Amma Whatt (Artist, Mom, Content Creator, Brooklyn Resident)
It was all good just a few weeks ago.
And then, countless parents across the country were sent scrambling when one school district after another began to close down.
As we all know by now, these long-anticipated school closings have been necessary to help protect students and staff from contracting and spreading the virus COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus (and even colloquially referred to as “The Rona”).
Although many of us are relieved to now be able to protect our children at home, we are faced with having to occupy them for many more hours than we are used to. And, if you add to that an interest in exposing your children to educational activities and entertainment that center Black and Brown children, the options may seem slim.
So what’s a parent to do, while possibly having to work from home, tend to younger children, and suddenly plan a child’s full day of activities for the next 8 weeks?
The first step is to stop and take a deep breath.
You are having an unprecedented experience, in an uncertain time, and it is absolutely ok if you don’t have all of the answers.
Although there is much urgency around establishing some kind of temporary normal for our families, remember that children are resilient and sensitive. Talk to them, in an age-appropriate way, about what is happening and how it will affect their schedule for now. Reassure them that, although things may be different for a while, you are there to love and care for them, and they can depend on you to make sure they are ok.
Be gentle on yourself too. Experienced homeschoolers suggest about 2-4 hours a day of “learning instruction” or activities that focus on a particular learning goal, and spread the rest of the day out with indirect learning activities, free time, rest, and physical exercise. Lastly, don’t forget to schedule some time to talk, cuddle, and share. Group journaling, movie time, and puzzles can also be fun ways to stay occupied and enjoy each other’s company.
Here are 13 educational and/or entertaining online resources to keep your children happy for at least a couple of hours a day.
Orisha Song & Dance with Oludaré
Age Range- 3+
These virtual, “pay what you can”, Afro-Cuban song and dance classes are live and specially developed for families stuck at home due to the Coronavirus. They take place twice per day, and are dedicated to a different Orisha each day. Check out the link for the class schedule, and to learn how to join each daily class.
Onyx Kids/Onyx Family
YouTube Channel https://bit.ly/2whgVbr
Funny Episode https://bit.ly/2QlNv2E
Age Range 5-14
Onyx Kids, on YouTube or Amazon Prime, has enough content to keep a kid occupied for quite some time. This show has a homemade vibe and centers Shasha and Shiloh, a brother and sister constantly in each other’s hair. Check out the episode where ShaSha draws a new best friend for lots of laughs.
Age Range 4+
Fresh off an Oscar win for Best Animated Short Film, Hair Love is an endearing tale about a father learning to do his daughter’s hair. At almost 7 minutes, it won’t hold your child for long, but can be a great segue into a discussion about loving one’s body and hair.
Age Range 4+
Movement is a sure way to tire your kids out and get blood flowing while cooped up in the house. With hundreds of videos of kids teaching dance combinations, animated characters with choreography, and adorable songs about topics like grammar, and the environment, you will want to move right along with your kids.
Age Range 5+
Even the youth need the occasional Netflix binge. With an adorable and whip smart cast, Netflix’ Raising Dionne is the perfect Sci-Fi escape to carry you over for a few days. Dion is a little boy with super powers trying to navigate emotions around his father’s death. There are jokes, intrigue, social commentary, and adventure!
Akili and Me
Youtube channel https://bit.ly/33prBRp
Age Range 0-1st Grade
Akili and Me is a Tanzanian, animated TV show featuring African children. Their YouTube channel has tons of content, including sing-alongs about numbers, letters, emotions, and many other topics. There are also videos reading to children, with subtitles that your kids can read along with. Be sure to look into the Akili and Me app that features fun games that correlate with the videos.
Age Range 6+
Why not take this time to start learning a new language like Swahili or Hawaiian? With supervision, children as young as 7 can take the easy tests and begin to get familiar with terms and phrases. Older kids can work alone for hours, while gaining a new skill.
Black History Puzzles
-Harriet Tubman https://gardenofpraise.com/puzzlb37.htm
-Booker T. Washington
-Mary Mcleod Bethune
Age Range 8+
Head here and scroll down to where it says “Biographies for kids” and click “print” on the name of your choice. You’ll find word puzzles related to some of your favorite Black historical figures to print out. Here are some examples featuring puzzles for Harriet Tubman and Phyllis Wheatley.
Age Range- Pre-k-5th Grade
Sorted by grade and subject education.com hosts online games, printable worksheets, and whole lesson plans. If you have a tablet, the educational games are especially easy to navigate for all ages.
Malice in Ovenland
Age Range 5+
Type in (rainyDay) to print out free coloring templates featuring Malice, the comic book character and protagonist of Ovenland. Illustrator, Michelline Hess’, fantasy universe is sure to wake up your child’s imagination and appetite for comics.
Age Range 4+
GoNoodle.com uses Movement as a sure way to tire your kids out and get blood flowing while cooped up in the house. This site has hundreds of videos of kids teaching dance combinations, animated characters with choreography, and adorable songs about topics like grammar, and the environment. You will want to move right along with your kids.
As an established edutainment brand, the PBS site does not disappoint. Go here for both games and videos centered around learning various topics or just enjoy PBS’ most popular kid shows.
Let’s remember that Music is both entertaining AND educational! For a limited time, the Metropolitan Opera House is hosting nightly opera streams of some of the most famous Operas. Take some time to discuss the stories and drama sung in different languages, or simply use the music as a backdrop to inspire drawing and hands on crafts time.
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