If you're anything like me, your social media feeds have been inundated with free online things to do while social distancing. I decided to compile them into one big master post for easy browsing! These are great ways to supplement the digital offerings you get for free with your library card. Scroll down to check out some of the awesome activities I've found. Feel free to email me - firstname.lastname@example.org - if you find others! Also, let me know if anything is broken or misrepresented, or if you've had a particularly good experience with any of these! I'll update periodically as I find more cool stuff.
Many vendors and service providers are working with the benefit of children in mind. However, beware of scams and data trolling. An abundance of free tools and special offers due to school closures mean we need to practice cybersafety and exercise critical thinking when curating and sharing resources with others. Be especially vigilant about those that request an email address or ages of kids. This document from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) outlines some reminders.
Check with your local school district regarding virtual learning, technology needs, and meal services for area students. The District Planning and Implementation Resources for Virtual Learning webpage from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) continues to be updated with valuable information. Visit the DPI agency wide COVID-19 webpage for specific tools for early learning and K-12 instructional areas.
While there are lots of neat learning opportunities and activities, I want to highlight this post, Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic (via ChildTrends). If you're not sure how to talk to your child about the pandemic, or if they have questions you don't know how to answer, this is a great place to start. And since we can't take care of anyone else unless we take care of ourselves, New Harbringer posted a list of resources and exercises for adults and teens dealing with anxiety and stress in this uncertain time.
Now, on to the fun stuff!
Books and Such
- ABDO Publishing has educational materials for ages preK-12th grade, and they'll be free through the month of June. Some of these include craft and activity books, so be sure to check them out!
- BadgerLink - Wisconsin's Online Library - provides Wisconsin residents with licensed trustworthy content not available through regular search engines, from personal interest to educational research, and even test prep (SAT, ACT, GED, and even AP courses). You always have free access to BadgerLink with your library card, but even more resources are temporarily available during the shutdown - including over 3 million pages of newspapers! BadgerLink also provides scavenger hunts, quizzes, and videos to help you learn your way around.
- JSTOR, an academic research database, made over 6,000 ebooks and over 150 journals accessible without the need for an online login. Research to your heart's content until June 30!
- Lerner Publishing is offering free access to 500+ ebooks for preK-5th grade, and over 250 for grades 6-12. They're also offering permission to record readings of their books until June 30! They also have a podcast and a YouTube channel with author interviews, book trailers, and other educational offerings.
- The National Emergency Library is a digital collection of books that supports emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed. (by Archive.org)
- OpenCulture - Audiobooks, online courses, movies, languages, lectures, textbooks, ebooks, and more!
- Open Library - Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published. Books are available to read anytime or to borrow, depending on copyright status.
- OverDrive (available through the Libby app) has a collection of always available ebooks! Also check out their Lucky Day collection of popular, currently available titles.
- Project Gutenberg - a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.
- Riveted has free young adult ebooks from SimonTeen, plus video content, quizzes, polls, and book recommendations!
- Scribd - a paid reading app that offers a 30-day free trial. Don't forget to cancel if you don't want to pay!
- SimonTeen offers free YA books to read whenever!
- Sync provides free downloads of different young adult titles each week, starting April 30. Until then, you can follow the link to receive reminders and updates!
- TumbleBooks is offering free access to West Bend Community Memorial Library users until August 31, 2020. Use these links to check out these awesome resources and educational activities!
Crafts, Activities, and Projects
- 100 Activities To Do At Home During School Closures (via Entertain Kids on a Dime)
- 101 Things To Do At Home with Kids (via OnMilwaukee)
- 20 Screen-Free Things To Do With Your Kids Indoors When School Is Closed (via Saved You a Spot)
- 30 Free Virtual Learning Resources for COVID-19 School Closures (via Cara Carroll)
- Ahha Tulsa - Ideas for creative projects with supplies you can find at home!
- Amazing Educational Resources, organized into a nice spreadsheet and constantly updating
- Book Madness is still running virtually! Vote for your favorite children's and teen books each week.
- Camp NaNoWriMo - from the folks who bring you National Novel Writing Month, keep track of a creative writing goal with friends, tips, and support throughout the month of April!
- Disney Zumba is here! Stay active with your favorite Disney songs.
- Education companies are offering free subscriptions due to school closures (via KidsActivitiesBlog)
- This Facebook group is compiling resources to use with kids and teens
- Fifty environmental activities kids can do at home (via Environment America)
- Free Educational Websites compiled by a homeschooler and former classroom teacher
- Free Spirit Publishing has ideas and activities for promoting social and emotional skills for kids, teens, and adults
- Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls is full of crafts, Lego projects, learning ideas, and more
- Check out this digital Hogwarts Escape Room (via Book Riot)
- Radio Milwaukee updated their on-air schedule to include music history lessons on weekdays, concert replays, and a Kids Disco party on Saturday mornings. Tune your radio to 88.9FM, or stream online!
- Ranger Rick is offering free access to their archives, including outdoor activities, animal crafts, and more!
- Scholastic Learn at Home has day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
- Two weeks worth of fun and easy science experiments (via Milwaukee With Kids)
- Waldorf Window Stars Tutorial (via Rhythms of Play)
- The National Weather Service has lessons, games, and videos to keep kids engaged in science
- Write a letter/send a card to a local assisted living facility! (via Jackson PD)
- #OperationStorytime - Your Favorite Authors Host Story Time Online! (via (cool)Progeny)
- Also check out #OperationASLStorytime for storytimes done in American Sign Language
- Amazing People Coming Together to Provide Online Literacy Resources - all kinds of online literacy resources including storytimes, apps, podcast recommendations, and more! (via Growing Book By Book)
- At-Home Activities & Resources from the Wisconsin Library Association
- 20 Virtual Field Trips to Take with Your Kids (via Adventures in Familyhood)
- MOWA (Museum of Wisconsin Art) Virtual Tour
- Paris Museums Put 100,000 Images Online for Unrestricted Public Use (via Kottke)
- Pete the Cat creator James Dean is doing live storytimes on Instagram
- Tour 2,500 World-Famous Museums From the Comfort of Your Own Sofa (via GoodNewsNetwork)
- Google lets you explore U.S. National Parks via 360-degree virtual tours (via TechCrunch)
- Astronauts read picture books from the International Space Station with Storytime from Space
- Virtual School Activities compiles live webcams, virtual tours/trips, and other miscellaneous fun academic sites
- 1,150 Free Movies Online (via OpenCulture)
- BroadwayHD offers a one-week free trial to watch as many Broadway shows as you want (via Travel + Leisure)
- 15 Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch On Stage From Home (via Playbill)
- The Center for Puppetry Arts will livestream performances for free (via AJC)
- Explore.org has live animal and nature webcams - great for education AND relaxation!
- Live Video Streams from Monterey Bay Aquarium (via Laughing Squid)
- The Metropolitan Opera is streaming live, HD opera performances every day.
- Milwaukee County Zoo has animal livestreams to brighten your day
- National Geographic's YouTube channel has some incredible content. (I'm particularly fond of their 101 Videos, as well as their Short Film Showcase)
- Netflix subscribers, check out 30 Educational Netflix Shows (via We Are Teachers)
- NPR Tiny Desk Concerts are amazing (but definitely for the older crowd - preview the content before sharing with kids!)
- PBS Digital Studios has educational content on a ton of topics
- While Disney World & Disneyland Are Closed, Take Your Kids On Virtual Rides (via Romper)