Though staying home is very necessary right now, it means many of us have found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. Many people who have been self-isolating may be starting to feel worn down by the mundane nature of life at home. If you’re struggling to figure out how to keep yourself and your family occupied beyond your usual at-home hobbies you’re not alone. Luckily, there is no shortage of free, virtual experiences to help people feel like they’re experiencing outdoor life. We’ve compiled a few suggestions of free and fun things you can do to pass the time and stay busy while being quarantined.
Do you want to take a cooking class from a celebrity chef? Well, now is your chance and it’s free. Famous chefs have turned their home kitchens into virtual classrooms. Chefs are answering cooking questions, doing demos, and even giving tours of their homes. Here are three of the top chefs offering their expertise online:
- Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine – Massimo Bottura is a master chef from Modena Italy. He has been appearing live from his kitchen on Instagram every night at 2 p.m.
- Christina Tosi’s Baker’sClub – Christina Tosi, founder of the bakery chain Milk Bar, hosts a show from her home in New York City every day at 2 p.m. She shares an ingredient list the night before so you are prepared to bake with her.
- Seamus Mullen’s Quarantine Kitchen – Seamus Mullen, chef and clean eating guru based in Los Angeles, cooks live on Instagram every evening. Mullen posts his dish list at the beginning of the week and shares ingredients on the day of each video, so you will know exactly what you need to bring to the table.
Take time to draw. Whether you are an artist or not, everyone is creative in his or her own way.
- Artist Deborah Putnoi (Deb’s Virtual Art School) hosts lessons on Facebook. Putnoi is an artist and educator who believes in the power of DRAWING to help people relax and connect with the world.
- Who doesn’t like to doodle. “Spontaneous drawing,” as researchers call it, is an outlet for stress relief. Every weekday at 1 p.m. Mo Willems from the Kennedy Center hosts Lunch Doodles. He also asks his students to tag their artwork on social media with #MoLunchDoodles so everyone can enjoy it. How awesome is that?
- During “Drawing with Michael Woodside,” this artist teaches how to draw Disney characters live streamed on YouTube and Instagram .- #drawingwithwoodsy
GO BACK TO SCHOOL
Do you want to be able to brag that you took classes from an Ivy League School? Now’s your chance. Free online courses are being offered from the best colleges in the country. Online learning sites like Coursera and edX are helping to increase access to high-quality education for everyone. Instructors teach free and low-priced courses from the best universities and academic institutions around the world. Course topics vary widely. From business management to social justice, food science to structural engineering, there’s something for everyone. Here is a partial list of participating colleges and links to the classes offered:
- Princeton University
- University of Chicago
- University of Penn
- North Western
- John Hopkins University
VIRTUAL BOOK CLUBS
Are you missing your monthly book club meetings?Pick a book that you and your friends or family will all read and set a date when you’ll discuss the story over video call with a beverage and snack of choice. You can also join a preexisting book club or browse for ideas on what to read or discussion ideas on Facebook Groups or Goodreads.
TAKE IN SOME CULTURE
Ready to go to a museum without having to leave your house? Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 2500 museums and galleries around the world to bring virtual tours and online exhibits of museums around the world, in addition to thousands of Museum Street Views. Here are five of the most famous.
- British Museum, London– Virtual visitors can tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. You can also find hundreds of artifacts on the museum’s virtual tour.
- Guggenheim Museum, New York– Visitors tour the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase without ever leaving home. From there, you can discover incredible works of art from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary eras.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. -This famous American art museum features two online exhibits through Google. The first is an exhibit of American fashion from 1740 to 1895, including many renderings of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras. The second is a collection of works from Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer.
- Musée d’Orsay, Paris -You can virtually walk through this popular gallery that houses dozens of famous works from French artists Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others.
- Pergamon Museum, Berlin– This historical museum is one of Germany’s largest and is home to plenty of ancient artifacts including the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Pergamon Altar.
To see more of Google Arts & Culture’s collection of museums, visit the collection’s website.
WHY NOT LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?
Subscription-based language learning app Babbel is offering free programs to students while they’re out of school and learning from home. The app, which features 14 languages, will be provided at no cost to all students, from kindergarten to college, until the end of the school term or mid-June. To access the free program, students (or their parents) have to sign up on Babbel’s site with a valid school email address. They will then receive a code that is valid for three months.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Virtual tours of national parks have been around for a while, but “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” by Google Arts & Culture, allows viewers to explore the unique landscapes of five different national parks in multiple ways.
- Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska – This virtual tour lets you explore glaciers, fjords, and icebergs located in the Alaskan wilderness.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii – One of the most popular national parks in Hawaii is now totally accessible online. On the tour, you can enjoy the stunning view from the volcanic coastal cliffs, “fly” over an active volcano, and see the effects of an eruption in 1959.
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico – Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, this popular park has over 100 caves.
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah – The beautiful red and orange hoodoos of this famous desert landscape are now on full display from your living room.
- Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida – This remote and severely underrated park is located 70 miles west of Key West. Thanks to this virtual tour, you no longer have to book a seaplane or boat to get there.
All five of these amazing parks are available online at the Google Arts & Culture website.
GET OUTSIDE AND GO ON A NATURE WALK
Spend some time on AllTrails exploring its extensive collection of hand-curated trail maps and then go for a real-life nature walk. Remember to keep at least six feet away from other adventurous hikers.
FOR THE ANIMAL LOVERS
Zoos and animal-centric organizations have set up live streams so you can watch everything from jelly fish and sharks to baby snow leopards and bald eagles. Here are some of the ways to view these different animals.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium is giving visitors a virtual look at its colorful sea creatures. You can watch sharks, penguins and jelly fish in their natural habitats. Follow this link to see all the free live camera streaming.
- The Cincinnati Zoo hosts live “Home Safari” sessions every weekday at 3 p.m. EST, on their Facebook page, each showcasing a different animal and featuring an educational activity with kids in mind.
- The Nature Conservatory in Australia has a live camera of a reef in Port Phillip Bay, which is Australia’s first ever rocky-reef, live-feed, with combined under and above water webcams.
- Zoos Victoria, an Australian zoo and conservation organization, is live streaming baby snow leopards from Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo. In addition, the organization has live broadcasts of giraffes, penguins, and lions.
- The San Diego Zoo’s live cameras show tons of different animals including Polar Bears, Apes, Giraffes, and Koalas that make a trip to the zoo feel accessible, even from your house.
- The Memphis Zoo has a Hippo Cam so you can watch two hippos play in the Hippo yard all day!
- The National Park Service has set up live cameras that invite viewers into the behaviors of bald eagles on Channel Islands National Park off the coast of California.
IDEAS SPECIFICALLY FOR KIDS
- Get your kids moving with GoNoodle. It provides hundreds of free movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. It will get your kids up and moving to fun, engaging content and games. GoNoodle is an opportunity for kids to wake up their bodies, engage their minds, and be their best.
- Netflix can be a resource to your homeschooling toolbox. They offer a wide variety of documentaries and educational shows that teach your kids more about the world that they live in. Here are 44 educational documentaries you can find on Netflix to bring a different kind of learning into your school day.
- Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, has launched a program called “Learn at Home” that has daily courses for students from Pre-kindergarten to grades 6 and higher. They provide day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
- Storyline Online, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Daytime Emmy-nominated and award-winning children’s literacy website, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. It is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, caregivers and educators worldwide.
- Created for kids in grades Pre-K through 8, Funbrain.com, has been the leader in free educational games for kids since 1997.
We hope these ideas are helpful and will keep you busy and entertained! Share your favorite thing to do while staying at home in the comment section below!