Homeschooling? Unschooling? Just trying to keep the house from falling down? Whatever you are doing with your kids during our unexpected “break,” we’ve found tons of fun online. Try parkour with Kong Academy, get cooking in the kitchen or learn to make balloon animals. We think there is something for everyone on this list.
1. Get cooking!
KidStir: This subscription service is giving away one free kit per family. It also offers recipes (such as how to make ice cream in a bag!), tips and activities to help kids cook up plenty of fun and deliciousness.
Raddish Kids: Partake of another free kit per family and peruse its packed virtual pantry of digital recipes and craft ideas. Bonus: Raddish Kids also offers a Spotify playlist to provide a soundtrack for various activities.
Kitchen Science: Don’t feel like teaching a science lesson at home? Engage kids with fun experiments you can do with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. Click on a lesson for written directions or watch demos on YouTube.
2. Get moving!
Monkey around: Join Curt, a.k.a. Chief Monkey, from Kong Academy for free video instruction of parkour-style movement exercises that range from doing animal movements on the floor to vaulting off of furniture. Tip for parents: First check out the videos before diving in to see what you are comfortable with your kids doing in the house! Find Chief Monkey on Facebook or YouTube.
DownDog: This yoga app has made use of its app free through April 1. Beyond yoga, you'll also find HIIT workouts, barre classes and more.
3. Play with clay.
Oven-dry clay: Follow Minezshop on YouTube for fun instructional videos that demo how to sculpt mini objects. She uses Sculpey clay, which is available on Amazon. Other oven-dry polymer clays will work, too. You don’t need a kiln — just your oven — to dry the clay, and your creations can be painted after drying completely. The good news? Regular household objects can be employed as sculpting tools.
Homemade clay: Can’t get out to buy clay? Make your own! Check out this blog post from Mamapapabubba.com for a tutorial on making clay from kitchen ingredients.
4. Make a new (old-school) friend.
Find a pen pal: This enforced downtime is a perfect excuse for finding a pen pal and introduce the kids to the ancient art of letter writing.
Exchange postcards: Collecting postcards from all over the world makes for a fun, new hobby. With this service, each time you send a postcard, you will receive one from a randomly selected person from anywhere in the world. You can register and post on the site about what you received.
Watch animals via webcam: You may not be able to visit the zoo right now but you can meet furry (or not) friends via webcam. The Georgia Aquarium offers underwater camera feeds to view puffins, jellyfish and more, while Earthcam features cameras from around the world, including penguins in Antarctica. Discovery Education gets you communing with polar bears in Canada!
5. Get STEMmy!
Oceans Initiative is hosting a virtual marine biology camp on Facebook and Instagram. No set schedule yet, but the plan is to host more in the coming weeks. Check its website or social media pages for updates.
Boolean Girl presents Full STEAM Ahead: Register for free, live online workshops that teach kids to code, build, invent and animate. Each episode will introduce new engineering and coding projects to increase interest and engagement around STEM topics.
Curiosity at Home: Pacific Science Center shares new content daily through its website and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Look for social live-streams, check out ask-the-experts opportunities, and find suggested activities and experiments for kids of all ages that you can do at home. Check back often for new content to inspire learners of all ages.
6. Get creative!
Learn to make balloon animals: Pretty much everyone is anxious right now and balloons never fail to make people smile. Learn the fun art of balloon twisting for free.
Play cards: Bored with board and video games? Go old-school with a deck of playing cards. Hearts? Garbage? Rummy? Good 'ol War? This site has rules for all kinds of card games in case you’ve forgotten how to play.
Exploration of the Day: Artist and author Keri Smith posts daily activities on her site Exploration of the Day. Drip colored liquid to watch splotches and blobs form, create a collage with bits and pieces of paper around the house, or examine the everyday objects around you. Take pictures and share your creations with the hastag #explorationoftheday.
7. More great ideas!
Catch a Broadway show: This site offers 15 Broadway productions that you can watch from home. These are available on a variety of services, including Broadway HD, Amazon Prime and Youtube to name a few. From "Rent" to "Sweeny Todd," here is your chance to share great shows at zero cost with the kids.
Rent Mason bees: That’s right: You can “rent” a bee colony. Mason bees and leafcutter bees are non-aggressive and highly beneficial pollinators for crops. Order a kit, hang a nesting block in your yard and the bees will pollinate your flowers and lay eggs in the nesting block. At the end of the season, you mail the nesting block back. Pretty cool! Learn more about how to keep mason bees.
Tour the world's museums: Google Arts & Culture includes some 500 museums and galleries from around the globe that you can view from your computer. Some are virtual tours, some just have images of different art pieces. As a starting point, begin with these 10 famous museums.