Staying home to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are some resources you can access online to help keep you and your family from getting too stir-crazy.
Please stay tuned for updates — your library staff is reviewing each resource before listing it here, and will be adding more ideas as we find them. 3/19/2020
Online music and theater events
Many cultural organizations, musicians and other performers are offering online concerts during the COVID-19 shutdown. Here are some to check out:
- NPR’s list of live virtual concerts includes to artists performing on streaming platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube
- The Metropolitan Opera’s Nightly Met Opera Streams will present encores of past performances from its “Live in HD” series
- Britain’s National Theatre will be streaming full-length plays every Thursday on YouTube in its new “National Theatre at Home” series.
If you’re on Facebook:
- Actor Patrick Stewart is reading Shakespeare’s sonnets in his Sonnet a Day series.
Last updated: March 27, 2020
Online classes for adults
Adults need something to do, too! Learning something new is a great way to keep your brain engaged while you’re stuck at home. Here are some places to find free online classes and learn new skills.
College- and university-level courses
- Gale Courses provided by your library system – This FREE service includes classes on everything from art to bookkeeping, personal health to business management, and much, much more. You’ll need your library card number to sign up.
- Class Central has a list of free Ivy League MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available through Coursera, edX, Canvas Network, and other online learning platforms.
- Open Culture has an extensive list of 1500 free online courses from top universities, including free video resources, MOOCs, and other online courses.
Learn a new art or craft
- All Free Knitting has a great free online knitting class for beginners, in addition to a collection of free video tutorials for all kinds of knitting techniques
- All Free Crochet has the same kinds of resources for crochet
- The Bob Ross YouTube Channel now has every episode of “The Joy of Painting” online. That’s 29 seasons of happy little trees for you to enjoy!
If you’re on Facebook
- UW-Connects is offering BadgerTalks LIVE, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12pm beginning April 9.
Last updated: April 14, 2020
Academic resources for K-12 students
Check out some of the ways you can help keep your students academically engaged during school shutdowns. Several online learning platforms are even offering free services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- StudyIsland offers math, ELA and science learning activities aligned to specific state standards. They are currently offering one free year to new accounts.
- Khan Academy offers free, personalized, standards-aligned learning for all students. You can study math, grammar, science, history, SAT and AP test prep, and more.
- Newsela.com provides content from current events at different reading levels combined with standards-aligned curriculum. Newsela is offering its product suite for free for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year.
- Wisconsin PBS stations are working with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to provide a daily schedule of educational programming that aligns with Wisconsin’s academic standards for grades PK-12. See pbswisconsin.org/article/family-resources-and-support-for-home-learning-from-pbs-wisconsin/ for a daily schedule beginning March 30.
- BBC Bitesize provides daily math and english lessons plus extra lessons in biology, geography, history and more. Lessons are sorted by age/grade level and feature some of the BBC’s most popular presenters including Sir David Attenborough.
Other online learning opportunities
- Typingclub.com provides free touch typing lessons
- Time for Kids has made their digital library free for the remainder of the school year. It includes special editions based on your child’s age.
- The Wisconsin Historical Society has created the COVID-19 Poster Project, with artists creating public information posters much like those created for WWI and WWII. The WHS has also prepared a lesson plan and instructions for getting students involved in the BIG History is Happening project.
Last updated: May 4, 2020
Authors online for adults
- Wisconsin favorite Michael Perry is reading his short stories on YouTube. Perry’s website has links to all of his “From the Little Writing Room Above the Garage” posts.
- Neil Gaiman’s “Cool Stuff & Things” webpage has all kinds of content to download, listen to, and read, including several of his short stories, audio interviews, readings and book excerpts.
- Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, is offering free PDF downloads of several books including Shakespeare’s Sonnets Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness, Science: Ruining everything since 1543, and more. (These are not for the kids!)
Last updated: April 14, 2020
Entertaining and Educational resources for kids
- The UW-Madison Global Health Initiative has created a coloring book to help kids understand how to stay safe during the pandemic. Download a printable copy of the “Staying Safe While Staying Connected” coloring book.
Books and authors online
- Storytime Online features celebrated actors reading children’s books
- Scholastic Learn at Home provides daily articles and stories, videos, virtual field trips, and learning challenges for grades PreK-9
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems brings you into the studio with one of America’s favorite children’s authors
- Neil Gaiman’s MouseCircus.com includes the author doing a full video reading of The Graveyard Book, games, and downloadable activities.
- Kate Messner, author of Over and Under the Snow and other award-winning children’s books, is compiling an enormous list of favorite authors and illustrators sharing resources, reading their books, teaching online art lessons, and more
- The Wizarding World has announced Harry Potter at Home, extra activities for Harry Potter fans including free downloads of the first Harry Potter audiobook and ebook.
- Shel Silverstein.com has downloadable learning kits and activities.
Museums, Zoos and other virtual tours
- The Milwaukee Zoo’s ZooView.tv lets you peek into the habitats of some of the zoo’s most popular residents.
- Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari features a daily Facebook Live feed at 3pm EDT (that’s 2:00 p.m. here in Wisconsin) to highlight one of their animals, along with a website of resources
- Explore the National Parks of the United States with Google Earth
- Google Arts & Culture offers tours of museums and an enormous amount of content about art, artists, mediums, art movements, and more
- Take a Virtual Field Trip to a zoo, aquarium, volcano, farm, museum, or even the surface of Mars with this list of teacher-curated resources
- VirtualFieldTrips.org provides virtual field trips with videos sorted by curriculum topic, grade, and location
- The British Library’s exhibition, “Harry Potter: a history of magic,” is online with plenty to explore.
STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) Activities online
- KiwiCo has some excellent ideas for stay-at-home STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) projects for kids of all ages. Their project videos and printables are sorted by age.
- NASA Stem @ Home has activities for kids in grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, plus resources for parents and educators.
- EEK! Environmental Education for Kids is a great website from the Wisconsin Green Schools network. It has videos, activities and games to teach kids about our environmental resources.
If you’re on Facebook
- The North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters is doing twice-weekly environmental education videos.
- The Wisconsin Historical Society Press is doing Wednesday story times with their children’s book authors.
- “Goodnight with Dolly” features Dolly Parton reading bedtime stories for kids, weekly on Thursdays at 6pm CDT (7pm EDT).
Online Escape Rooms
Many public libraries have been creating “escape room” or “breakout” activities online. Here’s a selection:
- Check out this Digital Harry Potter Escape Room created by librarians at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA.
- The Mukwonago (WI) Community Library has put together an online Star Wars Escape Room.
- Escape From Starkiller Base is brought to you by the Richmond Hill Public Library
- Spy Apprentice Digital Escape Room was put together for teens and adults by the Washington-Centerville Public Library
- “Oh the Horror: a classic tales escape room” from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
- Doctor Who Escape Room from the Tehachapi Branch Library
Last updated: July 28, 2020
Digital books and audiobooks for all ages
- Wisconsin’s Digital Library gives you access to thousands of ebooks and audiobooks you can read on your computer, your tablet or smartphone using the Libby app, or on your Kindle device.
- Audible.com is making a collection of audio stories for kids completely free during the COVID-19 school closures. No account or registration is required. The collection includes books for the youngest listeners; elementary, tween and teen resources; and classic titles.
- The Internet Archive is suspending wait times on its collection of 1.4 million digitized books to create a National Emergency Library. In general, the titles in the Internet Archive’s collection are digitized print books from university libraries. This collection offers access to many print items from the 20th century that do not have other ebook editions, as well as a large number of public domain works.
Last updated: March 27, 2020
Working from Home
Working from home requires a little more organization and discipline than working in an office, not to mention a whole new suite of digital tools to make your work happen. If you find yourself suddenly working from home, these resources might help.
Home office setup and routines
- Merrilee Proffitt has a helpful blog post, “All of a sudden, I’m working from home. Now what should I do?“
Online meeting software
- Zoom – A free account allows meetings with up to 100 attendees, up to 40 minutes long.
- C|Net has a helpful article on preventing “Zoombombing,” where uninvited guests disrupt your meeting.
- GoToMeeting is one of the more full-featured online meeting software packages. GoToMeeting Free allows 40-minute meetings with up to 3 attendees.
- FreeConferenceCall.com provides free audio, video and screen sharing conference calls. All features are free under a “pay what you can” model.
- Google Duo allows video chats with up to 8 participants. End-to-end encryption provides additional security, and the app is available for iOS or Android mobile devices or through your web browser.
For government organizations
- The Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of Open Government provides guidelines for holding open meetings online.