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Parents' guide to teaching, entertaining and comforting their children during the lockdown

By Washington Post Staff
April 28, 2020

We already know the bad news: Bored kids, harried parents, days when time slows to a standstill. Here’s the good news: Museums, libraries, arts organizations, private companies, celebrities and many others are stepping up and creating online content for kids or offering free access to existing resources. Many more online portals and entertaining apps have been with us all along but never seemed more relevant. To give parents a sense of what’s out there, we’ve compiled resources in 10 categories: education, travel, reading, mental wellness, music, art, physical activity, theater and dance, languages and entertainment. So don’t just sit there — learn how to wrap a mummy, take a virtual train ride, conjugate Spanish verbs or watch a Metropolitan Opera performance. Just because time is at a standstill doesn’t mean you have to be.

Don’t see your go-to resource? We will be periodically updating this list; feel free to leave recommendations in the comments.

Reading

Disappearing into a good book is a welcome escape from the stress and chaos of daily life — even when there isn’t a pandemic. Reading is beneficial for people in all age groups, but it’s essential for children: It develops and strengthens vocabulary, social and emotional intelligence, curiosity, memory, concentration and brain function. Happily, numerous organizations are offering free worksheets, games and exercises to help budding readers build basic skills. Kids eager to tell their own stories can join children’s authors’ free writing classes. And for those times when parents need a break (or a great story), kids can join librarians, authors and actors for recorded story times or dive into a wealth of free audiobook links.

  • “Read & Learn with Simon Kids” is a new video series hosted on the Simon Kids YouTube channel. Parents and educators can find self-shot videos by Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators, including read-alouds, drawing tutorials and more.
  • “Snack & Read Live with Simon Kids” is a half-hour video series that streams live on Facebook every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern.
  • Story Online features actors — including Lily Tomlin, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine and more — reading children’s books alongside colorful illustrated videos.
  • Audible offers free streaming of some of its audiobooks. Books are classified by age and theme.

Education

Ever since schools started closing amid the coronavirus crisis, the Internet has exploded with videos, educational apps and documentaries to help kids learn (and help parents get some work done). But before jumping into the world of wonderful online resources, home-schooling experts recommend taking a breath. Create the kind of environment, schedule and home life that can best balance your responsibilities with peaceful learning. And then pick one, two or three of these vetted resources that you think will match your kids’ interests and educational needs.

Pre-K through elementary:

  • PBS Kids provides games, activities and tips for emotions and self-awareness, social skills, character, literacy, math, science and arts for ages 2 through 8.
  • Education.com: Worksheets have their place. Print what might help you get through a conference call for prekindergarten and elementary school kids: dot-to-dots, handwriting practice, math equations, geography quizzes, color-by-numbers and more. The site also offers online games and guided lesson plans.
  • Mystery Science is offering a starter list of K-5 science classes free, without requiring users to sign up or log in.
  • SplashLearn invites kids to grow the math skills learned in kindergarten through fifth grade with an app full of math games. The iPhone and iPad app provides parents with weekly report cards and costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year; the PC version is free.

Pre-K through teens:

  • Scholastic Learn-at-Home has put together four weeks of resources for grades pre-K through 9, with a theme for each day. For instance, a first-grader might read a story about a spider, watch a video and then draw their own spider. Older grades also get writing prompts.
  • NatGeo@Home groups together quizzes, videos, science experiments and at-home classroom resources for kids to complete during the week. There are also activities for kids and their parents to do together on the weekends.
  • WideOpenSchool, hosted by Common Sense Media, gathers resources from Scholastic, Noggin, Google, YouTube, PBS, National Geographic and more to provide learning in many areas — science, social studies, math, life skills, arts, writing — in an organized fashion for kids in grades pre-K through 12.
  • BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. offer lessons via video for the K-12 set on topics that align with state education standards. Games, quizzes and activity instructions then follow. Normally $18.95 (BrainPOP Jr.) or $24.95 (BrainPOP) a month for family plans, BrainPOP is temporarily free.

Elementary through teens:

  • NoRedInk has hundreds of free writing and grammar exercises for grades 5 through 12.
  • James Dyson Foundation engineers came up with 44 engineering and science challenges using household objects, for all ages. (Some younger children may require parental assistance.)
  • Seterra offers more than 300 online map quizzes in 36 languages for students. Free printables allow for handwritten quizzes. The website (free) and app ($1.99 for iOS and Android) also have anatomy quizzes.
  • NASA is offering chances for kids in grades 1 through 12 to chat with scientists, watch videos, find directions for STEM projects, solve puzzles, play games, read books, color sheets and watch lectures.

Tweens and teens:

Travel

These days, our travel is limited by the perimeters of our own neighborhoods. Thankfully, we can still see breathtaking sights in faraway lands, learn about people, animals and cultures around the world and even travel back in time — with a little help from the Internet. Pay a visit to Ellis Island or Colonial Williamsburg, observe wild animals on a national park’s webcam, or ooh over panoramic photographs of far-flung cities and landmarks. You can also sharpen your knowledge of geography or hone your language skills. Whether you want to learn about a country hundreds of miles from your home or explore your own state, here’s a sampler of virtual field trips, tours and classes for those times when a trip around the block just isn’t enough.

  • 360 Cities is offering free access to numerous high-quality 360 images of famous panoramas and landmarks from around the world.
  • While Colonial Williamsburg is closed, you can learn about colonial life in America with teacher resources, live video demonstrations and virtual tours.
  • National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom goes live every weekday at 2 p.m. Eastern with conservationists, researchers, scientists and storytellers.
  • Waterford.org has nine field trips that can be taken from the comfort of your couch, including seeing zoo animals, walking on Mars or viewing paintings in the Louvre museum in Paris.

Mental wellness

Living through a pandemic can be frightening and frustrating, with the routines of daily life disrupted and coping mechanisms limited by a world on pause. Too much energy, too little space. Too much time, too little to do. And, always, too much scary news. Helping kids understand their emotions and how to manage them is uniquely important during this strange time. The resources listed here will help parents talk with their children about the novel coronavirus, teach relaxation and mindfulness and help make all our emotions a little bit easier to navigate.

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  • On YouTube, Moovlee offers yoga and meditation exercises for kids that are led by a cartoon monkey.
  • The Child Mind Institute is hosting daily live streams at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern with therapists on its Facebook page.
  • GoZenOnline offers anxiety relief songs, relaxation exercises and tips for parents on its YouTube channel.
  • Cosmic Kids has fun mindfulness exercises for kids on its YouTube channel.

Physical activity

Staying fit during the covid-19 crisis is challenging for even the most fitness-focused among us. So, what to do with kids ages 2 to 18, who probably are sitting in front of screens more than ever, who are missing their scheduled sports and activities and who are not used to exercising on their own? We humans need daily exercise. Kids are no exception. They should get a minimum of 60 minutes a day of cardio and strength. Try to mimic the amount of exercise the child gets on a normal day to make sure they stay fit and happy. The general rule for kids’ strength-building is that prepubescent children are safest doing body-weight exercises, such as push-ups and situps, while teenagers can lift weights. Make a plan with your child that focuses on wellness and health above all. This list of fitness resources includes three-minute dance videos, online yoga, ideas for games like hopscotch and indoor balloon volleyball, fitness card games, online youth sports performance videos and much more.

  • Healthy Kids Running Series, a national inclusive youth running experience for kids ages 2 to 14, is converting its outdoor, five-week spring series into a virtual series.
  • GoNoodle offers videos to get kids moving, including dancing, stretching, running, jumping and more. The channel has an app that’s recommended for kids 5 and up.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga offers free yoga on YouTube for young children ages 3 and up. There are countless classes, from three minutes to three hours, featuring brilliant colors, storytelling (themes: “Frozen,” “Moana” and “Peter Cottontail”), singing and of course yoga with a yogini Jaime Amor.
  • Adriene Mishler, an Austin-based yoga teacher with 7 million YouTube subscribers, is offering free online yoga classes ranging from 10 minutes to an hour. The classes focus on power flow, basic yoga, meditation and more. Open to all fitness levels and ages but more appropriate for teens than younger kids.

Music

The signature sound of this pandemic may be that of a delivery truck slowing down in front of your house, but thanks to the wealth of free material available online, there’s plenty more melodious music out there. On any given day, you can hear chamber musicians play Schumann at the Lincoln Center, catch a Metropolitan Opera performance of Bizet’s “Carmen” or listen to field recordings of Mississippi Delta bluesmen at the Smithsonian Institution. Or you can learn to make your own music: There are sites that will teach you to play guitar, read music and compose your own songs — or symphonies. Music is the mood-altering drug we could all use a little more of right now. So bring that package inside, pop on a Spotify playlist and take a quick turn around the block to “Walking on Sunshine.”

illustration for parenting resources page

Art

If there’s any silver lining to this pandemic, it’s the jaw-dropping creativity demonstrated by the quarantined and isolated around the world. Art teachers are live-streaming drawing classes while decked out in art history-themed costumes. Housebound art lovers have re-created favorite paintings with common household objects. Illustrators are turning to the symbols of the outbreak — toilet paper, hand sanitizer — with a fresh artistic eye. Children can join in the creative fervor with free coloring sheets, online classes and games, and digital museum tours.

  • Author and illustrator Mo Willems recently concluded a three-week stint as artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center. You can find all 15 episodes of “Lunch Doodles,” along with the accompanying downloadable activities, archived on the organization’s website.
  • Nikon is offering free online camera classes — best suited for teenagers. Even if you don’t have a fancy camera, basic lessons on portraiture, landscape photography and more can be adapted to other camera models.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers MetKids, an interactive module, to help children explore the museum’s collection. Kids can navigate to educational videos and creative prompts.
  • The Louvre offers virtual tours of some of its exhibits, including the moat and Egyptian antiquities.

Theater and dance

It has been said that all the world’s a stage — but what to do when the world has contracted to the size of your living room? Never fear, there are online resources that make it possible to expand your child’s knowledge of theater without leaving home. While live theater and dance performances are on hold, why not encourage kids to swap the role of spectator for that of performer? Or tap the dramatic potential of self-quarantine? How about learning what goes on behind the scenes of a theatrical production? The resources listed here include tutorials in beginning ballet, exercises for budding playwrights and courses in the history of drama.

  • The Hamilton Education Program, a partnership between the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the producers of the “Hamilton” musical, is offering free access through August to EduHam at Home, a family version of its online education program. Students can study primary source documents from the era, learn how Lin-Manuel Miranda used similar documents to create the musical, and create their own performance pieces based on that material. The program includes videos from “Hamilton” and its cast members, interviews with Miranda and more.
  • The New York City Ballet will broadcast full ballets and excerpts on YouTube, Facebook and its website, and it will host ballet-inspired movement workshops. A 20-minute, Saturday-morning Zoom workshop for kids ages 3 to 8 requires advance registration.
  • KIDZ BOP offers dance-along videos that can encourage the incorporation of music and movement in daily routines.
  • Crash Course’s series of 50 videos go through the history, theory and technology behind theater, mimicking an introductory college-level course.
language illustration for parenting resources - coronavirus

Languages

While kids are geographically grounded, learning a new language is a great way for them to explore an unfamiliar culture without leaving home. Parents can pair introductory lessons with virtual city tours or foreign-language children’s programming to make it more fun. Most of the resources here require only a few minutes each day and include skill-building options such as worksheets, audio, video and even games.

  • Duolingo is a free language learning app and website that only requires a few minutes a day, and it offers a premium service for a fee.
  • Gallaudet University offers free American Sign Language classes online, where you can track progress with a dashboard.
  • Education.com offers free printable workbook pages in Hindi, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Arabic and American Sign Language for kids in preschool through fifth grade.
  • ESL Video offers free videos, quizzes, lessons and more for those learning English, as well as a virtual exchange with a language teacher.

Entertainment

Time — considered a precious commodity just months ago — is the one thing kids have in abundance right now. How to stave off the inevitable declarations of boredom? The suggestions gathered here include the practical (housebound kids may as well learn their way around the kitchen) and the whimsical (there has never been a better time to make an origami frog). Amid the vicissitudes of remote learning, kids need downtime and so do their frazzled parents: Time to start journaling, catch a science podcast — or just keep a play date with Elmo.

  • This origami how-to for kids features step-by-step instructions and downloadable PDFs.
  • Flower crowns? String art? Vegetable prints? Find all these and more — 97 more, to be exact — on this Mommy Poppins list of 100 crafts kids can do at home.
  • Amazon offers children’s programming, such as “Arthur” and “Mr. Bean,” free for Amazon Prime members. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
  • National Geographic Kids’ science-, wildlife- and history-themed content includes online games, quizzes, slide shows and videos.

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Summary | 10 Annotations
home-schooling experts recommend taking a breath. Create the kind of environment, schedule and home life that can best balance your responsibilities with peaceful learning.
2020/04/29 01:32
Pre-K through elementary:
2020/04/29 01:32
Mystery Science is offering a starter list of K-5 science classes free, without requiring users to sign up or log in
2020/04/29 01:32
Elementary through teens:
2020/04/29 01:33
James Dyson Foundation engineers came up with 44 engineering and science challenges using household objects,
2020/04/29 01:33
NASA
2020/04/29 01:33
NASA is offering chances for kids in grades 1 through 12 to chat with scientists, watch videos, find directions for STEM projects, solve puzzles, play games, read books, color sheets and watch lectures. Tynker has more than 40 courses for the wannabe coder in the house. Kids ages 5 to 7 can solve logic problems and create simple apps; kids 8 to 13 build games and design Minecraft mods; ages 14 and over learn coding languages and how to make websites and even prep for AP Computer Science. With Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government, created by the Government Publishing Office, kids can go on a virtual learning adventure with Ben Franklin. Topics include branches of government, how laws are made, symbols and structures, election processes and federally recognized tribes. The Smithsonian Institution Learning Lab allows kids to access millions of digital resources from the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives and more. The site also offers prepackaged collections that contain lessons, activities and recommended resources. Girls Who Code is releasing free, weekly and downloadable computer science exercises of varying degrees of difficulty over the next few months on its website. Already-online activities include building a basic chatbot or a more advanced instructional tutorial video. National Museum of American History activities include building a virtual sod house, examining the imagery in a buffalo hide painting and more. Scholastic’s interactive immigration module includes narratives, an Ellis Island tour and historical lessons about immigration in the United States. Discovery Education has virtual field trips across a variety of subject areas, such as a dairy farm or a behind-the-scenes look at careers at Facebook. Trips include written guides and video aides. The National Constitution Center’s virtual field trip takes kids inside the Constitution. The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has YouTube videos for its Virtual Camp Discovery, which explores science-based activities including slime-making, meeting a gopher tortoise and more. The National Museum of African American History and Culture offers resources and activities for educators and students. Its Learning Lab collection uses objects, documents, imagery and videos to explore well-known and lesser-known moments of history. The Free Library of Philadelphia’s site features a page with links to resources for studying African American history and culture, including major speeches, notable figures and a timeline of African American history.
2020/04/29 01:33
Here’s
2020/04/29 01:33
We already know the bad news: Bored kids, harried parents, days when time slows to a standstill. Here’s the good news: Museums, libraries, arts organizations, private companies, celebrities and many others are stepping up and creating online content for kids or offering free access to existing resources. Many more online portals and entertaining apps have been with us all along but never seemed more relevant. To give parents a sense of what’s out there, we’ve compiled resources in 10 categories: education, travel, reading, mental wellness, music, art, physical activity, theater and dance, languages and entertainment. So don’t just sit there — learn how to wrap a mummy, take a virtual train ride, conjugate Spanish verbs or watch a Metropolitan Opera performance. Just because time is at a standstill doesn’t mean you have to be.
2020/04/29 01:33
Here’s the good news: Museums, libraries, arts organizations, private companies, celebrities and many others are stepping up and creating online content for kids
2020/04/29 01:34