Boy on computer at home

Learning At-Home Resources While Social Distancing

    1. To expand on the onscreen experience at the zoo offline, ask kids to share their favorite animal. Then have them research five facts about that animal.
    2. Once kid have completed their virtual tour of a museum, have your little Picassos try to recreate their favorite work of art with their own art supplies. Use these other Genius of Play resources to get their creative juices flowing.
    3. Especially on days when you can’t get outside, it’s critical to get kids up and active if simply to take out their pent-up energy. Click here to explore more physical play ideas.
    4. Once young explorers are done virtually travelling the world, take this Geography Challenge!
    5. Discover out the top 10 benefits of toys and play as it relates to STEM.

With schools around the country closing their doors due to social distancing to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak, parents and educators now find themselves turning to virtual ways to connect and keep kids learning. Many educators are navigating this unchartered territory for the first time and tapping into their well-used digital resources to keep their students engaged, while parents are also seeking new educational activities and content to keep their kids busy as they work from home.

As a mom of two, with a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, this is also the new reality for my family. And trying to balance a work-from-home life while entertaining our kids with engaging and educational play ideas that supplement their learning is no easy feat.

The Genius of Play website, a trusted resource that many parents know and turn to is chock full of play ideas and activities to help aid kids' development, we've just compiled a list of other online resources that are sure to help during these uncertain times. Many of them were recently created, in this time of crisis, to help kids learn and feel connected during a time when they aren't able to physically connect in the ways they are used to with friends, teachers, and extended family members.

Explaining COVID-19 to Kids:

  • Little Medical School
    The site and social media platforms are full of online classes and ways for kids to learn more about the coronavirus in a way that makes sense for them.

  • Sesame Street
    Its “Caring for Each Other” initiative offers new, original Sesame Street content to entertain, educate, and comfort kids, parents, and caregivers. Content features the show’s Muppets sharing messages of love and kindness, activities, and virtual play dates.

  • PLAYMOBIL
    Its new, 5-minute video explains the virus, the disease, and what families can do to make things better. All told by a friendly PLAYMOBIL robot named ROBert, the video also explains why schools and daycares are closed and emphasize why it’s of paramount importance that kids avoid contact with other kids.

Free Games/Play Activities:

  • MGA Entertainment
    Every day at 1 p.m. (Eastern) on L.O.L. Surprise!’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, MGA Entertainment will be posting #BBsBoredomBusters, that will include playful activities such as challenges, trivia questions, activity sheets, and more.

  • Arckit
    Arckit offers free downloadable building images for kids and adults to color, whether you’re looking to relax and/or de-stress.

  • The Chicago Toys & Games (CHITAG) Group
    CHITAG is inviting kids to enter its Young Inventor Challenge. Using its free resources, which includes a Design Guide, kids can learn how to create their own toy and game ideas from start to finish and then enter the contest! There are also fun videos and articles kids can watch to get inspired.

  • Hasbro
    Visit Bring Home the Fun to explore family-focused resources from Hasbro that include tips and tricks for family playtime, activity challenges to keep kids occupied, ideas for using games and toys to educate and activate kids’ brains, and ways to cope with the emotional stress we’re all feeling right now.

  • Hooray Heroes
    Hooray Heroes released 10 different personalized coloring books and printables. And even better, they’re FREE!

  • Go! Go! Sports Girls
    Go! Go! Sports Girls offers its Kindle books on Amazon for $.99. On the company’s website, there are also free coloring pages and music. Kids are also encouraged to share their favorite athlete or sport.

  • Schleich
    Schleich’s newly launched Fun at Home website features creative games and free play activities for families.

  • Dr. Seuss
    Seussville.com offers a section of free print-out coloring sheets, Dr. Seuss-inspired recipes, games, and more.

For Animal Lovers:
Many zoos and nature centers already serve as great places to learn about some of kids’ favorite creatures. Now, more are offering virtual classrooms and taking kids behind the scenes at the zoo with their animal webcams. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
    Tune in weekdays on Facebook Live at 11 a.m. (Eastern) as the zoo’s biologists and again at 1 p.m. (Eastern) as the park’s naturalists search for signs of spring, discover wildlife, and more.

  • San Diego Zoo
    Kids can watch webcams of their favorite animals, while fun and interactive lesson plans featuring zookeepers are also available.

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Home Safari
    Featuring daily home safaris on Facebook Live at 3 p.m. (Eastern), kids will learn about a different animal each day that calls this zoo its home.

Art on The Move:
Kids can learn to draw from the masters, visit museums around the world without leaving home, and even take music lessons online.

  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    New programming will appear on The Strong’s Facebook page each day at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Eastern), and additional content will appear on the museum’s Twitter, Twitch, Instagram, and other social channels. This kicked off with live story reading and animal encounters in the museum’s Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden. Families can also explore The Strong’s virtual collection through Google Arts & Culture

  • The Museums of Paris
    Take a virtual trip to some of the most famous museums in Paris and access more than 300,000 works of art online.

  • Google Arts & Culture
    This portal has multiple partnerships with centers for art and cultural around the world that let kids explore museums near and far, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, among others.

  • #metkids
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers an entire digital world where kids can explore art without making the trip to New York City. The site includes an interactive map for kids to explore the museum as well as video content and a virtual time machine.

  • Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems!
    In partnership with the Kennedy Center, Children’s author Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) is putting out a daily “Lunch Doodles” session, which teaches kids how to draw some of their favorite characters.

  • SmartMusic
    This web-based music education network is offering free access to teachers to use the services and set it up for their students through June 30. With it, kids can access everything they need, but their instrument, to stay on top of their music lessons.

  • Crayola
    Fully stocked on arts & crafts supplies? Join Crayola for virtual crafting events on Facebook Live. Parents and parenting groups are also invited to tune in to the company’s upcoming live and recorded web events, which will offer creative at-home learning tips and techniques. Find out more here.

  • #GadBookClub
    Actor Josh Gad, whom most kids know as the voice of Disney Frozen’s Olaf, is hosting Twitter storytime sessions every night at 7:30 (Eastern)/ 4:30 (Pacific). Families can follow along at #GadBookClub.

  • Crazy Aaron LIVE!
    Learn something new every day at 4 p.m. (Eastern) from Crazy Aaron himself! Discover the world of Thinking Putty as Crazy Aaron dives into how he made the putty. From inspiration, the science behind it all, to what you see in the tin, you'll learn everything there is to know about Thinking Putty and so much more!

  • Faber-Castell
    The company is offering free activities on its website and social channels to get creative, from printable coloring pages to a how-to guide on bullet journaling. Find more ideas on its blog, #CreativityforLife.

Get Moving:
Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to get outside, but that isn’t an excuse to stop moving. There are lots of great resources now that encourage active screen time, including these:

  • GoNoodle Games
    Used in schools all over the country, many parents might already be familiar with the company’s approach to encouraging mindfulness and movement throughout the day. Its new free app for iOS uses Open CV-based computer vision and machine learning technology to detect kids’ movement and bring kids into the action in active games - no additional hardware required.

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga
    This YouTube channel is designed to teach kids 3+ about yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation. It includes even includes stories told through yoga poses and videos inspired by some of kids favorite characters.

Take a Virtual Trip:
Visiting historic sites, landmarks, and cultural centers are go-to options for field trips, but sometimes you just can’t make the physical trip. Luckily, many now offer visitors the opportunity to virtually tour these locations and explore history through their screens.

  • Colonial Williamsburg
    Kids can explore 18th century living through videos offering a behind-the-scenes look at its textiles department, while parents and teachers can access additional educational content, lessons, and web-based activities on American history.

  • The Great Wall of China
    A trip to China might seem impossible right now but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit the Great Wall virtually. This virtual experience gives a history lesson to kids in the process.

  • Google Street View
    Explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colosseum, and everywhere in between with this interactive map. With this unique tool, kids can literally look down at the Taj Mahal and walk through the Halls of Versailles without ever leaving the comfort of their couch.

  • National Parks
    It’s easier than ever to visit America’s National Parks and explore the great outdoors, even if you stay inside. Virtual tours of some of the most famous ones are available online including, Yellowstone National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, the Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and more.

STEM Learning:

  • National Museum of Natural History
    Parents and teachers can bring a Smithsonian scientist into their virtual classrooms using the Smithsonian Science How webcast series. In the live video webcasts scientists will take students’ questions and introducing them to science topics. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.

  • American Museum of Natural History
    At 2 p.m. (Eastern) daily on Facebook Live, the museum will be hosting digital tours of parts of the museum. Here, kids can also watch past episodes of its web series Science at AMNH.

  • Mystery Science
    This site features open-and-go lessons designed to inspire kids’ love of science. The site even offers a list of kindergarten through grade 5 science lessons to get started.

  • Jumpstart Academy
    Its core educational programs (JumpStart Academy Preschool, JumpStart Academy Kindergarten and JumpStart Academy Math) along with its math and coding programs are now available for free trials and the company is taking 50% off annual subscriptions.

  • hand2mind
    A new teach@home program features weekly lessons in math, literacy, and STEM for grades k-5. The lessons are all taught by teachers, and videos and activities are uploaded to the site for parents to download free of charge.

  • Miniland Educational
    The company is offering free online Play Experiences on its Play Miniland portal, which gives children access to educational games and gives parents and teachers ideas to learn through play.

  • Learning Resources
    Through the Learning Resources blog, families with kids as young as 18 months old can find easy, hands-on activities to help kids work on their ABCs and 123s, keep up with classwork, or focus on language and reading skills.

  • Educational Insights
    Educational Insights has partnered with Mensa for Kids to provide even more valuable resources that support learning in areas such as STEM, reading, and creativity. It's also launched a YouTube series, “Home’s Cool” for follow-along activities.

  • Minecraft
    Minecraft helps teachers and students stay connected to the classroom. Minecraft: Education Edition is available now through June 2020 for all educators and learners who have a valid Office 365 Education account. Minecraft connects to the classroom offering lessons, STEM, curriculum and creative-based learning.

Additional Virtual Learning Resources:

What resources are you using to keep your kids entertained and learning at home? Reach out to our team of toy and play experts to share your ideas or share them with us on Instagram and Facebook #thegeniusofplay.


    1. To expand on the onscreen experience at the zoo offline, ask kids to share their favorite animal. Then have them research five facts about that animal.
    2. Once kid have completed their virtual tour of a museum, have your little Picassos try to recreate their favorite work of art with their own art supplies. Use these other Genius of Play resources to get their creative juices flowing.
    3. Especially on days when you can’t get outside, it’s critical to get kids up and active if simply to take out their pent-up energy. Click here to explore more physical play ideas.
    4. Once young explorers are done virtually travelling the world, take this Geography Challenge!
    5. Discover out the top 10 benefits of toys and play as it relates to STEM.

More Expert Advice