In my house during these crazy Coronavirus days, I have a little sound-off to keep things light. At totally random times during the day, I’ll shout out, “WHAT TIME IS IT?” and my kids will answer in unison (albeit with eye rolls from the oldest) “It’s QUARAN-TIMES!”
We think we’re hilarious; we’re actually a bunch of dorks. But hey, whatever it takes to get us through lockdown, right? Lucky for me, my kids are all ages nine and up, and if they’re bored, I can easily re-direct them.
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But if you are a mom of littles making up that short attention span preschool set, it may be much harder to keep your kiddos occupied. Guess what? Turns out, you’re lucky too: there are several well-known organizations and companies out there who’ve got your back—for $FREE.99 (another one of my classic jokes. I’ll be here all week!).
Here are five great free resources to keep your littles busy during this stay-at-home time.
1. 110 free ebooks from Sesame Street
Girl, you read that right. 110 free ebooks, all available on your favorite e-reading platforms! This initiative is part of Sesame Street’s “Caring For Each Other” program, and includes worksheets and videos, too! There are even several different resources about hand-washing, which is a real life-saver if your child is much more likely to take what Elmo says seriously than he is to follow mom’s directives!
2. “Free for all” kids’ shows on Amazon (no need for Prime!)
Oh, Amazon, our white knight of e-commerce, you just got a lot more dreamy! Don’t feel guilty about screen time, mamas: sometimes it HAS to be done. And if that’s the case (I mean you DO still need to shower, housebound or not!), Amazon has made some GREAT preschool kids’ and school-age kids’ shows free for EVERYONE during this time! Check out Pete the Cat, Daniel Tiger, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, The Snowy Day and LOTS more for zero dollars! You can feel good about that screen time!
3. Lunch Doodles With Mo Willems (daily)
Do you even have kids if you don’t know who Mo Willems is? The beloved author and illustrator of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and many other Pigeon & friends books is offering FREE art lessons every weekday at 1 p.m. EST at the Kennedy Center’s web page! The lessons, called “Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems,” even come with a downloadable worksheet for the day. What could be more fun than learning to draw your favorite book characters from the author? I have watched these myself just for fun and really appreciate how Willems talks with his young audience. This is a fun one to look forward to every day!
4. Live “Home Safari” and activity with the Cincinnati Zoo (daily)
As soon as Ohio closed schools, the Cincinnati Zoo (also closed, of course) stepped up to the plate and began offering a daily animal lesson live on their Facebook page at 3 p.m. EST. They have delighted viewers around the country and the world with Fiona the Hippo to their beautiful snow leopards to their ginormous Galapagos tortoises! Kids love the up-close look at the animals on this “Home Safari”—which also includes an activity to do at home with the kids, too!
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5. Hundreds of free audio books on Audible
Reading aloud during this time at home got ya hoarse? Never fear! Like its sister company Amazon, Audible, the audiobook company, has made hundreds of kids’ audiobooks free for all “for as long as schools are closed.” (Seriously, SO AWESOME!) You can find them all at their Stories page, and they range from preschool to teen books, in a variety of languages. From Winnie the Pooh to Anne of Green Gables, you can take family storytime to a whole new level—and keep your hands free during reading time, too!
Mamas, we know this is a challenging time like no other our country (or our world!) has faced in over 100 years. But we can DO this. Truth is, we were made to step up to the plate, but I am so glad these companies are showing us that we are not at bat alone.
Check out these amazing resources, take a deep breath, and remember that you and your kids are loved and cared for by the global community. We will all get by with a little help from our friends!