While kids are likely thrilled by the prospect of “no school”, as a parent you might find yourself a little less enthused by the idea. What will they do all day? Where will they do it? And how will you get anything done with your little rascals running rampant around the house in the middle of what should be a school day?! If thoughts like these are keeping you up at night, fear no more. Working from home with kids is far more doable when you’ve got a few interactive learning activities up your sleeve.
Fun, and very useful, fact: loads of museums and attractions across the globe provide online resources for kids that are both entertaining and educational. From online interactive science games to clickable timelines and creative activities, this list of interactive resources will give you a host of ways to keep the kids busy and you, well, sane.
Creative interactive learning activities
Getty Museum’s Getty Games
Here’s a great way to make working from home with kids a breeze. The Los Angeles-based Getty Museum offers a selection of free online games centred around art. From close-up looks at famous paintings to exploring a virtual cabinet of curiosities, Getty Games offers click-happy kids the chance to play around while learning about art. So, if you’ve got an art fanatic in the house, add this to your list of fun things to do at home.
Note: Make sure you’ve got Flash player installed to make use of this resource.
Museum of Early Trades and Crafts At Home
Keen to get your kids away from the screen? Try these recipes, games and arts and crafts. The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts’ At Home section is chock-a-block with fun things to do when you’re working from home with kids. Head to the kitchen to try out some 1800s recipes or get your kids DIYing and let them try their hands at crocheting or quilting.
Roald Dahl’s website for kids
Fans of the late and beloved children’s book writer will delight in this home activity for kids. (Don’t pretend you didn’t long for Matilda’s powers or wish for a golden ticket each time you opened a chocolate bar.) Listen to actor Stanley Tucci read The Witches, take a quiz on your favourite Roald Dahl book or do an activity based on one of his timeless tales. Whichever option you choose, just remember to let your kids have a turn, too.
Science-themed interactive learning activities
California Academy of Sciences @ Home
For the future Albert Einsteins who are currently still refusing to eat their peas and having a real hard time missing out on science class, there’s the California Academy of Science @ Home. Let your kids get closer to nature through the Academy’s animal webcams, allow them to explore the academy’s scientific collection, and sneak in a few lessons with interactive learning games.
American Museum of Natural History’s Ology section
Who doesn’t love a good interactive learning resource about dinosaurs? When you’re working from home with kids, these games, stories and videos from the American Museum of Natural History’s Ology could be a real game changer. With options like reconstructing a dino skeleton, examining fossils and even dressing up a T-Rex, your kids will be well entertained. And, you’ll be able to call working from home a success.
San Diego Zoo Kids
Compensate for that planned trip to the zoo by bringing the animals to your children with the help of San Diego Zoo’s website for kids. Loaded with animal-themed games, activities, videos and more, this interactive site is almost as good as going to the actual zoo. The only downside: you may find it hard to tear yourself away from the penguin cam and get some actual work done.
The Exploratorium on Viruses
“But what is a Coronavirus, Mom? Why do I have to wash my hands again, Dad?” If you’re finding it tough to answer your kids’ Coronavirus questions, let the Exploratorium help you out with a full learning kit on viruses. Using activities and videos, the Exploratorium tackles a topic that even has some adults scratching their heads. And once you’re done with viruses, the Exploratorium offers activities and learning resources on more topics.
Virtual Koshland Science Museum
If you’re working from home with kids and looking for a way to keep the science lessons going, without reliving your own science class nightmares, here’s one for you.
From climate change to anatomy, the Koshland Science Museum tackles a range of topics in its virtual exhibits in an engaging and fun way. Click through stories about the greenhouse effect, play a digit memory game, then explore the structure of the brain. The options are numerous. This museum also features a section on infectious diseases for kids who are having a hard time understanding why they can’t have a playdate this afternoon.
Discovery Children’s Museum
Here’s another way to keep up with those science lessons: the Discovery Children’s Museum. In addition to its range of science-related activities and video lessons, the museum also offers printable colouring in pages and virtual art classes to keep your kids entertained and educated.
History-based interactive learning activities
Virtuelles Migration Museum
Turn History into your kids’ favourite school subject with an interactive learning experience at the Virtual Migration Museum. A project created by the Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany (DOMiD), this virtual museum offers an in-depth look at migration patterns after World War II and how they helped to shape the world we live in today. Kids can click on and explore buildings in a fictional cityscape to learn about different aspects of migration.
This is one for the wannabe astronauts in your house. Kick off your space history lesson with the JFK Moonshot interactive site, which allows you to move around a virtual moon and learn about aspects of the Apollo II moon landing. If that’s not enough for you, download the JFK Moonshot app for AR games, more history and your own (virtual) shot at launching a full scale, 363-foot Saturn V rocket.
Age of Revolution Timeline
The late 1700s through to the late 1800s make up the age of revolution – which was a busy time for nations around the world. Help your kids get their historical ducks in a row (and in the right order) with the Age of Revolution Timeline. This interactive site is a great way to give your kids an overview of the period. If you need to narrow down your subject matter, you can also explore the age of revolution by themes like politics, social and cultural revolution, war and economics.
The Met Kids Time Machine
Of course the Met has thought of something for kids, as well. Substitute your visit to one of New York’s iconic museums with a click-around their interactive online time machine. The time machine makes for a novel way for kids to explore the collection by allowing them to click on different times, places and themes to see what was created by whom and when.
Titanic Virtual Tour
Here’s how to get on board with working from home with kids: let your children take a virtual tour of the Titanic on the Titanic Museum’s Youtube channel, Titanic kids. Yes, this is a much better way to teach your kids about the iconic ship than watching Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio dance in the ship’s servants’ quarters, among, erm, other things.
More interactive learning opportunities
Now that you’ve covered art, history and science class, have even more fun with these interactive sites and their virtual offerings.
Field trip canceled because of self-isolation policies? Cheer up your children with a VR field trip. Covering a range of themes and places, Kai XR allows your kids to explore the world without leaving the safety of the living room. Make the experience extra immersive by giving them a VR mobile headset (get the cardboard DIY kind, and add a cheap and cheerful activity to your list of fun things to do at home). These VR field trips work just as well on a phone or laptop, so you don’t have to get a headset if you haven’t the time or means. Some examples of the VR field trips that KAI offers: the Solar System, the Official Obama Portraits, Starry Night, and the Human Body.
Google Arts & Culture
This resource is especially for those of you who are worried about running out of activities. Just one look at Google Arts & Culture’s impressive collection of virtual tours, videos, activities and information packs will set your mind right at ease. The project has partnered with 1,200 museums and cultural attractions around the world to create an amazing interactive site.
Not sure where to start? Have a little fun with the art selfies app and find out which painting you and your kids resemble most.