25 Free Activity Resources to Keep Little Ones Entertained at Home
Over the past several weeks, our lives have gone from mundane to barely recognizable thanks to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that’s sweeping across the globe. Social distancing—a measure intended to cut down on unnecessary contact with others—is suddenly our new norm; daycares, schools and activities are closed across the country; and quarantines, whether self-imposed or government-mandated, are keeping our families indoors. And let’s be real, keeping cooped up kiddos busy, happy, educated and entertained is a tall order to say the least!
To help out, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of free resources to help keep your little ones entertained while you’re stuck at home together. From fun art activities to ways to get the wiggles out, you’ll find plenty of creative ways to keep toddlers and preschoolers busy until life as we remember is back up and running.
Now that packing up and heading to your favorite play space is off limits, NYC tot hotspot Union Square Play is offering virtual classes each day. Head to their website to find an off-line activity idea, a live-stream or pre-recorded activity (including fun singalongs!) and even an online support community for parents.
Check it out: unionsquareplay.com
Featuring an exhaustive list of simple DIY science projects you can do with kids as young as 1 (yes, you read that right!), GoScienceGirls is a great resource to use when you’re stuck at home for who knows how long.
Check it out: gosciencegirls.com
KiwiCo has been a leading subscription service for kids of all ages for years. Now, they’re helping parents get through this period by providing lots of different resources on their website: There’s an “activities by age” section with tons of ideas of ways to get through the day, a “daily DIY” section that uses upcycled household items, and even a parent toolkit complete with tips on how to stay healthy and sane.
Check it out: kiwico.com
The Genius of Play, brought to us by The Toy Association, is on a mission to provide families with the information and inspiration they need to make play an important part of their kid’s day—and man, do we need that more than ever right now. Their play ideas page offers loads of activity ideas, which you can filter by age, prep time and even developmental benefit.
Check it out: thegeniusofplay.org
What better way to pass the time than to do fun science experiments with your kids? It’s a great way to learn and have fun at the same time. Jackie at Happy Hooligans has shared a list of 20 amazing science experiments for toddlers and preschoolers you can do indoors.
Check it out: happyhooligans.ca
Circletime is an amazing resource for parents, bursting with options for at-home kids classes. From interactive storytime to singalongs, cooking classes, yoga classes and more, you can find something your tot will like, all available either on-demand or live-streaming. While a full membership is fee-based, you can share the link with a friend and get a free beta account.
Check it out: circletimefun.com
PBSKids is a great site for preschool-aged and younger kids, since it features many of their favorite TV characters, like Daniel Tiger and Wild Kratts. If the host of free games and videos isn’t enough to keep them busy, you can sign up for their free newsletter, which contains lots of ideas to keep kids entertained during their extended time at home.
Check it out: pbskids.org
If you’re the parent of a toddler, chances are you’re intimately familiar with her hit song, “We Are the Dinosaurs.” Well good news: Berkner is now live-streaming songs and stories every weekday at 10 a.m. CST on Facebook. (You’ll see them on her page, in case you didn’t tune in.) It’s the perfect way to get your tot to move their body and burn off some energy.
Check it out: Facebook.com
No one makes a party or playdate more fun than the amazing folks over at Jam with Jamie. Now, you can bring the fun to your own living room with their daily jam sessions. They’re completely free, and a schedule is posted every few days on their website.
Check it out: jamwithjamie.com
Plenty of New York City parents know and long the music classes offered at Music for Aardvarks, but know families across the country can tune into their 30-minute singalongs for free. They’re be live-streaming classes every Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST, but they’ll still be available afterward in case you miss it (or you tot just wants an encore.)
Check it out: manhattanaardvarks.com
Mo Willems, the author and artist behind the super-popular Piggie and Gerald series, is the artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center. Now that the iconic theatre has been shuttered for an extended period of time, he’s bringing his famous doodles right to your home with his Lunch Doodles sessions. Every day at 1 p.m. EST, Willems takes your little ones behind the scenes of his imaginative stories and inspires their little minds to create art of their own. Missed it? All sessions are available on YouTube.
Check it out: kennedy-center.org/mowillems
Toddlers love coloring books—there’s something intensely satisfying about scribbling over animal illustrations (even if staying inside the lines is definitely not within their grasp). But if you’re running out of pages and Amazon stock is running low, don’t panic—you can download coloring pages for free from Super Coloring, which boasts an exhaustive selection.
Check it out: supercoloring.com
The popular Osmo iPad app geniously combines tactile and digital learning in a way that’s fun for kids of all ages. Different games allow kids to do coding challenges, tangrams and lots of other learning activities. In light of COVID-19, Osmo is offering their super-popular Kaleidoscope app for free now through the end of March. Download it today and let your kids come up with their own amazing creations. It’s a great way to sneak in a daily art lesson!
Check it out: apps.apple.com
If you think kids and yoga don’t mix, think again! Cosmic Kids Yoga is a favorite of the preschool and toddler set. The kid-friendly yogis incorporate fun songs, colors and even stories into their yoga moves, which you can watch through YouTube. Trust us, your kids will look forward to their next downward dog!
Check it out: youtube.com
GoNoodle is a free app that kids up and moving with active screen time. It offers dance parties, yoga sessions, mindfulness activities and games to wake up their bodies and engage their minds. All of the videos and game content is created by child development experts, in tandem with choreographers, athletes and mindfulness experts.
Check it out: gonoodle.com
Oliver Jeffers, author and artist of award-winning children’s books like The Day the Crayons Quit and Stuck, is hosting a Stay at Home Story Time that you can stream from his website. Your kids can watch as he reads some of his classic stories, because, as he adorably puts it, “we are all at home, but none of us are alone.”
Check it out: oliverjeffers.com
For a wide selection of books just like the early readers your little ones love to check out from the library, visit the Scholastic website, where a new lesson is posted every day. There’s a Pre-K/Kindergarten level that’s perfect for the youngest crowd, and daily offerings include a short storytime video, a book you can read to your kiddos and easy activities to complete. Similar to the curriculum at many preschools, each day has a different theme, like rabbits, rain or animals.
Check it out: classroommagazines.scholastic.com
Josh Gad, the actor who was the voice of Olaf in Frozen, has committed to helping bring a bit of fun into everyone’s households during this trying time. He’s posting daily Twitter videos of himself reading some of your kids’ favorite books, like Olivia Goes to Venice and The Day the Crayons Quit.
Check it out: twitter.com
Calling all shark lovers! There’s a shark story hour you can check out for free. In light of the sweeping closures as a result of COVID-19, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is hosting a daily Shark Story Hour on Facebook that’s fantastic. It features a different shark-themed book reading each day, followed by a super fun Q&A session your littles will love.
Check it out: Facebook.com
Despite it being closed to the public due to the spread of COVID-19, the New England Aquarium is constantly updating its website and social media channels with new content your little ones will love, from live-streamed feedings of Myrtle the Sea Turtle to a closer look at lobster claws. Live streams are each day at 11 a.m. EST, but if that falls during naptime, no worries—all content will be posted on the aquarium’s website and social media platforms afterward.
Check it out: neaq.org
The San Diego Zoo is one of the most famous zoos in the world, with more than more than 4,000 furry, scaly and hairy residents. Although it’s closed currently due to coronavirus concerns, zoo staff are maintaining several live cams for kids to keep tabs on their favorite animals during the shutdown.
Check it out: zoo.sandiegozoo.org
You can’t beat National Geographic when it comes to online educational content—and their kids site definitely doesn’t disappoint. When boredom strikes, head over for full-color games, videos and stories featuring tons of different animals. And if you have older kids too, be sure to check out their Weird but True facts.
Check it out: kids.nationalgeographic.com
Stuck inside? It’s a perfect time to introduce your little ones to the wonderful world of podcasts—and we think Cool Facts About Animals is a great place to start. It’s hosted by a mom together with her three kids who simply chat about a particular animal in each episode. Your little animal lover will be enchanted by this magically simple podcast.
Check it out: podcasts.apple.com
Looking for free resources for your little kitchen helpers? You’ve got to check out the America’s Test Kitchen site for kids. It’s loaded with fun at-home activities, including simple recipes they can make and enjoy, quizzes about different foods (do this with your toddler or have an older sibling help) and even fun activities your kids can complete. Cooking together is a great way to teach your kids about math and science. Not only that, they’re much more likely to try a food if they’ve put effort into making it. What better time to nip that picky eating habit in the bud?
Check it out: americastestkitchen.com
Foublie—which offers online resources for kids’ nutrition—has begun sending a weekly email with food-based play, learning and cooking ideas for kids 2 to 4, all of which result in healthy and yummy snacks to eat. We promise a side dish of lots of laughs and the opportunity for your little one to learn new skills, and maybe even try a new food.
Check it out: foublie.com
Published March 2020
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