Below you will find resources and ideas to help educate and entertain your kids during school closures and shelter at home orders. They are divided by category, though many overlap.
Share Their Creativity with the neighborhood. More people are walking around these days, and all of us can use a little motivation and cheer. Have the kids create inspirational signs and messages to hang in your front window or try a little sidewalk chalk.
Glass Academy in Dearborn is featuring live glassblowing demonstrations on its Facebook page. From sand to fire to finished product, they can see the science of creating art.
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is challenging people to make art within their own surroundings using everyday items already at home. With every suggested project they show ideas and post pictures of creations after each challenge.
Grand Rapids Art Museum has lesson plans for hands-on artmaking.
Cranbrook Art Museum now includes virtual tour experiences.
HISTORY & GOVERNMENT
Ancestry Search projects are a great thing to tackle with this downtime indoors. Share family stories, photos, and memories and/or learn more about your family’s history together. Family Search is one of the best sites to start a search process. Go through photo albums and scrapbooks together, make a family tree, search for information you don’t know, make a video of your family’s story, and get some of those loose photos labeled, digitized, and preserved for future generations.
Buy Michigan Now has a page dedicated to Michigan History. It features articles on the state’s economic past as well as a monthly series from Erica Emelander on key people and moments from the Michigan of yesteryear. Read the articles along with your kids and discuss the impact, how things have changed, or challenge them to find additional information. The page also has an On This Day calendar that highlights a key moment in the state’s history for each date.
Detroit Historical Society is offering a variety of online resources including landmarks and images. New content is being released regularly throughout this period, and there is even a database of lesson plans to help you bring historical content to life.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum is conducting a special COVID-19 project for future generations.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic event that we are all experiencing together. They want to hear your stories through journals, thoughts, images, and more in order to ensure that the community’s experiences are remembered. Each individual perspective during this time is valuable and adds to the community’s story as a whole. Tell them how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted you, your family, your work or schooling, or other areas of your day-to-day life. Share what is important you and include photos to accompany your story if you’d like.
Michigan History Center has an online collection that includes Archives of Michigan research guides and indexes, as well as access to more than three million state and local government records and private manuscripts, maps and photographs. Many downtowns, city websites, and local historical centers also have websites that feature information about the history of your own community. Help your kids discover when the area was settled and by whom. What were the first jobs? Who is that street or building in your town named after, and what did that person do to earn the honor? What was it like when their grandparents or great grandparents were living here?
Michigan House of Representatives has a website that enables students to look up who their Representative is and learn more about him or her and their stance on issues. Through the Citizen’s Guide section, they can also take a virtual tour of the Capitol Building and nearby memorials, read the Michigan Constitution, find out about the petition process for Initiatives, Referendums and Constitutional Amendments, as well as reviewing House rules, different committees, and how a bill becomes a law.
State Senate of Michigan allows students to virtually explore the Senate Chamber and surrounding areas on its website. They can also determine who their Senator is and find out about current and pending legislation.
U.S. Census is underway. Our Constitution mandates taking a count of the population every 10 years. 2020 is one of those years and the statistics will be used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as determining how hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds are allocated. Those funds can help our hospitals, emergency services, schools, roads, bridges, and more. Complete the U.S. Census online with your kids and talk about the impact. This year’s form has only nine questions. It’s also fun to go back and compare today’s questions with those asked in different decades and explore why the form is different each time.
READING & WRITING
Michigan eLibrary has ABCya which includes games to improve reading, numbers, letters, spelling, and language skills, as well as Starfall beginning reader books. It also features Storytime where kids can watch and listen to famous actors as they read popular children’s picture books. Videos can be viewed on YouTube or SchoolTube. Activity guides are available featuring a book summary, related activities, internet activities, and author biographies.
State of Michigan Kids Site offers word games and activities as well as child-friendly content on the environment, food, history, money, and state symbols.
Submit Articles to Buy Michigan Now. If you have students who want to hone their writing skills and possibly even get published, we are taking submissions for our Visit My Town section. The assignment is to write recommendations for how someone visiting their hometown could make the most of a weekend. Samples can be found online. Submissions should be sent to email@example.com and include a one or two line bio describing the writer.
SCIENCE & MATH
Ann Arbor Hands on Science Center is producing virtual STEM workshops for its members throughout the week. The schedule is posted online and changes on a weekly basis. If you’re not a member, you can still participate in a free online workshop on Fridays. Schedules and registration are online.
Binder Park Zoo has a live camera showcasing the southern part of the 18-acre savanna exhibit in Wild Africa. Kids can watch giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, addra gazelle, addax and bontebok as well as ostrich, vultures and storks go about their business in real time. They can then learn more about all animals by visiting the Animals page.
Detroit Zoo has live webcams on its site so kids can watch penguins, otters, falcons, prairie dogs, and snow monkeys as they eat, sleep, and play.
Grand Rapids Public Museum offers various resources accessible from home, including exploring the Museum’s Collection of more than 250,000 artifacts and specimens, activities, live stream camera to showcase the two 10-month-old Lake Sturgeon featured in the Grand Fish, Grand River exhibition.
Impression 5 hosts a weekly Facebook live broadcast each Wednesday at 1:00pm to explore hands-on science. Each live video will be broadcast directly from the Impression 5 Science Center page.
Michigan Science Center is conducting some of its most exciting, large-scale science demonstrations daily from the ECHO Distance Learning Studio. Anyone with an internet-connected device can tune in and participate in these engaging programs which happen every weekday at 2:30pm. You can also view previous episodes and find At Home Science Activities on their website.
MSU Extension is an excellent resource for learning to plant and grow food. Its Gardening in Michigan Facebook page has lots of information and video content. MSU is also offering a self-paced online course called Smart Gardening with Veggies 101 that you may want to take as a family. The roughly seven-hour course provides future gardeners with instruction from site planning and soil preparation to plant selection, composting, and even pest management. Rural Sprout has good information on 20 vegetables they can regrow from scraps.
The Henry Ford currently has one of the most extensive collections of free online learning materials made available by any institution on the state. There are materials for students of all ages. Pre-made lesson plans are designed to keep your students and children engaged in fun and educational activities. The lessons are built around innovation. The Model i Innovation Learning Framework provides an interdisciplinary language and approach to learning based on the habits and actions of innovation, and is geared toward younger kids. The Innovate Curriculum is a self-paced learning experience that connects the core disciplines of STEAM and humanities together through digital content and activities. Your kids can experience the invention process step-by-step and gain valuable entrepreneurial skills.
If you know of additional valuable resources around the state worthy of sharing, we would appreciate it if you would let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.