For many parents, the proverbial plate has never been more full. A dramatic lifestyle shift has most of us cooped up at home, entertaining and educating our kids as best we can. It’s a grind, especially if you’re still working.
Sometimes, you need a little extra push. You can spend days — weeks, even — swimming through the seas of the internet in search of quality content suitable for your tikes. Fortunately, we’ve done a bit of that for you. Below are some great, mostly online and free-of-charge resources for parents of young children. They’re all interactive, educational, and vital right now as we try to assume the roles of nannies and teachers or try to juggle working and parenthood.
Thank the deities for public broadcasting. This invaluable site basically walks you through parenting, a healthy reminder given all that’s happening right now. Learn about pie charts by way of pizza, make a snow globe from home, discover the power of your senses, and so much. more. Better still, it weaves in a lot of the great children’s programming that PBS is known for, alongside activity guides according to age and weekly itinerary ideas. There’s even very evolved and useful sections devoted to social skills and emotional self-awareness. It’s equal parts activities for kids and guidance for parents.
You and the kids may be stuck to your yards or the nearby park but you can still explore exotic locations via National Geographic. The iconic outlet’s kids zone is set up with info about the entire animal kingdom, with the fun facts, slideshows, maps, video footage, and absorbing info you’ve grown to expect from the publication. Even if you don’t have a subscription to the magazine (although you probably should), you can spend a lot of quality time in the kid section of Nat Geo. Things like quizzes and Beaver Badminton (a joy to play) are for slightly older kids, but there’s enough there to distract toddlers for a while too.
Outer space is always intriguing, especially for young minds. The good people at NASA have a nifty page devoted to stargazing youth. Visitors can download printable storybooks, drive rovers on Mars, learn about astronauts, and navigate a virtual clubhouse fit with puzzles, coloring projects, various spacecraft, and even a calculator that shows your age and weight on other planets and moons. There are also fun STEM projects for elementary school students to complete at home, like making a cloud mobile or learning how to safely land your marshmallow astronaut.
There aren’t too many kiddos that don’t like dinosaurs. Nurture that fondness with a web portal devoted to real science and the scientists behind it. Search for fossils, learn to draw a Stegosaurus, play the calls of your favorite prehistoric critters, and so much more. It’s put together by the Museum of Natural History and part of a larger “ology” series that includes zoology, archeology, geology, just to name a few. Every subject includes its own round of games, stories, videos, and hands-on projects to keep the little ones engaged.
This Canadian television series is kinda like Mythbusters for kiddos. You can access it through YouTube or the website, which is part of a larger TV Ontario site that has its own share of activities and games. There’s a new episode every Thursday and while the content is involved enough it’s more for students, younger children will appreciate the goofy host and associated antics. It’s a fun way to expose kids to things like magnets, gravity, density, and experiments you can put together at home.
Although they cost some look and exist as physical books, this series is progressive and empowering that it must be mentioned. Ranging in seemingly adult-themed topics from divorce to money to cancer, A Kids Book About does an excellent and inventive job of breaking these heavy topics into tasty, bite-sized morsels for young readers. It’s a great way to introduce the complexities of life and the project even offers a book box club.
Many municipal library systems are using things like Overdrive to allow online access to their catalogs. It’s a fantastic way to peruse countless e-books and keep the enriching ritual of a good old fashioned library visit — virtually, at least — alive and well. Check the website of your local library for details.
Vooks has become incredibly popular over the last year. It’s ad-free, which is a perk, and focuses on the lively, animation side of reading. Giving classic children’s stories an added dimension can make them more engaging, especially if you’re having trouble getting your kids into literature (although it’s hard to beat a regular pre-bedtime reading of a physical story). Also, there are downloadable resources and helpful teaching guides that make little readers get the most out of the stories. Currently, you can get a free first month of the service. Beyond that, it’s a pretty reasonable $5 per month.
Portland, Oregon radio station 89.9 FM has spearheaded what we’re hoping is a new trend. The all-classical channel has initiated a sister station devoted to little listeners, infants to age 12, called ICAN Radio (International Children’s Arts Network). Tune in for everything from poetry, music, and literature from all over the globe to story time, dance parties, and lullaby hour. It’s designed to inspire a love for the arts and is a fantastic way to gain a perspective of the outside world while taking a much needed break from your computer, television, or tablet screen.
The imagination of Dr. Seuss never ceases to amaze. Seussville take a lot of that charm and wonder to the internet. There are extremely handy realms devoted to both parents and educators where you can access things like recipes, crafts, activities, and printable media and arts projects. There are clever games and playful DIY guides on celebrating certain Seuss-ian themes, holidays, and more at home.
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