Piecing Together While Staying Apart
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
These are hard times. These are trying times. These are scary and sad times. And for those of us feeling big feelings while trying to take care of others, it's a lot.
School is closed and while there is technically a back-to-school day on the calendar, I think we all know there's a very real chance we are still going to be living in isolation at that point. Even though this week is technically March Break, and there wouldn't have been school anyway, I have felt the need to keep some routine and structure at home, and keep the school momentum going so we don't spend the next several weeks or more in our pajamas, feeling sad and bored, cranky and lonely.
Initially, I intended to sign off of social media because the bad news, judgement and negativity was too much for me and I could feel my anxiety spinning out of control. I'm so glad I went back on because for me, the best part of this whole situation is how much people are giving of themselves in order to help others. Physical distancing is actually causing us to feel closer in so many other ways.
Through social media I have found (and been sent) some incredible resources for keeping the kids (and adults) busy, stimulated and connected during this tough time. I've had several friends tell me they have no idea where to find these things and are struggling because they're so busy with work, babies, or whatever else is going on. Well, I am off work indefinitely, so I am happy to do this research and share it with you! I have been sending some of these items to a few friends, but I figured it was easier to just put it all up here.
Update: I've added a bunch and grouped them into themes to make it more accessible. Anything that was added since I first posted this has an "Update" beside it.
First of all, if you have kids around the same age as mine, feel free to follow my ever-expanding Pinterest board of at-home lesson ideas for inspiration: https://www.pinterest.ca/ezc/home-school
We haven't done this one yet, but it's on the list: there are a lot of museums that offer virtual tours such as The Louvre, NASA Space Center, National Gallery of Art, National Women’s History Museum, The Vatican, Toyota Automobile Museum, and The Spy Museum
Update: For those with older kids, Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region has four programs, for grades 5+ (and introducing more programs each day). Focussed on Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy and Work Readiness
Arts & Language
Every day at 1pm on Facebook (but it's also available after the fact here), Mo Willems - author and illustrator of Elephant and Piggie, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and so many other amazing books - is running free Doodle classes. He is amazing and this is one of our favourite parts of our day by far right now.
Tomorrow (Friday) at 10am, and probably again in the future, Artshine is offering a free live art class on YouTube that can be done with supplies you already have at home.
Every day at 12pm on Instagram, James Dean - author and illustrator of Pete the Cat books - does a Pete the Cat story time that includes a short lesson on how to draw his characters.
We've been enjoying the materials provided by Scholastic on their site and are enjoying having new books read to us. This has become part of our prep for nap/quiet time routine.
Speaking of having someone else do the reading, Josh Gad (aka Olaf) is doing live feeds on Twitter and Instagram every night at 7:30 where he reads a different story in hilarious voices
In addition to storytime & doodle lessons, celebrities are also offering free live concerts from their homes. Check out Global Citizen to see recordings of the free #TogetherAtHome concerts from Chris Martin (Coldplay), Charlie Puth, and my personal favourite: John Legend and Chrissy Teigen.
Another fun after-the-kids-go-to-bed option is Choir!Choir!Choir is doing free live sing-a-longs, that they are calling "Choir!ntine: Social Distan-Sing-Along"s. I have always wanted to go to their concerts and haven't had the chance so gave it a try. And while it made me super sad to imagine all the other lonely people singing into their screens, it definitely helped me feel more connected.
Update: Another fav author of ours, Oliver Jeffers, is also doing #stayathomestorytime on Instagram Live every day at 2pm EST.
Update: One of our all-time favourite authors, Peter H Reynolds, known for The Dot, Sky Colour, Ish and other inspiring beauties is doing storytime every day starting on Monday, March 23
Update: Visit the Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss on Seussville.com
Update: Write your own story with a randomly generated story starter to get you going.
Update: Anyone in Ari's class, or who are just lovers of The Magic Treehouse, there is a website with activities!
Update: Check out this fun interactive music-making Chrome Music Lab
Update: If you're looking for some non-screen language learning, Audible is offering free children's audiobooks
Update: View recordings of Broadway Musicals like Wicked, Beauty & The Beast (stage), Frozen (stage) at https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7ibeq4
Science & Geography
Every day at 3pm, the Cincinatti Zoo is doing live Home Safaris, featuring a different animal every day. Spend 20 minutes learning about hippos, porcupines, ocelots, sloths, and whoever else they feature that day. The videos are also available after the fact, to enjoy whenever you can.
The San Diego Zoo has live cams on several of their animals, and we spent a good chunk of time just sitting, watching the giraffes munch on some leaves and admiring the baby elephant. There are lots of animals to choose from!
Several Aquariums have live feeds to their tanks: Baltimore National Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, and more
Update: If you haven't already, I highly recommend watching this video of penguins let loose in the Chicago Aquarium during COVID19 closure
Update: If you're looking for some geography, check out a virtual tour of one of America's National Parks like a Hawaiian volcanoe, Alaskan Fjord, Bryce Canyon or New Mexico Caverns. Or here is a link for a virtual tour of Yellowstone National Park.
Update: Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover
Update: FarmFood 360 offers 11 Virtual Tours of farms from minks, pigs, and cows, to apples and egs
Update: Take a Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China
Update: Go to National Geographic Kids for games and videos about animals, science, geography and more. There is also a National Geographic Young Explorers site.
Update: Mystery Science has made their K-5 lessons available for free during school closures
Update: I can not express my excitement about this one enough - Carmen Sandiego is still around!
Update: NASA Climate Kids covers topics like weather, climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals.
Update: The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) has released a paleontology-themed game called Paleo Puzzle
This is nothing new in our household, but we love Cosmic Kids Yoga. Part of our new "normal" is outside time twice a day, but if the weather doesn't cooperate as much as it has this week, I foresee a lot of Cosmic Kids in our future.
There's always good old outside time, but if you're feeling more motivated than I am to exercise beyond a simple walk, here is a list of free online fitness classes.
Update: Another way to get moving when you're stuck inside, my son's classroom uses GoNoodle often so he's already familiar with them
There have also been live dance classes and other concerts, but if you've found other entertainment or activities that I've missed, send them my way and I'll keep adding to this list!
Our neighbours have really amazed me this week. We've had some people suggest/organize themed artwork in the windows on certain days or hide painted rocks on a trail for scavenger hunts. We had a sidewalk chalk mosaic challenge today and while it's sad that they'll probably all be washed away by tomorrow, the effort and beauty of those little installations and uplifting messages definitely lifted our spirits. We even had one neighbour put a box full of craft supplies outside their house today!
The mosaic chalk challenge really resonated with me, not only because anything mosaic gets me excited, but because it is such a beautiful analogy for how we are all feeling. We may be physically separated, but we are connected and together we form something greater and more beautiful than any one individual.
Hope this helps to keep everyone sane in the coming days, weeks and who knows...
Stay safe and healthy, my friends!