The amount of screen time that is right for your family can be a constantly moving target. Of note however, is that research shows that not all screen time is the same depending on the quality of the content (educational nature, maturity match, and interaction level) and the richness of the in-person interaction with caregivers surrounding that time (also referred to as ‘screen buddies’, ‘media mentors’, ‘co-viewing’, and ‘co-engaging’). And with the demands for remote learning on the rise, public entities and businesses have been responding with a plethora of online content, much of which is offered at no cost. The following is a continually updated list of free, virtual learning resources, mostly offered by community institutions.
The Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History
Take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum including their whale bones research area and their dinosaur fossil hall.
Join in on their #MuseumFromHome effort and experience the Mona Lisa in virtual reality including the latest research on Leonardo’s works, creative process, and painting techniques.
No less a form of art than those contained in formal museums, join Google Art Project to tour street art in dozens of locations, from Berlin to Montreal to Austin.
Not only can you explore what it would have been like to wake up as a King, utilizing SteamVR, you can immerse yourself in art, design, and the Palace’s iconic interiors.
Learn about several of the museum’s most precious items including an Olduvai Stone Cutting Tool from over 4,000 years ago.
Sea Life, Wild Animals, and Zoos
Wild Earth Live Safaris
Experience twice daily experiences through South Africa’s bushveld in search of hyenas, lions, leopards, and other iconic wild animals.
Meet Barney, Q, and Hogan over the aquarium’s harbor seal live cams.
San Diego Zoo’s Animals and Plants Live Cameras
Sign on to watch live streaming cameras of different animals at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park including apes, elephants, and koalas.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Check out their ten live cameras which include active shark and sea otter cameras, to more soothing jelly fish and moon jelly cameras, or explore various habitats from wetlands to reefs.
NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries
For the lover of shipwreck stories, join in for dives that swim through schooners, steamers, and barges on the ocean floor.
Vienna State Opera
View livestreamed archives of the acclaimed operatic and ballet performances featuring renowned singers and talented conductors.
Their Digital Concert Hall is continuing to stream their scheduled performances live including Dudamel conducting Mahler and a special performance by renowned flutist Emmanuel Pahud.
The Metropolitan Opera
The company’s Live in HD series is available for a daily encore presentation including Verdi’s Aida, Wagner’s Parsifal, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
National Parks and Exploring other Cities
The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks
Tour Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, Hawaiian volcanoes, the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah, or Dry Tortugas in Florida with a national park ranger.
Great Wall of China
Learn about the over 2,000-year-old history of the Great Wall and virtually walk the 3,000 mile stretch of both restored and ‘wild’ sections.
Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights
Late winter and early spring are the best times to catch the aurora on this live camera, a luminous display created by the earth’s magnetic fields interacting with charged particles from the sun.
The Curiosity rover’s footage of the red planet is available for you to navigate through unique 3D mapping data.
Meditation and Relaxation
The Science of Well Being-Course
One of the most popular courses offered by Yale is available online for free where students are challenged to increase their own happiness and build more productive habits.
Poem of the Day
Provided by the Poetry Foundation, you can visit this site or subscribe to their daily emails for a timely and relevant poem.
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems
Join the Kennedy Center’s Education Artist-in-Residence for 15 episodes of writing and making.
Specifically designed for K-5 kids, you will find mindful activities, movement, and read-alouds.
Reading and Learning
A special collection of family friendly stories is being streamed in six languages, from classics to folk and fairy tales.
Los Angeles County Library
With a library card from the county, you access their collection of ebooks and audio books, as well as free services from Lynda.com, Kanopy independent films, Mango Language courses, and Brainfuse’s online tutors.
Los Angeles Public Library
In addition to Instagram live story times, library card holders have access to the New York Times, Freegal music, and Hoopla digital television, beyond their collection of ebooks.
International Children’s Digital Library
More than just access to books, the platform has a number of programs that spark learning and guide parents to explain important lessons.
Wide Open School
A free collection of online learning experiences provided by 25 different partner agencies and divided into PreK – Grade 5 and Grade 6 – 12 content.
When deciding on how much screen time based content is right for each of your children, be sure to leave space in the day for open-ended imaginative play, primarily with physical toys that foster creativity and imagination through tactile manipulation and use; regular sleep, nutrition, and activity; and meaningful engagement with caregivers/parents.
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