11 Ways to Entertain and Nurture Kids During Lockdown
There’s a stellar selection of digital streams and downloads to educate and inspire kids indoors
By Holly Cowart
Now that we’ve made it to day [insert number here] of lockdown, it may be difficult to find ways to keep active, creative and entertained. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a kid right now, no longer able to roam school hallways or freely play outside.
Then there’s the parents, packed in 24/7 with the boundless energy and imagination that comes with childhood. If you’re running low on ideas to keep the tots entertained, don’t worry. Our city has provided a ton of online resources for every kind of interest that will help young ones stay engaged and learn new things from the safety of home.
Then, once venturing outside becomes the norm again, these programs will remain available and make a great addition to any small Austinite’s schedule. In the meantime, consider donating to local organizations in need as they continue to enrich our community with virtual connection.
At Thinkery, discovery never sleeps. Adapting to the community’s new climate, the museum is creating innovative ways to explore STEAM learning and community connection in an accessible home environment. Along with an online activity archive, check in for regularly scheduled Facebook Story Time videos, Instagram design challenges and special early access for members.
While normally giving families an exercise outlet through dynamic yoga programs, The Little Yoga House has transitioned online with a full schedule of live Zoom classes. With options for all ages and niche selections like Family Yoga, Girls Empowerment and Story Time Yoga, there’s still plenty of opportunity to practice mindfulness and stay active indoors. Specializing in family and interpersonal connection, they’ll also be posting videos to their website that can be accessed at any time.
The great outdoors can still be enjoyed thanks to the Austin Parks Foundation’s Little Hummingbird Society. With the order to stay inside, the kids club has published all of their previous activities online, from word searches to drawing prompts and plenty of fun facts. Geared towards fostering an interest in nature, volunteering and a healthy lifestyle, all you have to do is click print.
As always, Austin Public Library has shared an endless list of resources to cure boredom at any age through their Virtual Library – available 24/7 and stocked with eBooks, music, movies and more. Parents can get extra support from live tutors for K-12 students, access Spanish-language e-books, find supplemental educational tools and even discover something for themselves. All that’s required is a Library Card, free for all Austin residents.
Break out the miniature aprons while watching Bake Austin’s Pascal Simon create scrumptious treats to try at home. The pastry chef is releasing recorded and live videos daily in her Facebook group, in addition to the treasure trove of online recipes made in collaboration with KXAN and Studio 512. For the culinary-inclined, Simon is also the author of a kids cookbook full of recipe favorites from her years of teaching.
Does your kid get kicks out of making others laugh? Throughout April, The Hideout Theatre is hosting virtual classes to help comedy fans fine-tune their improv skills. Broken down by age group, kids and teenagers will work through exercises and games while getting to socialize at a safe distance. Private classes are also available for groups of six to 12. If those aren’t a fit, the comedy club is digitally streaming its regular showcases, including Hideout Kids Virtual Shows. There, Austin’s youngest improvisers tell stories, play games and interact with live audiences via chat box.
Architecture firm Gensler has created a unique set of coloring books that take viewers on an imaginative tour of Texas cities. Consulting with their design offices throughout the state, each free and downloadable book features the intricate linework and stunning scapes of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, with varying levels of difficulty. Artists can share their completed work on social media using hashtag #GenslerAmazingCities.
How better to capture an adolescent’s attention than with hours of projects featuring their favorite characters from the big screen? Alamo Drafthouse has gathered the ultimate collection of print-at-home activity books with help from their friends at the studio. Get crafty with “Incredibles 2” decorations, piece together an entire “Frozen II” card game and keep an eye out for updates with brand new material.
The Contemporary Austin is creating a range of ways to explore their collections online. Take the whole family on virtual tours of the Jones Center and Laguna Gloria and access educational lesson plans for added engagement. Young art-lovers can also craft exhibition-inspired works of their own with step-by-step instructions and demonstration videos, released through The Contemporary’s social media channels every Friday morning. For those wanting to sharpen a specific skill, enjoy an array of in-depth classes through the online Art School.
The Kindness Campaign is spreading cheer for families and little ones in isolation every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Instagram. Start the day by joining TKC members and fun special guests at 10 a.m. for a quick wellness check-in and book reading. The emotional awareness organization has also put together an online library filled with grade-level SEL (social emotional learning) curriculum for easy access to healthy coping tools like breath work, journals and “indoor recess” dance videos.
The Paramount’s Story Wranglers offer kids cool online educational tools to spur creative thinking. Free with an RSVP, Literacy to Life Live Lessons are broadcast every Monday on Facebook Live. Youth and family audiences are taught the basics of creative writing by professional actors and given the tools to create their very own original story. Visitors can also find video archives of previous lessons and download a Story Wranglers journal to jot down ideas.