Free Resources for Kids and Parents
LAST UPDATED June 14, 2020
It's a tough time for parents and kids. And even though there are plenty of educational resources out there to choose from, it's a bit overwhelming trying to find ones that are high-quality and right for you. That's why we're curating the best of the best and posting them here, so that you can continue to ensure that your kids are learning, even if they might not be in school. Keep checking in for more ideas, activities, printables, and homeschooling content!
Recently updated content is in GREEN!
DIY Activity Ideas!
Write To Womple!
Normally, Womple is the one sending the letters. But, Womple has always loved receiving mail, too. These days it's easier to send letters via email than through the post office, so if your little one would like to have a new Womple pen pal, please don't hesitate to reach out at womple at womplestudios.com. Ask about upcoming adventures, favorite foods, the scariest animals Womple's encountered... anything at all!
Go On A Bear Hunt!
You may have seen them in windows and on doorsteps: teddy bears! You might even have already got in on the Bear Hunt action by walking neighborhood streets with your kids to see how many bears you could find. It's a great way to get some fresh air and get kids excited about something as simple as a walk. Check out this Facebook Group for (Teddy) Bear Hunters to get some ideas on fun variations to the game, and get more involved by putting your own bear out for neighborhood kids to find: BEAR HUNT | If you're a NextDoor member, check your local area for Bear Maps to lead you to the best bear-hunting in your neighborhood!
It's Springtime... Get Gardening!
Thanks to Pat B. for this recommendation! We loved this collection of easy kids gardening activities. And for those who don't have a backyard or who live in colder weather, there are tons of great indoor gardening activities here. Including a bunch that you can do with materials you probably have lying around (toilet paper rolls, anyone?). Check it out, courtesy of the Jung Seed blog: GET GARDENING
It's The Perfect Time To Go Star-Gazing
With Spring here, clearer skies on the horizon, and maybe even a little less light pollution than normal, it's the perfect time to do a little stargazing. If you're new to observing the night's sky, check out this great beginner's guide by NPR member station KQED out in San Francisco. Get simple tips that you can share with your little like how to find Venus, the brightest planet in the sky: GO STARGAZING | use resources like Time and Date's Night Sky to check the stars where you live: TONIGHT'S STARS
Write Your Own Newspaper
Thanks to Carla M. for the fantastic tip on this one! Kids in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco have put together this amazing kid-staffed newspaper (hilariously called 'Six Feet of Separation') with parent cooking and TV show reviews, local restaurant delivery times, and more. We LOVE this idea and had a great time reading the kids' articles. Why not encourage your own kids to become journalists for the day and write their own newspaper? Check out Issue 1 for some inspiration: SIX FEET OF SEPARATION
Face to Face With A Giant
Get up close and almost squished by one of the largest creatures ever to roam the Earth in this 3D virtual reality tour. It's VR capable, but also perfectly enjoyable to experience on a regular device. We're always impressed with Google Arts & Culture activities, and they're all worth exploring: MEET THE GIRAFFATITAN
Travel to Space
Get out of this world and learn a thing or two or three about Saturn through this National Geographic Kids article / video / activities bundle. Did you know that Saturn floats? Or, it would if it were in a really, really big ocean. Check it out to learn more and find out your planet personality: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS
See An Active Volcano Up Close
This virtual tour of Hawaii isn't just gorgeous beaches and tropical breezes. This great audio and video tour of Hawaii allows kids to fly over an active volcano, witness an eruption, and walk through a volcano's lava tubes. Each experience is accompanied by fantastic audio from a National Park guide. Thanks Google Arts & Culture! HAWAII VOLCANOES
An Inside Look at Chauvet Cave
Step inside humanity's first art gallery, a prehistoric cave in France that's closed to the public. Only a handful of people have ever seen the Chauvet Cave's 36,000 year-old cave paintings up close. But now it's free for all! Check out this amazing, one-of-a-kind experience with virtual tours, 3D photos, games, stories, and more. Provided by Google Arts & Culture: CHAUVET CAVE
Walk Famous World Monuments
They may not be open to the public right now, but we can still experience the thrill of seeing them up close. Thanks to Google Streetview, many of the world's most famous monuments are just a click away. Check out some of our favorites!
THE GREAT PYRAMIDS
SCOTT'S HUT, ANTARCTICA
Scuba Dive in a Marine Sanctuary
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has some amazing virtual tours of the country's beautiful marine sanctuaries. Our favorite 3D photo? Swimming with sea lions in Monterey Bay, California! Provided by the National Marine Sanctuaries: VIRTUAL DIVES
Witness the Northern Lights
The end of winter is the time to catch a great glimpse of the Northern Lights aka the Aurora Borealis. Time it right, turn off all your lights, and imagine your'e there in person through a livestream from Explore.org. The lights are clearest when it's very dark, so after 7pm PST (10pm EST) is best. Check out one of the best livestream options here: NORTHERN LIGHTS. And check out this great kid-friendly explanation of the northern lights from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation so you can pretend you understand what's happening: WHAT ARE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS?
Museums & Zoos!
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo has tons of live feeds of animals, from baboons to elephants to koalas. They have fantastic information about each species, too, if you ever get tired of just watching (unlikely). Provided by San Diego Zoo: LIVE ANIMAL CAMS
Tune in to the zoo's Facebook page every day at 3 pm EDT (noon PST) for a Facebook Live meet-up with one of the zoo's animal residents. Every Facebook Live event features a new animal and includes an at-home activity. And if you miss the live stream, head to their YouTube channel for past videos: ANIMAL MEET-UPS
Live African Safari
Want a more adventurous experience? Check out these live cameras capturing African animals in their natural habitat. You'll have to be patient, since these are wild animals, but the rewards are awesome! Check out different cameras and angles to see what you can find. Provided by Explore.org: AFRICAN WILDLIFE LIVESTREAM
The British Museum
The British Museum in London, England has one of the most remarkable collections of artifacts in the world. Check out some of their amazing pieces, like the famous Rosetta Stone, with their virtual tour through time. Provided by The British Museum: TIMELINE TOUR
Smithsonian Natural History Museum
The museum may be closed in person, but it's open online! One of the best virtual tours of a museum that we've seen. Our personal favorite? The dinosaur galleries. Obviously. Provided by the National Museum of Natural History: SMITHSONIAN
Shows & Readings!
Off-Broadway Broadway Shows
Head over to BroadwayHD and set up an account for a 7 day free trial (remember, it only lasts 7 days!). Once there, you'll be able to stream some of Broadway's greatest hits, from Cats (the play, not the movie) to Sleeping Beauty: BROADWAYHD
Kids like story time? Kids like astronauts? Kids will love story time from space as floating astronauts read some of our favorite kids books. Check out Story Time From Space and also take a look at some of their Science Time From Space videos: STORY TIME FROM SPACE
Doodle With Mo!
Mo Willems is sort of an inspiration of ours... his kids' books illustrations are legendary! Currently the Education Artist-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center, Mo is streaming a live "Lunch Doodles With Mo" art lesson every weekday at 1:00 pm EST. Join Mo live or download past episodes here: LUNCH DOODLES
We think reading to your kids is one of the best things you can do with your time. But, time is limited. Maybe the next best thing? Other people reading to your kids. Storyline Online has a great collection of children's books read aloud by famous actors & actresses. David Harbour reading an animated Snappsy the Alligator? Yes, please: STORYLINE ONLINE
Answering Your Kids' Covid-19 Questions
How Viruses Work
It's not easy explaining the current crisis to kids. Medical professionals are still struggling to understand! But, if you're looking for simple ways to answer deceptively hard questions like "What is a virus?" and "How do we fight viruses?" please check out the AMAZING activities and videos uploaded by our friends at the Exploratorium. Some are aimed at a bit of an older middle to high school audience, but there's plenty to pick and choose from: EXPLORATORIUM
Talking Covid-19 With Kids
It's not just the facts, trying to reassure while at the same time being honest and straightforward with your kids can be a tough conversation. While following CDC guidance is always a good idea, we found the following article by Ruth Musgrave to be a good aid for these difficult talks. Published by National Geographic (and requiring a sign-up to their email newsletter): TALKING CORONAVIRUS WITH KIDS
Your Local Library
Libraries might be closed. But, did you know that thousands of public libraries have books, audiobooks, movies, and more available for download straight to your computer or mobile device? Just login with your library card and get instant access! Check here to see what your local library offers and sign up with Overdrive (it's free!): OVERDRIVE
You've probably heard of Scholastic, a great education company for kids. They've made a Learn From Home program that has hours of lessons and activities for parents, at all sorts of grade levels. Thanks, Scholastic! LEARN FROM HOME
PBS Online Learning
PBS has some exceptional educational content for kids. The Learning Media resources, although developed for California classrooms, are just as accessible to parents who want a more structured curriculum for their kids. All their content is worth browsing, but we're especially partial to the Molly of Denali series for elementary kids. It's a great video series that is accompanied by fun activities, handouts, and reading materials so your 10-minute animation turns into a day-long experience. Thank you as always, PBS: LEARNING MEDIA | MOLLY OF DENALI
Just For Parents
Where to begin? It's all a bit overwhelming. We've found that the best advice out there right now for parents focuses on two things: (1) your own health, physical and mental, and (2) being a positive role model for your kids. Here are some resources just for you, to keep healthy and strong.
Managing Your Stress
This is an extremely stressful time. Please know that there are resources to manage your stress, and that of your kids. One such resource is provided by the state of California, which has published a helpful checklist of ways to address and manage stress in simple, everyday ways. Please check out the here: MANAGE STRESS FOR HEALTH. There is a link to ways for parents to address their own issues, as well as a separate link for ways to help your kids. Some highlights:
(i) Scroll to the bottom of each link for checklists that you can use to create your own stress management plan
(ii) Setting reasonable goals for exercise, nutrition, and sleep
(iIi) Ideas for mindfulness activities for kids (journal writing, breathing exercises, etc.)
From a partnership of UNICEF and the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative, 6 basic tips to keep in mind while cooped up at home: UNICEF
But What About Screen Time?!?
We've built our own products in part on the understanding that too much time in front of a screen is not good for child development. But, during this unprecedented time, parents might find themselves loosening up a bit - especially as some school systems attempt to go online in place of in-person classes. That's OK. Screen time isn't always bad time. Try these tips to use screen time wisely and eliminate your guilt. Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics: SCREEN TIME TIPS
It's important to take a little time for yourself, especially in times of high stress. One great and easy way to control stress is meditation. There are lots of meditation guides out there, but we found that this super-simple introduction is the best way to get started. From the YouTube channel Improvement Pill: MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS
Stay healthy. It sounds simple, and it's what everyone keeps saying, but other than social distancing how can we be healthy when we're sitting around and eating spaghetti-O's all day? The New York Times has some good ideas, including simple exercises you can do from home with no equipment to basic stress-reducing yoga: NEW YORK TIMES
Keep checking back for more!
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