As we are all well aware of, COVID-19 has us self-isolating. With family. While some of us are in the habit of working from home, others have spouses or partners who are new to the routine. In my family, both my husband and I work outside of the house. And this has been a drastic adjustment.
It is like one day you wake up ashore of an island, and now it is just you and your family all the time. I am trying to remain productive as I continue working full-time and oversee my kids’ e-schooling efforts.
After weeks of self-distancing and with still weeks ahead of us, one thing has become clear – my kids need to remain busy.
How do you keep your kids interested in learning while they’re separated from their teachers and friends? How about virtual learning opportunities?
You can still virtually visit several museums, zoos, and galleries. So many of them offer free virtual tours with some educational angles. Google developed a list of attractions around the world that provide virtual tours. The Midwest is home to its share of virtual tours, each offering educational opportunities.
Chicago is home to a stable of outstanding museums, zoos, and galleries. Featuring a daily subject to explore, the Field Museum shares its collection of natural history exhibits and art pieces.
From Sue the Tyrannosaurus-rex in the main entrance to animal dioramas, the Field Museum’s exhibits offer detailed looks into the collection. Learn about the Tsavo lions, two brothers who stalked African railroad camps in the late 1800s, as well as insects, where you can learn about the Regal Fritillary butterfly, which is native to the Chicago area.
With more than 1,500 species, the Shedd Aquarium offers a look at some of its animals, including sandbar sharks and Philippine garden eels, as well as sea otters, who put a rock on their bellies to help open clams and mussels. You can also take a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium with 360-degree views.
Explore the stars and planets at Adler Planetarium. Learn about the constellations as part of the planetarium’s online exhibits. You can hear the words of astronaut Jim Lovell as he describes looking at earth during the Apollo 13 mission. The Adler offers several virtual opportunities to explore space.
Explore the famed Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis as you learn about nature and different cultures as they relate to the gardens. Featuring YouTube videos, guides showcase the botanical garden’s many exhibits. Besides the beauty of flowers and spring’s early leaves, you can learn about composting and other exciting activities.
The Missouri History Museum offers opportunities to research events and people from the state’s past through the museum’s site and its online library, as well as the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum link. You can join history discussions through Zoom.
The Twin Cities are home to impressive museums and galleries, including the Science Museum of Minnesota. Here, you can have fun while learning about unique science subjects, such as nanotechnology and animals. The museum has current topics available for discussion, including COVID-19 and racism that has grown from misperceptions of the virus, as well as how science works in medical care.
Learning doesn’t have to be all work and no play, as the Minnesota Children’s Museum shares with visitors. Create a list of activities that challenge the mind while also allowing children to have fun. Make music by creating an instrument out of items around the house! Play outside and stretch your muscles while also using your imagination! The activities are endless!
The museum also addresses stress children may experience during the pandemic. Even if you continue working at home, schedule time throughout the day to spend with kids. Help them understand that you can take a break and play or have a snack time with them. The Minnesota Children’s Museum also recommends attending virtual storytime daily at 10:30 a.m. CT with the St. Paul Library via Facebook Live.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best museums in the country to visit in-person, so it seems evident that it would also offer outstanding virtual learning/play opportunities. Offering a variety of daily virtual learning programs, the museum features an updated schedule on its Facebook page.
The museum also offers videos of activities, such as learning how to skip, do-it-yourself science projects, and learn about dinosaurs and how they get their names. You can even learn how paleontologists dig for fossils by creating your fossil dig using cookies. So much fun in learning!
Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum at home through its online attractions, including teaching guides and audio guides. Children’s activities include grade-appropriate projects like poetry based on pieces of artwork they can find by visiting the museum online.
They can create their own stories about what goes on at the museum after hours with “Night at the Museum.” Audio guides give you a tour of the museum, along with its collections, as well as a mystery that children can follow along and maybe help solve.
Learn about the history of America’s most famous motorcycle company and a Milwaukee icon with a tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum. Showcasing motorcycles from each year since opening its doors in 1903, the museum also includes special exhibits and displays. Online, you can learn about the company’s history, as well as some of its unique products, including bicycles and snowmobiles.
A virtual tour of Harley-Davidson offers children and parents an opportunity to learn about the history of motorcycles and transportation.
World War I has been called the “Great War.” Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum and offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about history while taking a virtual tour of the exhibits and galleries.
With authentic military equipment, uniforms, and weapons, the World War I museum takes you on an impressive journey, showcasing exhibits featuring trenches and posters used to help create support and raise money, as well as a look at the Christmas truce of 1914.
Want to go further?
Take a virtual train ride around the world. Explore the United States, Ride a Nordland Line in Norway or board a cart on the Wengernalp Railway in Switzerland. There is a list of 13 virtual train rides you can take right now!
While the world deals with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, art and science have stepped to the forefront as we find ways to keep ourselves entertained and informed. From European art galleries to Midwestern museums, we are blessed to have several opportunities to help our children learn and still have fun. Stay safe.