As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the United States, and into every county in southeastern Pennsylvania, it’s filled Philly residents with a handful of essential questions: Do I have enough food to last me two weeks? Is it safe to go see my friends? Should I get tested?
And what the hell do I do with my kids?
It is, admittedly, a head-scratcher — especially for parents whose offspring are in the K-12 school system. COVID-19 has effectively canceled the educational programming that normally fills most of their waking hours, and parents are left to try to fill in the gaps.
Good news: Living in Philly, there’s tons of local institutions and individuals who are prepared to help. From area museums to music studios and even your fave public radio station, here are some educational ways to keep your kids busy during the pandemic.
Have another idea? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
Check out a digital book
Although all the Free Library’s physical branches are closed, that’s not the case for its online catalog — which includes a wealth of children’s literature. On deck are funny reads, graphic novels, even the entire Harry Potter series all ripe for the e-reading. Just enter your library card number online and peruse the virtual stacks.
From the WHYY shop (Billy Penn’s parent company), there’s a ton of extra educational programming to keep your kids busy. There’s the 24/7 PBS kids network, plus even more children’s programming that’s been added to the regular WHYY-TV 12 channel. And don’t forget Eleanor Amplified, an adventure podcast designed for kids.
Ask your remote for help
Speaking of TV, the folks at Xfinity designed a sort of Hail Mary for the moment you inevitably need some quick help with your kids. Just say “education” into your TV remote, and it’ll direct you to educational streaming options for all grade levels.
Learn about science
On the Franklin Institute website, there are video series explaining scientific phenomena — everything from lightning to momentum to the lifespan of houseflies. Sit your kid down with a device broadcasting these bad boys and you might not hear from them for a few hours (if you’re lucky).
Look at animals
Yup, the Philadelphia Zoo is closed too. But while you wait for the return of a sense of normalcy, you can peruse the online database of all the animals they have on site. Break it down by the animal’s collection, classification or their status as a species. If you’re not sure where to start, we highly recommend the red panda — very tiny cute baby alert.
Take a music class
The West Philly children’s music studio All Around This World normally hosts regular classes from its 43rd and Pine location — but not for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown. Have no fear, starting on Thursday, the studio promises to livestream its classes. First time student? Drop a line via this contact form.
Brush up on your Pennsylvania trivia
Does your child know the true meaning of the word keystone? Use this quarantine time to reaffirm their loyalty to our wide Quaker state. This gaming site has contests where you have to unscramble popular Pennsylvania symbols, and memory quizzes based on local vocab. Give it a whirl.
Marvel at famous art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art also boasts a robust online presence — including some activities for kids. Using the PMA’s collection of famous artworks, you can teach your kids geometry, descriptive writing and design.