So... life just got pretty weird this month, huh? Here in the US, anyway -- I know it's been weird for a while in other parts of the world.
My family has been "sheltering in place" for two weeks now, in that Cowboy is now working from home, our church services are now held online, the kids' swimming lessons have been cancelled, and so on. I do still go out to get groceries, but only once a week, not two or three times, and I don't take the kids with me.
I feel so blessed right now. Cowboy can work from home. We already homeschool, so my kids haven't had to transition to a new way of schooling. We can video chat with family and friends with ease. My hubby and I are both introverts, so we haven't been chafing under the need to stay home. My house is crammed with books and movies and games and puzzles and toys, so there's no need to run out of fun things to keep us all occupied. We own our own home and have a backyard, so the kids can still play outside without having to worry about coming into contact with others, plus we're not sharing walls or ventilation systems with other people.
The thing is, I know there are people who are not this blessed. Who live in tiny apartments or crowded places, who are having to learn how to teach their children, who are extroverts and need social interaction for their emotional well-being. Who don't own oodles of books and movies, or aren't entertained by them. And people who have lost their jobs, whether temporarily or permanently.
For me, this has been a cozy couple of weeks. For others, this has been a nightmare. I understand that. I don't want to give the impression that just because my family is doing okay, I assume everyone else is too. If you're struggling at this time, please reach out. To family, to friends, to strangers on the internet. It's okay to say, "This is hard." "I hate this." "I'm having trouble." "I need help. Please help me." If you need help, let people know. Let me know, if you need to. You can message me on Instagram or leave a comment here, especially if you have a prayer request or just need someone to talk to.
Okay. So. The title of this post is "Fun Stuff to Do While Sheltering in Place," and that's what the rest of it will be devoted to! I've found a whole slew of things online that are either free or cheap and that I think other people might find fun or helpful. Here they are:
+ Amazing children's book author and illustrator Mo Willems is doing free lunchtime drawing lessons for kids here on YouTube.
+ Colonial Williamsburg is closed for now, but their website is adding all kinds of wonderful interactive content. I think their interactive timeline for the Stamp Act is really cool. And they have all kinds of cool videos done by their historical interpreters (scroll down to find them). PLUS, they have downloadable activity and coloring sheets. AND they have some recipes here for 18th-century dishes. If you're a teacher (public, private, or homeschool), you can create a free teacher account (or use a temporary one) to access videos, lesson plans, and interactive online activities.
+ Homeschool blog Blest the House has some great ideas for educational, fun ways to occupy your kids. It's aimed at those who are suddenly having to teach their kids at home for the first time, but seasoned homeschoolers can find great ideas there too. You might find that their Curriculum Potluck series of posts has ideas of resources you might find useful too.
+ The website Learning Through Literature has a lot of helpful articles and links to resources right now too. I recommend their articles on book-based indoor activities, five tips for home learning, and how to create a rhythm for your day while sheltering at home.
+ ALL kids audiobook titles are free to kids on Amazon's Audible service for as long as schools are closed.
+ Scribd is offering a 30-day free trial of their ebooks and audiobooks.
+ You can listen to full-cast audio recordings of seven of Shakespeare's plays (including Hamlet!) for free on the Folger Shakespeare Center's website now through June 30.
+ You can watch a video of the Folger Shakespeare Center's 2008 production of Macbeth for free now through June 30. (WARNING: Looks too scary for kids.)
+ The American Shakespeare Center has had to close their Blackfriars Playhouse for the spring season, but they're offering streamed versions of many of their plays, with "tickets" starting at $10. (Might not always be child-friendly.)
+ The Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI, is offering their museum coloring book for free download so you can print it off and color it at home.
+ Etsy artist Bookmarks by Faye is offering four dragon coloring sheets for free download.
+ Etsy artist Mandie Manzano has lowered the price on each of her three download-and-print coloring book collections to $5 each. I love her artwork so much!
+ Several artists, including Mandie Manzano, have created Collective Coloring, a place to find free downloadable coloring sheets.
That's all I have for today, but if I find more cool stuff to share, I'll do another post like this in the future! If you have resources you'd like to share, post them in the comments so others can learn about them too!