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Mendo Lake Family Life

Schools Closed? No Problem

By Jan Pierce

The kids and you are unexpectedly at home. Suddenly there are hours to fill, and if you’re working at home, it’s imperative that you keep the kids occupied. Before you freak out, remember: Your computer isn’t quarantined. You can go online and find many learning-oriented sites like the ones below. Do a couple of Internet searches and in no time little synapses will be firing. The kids will stay busy so you can stay productive. You’re welcome.

Kids’ Websites Preschoolers have always adored Sesame Street. These early-learning online games keep the love going strong. created an additional daily activity just for kids experiencing a break in regular classroom learning. Scholastic provides a free daily curriculum that will keep young brains engaged and thinking about the world around them. A favorite of homeschoolers, this remarkable free resource has easy-to-follow lessons on tons of topics—everything from math, science, and computing to history and SAT-prep. is a science, technology, and culture site suitable for older kids. Look for the article on a teen-developed app aimed at ending lonely school lunches. is a library of more than 60,000 free e-books—the world’s greatest literature available at your fingertips for free. National Geographic has been providing exceptional kids’ content since 1975. So it’s no surprise this website is a goldmine of well-produced wildlife videos and science and math games.

Reading Websites
Reading websites abound. Check out some of these and challenge your children to listen and engage with kids’ literature. Listen to celebrated actors like Wanda Sykes and Kevin Costner read imaginative children’s books aloud. Mrs. Read for Fun hopes her quirky videos encourage kids to become as passionate about books as she is. This excellent resource from Oxford University Press offers an extensive array of material, including free ebooks, creative writing activities, math lessons, and college test prep help. There’s even guidance for parents on things like phonics and how to teach spelling at home. offers a plethora of online games designed to support the reading and math skills of kids in pre-K through sixth grades. Check out games like the Amazing Avian Alphabet, Journey to the Past Tense, and Number Ninja. offers free audio stories like “The Commune of Cats” and “Astropup and the Teletransporter.”

Author Websites
Many authors maintain websites to help kids interact with their stories and characters. Check out the ones below and then search online for the sites of your kids’ favorite authors and books Ya gotta love Mo with his pigeon stories and all. He currently has a delightful art-making video series for kids called Daily Doodles, available on the Kennedy Center’s website: Find lots of downloadable activities and videos including common-core teaching and discussion guides based on Kevin Henkes’s books. Everyone loves Jan Brett’s beautifully illustrated stories for kids. Her arty of activities include charming Easter-oriented coloring murals.
The famous 90-year-old master of tissue-paper-and-paint collage offers collage-making instruction sheets, coloring pages, drawing games, booklists, and other cool stuff on his site. Choose “Downloads and Activities” under the Resources tab and away you go. Want to make some cupcake toppers or play Pin the Tail on Max? Find downloads here.

Jan Pierce is a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and education.