On this page we’re sharing what other organizations and people around the world are offering virtually, including lessons, classes, projects, and tours. We’ll update this page as we find out about new offerings, so please let us know if there’s something we should add.
And remember: Your digital library has tons of resources to help kids learn virtually. Sign up for virtual summer reading, sing along with librarians in daily videos, check out ebooks, and more »
Nature & STEM activities
- BugTV! Watch this series of episodes by Irving Elementary teachers for kindergarteners and anyone else who loves learning about insects. Read about the making of BugTV! »
- Museum of Science & Industry: Subscribe to weekly Science at Home emails full of activities and ideas to keep science learning going at home.
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Sign up for daily emails full of nature and science facts, activities, guiding questions to ask your kids, and more.
- Audubon for Kids: All about the birds! Experiments, exploring, and DIY projects.
- NASA STEM Engagement: STEM-related videos, homework help, and games from NASA, for kids in different grade levels.
- ScienceBuddies: Thousands of free resources for learning STEM, including a collection of K-12 hands-on STEM activities and videos that cover a specific STEM concept, can be done in an hour or less, and can usually be done with materials easily found at home.
Especially for kids with disabilities, recommended by Miss Shelley
- Dr. Eileen Brann Speech Pathology Services, a local speech therapist offering fun activities on her YouTube account this summer
- Speech Pathologist Amanda Hartmann, who shares wonderful activities in fun videos using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) on YouTube
- #OperationASLStorytime videos done entirely in sign language on YouTube
Virtual Cub Scout adventures: Grades K-5
Thursdays, starting May 14: Pathway to Adventure Council, Boy Scouts of America, will be posting fun new video adventures for youth in grades K-5 to do at home with caregivers. (Kids do not need to be Cub Scouts to participate.) Adventures include art projects, science experiments, obstacle courses, and more! Register to have video links emailed to you on Thursdays »
Read aloud: Astronauts, authors & actors
- Spanish stories recommended by Miss Beronica: Well-known children’s stories translated into Spanish and spoken by a native Spanish speaker. Great for kids, and adults too! Read along in Spanish or English.
- Lots of authors are reading their books aloud online!
- NASA astronauts read books from the International Space Station in Story Time from Space!
- Christian McKay Heidicker offers a virtual author visit (suited for kids in grades 2-7)
- Storyline Online streams imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrated actors (including Betty White!) reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
For toddlers & preschoolers
Beanstalk offers interactive classes especially for ages 1.5-6 years. (30-day free trial)
Daily activity schedules from Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media has rounded up lists of free online events and activities, with daily schedules of authors, artists, musicians, and more who are offering free lessons, tours, and concerts online.
Tools to foster early literacy
READ TOGETHER, BE TOGETHER is a new initiative developed by Penguin Random House in partnership with Parents magazine. Find all the tools you need to foster early literacy, including reading tips, book lists, printable activities, videos, digital events, and more at readtogetherbetogether.com.
Resources to promote distance learning & test prep
EBSCO Information Services is offering free resources for a limited time for educators and parents, including:
- Scavenger hunts, lesson plans, and other free content to support distance learning
- Study guides and flash reviews in PDF format to help students prepare for ACT, SAT, AP, and GED exams
- Activities to keep kids (and their parents) busy while in quarantine
Audible Stories for kids
From Audible: “For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening »“
Scholastic projects by grade level
Scholastic Learn at Home has daily projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. For kids from preschool through grade 9.
Daily writing prompts from The New York Times
For kids ages 13 and up, The New York Times is offering daily and weekly writing prompts based on different topics and types of media, including photos and illustrations. And you can access all New York Times content for free with your library card and PIN.
Doodle with Mo Willems
Watch 15 episodes of Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, author of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the Elephant & Piggie series, and more.
Virtual field trips: Museums, aquariums & more
Attractions and museums are closed for now, but you can visit many virtually. (Museum Adventure Passes and Explore More Illinois programs are on hold as well too.) Thanks to the educators, fellow librarians, and others who have been compiling these great lists!
- Brookfield Zoo brings the zoo to you every weekday for the next several weeks at 11 am CT. On Facebook Live (and YouTube), you can see featured animals as well as plenty of educational, informative insight from Animal Care Specialists.
- Home Safari from the Cincinnati Zoo, is held each weekday at 2 pm CT. They highlight one of their amazing animals and include an activity you can do from home. Don’t have access to social media? All videos will be posted to this webpage and to their YouTube channel shortly after the Facebook Live ends.
- San Diego Zoo has a website just for kids with videos, activities, and games. Plus live cams!
- Zoo Atlanta has a Panda Cam.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium has live cams highlighting penguins, sea otters, and sharks.
- The Art Institute of Chicago has a searchable online collection, with additional information for each artwork.
- The British Museum has an interactive timeline. Just pick a date and learn more about the thousands of artifacts that make up their collection.
- The Metropolitan Opera will live-stream an opera each evening at 6:30 pm CT.
- Yellowstone National Park has virtual tours of Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and more.
- The Louvre offers a virtual field trip.
- The Great Wall of China: See a virtual tour.
Chicago Parent roundup
From Chicago Parent: 18 ways to “visit” your favorite Chicago places without leaving the house »