[Updated 10:30p EDT, March 30]
This virus has changed many things for all of us – plans, schedules, budgets. 4 in 4 Years had been simmering in my mind for a while, with plans to launch after I had written several posts (lighter topics than COVID-19 like, say, dealing with lice or toilet training, ha!). This new normal has turned my plan inside out — I’ve started this blog with only one post to help families immediately. Many of us have a house of kids of all ages while we practice social distancing which may feel daunting. I would love to set us all up for success by sharing some ideas (all free of cost) on how to make the best of this difficult time.
I will keep updating the list with more ideas (check the time/date stamp at the top to see if there’s new content at the bottom of lists). Please do share your ideas in the comments, I’ll include in the post. Let’s aim to keep these ideas free of cost. We’re in this together! YOU GOT THIS!!
Note: all links are live, WordPress has trouble with making them appear live, just hover over “link here” to click.
- Khan Academy – learn all the things, we use this platform for math and coding for our family. Link here.
- Crash Course Kids – YouTube video learning, looks fun! Link here.
- Skype a Scientist – just that. Sign up to ask questions of an expert, kids’ questions welcomed! Link here.
- TED Talks curated for kids. Link here.
- Scholastic Learn at Home. Link here.
- Kiwi Crate has a free resource page with, among other things schedule ideas.
- Nat Geo Kids
- The American Museum of Natural History in NYC has a science website for kids – Ology! Link here.
- Merriam-Webster – yes the dictionary – has a repository of online word games. Link here.
- Smithsonian Learning Lab – a distance learning site with lots of resources for kids parents teachers. See Culture list for specific museums. Link here.
- Smithsonian’s “Fun Stuff for Kids Online” is a treasure trove. Link here.
- ABCYA, loads of grade-specific games. Link here.
- Science Kids. Link here.
- PBS Kids. Link here.
- Turtle Diary has games for PreK-5th. Link here.
- MOOC.org (for the acronym-challenged like myself, this means Massive Online Open Course). They have currently 1500+ courses running now from MIT, Harvard, IBM and more. Great for high school kids. Link here.
- Open Middle has a ton of math resources grades K-12. Link here.
- Educator @dixonclassroom has compiled an amazing Google Sheet of K-2 learning resources. Link here.
- Educator @SoniaPArellano shared a site that has 50 sciences experiments for kids in Spanish. Link here.
- Rosetta Stone has offered 3 months free for students K-12 to do language learning for a number of their languages. Note – you’ll have to fill out a form to verify it’s for a student. Link here.
- Edutopia has many free resources:
- TED added a new resource for elementary middle high school and university students: TEDED@Home. Link here.
- The Capital Weather Gang is launching Weather School for kids. Link here.
- The White House Historical Association (they manage all the objects in the White House, think plates/art) has a learning site. Link here.
- Class Central has a list of free online Ivy League college courses. Link here.
- Open Library has 30k books for kids of all ages. All free. Link here.
- Josh Gad, known by our kids as Olaf from the Frozen movies, is reading children’s books nightly via live stream during this social distancing phase, using all the voices. Starting with link here.
- Magic Tree House, the beloved series has a great online resource with activities and downloads. Link here.
- Authors’ websites. Think about your kids’ favorite books, typically the authors have fabulous content on their site with activities and ideas. I’ve started a list at the bottom – please leave a comment with your favorites!
- YouTube has loads of books read aloud – I won’t link as I’m torn about authors getting supported for their work, but some families really aren’t able to have an Audible account.
- Storyline Online, videos of celebrities reading children’s books and includes has teaching resources. Link here.
- The Spanish Experiment – they’ve translated popular kids books into Spanish and read aloud by a native Spanish speaker. Link here.
- Acclaimed author RJ Palacio will be reading her blockbuster book “Wonder” at 12:00p ET, more info to come #WONDERreadaloud. Link here.
- DC Public Library is holding live story times for young children and babies on their Facebook page every weekday at 10:30a ET with a friend of mine Theresa! Link here.
- Audible – stream books read aloud – opened up their platform for kids as long as schools are closed. Link here.
Podcasts for Kids
- @aliranger29 wrote a fantastic thread for many podcasts we’re looking forward to starting! Link here.
- Our family’s personal favorites:
Art & Maker & STEAM
- Beloved author/illustrator Mo Willems – of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” fame – will be hosting free daily lunchtime doodle video tutorials for the next few weeks. Link here.
- National Gallery of Art has a free app for kids: NGAKids Art Zone. Get introduced to art history and make your own art. Link here.
- Art for Kids on YouTube, great for elementary and younger kids. Link here.
- Brit + Co are hosting free online classes until 3/31. Best for high schoolers and middle schoolers. Link here.
- Serious Creatures has so many wonderful things including a series of video tutorials to teach kids how to draw anything from Star Wars ‘good guys’ to woodland creatures. Link here.
- Kid Museum is offering maker ideas on Instagram, Facebook, and via email updates #KIDmakes. Link here.
- The National Children’s Museum is offering STEAM activities #STEAMwork. Link here.
- iGameMom is a wonderful STEM resource for kids K-12. Link here.
- Disney launched a new YouTube channel that will publish drawing tutorials #DrawWithDisneyAnimation. Link here.
- National Geographic pulled together a list of activities for kids. Link here.
- The KID Museum – a maker studio and one of our family’s favorites places to go – has a newsletter with fantastic and doable ideas for home. Link here.
Puzzles & Games
- Jigsaw puzzles online. Link here.
- Thinkable Puzzles has amazing printables for word-play puzzles for middle and high schoolers. Link here.
- KrazyDad has a massive set of puzzles of all sorts. Link here.
- International Museum Virtual Tours from across the globe! Link here.
- Metropolitan Opera Free Live Streams during closure – the full schedule is here.
- Cincinnati Zoo will stream a Home Safari Facebook Live on weekdays at 3pm Eastern, featuring an animal and an activity during closure. Link here.
- World renown Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is posting nightly #SongsofComfort during this outbreak, the first one is here.
- Italian opera singer Maurizio Marchini has now posted two evenings of serenading his neighborhood from his balcony while on lock down. Link here.
- National Parks Virtual tours – visit Hawai’i, Alaska and in between. Link here.
- Hike the Great Wall of China with this virtual tour. Link here.
- Detroit Symphony Orchestra performances. Link here.
- Smithsonian Museums are closed but here’s how you can ‘visit’ some of them from your favorite couch (or nook as we like to do, in our house) with lessons and resources.
- National Building Museum. Link here.
- Google Arts and Culture has an enormous amount of resources. See the view atop the Eiffel Tour or Macchu Pichu. See famous artwork – up close or the Hubble Space Telescope. Link here.
- The National Air and Space Museum has a lot to offer.
- Kid World Citizen has a list of movies for kids from around the world with accompanying lesson plans. Link here.
- The Budapest Festival Orchestra is running Quarantine Soirees. Link here.
- Kennedy Center’s Digital Stage has an incredible selection of performances to peruse. Link here.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga – our kids have enjoyed this video resource in the classroom and at home. Link here.
- Calm – the mindfulness app has free resources here.
- Headspace – some free guidance on calm here.
- A roundup of (mostly) free mindfulness apps for kids on Parents.com. Link here.
- My dear friend Jade Floyd wrote this uplifting and empowering post about 10 things we can do in a season where we cannot do many things. Link here.
- Mindful Schools is offering free classes for kids online on Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays for the next few weeks at 1:00p ET. Link here.
- Move to Learn MS has videos that guide dance and movement, split across ages for middle and high schoolers, 4th-6th graders, K-3rd graders, and preschoolers. Link here.
- GROOV3 Dance has short mini workouts for a quick brain break – great for middle and high school kids. Link here.
- Udemy has a free online course to learn Martial Arts (for beginners!). Link here.
- Tinkergarden has great lists of outside activities for younger kids – toddler through 5th grade. Link here.
- Choreographer (and SO much more) Debbi Allen posted on Instagram free dance classes #dancewithdebbieallen. Link here.
- PE at home – Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, is posting workouts for kids while they’re at home. Link here.
Working From Home Support
- Lowell School offers some practical tips on how to balance being a working parent and full time parent while social distancing. Link here.
- Child Mind Institute shares thoughts on Coronavirus and how to be successful at home. Link here.
- Harvard Business Review (they allow 3 free articles a month), has a piece about parents who work from home with great advice on time blocking. Link here.
- The World Economic Forum offers some approaches for success. Link here.
- Entrepreneur has a working list of (now 65) free tools to help during this pandemic . Link here.
- National Geographic published a piece about maintaining kids’ mental health. Link here.
Storm Family Resources
- Our social distancing Daily Schedule, feel free to copy and make it your own. Link here. This updated schedule now reflects how we’re handling online school work, and for the most part has helped the day run smoothly! Remembering to be flexible (not always easy for me to do!).
- Our Daily Checklist, checking off items is very helpful for our crew, we use this all year to help set a good pace after school. I’ve left the headers blank for you to customize. Curious about our list? Reading, Khan Academy, Piano, Homework. Link here.
- Writing Prompts – to help keep up with creative writing, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Link here.
- Digital Dinners – with social distancing we’re trying to be more connected than ever. We’ve invited other families and friends to coordinate dinner time and fire up their iPads or laptops and video chat during dinner. Our inaugural one was loud and lovely. Our kids helped create these tips for success and questions to ask. Our massive whiteboard calendar, now cleaned of all previously scheduled events now boasts the first few dinners we’ve slated. Something to look forward to! Link here.
- Movie list – taped to the fridge is a hand written list of all the movies our kids want to watch, pen handy to be added to.
- Activity list – also taped to the fridge is another hand written list of things we’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time. French braiding hair. Spa day. Baking. Finally nailing that terrible puzzle.
- Pinterest is an amazing trove of art project ideas using their search tool. You wouldn’t believe how many things you can create with a toilet paper roll. Really.
- Sleep – though we are keeping to a schedule, we’re also taking this time to let our kids rest. Maybe we will too!
- Long term art project – we started a project we know will take time. It’ll be a testament to our time together. It’s just cut up pieces of magazines, glued to a large piece of paper in a rainbow gradient. What can you all work on together that will be a visual reminder of – for most of us – the longest time spent together ever (unless you’re in the habit of taking month-long vacations).
Author Websites (with activities/resources)
- Kate and Sarah Klise. Link here.
- Their series “Three Ring Rascals” has a wonderful activity filled site. Link here.
- Vashti Harrison. Link here.
- Debbi Michiko Florence. Link here.
- Nadia L. Hohn. Link here.
- Trenton Lee Stewart’s series “The Mysterious Benedict Society”. Link here.
- RJ Palacio’s amazing book “Wonder” has an array of downloadable resources. Link here.
- Roald Dahl. Link here.
- Dr. Seuss. Link here.
- Kate DiCamillo is a prolific children’s author. Our children love her books.
- Mercy Watson series. Link here.
- Dav Pilkey, author of the “Captain Underpants” series has a bunch of online activities. Link here.