The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many new and unexpected challenges to people around the world. For families with children, sheltering in place has been especially difficult. We must find ways to keep our children active, entertained, and educated—all from inside our homes. To help with each of these endeavors, we’ve put together a list of free resources during COVID-19.
Free Resources During COVID-19
The resources below will give you tools to help with social emotional learning and mindfulness, exercise, education, and entertainment. Our hope is that these resources will make time at home with your families less stressful and more productive and enjoyable for all.
Note: Access to some resources may require you to create a free account.
1. Social Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is defined as “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
In short, SEL helps people regulate their emotions. When we’re able to regulate our emotions, we’re able to make good choices, treat others with respect, reach our goals, learn, and succeed. We develop the resilience to bounce back after challenges and setbacks. During this time of uncertainty and upheaval, these abilities are more important than ever.
Many SEL and child development organizations have created free resources during COVID-19. Here are a few of these resources, which you can use to talk to your kids about the pandemic and help them manage their fears.
- The Task of the Mask (Joan Morgenstern of Senders Pediatrics) In upbeat, rhyming language, this colorful story provides age-appropriate language about why people are wearing masks. It even includes an activity to help children understand that these masks are not scary.
- Free SEL Lessons (Second Step) Access on-demand emotion management lessons for K-5, plus helpful support materials for each lesson.
- COVID-19 Resource Library (Conscious Discipline) SEL provider Conscious Discipline has developed 150+ free resources in response to COVID-19, including webinars, articles, and printables. Scroll to the bottom of the page or click here for kid-friendly printables such as stories, visual safety reminders, activities to talk about and manage fear, and much more. Many of these resources are also available in Spanish.
- Answering Children’s Difficult Questions (Conscious Discipline) Although this 14-minute webinar is not made for children, it provides extremely helpful advice for answering children’s questions about coronavirus.
- In the Moment Ways to Help Children Cope with Worry and Anxiety (Kirsten’s Kaboodle) Similarly, this article offers actionable SEL strategies to help children manage worry and anxiety. Written for teachers, it is easily adaptable for parents.
Our article on encouraging children to cooperate may also be helpful as your family manages the stress of COVID-19.
In some ways, mindfulness is similar to SEL. It involves focusing your attention on the current moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgement. It helps people remain present and calm.
Here are a few free resources to help you practice mindfulness with your children:
- 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Teens (Positive Psychology) In this article, you’ll discover tips for teaching mindfulness to children. Plus, you’ll learn mindfulness games, activities, and exercises.
- 51 Mindfulness Exercises for Kids in the Classroom (Waterford.org) Although these exercises are designed for teachers to use in the classroom, they are easily adaptable for families. Includes links to plenty of free printables, apps, and other activities.
- 3 Mindfulness Exercises (Positive Psychology) These exercises teach you how to cultivate your own inner peace, then enhance the mindfulness of children.
- Rainbow Walk (Mindful Teachers) Getting in touch with nature is a great way to practice mindfulness. With this activity, children take a walk and look for something red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. You can take pictures or have your kids illustrate their findings in a sketchbook.
- Gratitude Scavenger Hunt (Simple Acres Blog) Similarly, this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt asks children to find something that makes them happy, something they are thankful for in nature, something they can give someone else to make them smile, and so on. Includes free printable.
It’s always important to stay healthy and physically active. Of course, that becomes more challenging when we’re spending more time inside. Plus, it’s likely that your kids are missing out on recess, P.E., and any team sports that they usually play. Not only do you want your kids to stay healthy, but you’d probably also like a way to burn off some of that excess energy.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free exercises and workouts for kids, such as these:
- Beachbody Kids Workouts (Beachbody): Beachbody is currently offering free workouts for kids, led by celebrity trainers Shaun T, Tony Horton, and Leandro Carvalho. Videos include “Rock It Out!”, “Believe, Achieve, and Tone,” and “Game On!”
- Cosmic Kids Yoga (Cosmic Kids): Free yoga videos designed for children. Yoga is perfect for staying active and practicing mindfulness at the same time!
- Fitness Blender Kids Workout (Fitness Blender): This 25-minute video from Fitness Blender runs through three fitness games that are appropriate for ages three and up.
- Good Energy at Home with GoNoodle (GoNoodle): A free online resource that provides videos and printables to help kids stay active and mindful at home. Includes movement and yoga videos, plus recommended “off-screen” activities for you and your children.
- YMCA Kids Activities (YMCA): Find free videos including youth dance, kids yoga, fun fit, and more. The YMCA also has a library of youth sports videos focusing on basic skills and drills for a variety of sports and ages.
Youtube is another resource where you can find tons of free workout videos for children and families. And you can always go for walks or bike rides around the neighborhood, organize outdoor obstacle courses or relay races, or simply run around and play in the backyard.
4. Virtual Field Trips
You might not be able to take field trips right now, but you can always enjoy virtual tours from the comfort and safety of your home. And with so many options currently available, no list of free resources during COVID-19 would be complete without a few virtual field trips. Here are some of our favorites:
- Boston Children’s Museum Virtual Tour (Boston Children’s Museum) Tour all three floors of the Boston Children’s Museum, where exhibits range from bubbles and raceways to dinosaurs and a STEAM lab.
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium Live Webcams (Clearwater Marine Aquarium) Check out live footage of dolphins, otters, pelicans, clownfish, sea turtles, and more.
- Ellis Island (Scholastic): Take a virtual field trip to Ellis Island, complete with a teacher’s (or parent’s) activity guide.
- Famous Museums: Many famous museums offer virtual tours, including The Louvre, The Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Nature Lab at Home (Nature Conservancy) Choose from 11 virtual field trips exploring places like the rainforest and coastal reefs.
- San Diego Zoo Kids (San Diego Zoo) Watch live videos of your favorite zoo animals, including elephants, koalas, giraffes, tigers, and pandas. Plus, access games, educational videos, stories, and printable activities!
5. Educational Activities
Children have been out of school for extended periods of time, and many are now out for the summer. To prevent the phenomenon known as “brain drain,” try some of these free educational activities:
- Games and Videos from Sesame Street Online (Sesame Street) Watch educational videos and shows, play games, and do arts and crafts—all while learning!
- Math Games (CoolMath.com) This website describes itself as “an amusement park of math and more.” It offers brain training games on multiplication, subtraction, division, decimals, and beyond for ages 13+. Younger kids will enjoy the sister site CoolMath4Kids.
- National Geographic Kids (National Geographic) Browse articles, videos, games, “Brain Boosters,” and “Cool Stuff” that make learning about our planet fun.
- Fun Brain (Funbrain.com) Perfect for preschool through eighth grade students, Fun Brain features a treasure trove of online books, math and reading games, educational videos, and much more.
- Exploratorium (San Francisco’s Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts) San Francisco’s Exploratorium offers a huge collection of “online experiences” that provide hands-on lessons about science and art. The site even has a section on COVID-19, which features kid-friendly lessons about viruses and keeping our communities healthy.
You may also be interested in our article 4 Essential Tips for Home Learning.
6. Helping Out in the Community
Speaking of the community, helping others is an excellent outlet for children who feel scared, confused, lonely, or like life has slipped out of their control. If you’re looking for socially distanced ways to help out, here are some suggestions:
- 75 Ways for Kids to Connect and Contribute (Conscious Discipline) This list from Conscious Discipline includes simple activities to boost morale in your home and your neighborhood.
- What Kids Can Do to Help Their Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic (ParentsTogether) This helpful list from ParentsTogether also provides insight into why it’s so important to get your kids involved in the community right now.
- Ways Your Whole Family Can Volunteer During the COVID-19 Crisis (Fordham Institute) Get your whole family in on the act, connecting with both each other and your community in the process. Includes links to additional resources.
- Caring Connections Calendar (Conscious Discipline) This printable calendar provides daily suggestions to help spread kindness, practice gratitude, and spend quality time with people we love (even from a distance).
7. Other Fun Activities for Kids
While mindfulness, community service, and education are vital, we can’t forget fun! Here are several lists of fun activities to do with your kids, even under quarantine:
- 25 Fun Activities to Make Quarantine Fun for Kids (Big Life Journal)
- 25 Free Things to Do with Kids During the Coronavirus Quarantine (Dave Ramsey)
- 100+ Fun Things to Do at Home Right Now (Travel and Leisure)
- Stay at Home Guide: 100s of Activities and Resources (Mommy Poppins)
- 250+ Creative Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During the COVID-19 Crisis (Kids Out and About)
Final Thoughts: Free Resources During COVID-19
We hope you’ve found some cost-effective ways to keep your kids entertained, educated, and exercised. It isn’t easy right now, but we’re all in this together!