Put up your hand if you’ve cleaned everything you possibly can. Or if you can’t face watching Wreck It Ralph, Frozen or The Good Place one more time. Or you’ve exhausted the games and puzzles in your home.
You’re looking for something, anything new to do. We have just the things — all enlightening and enjoyable. And they offer a chance to explore and learn with the people you’re living with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our picks are meant to spark curiosity and ignite chats. They’ll also keep your brain sharp and your household harmony intact. Many of our picks are virtual. For real-life journeys outside your home, remember to embrace physical (social) distancing and wash your hands often.
Wherever you go, consider creating your own travel journal or passport (with “stamps” for each new discovery). Afterward, you can talk about what you saw, learned and liked over a healthy family meal or snuggled on the couch.
Let’s Talk Science
This website is dedicated to preparing young Canadians for careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Let’s Talk Science has all kinds of hands-on activities, including How does snot work? and How can I take fingerprints? All activities list grade levels and related school topics.
Telus Spark Science Centre
Currently closed, the TELUS Spark Science Centre in Calgary is still posting daily Spark Science From Home vignettes. They’re homespun and a little wacky. Topics include what it takes to light a fire (do not do this inside) and a do-it-yourself (DIY) fire extinguisher. You’ll definitely want to do these with your kids. Don’t miss the DIY lemon-powered battery and the science behind a bed of nails. Ouch!
Scholastic Learn at Home
Scholastic Books has been in North America schools for decades. Its robust Learn at Home webpages are filled with activities. Find games, videos, free downloadable worksheets and more. Most are listed by grade and many are free. Also see resources for families.
Discover mindfulness with your young children with e-book picks from staff at the Lethbridge Public Library. Titles include Big Breath by William Meyer; Breathe and Be, A Book of Mindfulness Poems by Kate Coombs; and Listen Like an Elephant by Kira Willey.
Edmonton Historic Tours
You don’t need a time machine to take a trip to bygone decades in Alberta’s capital. Simply download On This Spot from Google Play and iTunes. The free app helps you explore Edmonton’s history with two walking tours. Try the interactive feature to overlaying modern-day photos with pics from the past. Again, a friendly reminder about physical distancing when outside.
Calgary Walking Tours
GPS My City offers several self-guided walking tours, complete with a printable map of the route. You can also create your own route and get the GPS My City app from Google and Apple.
Art provides inspiration, beauty and, most importantly, a connection to the people and world around us. This iconic Calgary destination has launched Glenbow from Home. You can virtually view exhibits, from rocks and minerals to historic Alberta artifacts and fine art.
Calgary Zoo Panda Watch
The world only has about 1,800 giant pandas. What are the odds of making friends with two sweeties like Er Shun and Da Mao? Excellent, if you head over to Panda Watch, available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The playful antics of these black-and-white furballs are priceless.
Vancouver Aquarium Live Cams
Take a fun dip with sea otters, jellyfish and penguins — oh my! — at one of the nation’s top aquariums. The Jelly Cam, Penguin Cam and Sea Otter Cam bring you up close and personal with some of nature’s finest. Don’t fret if the otters dive out of sight — the Underwater Otter Cam will keep you by their side.
The Great Courses Plus
The Great Courses Plus offers in-depth experiences for dedicated lifelong learners. From economics and finance to hobbies and leisure. High school students will also find a whole page of meaty topics. You can try it free for 30 days.
National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has more than 96,000 pieces of art online. You can explore all of them by artist, medium, category and time. Suitable for adults and children passionate about art.
National Gallery of Art (US)
An American landmark, the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC features eye-popping works by famous international artists. Serious art admirers can explore shows such as: Degas at the Opera and Raphael and His Circle. Families will enjoy the Family Interactives section, while Teacher Resources can help with home-schooling.
The British Museum puts more than two million years of history and culture at your fingertips. Feel like wandering the galleries? You can, with Google Street View. While you’re at it, delve into Google Arts and Culture for online exhibitions and stories, including the Mayan World.
Discover the power of art through a virtual walking tour of the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum itself is a work of art. Also check out the museum’s collection of iconic works and recorded interviews.
- Hop aboard a virtual tour of the Alberta Aviation Museum.
- World Tour 360° offers exhilarating online panoramic views of places around the globe. Canadian sights include Stoney Squaw in Banff National Park, the CN Tower in downtown Toronto and Parc des Chutes in Quebec.
- Go deep into the province’s justice system with virtual tours of Calgary’s and Edmonton’s courthouses.
- Sightsee through Italy at Italy Guide.it.
Make Learning Fun
- Have hands-on activities, such as puzzles, painting, drawing and making things.
- Independent play can also be used in place of structured learning. Encourage children to build a fort from sheets or practise counting by stacking blocks.
- Practise handwriting and grammar by writing to family members. This is a great way to connect and limit face-to-face contact.
- Start a journal with your child to record this time. Talk about your shared experience.
- Use audio books and podcasts. Check local libraries for their online resources.
The Calgary Board of Education recommends using active transportation if you’re exploring outside. This includes walking, bicycling, skateboarding and scootering, within physical distance requirements.
Tips for Home Schooling
Visit Alberta Health Services series Healthy Together, your guide to family and home life during COVID-19.