Many organizations are providing low cost, no cost or extended trials of their services, and I’ve compiled several as I try to keep the Minecraft time to a minimum during the shelter-in-place order. Many below are in use at my household, and I freely share in the hopes that they may help others find age appropriate, fun and engaging activities. I’m also hoping you’ll share YOUR great tips and activities in the comments.
Also, let’s be clear. I’ve received no incentive for sharing the links below. They are not affiliate links, nor do I guarantee their services or terms or conditions. Data or other charges may apply if you connect to the internet, your results may vary, batteries not included, and stop annoying your sister. Now that we’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way, read on.
LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
It’s hard to keep the skills fresh when classes are suddenly delivered remotely. And for young learners who will be taking their first foreign language next semester, how about getting an early jump now and through the summer?
Rosetta Stone is offering their service free of charge for 3 months to students affected by COVID-19. Spanish, German, French and Japanese are just some of the 30 possibilities. Register here: https://www.rosettastone.com/freeforstudents/
DIGITAL COOKING CLASSES FOR KIDS
Delish is live each weekday (at 1pm EST) with cook-along videos for free on Instagram. Tomorrow they’re crafting Easter Egg Strawberries. Whoah! I hope they don’t mind if I tune in as well. You can find their full schedule here.
LEARN HOW TO BUILD A THEME PARK, THE DISNEY WAY
Developed in partnership with Khan Academy and Pixar, Disney is offering Imagineering in a Box — a series of interactive lessons in theme park design and engineering. It provides videos, case studies and activities so kids can design their own theme park experience. Register on the Khan Academy website link.
GO TO THE (VIRTUAL) AQUARIUM
Aquarium of the Pacific is closed to the general public but is now offering free educational programing with their Aquarium Online Academy instead. The live, online courses are segmented by school grade and offer certificates of completion, which you can find here.
TAKE A MUSEUM TOUR, OR VISIT THE ZOO
The San Diego Zoo has free https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos live cams of many of their animal habitats including elephants, koalas, pandas, penguins and baboons.
LEARN TO PLAY GUITAR (OR BASS)
RockSmith isn’t new (it was released several years ago) and it isn’t free, but it’s available on PC, XBOX 360, XBOX One, Max or Sony Playstation and is a good way to get started learning guitar in the absence of in-person lessons. This isn’t Rock Band; you use a real electric guitar or bass (supplied by you) and a connection to your gaming console (with a special cable typically included in the package) or PC so it can keep tabs on your progress. It’s basically the tabular method of learning, but the kids will be playing some familiar rock jams from the likes of Foo Fighters instead of say, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. As a bonus, multiplayer is supported so two can rock out at the same time (brother and sister?). In addition to the starter pack of songs, there are more than 1000 available as downloadable (also not free) content. Get more information from the developer Ubisoft here.
GET YOUR SWEAT ON
Let’s face it, shelter-in-place is starting to sound a bit like Minecraft-in-place. And no school means less P.E. To counter that, there are several kid focused cardio workouts on YouTube that you should check out. POPSUGAR has a good one here, and it’s under 15 minutes.
LACE UP THOSE KICKS
Speaking of PE, if the weather is nice outside, soak up some sun. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and some determination. Do it as a family! Parents magazine has a free 5k 6-Week Training plan for families here. Create a virtual race family for next month and get it done!
JOURNAL THE EXPERIENCE
These are unprecedented times, and a good opportunity for young writers to capture their experiences in written, audio or video form. A pen and paper or tablet is a good starting point. Kids can focus on 1–3 paragraphs per day, and it might provide good moments to review as a family each night. For video enthusiasts, 1 Second Everyday is a video diary that allows you to stitch together…you guessed it, 1 second of each day. I was hooked after I first saw it showcased in the Jon Favreau movie, Chef. When you’re done with the quarantine (or longer), you’ll have a nice compilation reel. The app is available for free on iOS and Android.
BUILD A 3D MODEL
I’ve had fun building 3D puzzles and models with my children as a break from screen time. This week, we completed a Hurdy Gurdy from uGears. This isn’t a free activity, but provides a change from card or board games while in quarantine. As a multi-day activity, it also instills learning concepts like patience, engineering, working together and the satisfaction of completing a complex project. Other manufacturers have options including Wood Trick and ROKR.
PHONE A FRIEND (OR FOUR)
There are several free opportunities to connect with friends and loved ones and most are cross-platform. Zoom and Skype are popular and cross-platform, while FaceTime is good for the Apple-only crowd.
LEARN AI, FROM THE MARK CUBAN FOUNDATION
The Mark Cuban Foundation is hosting a Learn Artificial Intelligence in 60 Minutes virtual workshop for free on April 15. This looks promising for older students and educators interested in an intro to AI. Register here.
Got any others to share? Please let me know.