Written by: Carrie Lane, Youth Services Coordinator, Allegheny County Library Association
As a parent of a young child, I know many of you are asking yourselves how you are going to entertain children all day while childcare and preschool are unavailable. Personally, there’s only so much children’s TV programming we can watch. Plus we really try to limit screen time in our house but those rules have obviously been adjusted during this time, so if you are anything like me you are probably looking for other options to entertain your kids. I have a long list of activities prepared that encourage movement, creativity and imagination for my son combined with lots of walks. When you are working from home though, sometimes you need additional help and that’s where these organizations come in, offering enrichment with their expertise far beyond what a parent can offer at home – wild animals, award-winning children’s programming and cultural assets.
Here are some ideas from educational partners in the region:
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium: Kids missing their furry friends at the zoo? Follow the zoo on Facebook to watch web cams of the animals, including the penguins.
Common Sense Media: When kids have earned some screen time or parents need a quick break, check out Common Sense Media for some direction on recommended apps, books, TV shows, movies and more. For those not familiar with Common Sense Media, reviews include tips on what parents need to know, talking points and ratings, keeping age levels in mind.
PBS Kids: PBS Kids has compiled a list of specific resources for talking to your child about coronavirus, including episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street. The list is found here. In addition, parents can sign up for a special PBS Kids newsletter with daily tips and activities to try while the kids are at home. Sign-up at the PBS Kids website.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: Follow the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on Facebook to see a throwback collection of DIY posts and videos from the MakeShop, including making a chair out of newspapers and a bag out of a t-shirt.
Nationally, there are other great wildlife organizations offering programming online to help entertain children home from school:
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: The Cincinnati Zoo, home of Fiona the hippo, will host a Home Safari Facebook Live every day at 3 p.m. The zoo will highlight one of the animals and provide an activity for kids to do at home.
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is conducting a shark storytime every day this week at 10 a.m. There will be a shark story and time for shark Q & A.
Now might be the time as well to introduce children to the arts, including opera and Broadway musicals, from the comfort of their living room but from world-renown organizations, such as:
The Metropolitan Opera: Each night that the Opera is closed, the Met will stream encore performances on their website. “Nightly Met Opera Streams” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. each evening.
Playbill: Check out this great list of where to stream Broadway shows. The list includes family friendly favorites, such as Peter Pan and Newsies.
Don’t forget to get outside for a while each day. Download the Seek app and take a walk with your children. Identify various species with the app. When the libraries reopen, check out a nature backpack for further exploration – a collaboration between the Allegheny County Library Association, the Allegheny County Parks, Allegheny Land Trust and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
The eLibrary page for Allegheny County Libraries also has a variety of resources available for entertainment and education. There are links to eBooks, magazines and audio, as well as databases for homework help.