Here’s a selection of online resources – by no means complete! – to keep you and your family busy during quarantine.
Library cards, and resources you can access with them
- Getting a library card: Want to access some of the library’s e-resources, only you’ve never gotten around to getting one? Signing up for a library card can now be done from the comfort of your own home. There’s never a better time to get one than now!
- Libby tutorial: A brief tutorial on borrowing and reading with Libby, if you haven’t already gotten started. Happy reading!
- Ancestry.com: Aspiring genealogists, rejoice! The library system’s Ancestry.com database can now be accessed from the comfort of your own home. Whether genealogy is your passion or a hobby you’ve considered getting into, now’s the time to give this resource a try!
- BookFlix: For those kids and parents with library cards, one of the more fun educational children’s e-resources you can access is BookFlix, by Scholastic. This resource features animated versions of favorite and classic picture books, paired with a non-fiction e-book about the topic (which can be read aloud or read by your child) and reading comprehension puzzles. Enter your library card number, select one of dozens of books, and have fun!
- Creativebug: Crafters – a host of Creativebug tutorials are available to you with your library card. Creativebug has something for everyone at every level of skill and experience, from doodlers to knitters to cake decorators. Get crafting!
- Little Pim: Want to teach your kids another language, or learn one along with them? Mango Languages’ child-aimed language-learning resource, Little Pim Languages, is free with your library card. ¡Disfrútelo!
- Mango Languages: Ever wanted to learn a language, but didn’t have enough time? Now might just be the time! Mango Languages is a language-learning tool that’s easy to use and enjoyable to work with, and it’s free with your library card! Happy learning!
- POWER Library: With public libraries (and schools) closed, please remember the POWER Library is open 24 hours a day! It includes over 20 online databases plus over 16,000 e-books you can read online and/or download. If you don’t have a library card (or if you lost yours), you can sign up for an eCard to access the POWER Library. An eCard provides you with immediate access to the e-resources provided in POWER Library. (An eCard will not provide you with access to any other e-resources subscribed to by your library, nor does it have any borrowing privileges. Library cards are available through self-registration.) In addition, the ability to Chat with a Librarian 24/7 remains available!
For kids and parents
- Allegheny County Library Association: Libraries throughout the county are putting on all kinds of digital programming, many of them livestreaming storytimes, STEM activities, book talks and activities, bedtime stories, and more, while others, us included, are posting video programming. The county library association has compiled a schedule of livestreamed content and a list of libraries (like us!) that are doing virtual children’s programming. Feel free to try out what your local librarians are posting, as well as librarians you’ve never met before. There’s something going on literally every weekday. Follow the ACLA Youth Services Facebook page for updates and reminders, or click on the initial link for a master list of who’s doing what when.
- Annenberg Learner: At your wits’ end about what to teach your kids, or how? Annenberg Learner is a collection of multimedia resources for different age groups and subjects, as well as professional development resources for teachers. You’ve got this.
- BookRiot: So many children’s authors and artists are sharing their work, drawing and teaching how to draw, or just sharing with their fans and readers during this outbreak, and even more have started since this article was posted from book site BookRiot. Listen with Mac Barnett, doodle with Mo Willems, share art based on prompts from Carson Ellis. Have fun reading, drawing, listening, and learning!
- Cheetah Cam: Are you or your kids wondering how the animals at the zoo are doing? Check up on them with the Cheetah Cam! Can’t find the cheetahs? Take control of the cam to search for them. Enjoy!
- Common Sense Media: Still struggling with homeschooling? There are tons of resources out there, but many are geared towards younger children, rather than your tweens or teens. Common Sense Media has put out a blog post with a suggested and flexible homeschool curriculum for older kids. We hope this helps! Or that it at least gives you ideas. Happy learning, and happy teaching!
- Growing Book by Book: So the library’s closed, and either you’ve run out of picture books (alas!) or you’ve read the same one over and over (and over, and over, and over…). You would give anything for a new book. Thankfully, there are literally tons of resources available for you! Besides e-books and picture book resources provided by the library, lots of publishers, libraries, authors, and more are livestreaming and recording digital storytimes, sing-alongs, and drawing videos. Growing Book by Book has helpfully compiled a list, one that is by no means complete. Look up your kids’ favorite authors – they might be reading or drawing together, too!
- Khan Academy: Struggling to teach your kids? Khan Academy is a free online resource with lessons on almost every normal school subject for toddlers to teens. They can help for specific topics or subjects you’re puzzled about, or for your entire curriculum. (Link goes to an overview, not the site home.)
- Kidsburgh: Kidsburgh is a collection of Pittsburgh-based news, articles, and activities for kids to do, and its more recent posts are about local resources and what you can do with your kids during this pandemic. Have fun!
- Lunch Doodles with Mo: Kids and parents! Doodle and draw with Mo Willems, the author of some of your favorite children’s books. Watch previous episodes on YouTube, or catch each new one as it’s posted, every weekday at 1! Enjoy!
- Mystery Science: Struggling to teach your kids science, or to keep them engaged? Mystery Science has demonstrations and hands-on video lessons for grades K – 5, and their most popular lessons are currently free for teachers and parents. Have fun learning!
- NASA: Looking for more STEM resources for your kids while you’re stuck at home? NASA has you covered. Coloring sheets, science experiments, puzzles, games, stories, and LOTS OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE ROCKETS. Not to mention awesome pictures of outer space. Learn something awesome!
- Oceans Initiative: Are your children (or you) interested in sea life? Join Oceans Initiative at 2 on Mondays and Thursdays for Virtual Marine Biology Camp! Join them live on Facebook or Instagram, or watch archived sessions here.
- Penguin Cam: If your kids (or you) are wondering how the penguins at the zoo are doing during this outbreak, wonder no more! The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has a penguin cam so you can see what kinds of mischief they’re up to.
- Podcasts: Are your kids stuck at home with nothing to do? Spark their imaginations listening to these educational and fun podcasts!
- Story Time From Space: Reading with your children is awesome. But you know what’s even more awesome than you or a librarian or even an author reading a story to your kids? AN ASTRONAUT READING A STORY TO YOUR KIDS. Story Time From Space has astronauts from the International Space Station reading books about space and science and doing science demonstrations. Enjoy!
- UNICEF: UNICEF, the International Publisher’s Association, and the World Health Organization are working together to present popular children’s authors from around the world reading and sharing their works with children stuck in isolation, the #ReadtheWorld initiative. Maybe your favorite will be on the list.
- Virtual Field Trips: Do you or your kids miss the wider world outside your neighborhood? Here’s a collection of virtual field trips around the world, or even out of it! They’re educational and fun for the whole family, adults included. Happy (virtual) travels!
- Virtual Storytime with Miss Cece: Enjoy storytimes online with Miss Cece during quarantine. Uploads on Fridays at 12:00 PM for the duration of the mandated school and library closures. (Videos are hosted on our Facebook page. They can be watched without a Facebook account.)
- The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature: The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature is a free-to-access archive of historical children’s books, mostly from the Victorian era. These books offer an illuminating insight into their era’s opinions on the purpose of children’s literature. Or you could just peruse them for their merits (or oddities) as art and literature, unlike anything from children’s books you’ve seen in the past century. Enjoy!
- Google + National Park Tours: Stuck inside? Missing travel? Or at least the world outside your neighborhood? Google and the park rangers of our National Parks can help! They’ve teamed up to create virtual guided tours of several of our most exciting wild areas. Explore!
- The Incline: There are tons of things to do to keep busy while everything is closed and you’re staying home, and quite a lot of them have Pittsburgh connections! The Incline has helpfully collected a list of links and resources. Enjoy!
- Local Little Free Libraries: Desperately looking for a new book to read? E-books don’t do it for everybody, and that’s okay. You might want to check out the community’s Little Free Libraries – there are a lot of them. Here’s a map with (rough) locations of Little Free Libraries in Swissvale and Swisshelm Park (and a couple in Edgewood, because some of us walk that far). They’re the pink circles with books in them. Locations are titled with their blocks; their descriptions contain pertinent information. Take a book. Leave a book. And for the love of libraries take reasonable sanitary precautions. Enjoy!
- Metropolitan Opera: Want to use this time to catch up on culture? The Metropolitan Opera is making past performances available for free, one per day. Each recording goes up at 7:30pm EDT until 3:30pm EDT the next day. Enjoy!
- Open Culture: Open Culture is a site aggregating literature, audiobooks, online courses, and more, all free for anyone to access, even without a library card. Always wanted to learn to draw, read a classic, or hear lectures from famous speakers? This site might just have you covered, especially if you’re bored out of your skull otherwise. Make this a productive time!
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: Want to give classical music a try? The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has got you covered. Give them a listen!
- Virtual library tours: Tired of staying at home or in your neighborhood? Library Journal has curated a list of eight gorgeous libraries you can virtually tour and visit.
- Virtual museum tours: Hungry for a taste of culture? The website Jetsetter has put together a list of world-class museums offering virtual tours of their collections. Never made it to the Louvre? The British Museum? The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History? Now’s your chance. Go explore!
- Zooniverse: Still need something to do? Want to volunteer without leaving your house? Zooniverse is a site that crowd-sources research. Help scientists analyze huge data-sets one photo or brief audio-clip at a time. All you need is your device and internet access. There are lots of intriguing projects on the site – find one that interests you!