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As COVID-19 causes us to all hunker down at home, you may be wondering how to manage working while keeping your kiddos occupied without overloading them on Netflix. Below are some of the best free or cheap activities I’ve seen, sorted by age group.
We’ve listed things right up DoughRoller’s alley like financial games and tools. But we also included arts, crafts, games, and anything that will give mom and dad a few minutes of quiet time to take a conference call. Enjoy!

Things to Do With Kids During Coronavirus Quarantine and Social Distancing

All Ages

1. Meditation can help ease anxiety and provide a more relaxed home. The app Calm has provided free meditations for kids between ages 3- 17.

2. Khan Academy has some great free resources on schedules from preschool to 12th grade.

3. If your kids are asking to go to the zoo, you can do the next best thing: watch from afar. The famed San Diego Zoo has 10 live cams, the Monterey Bay Aquarium shows the sharks, the Atlanta zoo has the Panda Cam, the Georgia zoo shows penguins and whales, and the Cincinnati zoo has a Facebook Live video that features a different animal each day. If you want to hear from the humans who work at the zoo, check out Brookfield Zoo’s “Bring the Zoo To You Facebook Live Chats.”

4. If your kids like dinosaurs, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has a virtual tour.

5. Google Arts & Culture has curated tours of some of the world’s best museums.

6. Want to go outdoors instead? Check out Mammoth Hot Springs or Mud Volcano from Yellowstone National Park.

7. Or take your kids on a virtual trip of the Great Wall of China instead.

8. If China doesn’t seem far enough away, check out Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover from the comfort of your laptop.

9. Need to work out some energy or cultivate mindfulness? Check out GoNoodle–the company offers free videos created by child development experts.

10. If you kid loves Minecraft, use their free lessons to learn anything from coding and tech to the environment and theater. Minecraft has courses targeted from age 3 – 18.

11. If you don’t already have a library card that allows you to check out ebooks (get one – many libraries will let you sign up online), then check out Project Gutenberg, a library of over 60,000 free ebooks.

12. Or join runningpresskids for their story time with authors. Similarly, Magical Bridge Foundation is hosting daily story hours too.

13. Are your kids interested in how sneezes travel now that all the grownups talk about is coronavirus? Check out Science Friday for free activities to learn about science.

14. For all sorts of free classes, check out ActivityHero Live. They have lots of online classes that kids can sign up for, from art and music to business and medicine. They even have a Lego class.

15. Tired of trying to answer your kids questions all day long? Download “But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids.” If your kids still have questions, encourage them to send it into the show.

16. If that doesn’t hold their attention, try some home experiments with Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

17. If the coronavirus has your children thinking about where their food comes from, take this virtual tour of a Canadian farm.

18. For kids of all ages who like to craft, Fun Family Crafts has tons of free crafting ideas that you can do from home. The site is curated by an editor with an MA in education.

19. Have a Spanish speaker at home? Or just want to practice now that Spanish classes are cancelled? The Spanish Experiment has some favorite kids stories read by native Spanish speakers.

20. For ideas from other parents, join the Facebook group Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas.


21. Busytoddler provides great ideas for little ones on crafts and sensory bins. Most activities use household items (or things easily ordered online) and can occupy your kids for a good (toddler) chunk of time. Follow her on Instagram for free ideas or buy her guides (use code: HOME25 for a 25% discount during the pandemic).

22. Mamapapabubba has great ideas on both their website and instagram that require just a few basic crafts but provide your toddler with endless play.

23. Circle Round Podcast is a free, NPR podcast that provides 20 minute stories. They are so engrossing that my four year old sat still for the entire podcast.

24. Sophieandfriends.org is a free show “teaching compassion, creativity and emotional literacy skills for children aged 3-7. Because emotional health equals mental health – and widespread mental health fosters more peaceful, cohesive societies.” And that’s something we all need now.

25. Motherly lists 49 Montessori-inspired activities for toddlers, from cutting foods to washing windows to bird watching. A great list to help your kids learn real life skills with things you probably have around the house.

26. From health to art to science, PBS Learning Media has a collection of free videos and pictures online to help teach your youngsters.

27. If your coloring books are growing old, check out this site for printable preschool worksheets and activities.

28. Free coloring book from Children’s Fairyland (the inspiration for Disneyland). Print it out, color it in, and mail it (including your return address) to receive snail mail from the elves at Fairyland! Mail to: Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

29. Olaf from Frozen (Josh Gad) is reading kids stories every night on Twitter.

30. This website has tons of worksheets and printable activities for kids, from crafts to reading and math worksheets.

31. Need something a bit more engaging? Try one of the hundreds of science experiments from this free library.

32. If you have a picky eater on your hand, use this time to do some food-play with nutritionist Jennifer from Kids Eat in Color. Her $18 book teaches parents how to make food fun for kids, but she also has free resources on her blog and on Instagram.

Elementary School

33. This free online game teaches kids to count money.

34. And this $5.99 app teaches kids 7 and up how daily choices can add up to big numbers – hammering home the importance of saving.

35. Your kid will need to use their financial prowess to save the planet of Polaria from drowning in financial chaos. The free app teaches financial planning, inflation, and savings.

36. Ask your kids to play restaurant. Give them paper to create a menu, have them put together a simple meal (we suggest sandwiches–not too much can go wrong), and have them charge for it. A great way to get a meal and have your kid learn about money.

37. Get to know the NASA space stations! NASA offers ways to connect to their mission, including a weekly Friday YouTube video on the week’s activities aboard the International Space Station and a free International Space Station Activity Book for grades K-4 and 5-8.

38. Let Mo Willems, the Artist-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center entertain your kids with a live lunchtime doodles. Just get paper and some pens and join him for some drawings.

39. This site has more than 400+ pages of Kindergarten worksheets.

40. If your child is interested in coding, this site lists a bunch of different coding classes–some for free, but most charge a fee.

41. If you want to take an engineering design for kids, this site offers a one-time class for $15.

42. Want to give your kids a workout but too tired to lead it on your own? Joe Wicks leads free physical education classes for kids Monday – Friday.

43. Scholastic is offering up a free digital learning hub covering STEM, science, social studies, and social-emotional learning. Courses are divided into age groups: Prek-K, grades 1-2, grades 3-5, and grades 6-9.

44. Non-profit Readworks helps kids work on their reading comprehension, including digital classes and print outs. It’s free, but they suggest a donation of $25.

45. Arcademics combines arcade games and academics in free games for kids.

46. Bedtime Math has apps and videos from toddlers through elementary school.

47. Oasis Matters is a free online club focused on STEM learning.

48. Help your struggling reader with a free, engaging reading game (grades 2-8).

49. If you can’t get outside for a walk, take your kids to Oklahoma. A friendly park ranger will guide you through the parks, teaching your kids about earth science along the way.

50. For the budding astronaut/reader, this site has stories read from astronauts in space. How cool is that?

High School

51. With the stock market in turmoil, take advantage of the time to teach your high schooler about investing with the Stock Market Game.

52. Set up a FamZoo account while you’re all stuck at home and go over basic finance concepts. When the world is open for business again, your kids will have a prepaid card that can help them stay on budget and learn about money.

53. For the aspiring thespian in your family, Playbill lists where you can watch Broadway plays and musicals from home. The Metropolitan Opera is also streaming free performances of its Live in HD series.

54. For the college-bound senior who wants to get a jump start on fall, freeCodeCamp lists lots of online Ivy-League courses.

55. Podcasts are a great way to engage your teenager. Here’s a curated list of 50 podcasts, from academics and special interests to entrepreneurship targeted towards your high schooler. Or just listen to this one: Stuff You Should Know.

Do you have a great resource that isn’t listed? Put it in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it!

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