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Online resources to entertain, teach during school closures

Free online resources may help keep children entertained and learning while classes are cancelled. Photo: John Schnobrich/Unsplash

On March 15, Premier Jason Kenney announced the suspension of all kindergarten to Grade classes and the decision to close all licensed child care, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs in Alberta.

“These decisions are not made lightly, and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertan's day-to-day lives, particularly parents, children, and seniors. But it is crucial we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health in a statement.

The move has left many parents and caregivers scrambling to find ways to entertain and educate their children, and the online community is stepping up to help.

Scholastic Canada's Learn at Home offers free resources for parents, teachers and administrators, which presents 21 days of "engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones."

"Even when schools are closed, you can keep the learning going with these special cross-curricular journeys," said the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines. "Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin."

Though the company said it will continue to create and ship books to retail and online stores, it is "committed to supporting children, parents, retailers and educators whatever the circumstances."

"Many children are facing an extended March Break; others, a period of isolation," Scholastic said in a statement. "With outside activities limited, reading can take us places – it can engage, challenge, and transport us to new worlds. Favourite stories are a way to preserve continuity when the rest of the world is uncertain. We encourage you to take this opportunity to read with your kids, reading aloud or just reading your own individual books, together."

Other educational resources

The parent page on, which offers Seussian activities, crafts and printables to "engage your child in playful learning."

National Geographic Kids offers video, games, "Brain Boosters" and more.

Storyline Online provides read-along videos of celebrities reading children's books.

From posters to card games to episode guides and lesson plans, Carmen Sandiego can help. 

Learn with the Smithsonian and discover games, videos and more.

NASA's Climate Kids covers a wide range of topics including weather and climate, atmosphere, plants and animals, water and energy.

Smithsonian Ocean has lesson plans, activities and resources to help engage students in the wonders of the world's oceans.

Access free videos and lesson plans for students grades 3-12 with Project Explorer.

Learn about earthquakes through the U.S. Geological Survey.

Songs for Teaching utilizes music to teach preschoolers about everything from weather to good behaviour.

Other virtual options take you around the world, or even to Mars, all from the comfort of your home. Virtual tours of zoos, national parks and museums are just a click away and offer a fun, educational way to take a "field trip" when similar facilities are closed.

Zoos, aquariums and wildlife

The San Diego Zoo not only has activities, games, videos and tales from around the zoo, the site also features 11 live cameras that let you watch everything from the facility's Tigers to Condors.

Check-in on the live feed of the pandas with Zoo Atlanta's Panda Cam.

Interested in what a naked mole-rat does with its day? The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has that and more covered with its animal webcams. However, the zoo has been closed as a public health precaution and, though animal keepers and veterinary staff remain on-site at the Zoo and at the Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, volunteers will not be operating the cameras and animals may not be visible at all times.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game webcams offer a peek into the world of bears, beavers, fish, walruses and more. Fair warning, equipment malfunction is a risk given Alaska’s challenging weather and terrain, and, depending on the season, animals could be elsewhere. 

From lions to lemurs, Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Ariz., has seven live zoo cams.

Head to Ouwehand Park Polar in Rhenen, Netherland to check in on its polar bear cubs.

Internet favourite Fiona the hippo has gone online as the Cincinnati Zoo is closed. "Let us help make your children's hiatus from school fun and educational," reads a note from the zoo on Facebook. "Join us for a Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time) where we will highlight one of our amazing animals and include an activity you can do from home."

Monterey Bay Aquarium has 10 web cams streaming live footage its penguins, otters, sharks, jelly fish and more.

Immerse yourself in Canadian farm and food tours with Farm Food 360.


The British Museum in London, England.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Check out the spiral staircase of the Guggenheim Museum in New York

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea.

The Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

MASP in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Louvre Museum in Paris. 

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. 

Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

Travel the world and beyond

Take a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China.

Discover the beautiful landscapes, wildlife and geysers at Yellowstone National Park.

Become a space traveller and access the surface of Mars as recorded by NASA's Curiosity rover.

Get moving

Find kid-friendly works at Sworkit. Select how long you'd like the workout to be and get moving.


Get kids excited about cooking with Nomsterchef.


Check out the seven podcast Calgary Family says you and your children will love.

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