Pandemic Generosity: Free Online Resources for Families During the Crisis

April 13, 2020 Updated: April 23, 2020

One of the most encouraging aspects of the crisis we all find ourselves in is the outpouring of generosity and kindness across all planes of society.

Consider the sudden new realities of home life—juggling family, homeschooling, and working at home. Many companies, large and small, have stepped up, offering free resources to make this time a bit easier. This is just one example among countless that warm the heart just when we could all use some positivity and reassurance.

I gathered a list of resources that may be useful and fun for families at this time. I hope as you read this that you and yours are doing well and keeping the faith.

Books 

Audible

You may be binge-watching and scrolling quite a bit more than normal these days. Give your tired eyes a rest and opt for an audiobook to share as a family. Audible is kindly offering free access to a collection of children’s stories and classics.

According to the company’s website, “For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, 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.”

What a treat. To access the free audiobooks, visit Stories.Audible.com/start-listen

Virtual Field Trips

The American Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian’s American Museum of Natural History website offers a vast array of fun and educational content to explore. They’ve got an “OLogy science website with activities and games, online curriculum collections, video lessons and seminars and more. To check out their impressive resources, start here: amnh.org/explore.

The Louvre

The Louvre offers virtual tours of select exhibits. No need to hop over to Paris to experience some of what the world’s premier art museum has to offer. Take a peak and dream of, perhaps, a trip in real life someday. Louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne#tabs

The Vatican

Visit the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, and other famous artistic wonders at the Vatican from the comfort of your couch via their online virtual tours. Crisis or not, this is a wonderful resource to experience. Museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/collezioni/musei/tour-virtuali-elenco.html

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a robust website with a lot of educational information that is worth looking at. In addition, you can take virtual tours via this link: ArtsandCulture.google.com/partner/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art

The San Diego Zoo

Polar bears, tigers, and elephants—oh my! America’s most popular zoo offers a number of live webcams to enjoy (Kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos) and some educational resources (Kids.sandiegozoo.org/curriculum). Tip: You can usually find educational or teacher resources that are generally meant for schools on the websites of major zoos, aquariums, museums, and historical sites.

Online Learning

Theater Arts

New York’s Lincoln Center is offering a Pop-up Classroom on Facebook. Head to their Facebook page, Facebook.com/LincolnCenterNYC, for replays or to catch their next live class. They cover art, singing, songwriting, dance, puppetry, and more.

Foreign Languages

Rosetta Stone is offering three months of free language learning to all elementary, middle, and high school students worldwide. To enjoy free lessons in Spanish, French, Mandarin, or a host of other languages, visit Rosettastone.com/freeforstudents

Another particularly kid-friendly resource for learning a second language is the online learning platform Duolingo. Accessible for free through their app or a browser at Duolingo.com/learn.

Home Economics

America’s Test Kitchen offers an array of online recipes and food-related experiments to do at home with your kids. Formerly paid content is now available for everyone for free and worth checking out (Americastestkitchen.com/kids/home).

Another cooking option comes from the subscription box company Raddish Kids. They’re offering a free online resource that includes recipes and activities that incorporate educational concepts. They are hosting regular recipe cook-alongs on Facebook.  For more information visit RaddishKids.com/suddenlyhomeschooling.

Language Arts

The Good and the Beautiful is a popular homeschool curriculum provider. Their gorgeous language arts programs are available via free PDF downloads on their website GoodandBeautiful.com. They are also offering a free science unit on marine biology, and their free booklist is a helpful resource.

Cultural Studies

Shen Yun Performing Arts offers an extensive library of content about ancient Chinese culture. From music and dance, to ancient fables, to history and more, these beautiful resources can be found at ShenyunPerformingArts.org/explore

Math

The National Museum of Mathematics has created a fun new program for these challenging times, “Mind-Benders for the Quarantined.” This is how it works, according to the museum: “Each Sunday, MoMath will send you a challenging mathematical puzzle from the collection of our own puzzle master, Dr. Peter Winkler. On Tuesday, you’ll receive a subtle hint; on Thursday, a serious push; on Saturday, the solution. And the next day, of course, a new puzzle.” To register visit MindBenders.momath.org.

Crafts

If you’re looking for fun and easy DIY crafts you and your kids can enjoy, check out The Neon Tea Party. Crafter Marisa Morrison has YouTube tutorials as well as an online craft studio that can be found at TheNeonTeaParty.com/online-craft-studio/.

Science

For kids with a mind for science and STEM, UL Xplorlabs offers two free online classes: “Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence,” which covers fire dynamics and behavior, and “Portable Electric Power,” which teaches how batteries convert energy. These interesting and free modules can be found here: Ulxplorlabs.org/all-modules/

General

Khan Academy offers free online educational resources and an extensive array of lessons for pre-K through college-level studies in subjects including math, science, language arts, history, economics, and SAT prep. Visit KhanAcademy.org to enjoy what they have to offer.

For Adults

Personality Course

In answer to the pandemic, renowned author and psychologist Jordan Peterson is offering a hefty 50 percent discount on his “Discovering Personality” online course for an indefinite period. While not free, I still felt it valuable enough to deserve a mention.

Peterson describes it as a “densely packed, six-hour course that will provide relevant and easily comprehensible information for anyone interested in understanding not only themselves, but others, too.” Take advantage of this offer at Courses.JordanBPeterson.com/personality.

Financial Wellness

Financial guru Dave Ramsey is offering his company’s financial wellness program SmartDollar for free to companies laying off or furloughing employees. This benefit will equip employees with the financial understanding needed to get through these hard times.

For more information visit SmartDollar.com/hope.

For Fun

Satellite radio company Sirius XM is offering free streaming of their content through May 15. Simply go to SiriusXM.com/offers/free-listen and begin listening for free.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza