With summer upon us, many activities designed for children in another time, including camps, are closed down this year. We are likely to hear some whining from little ones tired of being trapped at home: “There’s nothing to do.” If you are working from home and your day-care options remain limited, you might create a plan for your children (or your younger siblings) that will keep them on track for the coming school year but still be enjoyable and distinct from the online schooling they experienced this spring. For example:
• YouTube Learning now offers #CampYouTube with options to fit any child’s interest—from A (for Adventure or Arts) to S (STEM, Sports). The site also features campfire talks, craft projects, and a recipe for S’mores bars that do not require a campfire.
• The Children’s Museum in Washington, DC, is offering STEAMwork summer virtual programs, Monday through Friday @ 3PM. Using project-based teaching to foster students’ skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) activities for each day of the week have a different focus: Monday is early childhood, Wednesday for elementary school grades, and Friday is for full family engagement.
If you’ve got a budding scientist in your home, there are several good resources to keep your child entertained all summer long in “Summer Science Resources for Families.”
Brooklyn (NY) Red Hook Public Library (RHPL) begins its summer programs for children on July 6 with four themed units:
• In Small Worlds, children will share their observations of ants or moths with scientists
• Near Worlds will look at the community of Red Hook, creating a collaborative local map and photography project
• Big Worlds looks at how Red Hook interacts with communities in the US and around the world
• For those interested in outer space, Far Worlds will be your best choice, with projects relating to astronomy and the global environment.
Children can choose to participate in any or all “Worlds.” There will be one Zoom session each week for children ages 5-7 and another for those aged 8-11. Each unit includes five days of activities. Online projects are completed via ClassDojo. Watch this site for programs geared toward children older than 11.
The arts (and crafts) online
Their doors may be closed but theaters and museums are connecting with young art lovers through free classes, art games, and activities. The weekly calendar of events at Lincoln Center at Home plainly denotes #ConcertsForKids. Add them to your calendar so you won’t forget. This week, there’s The Villalobos Brothers’ Mexican folk music (June 24 @ 7PM); previously archived #ConcertsForKids are available on-demand, including Soul Science Lab’s Soundtrack ’63 about the African-American experience in America and Celisse (Henderson).
New York City’s Metropolitan Opera Global Summer Camp is a free eight-week virtual camp for students to discover the world of opera. Each Monday, a teacher introduces campers to a new opera. (The weekly schedule is available at https://www.metopera.org/discover/education/global-summer-camp/weekly-schedule/.) While all students view the same opera each week, they are divided into two age groups, ages 8-12 (Grades 3-6) and 12-18 (Grades 7-12). This assures that daily activities and discussions are at the appropriate level. There is an informative FAQ page for those who want to know more.
During the “lockdown,” the Kennedy Center’s Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems invited children into his studio to doodle together. The 15 episodes and downloadable activities are archived at https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems/lunch-doodles-with-mo-willems/. Children are encouraged to tag their masterpieces #MoLunchDoodles on the social media replacement for the kitchen fridge.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan launched CMOM at Home at the beginning of the pandemic. There’s a different theme each day of the week—Magical Monday, Feel Good Friday, and Storytime Saturday—featuring videos and creative art projects designed to continue the learning long after.
Every two weeks, the New York City-based Whitney Museum of Art launches a new Kids Art Challenge presenting a work in its collection and guiding the child through the process of creating a similar work. The Whitney Summer Studio, a six-week program of free 40-minute Zoom art classes, begins on July 6.
It’s not just American museums creating art activities for children. The Tate Museum in London, UK, has a site set aside for exploring and making, Tate Kids. Children can tour the collections and learn about artists and their works. There is “instruction” for painting and drawing, crafting with scissors and glue, sculpting, and coloring. The games and quizzes are designed to teach children about color and design.
If you’re running low on coloring books look no further than #Color Our Collections available for downloading and printing. The New York Academy of Medicine asked libraries and archives from around the world to share their coloring books and related materials, now accessible to all via links at https://library.nyam.org/colorourcollections/. With over 500 institutions from around the world contributing to the collection, there is bound to be something for the budding artist at your home. If you want to combine learning with this activity, try The Library of Virginia Coloring Book 2020 that tells the story of Women’s Suffrage in Virginia.
After all, we are a library
The great thing about online is that you needn’t rely on your local public library for storytime or the Summer Reading Program. Find a library that offers programs catered to your child’s interests:
• There are live storytimes each Tuesday and Singalongs each Thursday at 9:30AM on Muskego (WI) Public Library’s Facebook page and the library’s summer reading program can be accessed at https://muskegopubliclibrary.beanstack.org/.
• The Los Gatos (California) Public Library offers storytime via Facebook; its summer reading program can be found at https://losgatos.beanstack.org/.
• Robert R. Jones Public Library in Coal Valley, IL, hosts Storytime with Ms. Angie featuring “Pete the Cat” every Thursday at 11AM Central/12PM EDT.
• Pickens County (South Carolina) Library System uploads videos and craft projects for kids children from museums and libraries throughout the county each day, including storytime and summer reading.
Lest you think that Facebook is the only social media site used for storytime, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (Ohio) has a YouTube channel. In addition to its Virtual Storytime, the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library calendar of upcoming events features events for youth and family, including summer reading, exercise, virtual sign language, and English conversation (for those learning to speak English). You can find the full virtual programming calendar at https://www.bklynlibrary.org/event-series/Virtual-Programming.
Publishers have taken up the challenge as well and there is no better example than the multiple options from HarperCollins. HarperKids from Home offers storytime with read-aloud activities each day at 12PM (EDT) and you can follow them on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm, the publisher offers Shelf Stuff, a home video series for children ages 7-12 is accessible via YouTube and Instagram. Virtual Epic Reads from favorite authors are posted each Friday at 4PM on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
The International Children’s Digital Library is a great place to find award-winning books for children of all ages, at all reading levels. Users can even browse for books by country. Click the dropdown menu to view books by language—there are 18, from Arabic to Thai. Pick out a title tonight and read it with your child!