Homeschooling During the Coronavirus Confinement? Five Sanity-Saving Resources

Homeschooling during the Coronavirus confinement? Five sanity-saving resources.

The true horror of my daughter’s situation just hit her today when I came home with her packet from school.

“What is that?”

“This is your school coursework while we’re homeschooling during the quarantine.”

“What?” Zoe’s voice rose to a pitch that could shatter glass.

“This isn’t a vacation, honey, this is a quarantine.”

Then, there was wailing and a lot of “It’s not faaaaair,” and “this is terrrribbllleeee…” Zoe likes to draw her infuriated monologue out for extra drama.

But her flailing and grief did prove a point. There has to be more than just keeping up on homework during this bout of staying at home together, or we’ll all lose our collective minds. So here’s some free resources that might be just the thing that makes the difference between happiness and insanity. We’re in this together, honey.


Five sanity-saving resources for homeschooling kids.

Epic video explorations.

The Shedd Aquarium sent out their penguins to take a tour of the aquarium when the Chicago legend had to close. Every day since, there’s been video updates of their adventures around the aquarium. Go on a virtual field trip with incredible video adventures set up by age or grade. The Metropolitan Opera is streaming performances for free – a wonderful chance to expose your kids without buying a pricey ticket. Twelve of the world’s most famous museums – like the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – are offering virtual tours of their treasures, find a complete list here.


Get moving! has free dance and exercise videos that are vastly entertaining, even to a bitter, jaded mother like myself. (Cat Party is a personal favorite.) diabolically gets your offspring to learn while they’re moving, and they’re offering 3 free weeks for parents. Two birds = one stone. Then there’s the Fitness Blender Kids Workout – 25 Minute Fun Workout for Kids at Home.

This is old-school, but I simply drag my complaining offspring out the door and on to a nature walk, where they have a list of items to find (ie: pine cones, a bird’s feather, etc.) before we can come home. Hmmm… That sounds vaguely punitive, but I swear we always have fun.


Keep Learning.

I’m stunned by how quickly our school district put together a rather detailed and info-rich homeschool packages for my kids. It was like the scene from Apollo 13 where they threw everything out on the table and tried to figure out what would work. If you haven’t been as lucky, there’s so many free, excellent sites to help you. Scholastic hastily created an excellent website – Scholastic Learn at Home with educational plans by grade. is another spectacular option and offering many free courses to support parents during the confinement period. HippoCampus has over 3,000 free videos for 13 different subjects. is also free during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Become an artist with Draw with Mo Willems.

Ten art history classes you can take online for free from

Iron Chef Michael Symon is hosting free daily cooking videos on Facebook.


Non-screen activities.

  1. Write a thank-you letter to a local hero.
  2. Create a secret code. Write it in disappearing ink for extra difficulty. (DIY disappearing ink instructions.)
  3. Hold a photo session. Use your iPad, mom’s phone … play with the images and add extras and special effects with a free photo service like PicMonkey.
  4. Write a play, assign roles to family members, pets, etc.
  5. Recycle Art: gather stuff from the recycling bin and from around the house to create new art.
  6. Send a homemade postcard to your teachers. Tell them what you appreciate about them and how they’ve changed your life.
  7. Invent a new board game! Use a local location or activity and build around it, creating an adventure. You can make your own rules and mom and dad have to follow them. Oh, the power.
  8. Make a kitchen table fort or “under-hammock.” (See photo above.)
  9. Make homemade ice cream in a bag.
  10. Ready for a bigger challenge? Since eggs, butter and milk are increasingly short supply, what recipes can you make without them? There’s Vanilla Crazy Cake, or the English Water Cake, made during WWII when these items were extremely rare.

Reach out.

Sewing face masks! Hospitals and clinics are desperate for face masks and many are requesting the public’s health. Here’s some info from an Indiana hospital chain:  “This does follow CDC protocols that you can find on their website that if all other supplies are not available, that handmade masks that meet certain criteria are acceptable,” Deaconess spokeswoman Becca Scott said. The release with the video, pattern and instructions was posted to the Deaconess Facebook page Thursday morning and is available at A PDF of the pattern is available here. Editor’s note: I’ve called three of our local hospitals to see exactly what they need and what they can accept. I would suggest doing the same before launching your sewing project.

Support your local food bank and outreach meal projects. Feeding America has a very long list of local food banks and outreach projects who would love your donations and also your volunteer time. The demand is nearly triple on most sites and volunteer assistance is dwindling. There’s a list of more emergency food programs here.

Become your neighborhood “community captain.” I’ve noticed tons of offers of help on our local neighborhood website, but not many takers. Most folks who need the help may be shy to reach out or unwilling to post in such a public way. If you have a page for your local area, there’s a “help map” with locations and contacts for people who can help, and the people who need it.


And this is so important…

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling, keeping calm about the pandemic, worried about elderly relatives and fears about losing your job, you’re not alone. If you’re having trouble homeschooling (I’m raising my hand, here) the New York Times has an excellent article with tons of great ideas.

If your little ones are having a hard time expressing themselves, here’s a helpful list of questions to ask them from PBS Kids, hopefully getting that conversation going. And of course, the great, great granddaddy of Awesome, Sesame Street, has a wonderful list of resources, too.

Maybe you’re the one who’s struggling. No surprise there, it’s hard to be the one who’s strong for everyone else. the CDC created a wonderful page that goes into how to cope with your fears and anxieties right now. If you feel like you need to talk to someone but don’t feel like you have anyone to call, please, please call one of these numbers as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to reach out, you’d be there if someone needed you, right? Let someone be there for you. We’re all in this together.


1 reply
  1. Fraser Nelson
    Fraser Nelson says:

    Thank you for this! We live in a school district that doesn’t have as many resources, but they did a great job. But it’s nice to have extra help, because I can tell my homeschooling skills are not up to the challenge.


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