online resources for stay at-home learners?
With schools and many daycare providers around the country closed due to social distancing to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak, parents and educators are turning to virtual ways to connect and keep kids learning. Many educators are navigating this unchartered territory for the first time and tapping into their well-used digital resources to keep their students engaged, while parents are also seeking new educational activities and content to keep their kids busy as they work from home.
The Genius of Play website (www.thegenuisofplay.org), a trusted resource that many parents know and turn to, is full of play ideas and activities to help aid kids' development. The site just compiled a list of other online educational resources that are sure to help during these uncertain times. Many of them were recently created to help kids learn and feel connected during a time when they aren't able to physically connect in the ways they are used to with friends, teachers, and extended family members.
Use the links below to easily navigate to a category that meets your children’s interests.
- Explaining COVID-19 to Kids
- Free Games/Play Activities
- For Animal Lovers
- Art on the Move
- Get Moving
- Take a Virtual Tour
- STEM Learning
- Additional Virtual Learning Resources
Explaining COVID-19 to Kids:
- Little Medical School
The site and social media platforms are full of online classes and ways for kids to learn more about the coronavirus in a way that makes sense for them.
- Sesame Street
Its “Caring for Each Other” initiative offers new, original Sesame Street content to entertain, educate, and comfort kids, parents, and caregivers. Content features the show’s Muppets sharing messages of love and kindness, activities, and virtual playdates.
Its new, 5-minute video explains the virus, the disease, and what families can do to make things better. All told by a friendly PLAYMOBIL robot named Robert, the video also explains why schools and daycares are closed and emphasize why it’s of paramount importance that kids avoid contact with other kids.
Free Games/Play Activities:
- Mattel Playroom
Mattel launched its free online Mattel Playroom to encourage families to #KeepPlaying while adapting to life at home. The platform features play-from-home information for parents and caregivers and activities and content for kids based on its portfolio of brands, including Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, American Girl, and Thomas & Friends.
- Club Eimmie
For a limited time, Orange Onion’s Club Eimmie is opening its members-only club to everyone and offering free content, including scavenger hunts, recipes, coloring pages, DIY crafts, puzzles, and more.
Encouraging families to stay #athomewithravensburger, the company is sharing free tips, materials, and ideas for kids AND parents to help destress, get creative, and feel inspired.
Because we all need superpowers to be our best selves, IAmElemental is offering a free downloadable version of their Elements of Power workbook with over 75 pages of coloring, word games, and other creative activities.
- Fat Brain Toys
Twice a week, Fat Brain Toys will be supplying creative ideas to keep kids productive... active... learning... mindful... challenged... or just equipped with activities for families to enjoy together.
- Babble Dabble Do
As a member of the Babble Dabble Do community, you’ll connect with your children and nurture their creative process through magical, easy projects you can do TOGETHER, inspiring everyone at the creative table.
- MGA Entertainment
Every day at 1 p.m. (Eastern) on L.O.L. Surprise!’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, MGA Entertainment will be posting #BBsBoredomBusters, which will include playful activities such as challenges, trivia questions, activity sheets, and more.
Arckit offers free downloadable building images for kids and adults to color, whether you’re looking to relax and/or de-stress.
- The Chicago Toys & Games (CHITAG) Group
CHITAG is inviting kids to enter its Young Inventor Challenge. Using its free resources, which includes a Design Guide, kids can learn how to create their own toy and game ideas from start to finish and then enter the contest! There are also fun videos and articles kids can watch to get inspired.
Visit Bring Home the Fun to explore family-focused resources from Hasbro that include tips and tricks for family playtime, activity challenges to keep kids occupied, ideas for using games and toys to educate and activate kids’ brains, and ways to cope with the emotional stress we’re all feeling right now.
- Hooray Heroes
Hooray Heroes released 10 different personalized coloring books and printables. And even better, they’re FREE!
- Go! Go! Sports Girls
Go! Go! Sports Girls offers its Kindle books on Amazon for $.99. On the company’s website, there are also free coloring pages and music. Kids are also encouraged to share their favorite athlete or sport.
Schleich’s newly launched Fun at Home website features creative games and free play activities for families.
- Dr. Seuss
Seussville.com offers a section of free print-out coloring sheets, Dr. Seuss-inspired recipes, games, and more.
For Animal Lovers:
Many zoos and nature centers already serve as great places to learn about some of the kids’ favorite creatures. Now, more are offering virtual classrooms and taking kids behind the scenes at the zoo with their animal webcams. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Tune in weekdays on Facebook Live at 11 a.m. (Eastern) as the zoo’s biologists and again at 1 p.m. (Eastern) as the park’s naturalists search for signs of spring, discover wildlife, and more.
- San Diego Zoo
Kids can watch webcams of their favorite animals, while fun and interactive lesson plans featuring zookeepers are also available.
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Home Safari
Featuring daily home safaris on Facebook Live at 3 p.m. (Eastern), kids will learn about a different animal each day that calls this zoo its home.
Art on The Move:
Kids can learn to draw from the masters, visit museums around the world without leaving home, and even take music lessons online.
- The Strong National Museum of Play
New programming will appear on The Strong’s Facebook page each day at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Eastern), and additional content will appear on the museum’s Twitter, Twitch, Instagram, and other social channels. This kicked off with live story reading and animal encounters in the museum’s Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden. Families can also explore The Strong’s virtual collection through Google Arts & Culture.
- The Museums of Paris
Take a virtual trip to some of the most famous museums in Paris and access more than 300,000 works of art online.
- Google Arts & Culture
This portal has multiple partnerships with centers for art and culture around the world that let kids explore museums near and far, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, among others.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a digital world where kids can explore art without making the trip to New York City. The site includes an interactive map for kids to explore the museum as well as video content and a virtual time machine.
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems!
In partnership with the Kennedy Center, Children’s author Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) is putting out a daily “Lunch Doodles” session, which teaches kids how to draw some of their favorite characters.
This web-based music education network is offering free access to teachers to use the services and set it up for their students through June 30. With it, kids can access everything they need, but their instrument, to stay on top of their music lessons.
Fully stocked on arts & crafts supplies? Join Crayola for virtual crafting events on Facebook Live. Parents and parenting groups are also invited to tune in to the company’s upcoming live and recorded web events, which will offer creative at-home learning tips and techniques. Find out more here.
Actor Josh Gad, whom most kids know as the voice of Disney Frozen’s Olaf, is hosting Twitter storytime sessions every night at 7:30 (Eastern)/ 4:30 (Pacific). Families can follow along at #GadBookClub.
- Crazy Aaron LIVE!
Learn something new every day at 4 p.m. (Eastern) from Crazy Aaron himself! Discover the world of Thinking Putty as Crazy Aaron dives into how he made the putty. From inspiration, the science behind it all, to what you see in the tin, you'll learn everything there is to know about Thinking Putty and so much more!
The company is offering free activities on its website and social channels to get creative, from printable coloring pages to a how-to guide on bullet journaling. Find more ideas on its blog, #CreativityforLife.
Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to get outside, but that isn’t an excuse to stop moving. There are lots of great resources now that encourage active screen time, including these:
- KIDZ BOP
Tune into the KIDZ BOP YouTube channel every weekday at 3 p.m. (Eastern)/12 p.m. (Pacific) for a daily dance break. The videos feature easy-to-follow dances to today's biggest hits sung by the KIDZ BOP kids.
- GoNoodle Games
Used in schools all over the country, many parents might already be familiar with the company’s approach to encouraging mindfulness and movement throughout the day. Its new free app for iOS uses Open CV-based computer vision and machine learning technology to detect kids’ movement and bring kids into the action in active games - no additional hardware required.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
This YouTube channel is designed to teach kids 3+ about yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation. It includes even includes stories told through yoga poses and videos inspired by some of the kid’s favorite characters.
Take a Virtual Tour:
Visiting historic sites, landmarks, and cultural centers are go-to options for field trips, but sometimes you just can’t make the physical trip. Luckily, many now offer visitors the opportunity to virtually tour these locations and explore history through their screens.
Learn with Smithsonian resources include the National Zoo, Learning Lab, Science Game Center, and even its 3D Digitization Center, which lets kids learn about artifacts and specimens in 3D.
- Google Maps Treks
Google Maps has virtual tours for almost two dozen historical and geographical sites, ranging from the Grand Canyon to the Taj Mahal to the Galapagos Islands. You can walk through a city like Venice, Italy, or Petra, Jordan, and experience different landmarks and even different time periods.
- Colonial Williamsburg
Kids can explore 18th century living through videos offering a behind-the-scenes look at its textiles department, while parents and teachers can access additional educational content, lessons, and web-based activities on American history.
- The Great Wall of China
A trip to China might seem impossible right now but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit the Great Wall virtually. This virtual experience gives a history lesson to kids in the process.
- Google Street View
Explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colosseum, and everywhere in between with this interactive map. With this unique tool, kids can literally look down at the Taj Mahal, and walk through the Halls of Versailles without ever leaving the comfort of their couch.
- National Parks
It’s easier than ever to visit America’s National Parks and explore the great outdoors, even if you stay inside. Virtual tours of some of the most famous ones are available online including, Yellowstone National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, the Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and more.
ThinkFun’s newest resource page called “For Parents” includes free-downloadable games featuring the company’s online coding game, educational games, and more to help support learning at home and keep families calm, occupied, and engaged.
Distroller will be launching the Mission K campaign that promotes healthy habits and provides entertainment tools for families during unprecedented times.
Inspired by the amazing LEGO creations being shared by people of all ages on social media, LEGO is offering new ways to help families stay creative, curious, and connected while at home. Daily play challenges, new play ideas, and live build-a-longs will be shared on social media using the hashtag #letsbuildtogether.
- National Geographic Kids
Find amazing facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games, and more.
Let your creativity take flight with engineering activities, online games, and videos to get you moving and training as an astronaut.
- Steve Spangler Science
Kids and parents can find educational science toys, STEM kits, teacher workshop materials, classroom sets, easy science fair projects, slime, and hundreds of free amazing experiments to download.
- The Connectory
This is the very first Virtual Math Festival, an online experience curated by talkSTEM. To join the fun, simply visit the Virtual Math Festival 2020 on the talkSTEM YouTube Channel. This free resource is designed for parents, teachers, and after-school educators. Encourage your child to create their own activity schedule to draw, design, write, calculate, and record experimental data.
- VTech and LeapFrog
Vtech’s new “Learn Through This” campaign utilizes its VTech and LeapFrog brands to support teachers and parents with the tools they need to keep kids busy, learning, and active while at home. VTech and LeapFrog are offering comprehensive resources including free articles, printable activity books, and educational activities.
- National Museum of Natural History
Parents and teachers can bring a Smithsonian scientist into their virtual classrooms using the Smithsonian Science How webcast series. In the live video webcasts, scientists will take students’ questions and introducing them to science topics. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.
- American Museum of Natural History
At 2 p.m. (Eastern) daily on Facebook Live, the museum will be hosting digital tours of parts of the museum. Here, kids can also watch past episodes of its web series Science at AMNH.
- Mystery Science
This site features open-and-go lessons designed to inspire kids’ love of science. The site even offers a list of kindergarten through grade 5 science lessons to get started.
- Jumpstart Academy
Its core educational programs (JumpStart Academy Preschool, JumpStart Academy Kindergarten and JumpStart Academy Math) along with its math and coding programs are now available for free trials and the company is taking 50% off annual subscriptions.
A new teach@home program features weekly lessons in math, literacy, and STEM for grades k-5. The lessons are all taught by teachers, and videos and activities are uploaded to the site for parents to download free of charge.
- Miniland Educational
The company is offering free online Play Experiences on its Play Miniland portal, which gives children access to educational games and gives parents and teachers ideas to learn through play.
- Learning Resources
Through the Learning Resources blog, families with kids as young as 18 months old can find easy, hands-on activities to help kids work on their ABCs and 123s, keep up with classwork, or focus on language and reading skills.
- Educational Insights
Educational Insights has partnered with Mensa for Kids to provide even more valuable resources that support learning in areas such as STEM, reading, and creativity. It's also launched a YouTube series, “Home’s Cool” for follow-along activities.
Minecraft helps teachers and students stay connected to the classroom. Minecraft: Education Edition is available now through June 2020 for all educators and learners who have a valid Office 365 Education account. Minecraft connects to the classroom offering lessons, STEM, curriculum and creative-based learning.
Additional Virtual Learning Resources:
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team on May 12, 2020