Just For Fun
Welcome to our #JustForFun page. We found a number of fun third-party sites with engaging activities that students and families can enjoy together at home. Please note that it’s important to look at sites as a family or supervise your child’s use of the internet.
SomerSocial offers free, fun, online afterschool classes and activities for Somerville youth in grades K-8. From local community partners like Somerville Media Center, Parts and Crafts, the Beautiful Stuff Project, Farrington Nature Linc, and more. Classes are free but you must register to attend.
Books, Stories, & Libraries
- NEW 11/25. Students in grades K-12 can try a Future Engineers challenge: write a short essay to NASA about leading an expedition to the moon.
- Add your family's tale of immigration or migration to America with Your Story, Our Story.
- Calling all writers 17 and younger to Six Feet of Separation! If you’d like to share a story of what life is like now in 350 words or less, consider submitting to this virtual newspaper, which describes itself as “a publication by and for young people, created during the coronavirus pandemic.”
- Students who do not yet have a Minuteman Library Network card can get an ecard using this link. Once registered, they can immediately access digital materials such as audiobooks, movies, and ebooks for FREE. Hoopla, Libby, and Kanopy offer tremendous selections. Learn more at the Somerville Public Library's digital resource page.
- Write the World is a global online writing community for teens ages 13-18 to write, share, and publish their work.
- Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, uses his video series Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story to inspire kids and teens to write their own stories.
- Grub Street's Young Adult Writers Program has several free and fee-based virtual creative writing classes for students ages 13-18.
- Choose from 1000s of Audible's audio books in several languages.
- Somerville High School students can log in and read books on the Sora app on their computer or phone.
Engineering, Science, & Exploration
- NEW 11/25. Try fun, free coding games, Blockly Games, for students 6 and older.
- STEM For Kids is offering free curriculum for grades pre-K through 10. Activities include a glider design lab, budgeting structures (learned through Minecraft), sun printing, and nearly a hundred other lessons. Registration is required.
- Science Buddies has STEM activities that use materials found around the house; and an interactive tool to explain how the covid-19 pandemic evolves.
- Science News for Kids has articles for students in grades 9-12, such as how bats "see" and how solar panels work.
- Try a STEM activity, watch a daily live stream, or check out a virtual exhibit with Museum of Science at Home.
- Space Station Explorers provides learning activities tied to the International Space Station, such as online videos, research opportunities, and hands-on projects.
- The Harvard Museums of Science & Culture have story times, podcasts, and many free as well as fee-based virtual activities through HMSC Connects.
- Become a citizen scientist from home with one of 75 scientific research projects, such as categorizing wild beluga whales or tracking giraffes in Kenya.
- From the National Academy of Engineering, EngineerGirl has engineering design challenges to try at home.
- Try Bedtime Math for fun games, videos, and activities for kids preK-grade 5.
- Make some gooey slime or try one of these other home science experiments.
- Watch a NOVA marathon, or just an episode, about space and the universe.
- Visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and explore their Air and Scare at Home activities.
Learn about Communities, People, History
- NEW 11/23. The Center for Racial Justice in Education has an excellent list of Native American perspectives on the Thanksgiving holiday, including history, articles, family resources, and recommended book lists for further reading.
- NEW 11/23. The National Museum of the American Indian offers videos and other resources that explain the Thanksgiving tradition from a Native perspective.
- Visit the National Museum of African American Heritage’s exhibit, "Double Victory: The African American Military Experience."
- KidCitizen is a social studies tool for K-5 students to work with primary source photographs to explore Congress and civic engagement.
- Try an interactive history game for grades 6-8, "Mission US: City of Immigrants," or "For Crown or Colony?"
- Learn about the U.S. government and how it works, with Ben Franklin as the guide. Includes games such as “Place the States,” and learning adventures. For ages 4-18.
- Visit the Library of Congress’s exhibit “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, where women obtained the right to vote in the United States.
- Play free geography games, in multiple languages.
The Natural World
- Enjoy some time outdoors during the Somerville Community Growing Center’s December open hours, Tuesdays 3-4:30pm and Saturdays 12-2pm.
- Sign up for Earth School, a free website for students 5-18. A partnership between the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and TED-Ed, its videos, reading materials, and activities focus on science and the environment.
- Try out the "OLogy Page" from the American Museum of Natural History, where kids can explore topics like dinosaurs, archaeology, and climate change.
- Learn about local nature experiences you can have right here in Somerville with Mass Audubon.
- The Boston Harbor Habitat Atlas has virtual tours, habitat information, and species information.
- Check out these live webcams from forests, jungles, zoos, and oceans around the world:
- Visit Stellwagen Bank for a New England Aquarium Whale Watch.
- What are the giant pandas doing with their baby cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo today? Take a peek with the Giant Panda Live Webcams.
- Watch wildlife in nature around the world.
- Watch chimps, giraffes, gorillas, and more on the Houston Zoo Live Webcams.
- Watch Webcams at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or try their suggested activities, and don't miss the Live Sea Otter Webcam.
- See the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Live Cams.
- Visit museums, zoos, gardens, and parks virtually:
- Explore the Kids’ Corner of the Franklin Park and Stone Zoos. Learn about honey bees, giant anteaters, watch daily videos, and more.
- Learn about coral reefs and pandas through The Nature Conservancy.
- Learn about all types of animals from the San Diego Zoo.
- Visit The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exhibit halls.
Get Moving! Get Mindful!
- BOKS Canada’s videos have active exercises to follow, like an Alphabet Relay.
- KIDDO at Home has videos to keep kids ages 3-8 active at home.
- Focused on workouts for tween and teen girls, try one of several FitSpirit videos.
- Active for Life offers fun tips and suggestions on how to keep active.
- Take a dance break with these KidzBop videos, including a Halloween-themed workout.
- Use materials at home, such as canned food and pillowcases, to get moving with Mike Morris.
- Follow a workout with the NBA’s Langston Galloway as your guide.
- Try some of these movement and mindfulness video-led activities for young children from Moovlee (with a cartoon monkey as the guide).
- Try yoga, especially for teens.
- Five minute workout videos for kids that can be done at home.
- Yoga and mindfulness exercises with Cosmic Kids videos, for elementary school and PreKindergarten kids.
Music at Home
- Explore the Smithsonian’s Folkways online recordings of music from around the world.
- Listen to music from around the world on the Global Jukebox. Sign in required.
- Sing along with Sesame Street.
- Play a virtual piano.
- Write songs and share them with a friend.
- Take music theory lessons with Teoria or Music Theory.
- Online lessons for more advanced students.
- Learn the history of several classical composers, with information about their composing styles.
Music & Dance Performances
- Explore live as well as thousands of recorded dance and musical performances from the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts.
- The Oregon Symphony has musical story time videos for school-aged children.
- Listen to a virtual concert by the talented students from Berklee College of Music’s #Berklee Anywhere concert series, like this cover of “Stuck with U.”
- Watch the Alvin Ailey Dance Company’s virtual winter season performances.
- Watch and listen to the full concert, “The Music of Miles Davis---Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.”
- Take a virtual lesson with Boston Symphony musicians and watch performances of BSO musicians from their homes.
Make Art! Learn about Art!
- NEW 11/25. Find Thanksgiving-inspired DIY crafting projects for school-aged kids.
- Try one of the Peabody Essex Museum’s virtual drop-in art activities and guided videos.
- Visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to see the studios of 21 children’s book illustrators.
- Learn how to draw Snoopy, Franklin, and Charlie Brown, or try these activities from the Charles M. Shultz Museum.
- Learn how to knit with these step-by-step videos from We are Knitters.
- The National Museum of Women in the Arts’s NMWA@Home has virtual scavenger hunts, a coloring book, and more.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s #metkids has a “time machine” for kids to explore art from different time periods and around the world.
- Creativebug offers over 100 pre-recorded arts and crafts classes specifically for kids. There is a 30-day free trial and it is fee-based afterward. Or access Creativebug for FREE with your Somerville Public Library card.
- Visit of one of Boston’s newest museums, the MassArt Art Museum (MAAM), and take one of their virtual drawing classes.
- Get inspired to create your own masterpiece as illustrator Mo Willems and cellist Yo-Yo Ma work together in their Small Works Project.
- Learn about modern art, take free courses, and watch videos about modern artists from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
- Create your own abstract watercolor or bird's-eye view drawing, suggested by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Family Games & Activities
- NEW 11/25. Try one of the suggestions from PBS's “Adapting Holiday Traditions during Coronavirus.”
- NEW 11/25. Try some parade-related activities together while you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which airs Thursday November 26, 9am to noon.
- Visit the Guggenheim Museum for art activities families can do together.
- The Whitney Museum of American Art has Kids Art Challenges for kids and grown-ups to do together.
- NASA at Home has experiments, videos, crafts, and games for kids and families to do together.
- The Mommy Poppins website has Boston-area destinations for families and fun home activities.
- The Mystic River Watershed Association has family-friendly activities to learn more about this local natural resource. Try to make your own river or search for our state bird.
- The Food Literacy Center offers hands-on, kid-friendly healthy cooking videos and recipes for families to try together.
- The National Park Foundation has many activities families can do together from home. Or watch their Irresistibly Cute Baby Animals in National Parks video.
- Try an outdoor family scavenger hunt.
- New England's own Green City Growers has home gardening activities for the entire family, using everyday materials.
- Try cooking together as a family with these kid-friendly recipes from Chop Chop Family.
- Games you can plan with just paper and pencil.
- Kid-friendly card games.
- Somerville’s own Candlewick Press has several activities and games centered around the Where’s Waldo? book series.
- The National Wildlife Federation has crafts, recipes, and outdoor activity suggestions on its Ranger Rick page.
- Learn how to create your own board game from PBS Kids.
Kindness & Self-Care for Students
- Get some tips to help your whole family’s mental health during the pandemic in this UNICEF interview with adolescent psychology expert Dr. Lisa Lamour.
- Try a Mind Yeti mindfulness video for young children. The Mind Yeti series in Spanish is also available.
- Parent and Teen has self-care resources for teens such as a Guide for Teens to Take Instant Vacations or how to Build a Teen Stress Management Plan.
- Johns Hopkins Children’s Center has coping resources for parents, caregivers, and children in multiple languages.
- Use these tips on "Talking Through Feelings: Family Conversation Starters."
- Try these 8 tips for helping children with anxiety about Covid-19.
- Check out Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other resources such as videos, games, and art projects. For example, learn how to Belly Breathe with Rosita or learn how to Self Hug with Abby Cadabby.
- First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Kindness & Self-Care for Parents & Guardians
- NEW 11/25. The Fred Rogers Center has put together a list of coping resources for parents and caregivers.
- McLean Hospital has *free* mental health and wellness webinars on stress reduction, sleep hygiene, and more. Access their library of topics or join one live.
- Read Mental Health America’s “Maintaining Hope in the Face of Uncertainty.”
- The Child Mind Institute has tips for "Self-Care in the Time of Coronavirus," also en Espanol at "El autocuidado en los tiempos del coronavirus."
- Read the Center for Parent and Teen Communication's "Why Parents Need Self-Compassion During the Coronavirus Pandemic."