Have computer? We’ve got apps

Free programs in place to help keep kids engaged and learning at home


Suddenly, you are homeschooling.

You and parents in 39 states around the nation, and counting, have been given a computer, a warm smile and the cue to go long as the receiving end of a Hail Mary pass in hopes that we can keep our children learning, engaged and moving forward through four weeks of shuttered schools.

Let’s not even talk about the fact that Kansas already threw in the towel and canceled schools for the rest of the year. Way to motivate guys. Way. To. Motivate.

Luckily, we are parenting in the age of the internet, which means the collective universe of online folks who are whizzier at algebra, craftier at English and more creative in art have got your back. And a lot of them are offering these services completely free of charge.

 Here is a list of useful, handy and super cool things your kids can do while stuck at home for the next several weeks.

Scholastic learn at home series


This free resource provides your children with 20* days of exciting articles and stories, videos, and fun learning challenges. Children can complete them anytime, in any order. They can work on their own or together with you and your family on any device.

Operation Storytime


Tired of reading aloud? Let famous people do it for you. Parenting website Romper.com has enlisted the help of children’s authors and other famous people to record themselves reading children’s books aloud. Among the choices are Jan Brett reading Cozy,”  Susie Jaramillo reading “Little Sunny Sunshine from the Cantico Series (in English and Spanish), and Ame Dyckman reading “You Don’t Want A Unicorn!while dressed, as a unicorn, proving she is winning this homeschool game thing.

Learn about weather


Want a cool science class? Tune into the Skywarn Storm Spotter Training Classes taught online for free by the U.S. National Weather Service staff in Mobile. Learn about local weather, what causes it and how you can be severe weather ready. The basic class is offered March 31 from 6 – 8 p.m. and again on April 4 from 10 a.m. – noon. Once you complete that course take the free advanced course online April 2 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Doodle with Mo Willems


Children’s author Mo Willems, creator of “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is doodling every day at lunchtime with kids around the world. The program runs live at noon central time, or watch all of the sessions on YouTube at any time that is convenient. Have paper and crayons on hand.

Mystery Science


Want to know if animals laugh or how woodpeckers peck wood? You and your kids can discover this and more through Mystery Science. The educational site has opened its vault of elementary age science lessons and experiments and given access to them for free.


Ted for older students


Teenagers may act like missing school is no big deal but we all know the interruption has ruined their routine too. Ted, an online media organization that hosts the popular Ted Talks series, has culled a list of teen-friendly discussions that include art, history, science and even math. The talks range from the serious such as the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire to the curious: why do mirrors flip vertically but not horizontally; to the plain fun: how to win rock, paper, scissors.   

Virtual field trips

Lots of museums around the world offered virtual field trips long before the spread of COVID-19 shut their doors this week. Google a museum you’ve always wanted to visit and see if they offer a tour on their website. Museums and places that have posted recently about their virtual tours are:

The Louvre, Paris, https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

The Great Wall of China, https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china

Yellowstone National Park, https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm

Mars, https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/