Here we have it. My free ‘what the heck do I do with my kids while they are at home in isolation’ guide to online resources. Bookmark this; in all likelihood we are all going to need it.
Just to mention; don’t unleash your kids at all of this in the first day or even days. There is loads for them to work their way through. If you let them do everything all at once they will become overwhelmed and disinterested.
Learning to Code
Suitable for all ages, Coding is something that we have been doing for a few years. Code.org is a free resource which starts your kids from scratch (sorry folks I couldn’t resist) with familiar characters to make the lessons feel more like playtime.
If you’re interested in moving a bit further than code.org then install Scratch on your pc. We’ve had some good fun with this free application.
Free Books & Magazines
I’m a huge fan of our library card opening a whole new world of reading and enjoyment. If you’re in isolation you’re not going to be able to visit the library but your card gives you free access to BorrowBox which includes free audiobooks and ebooks, you can also read magazines on RBDigital using that same card.
Learning to Type For Free
Libraries in Ireland have recently rolled out TTRS (Touch Type Read Spell) membership for members but this has to be activated in person. If you’re not in isolation get to the library and set up your account. TTRS is brilliant for children who have dyslexia, dyspraxia and other specific learning disabilities. Think about it though, your child being able to type from a young age will be hugely beneficial later on in life. While you’re at it you might like to sign yourself up too. I know how to type but I still got myself an account.
Other Free Library Benefits
Use your library app (mine is Fingal Libraries) to access free language courses online using Mango, online courses for adults in subjects such as psychology, accounting, free homeschooling resources etc using Universal Class, you can also access an Irish Language database plus oodles more. For Free.
I learned this one from the kids’ school actually. It’s a browser called KIDDLE. It’s a ‘safe’ visual search engine for kids. It is safer than letting your children loose on Google.
Origami is great for fine motor skills. You’ll find free folding directions here https://www.origami-resource-center.com/free-origami-instructions.html
You know that if you are in isolation your kids can still play in the garden? So long as you ensure that you all keep your distance from others it’s fine to let them out to run amuck. You might not have a garden though or the weather might be dire (I do live in Ireland after all). GoNoodle is a free app and YouTube channel which is designed to engage kids in the classroom (so in tight spaces). Clear a small area of obstacles and get active in bursts.
Speaking of which if you do manage to get out and about this Irish website about Biology might get you started on taking part in a biodiversity study or taking a look at your surroundings.
Keeping Up With Irish
TG4 have their own microsite for children based around their popular Cúla4 kids content. You can of course catch up with their favourite cartoons etc in Irish but they also have a Games and Crafting section on the website which is very helpful. Not forgetting their apps which are second to none.
Looking for similar in English? RTéjr is just as good.
What older kid doesn’t love Horrible Histories? Once again there’s games around a historical theme on this website by Scholastic.
Is Maths your thing? Math is fun is free and has oodles of stuff to keep everybody occcupied.
I remember learning to play chess many years ago and it’s a great way to keep a small brain occupied and working on strategy.
Does your child have a healthy interest in Science? The American Museum of Natural History has a wonderful child-friendly website which will keep them engaged as they work their way through the ‘ology’s’.
We also like to find out how stuff works. A must for curious children.
The BEST Irish website for history is Dúchas and if your kids (or even you) would like to contribute to Irish history and help the archives then consider helping transcribe the community archives. There are tens of thousands of pages left to transcribe.
It’s also worth guiding your children through the Census archives, looking up your family tree and finding out what their ancestors were doing/living many years ago.
I realise this might not be popular but you will want to consider allowing your children to play cooperative games online using headphones with their friends. I’m not going to suggest any ones in particular but you need to bear in mind that the longer their isolation goes on the worse they will feel. This feeling of being connected with their friends can be partially helped by using online games.
Obviously organsing facetime/video calling with friends and family will also help but nothing compares with theme catching up with their pals for a short while every day.
If you have any ideas that I’ve not thought of feel free to comment below!
Note: This is specifically for free online resources. I’m aware that there are loads of paid websites that offer free trials etc. I just want to sign up for stuff for free. Goodness knows we all might be feeling the pinch in the weeks ahead.
Are you worrying about what food supplies you should have in the house? I have you covered.