You are here

Help with Having Fun at Home

Anne's picture

Our staff has spotted so many fun, interesting and creative efforts popping up to help everyone combat the difficulties of staying at home. We've gathered links to online storytimes, virtual field trips, music and creative activities--even ballet! We'll keep updating as we find more socially-distant online fun, so keep an eye on this space!

Stay Home. Hit Play.
Behind the scenes video tours of Chicago museums and attractions.

Everywhere Book Fest
Authors and illustrators bring a virtual kidlit festival to your home!

British Museum, London
An interactive experience through time, continents and culture.

Georgia Aquarium webcams
Sea otter, beluga whales and more!

Guggenheim Museum, New York
Hear about the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, virtually tour the space and explore the collection.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
European and American history—from medieval times to the present.

The Louvre in Paris, France
Visit the museum's exhibition rooms and galleries.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Including artworks from Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin and others.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
From Byzantine altarpieces to pop art, the collection includes paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and other works.

National Parks
It's best to stay home but that doesn't mean you can't see our incredibly National Parks virtually!

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Explore the museum, including an exhibit on Van Gogh's love life and one on his favorite books.

Anne Frank House 
Take a 360-degree tour of Anne Frank’s home in Amsterdam. 

Buckingham Palace 
Tour the famous London palace without leaving home!

San Diego Zoo
Live camera feed featuring Polar Bears, Elephants, Baboons, Tigers, Koalas, Penguins and more!

Shedd Aquarium Penguins
While the aquarium visitors are away, the penguins will play! Watch as the penguins tour the aquarium.

Bald Eagle Cam at Upper Mississippi River Refuge
The bald eagle trio at the Upper Mississippi River Refuge in Thompson, IL laid two eggs in February, so might have eaglets any day now.  Update: The eaglets have arrived!

Working from Home as a Pet Parent 
How to stay productive with your adorably distracting coworker. 

Jellyfish Camera
Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a jellyfish camera to watch these floaty creatures.

Friends of the Elephant Seal
Watch a livestream of elephant seals chilling on a beach with incredibly soothing ocean noises.

Bringing the Zoo to You Chats
Brookfield Zoo has all its archives on its YouTube channel, plus a live chat every Wednesday at 11am on Facebook.

Opear at the Met
Opera, anyone? Enjoy a daily video.

Broadway Shows
Theater-streaming service BroadwayHD is offering a seven-day free trial so you can watch performances from Broadway, the West End, and other venues from your living room.

Hamilton's America
Experience Lin-Manuel Miranda's writing process for the song "My Shot".

Petra Sings: Chicago Jazz Vocalist 
Hours of jazz music videos from one of our program performers! 

A Roadmap for Life's Unexpected Events 
A timely TEDx Talk by one of our Library’s regular presenters, Martina Mathisen.  

Social Distancing Festival 
An online community celebrating and showcasing the work of artists who have been affected by the need for social distancing. 

Best Classical Covers of Pop Songs
Recommended as music to soothe family’s nerves, it’s mostly just fun! Watch to see how instruments are used in different ways to make different sounds, or how a familiar song becomes something new.

Laura Doherty
Watch interactive concerts on Facebook Live, including Live at 5 performances.

Laurie Berkner
Storytime favorite Laurie Berkner has 50 minutes of education music available on her website. 

Playtime Playlist
A daily listing of independent children’s musicians around the globe who are transitioning live shows to live streams for home viewing.

The Barnes & Noble National Children’s Short Story Contest
Barnes & Noble is hosting a short story contest for children ages 6 to 12. Stories can either be written or graphic. Contest ends 5/29!

Learning in Place from the Morton Arboretum
Enjoy this free self-guided family play and exploration series.

Virtual Studio
The DuPage Children’s Museum is doing virtual programs on Facebook, including one on bookmaking!

HarperCollins Suggestions
HarperCollins has its own great list of resources, including various author readings and activities!

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program
You’ve got time. Sign up and write your own novel in one month.

Read & Learn with Simon Kids
Enjoy readalongs, activities and more for all ages from publisher Simon & Schuster.

Esports Competition!
Compete in different esports each day of the week through NIU, such as League of Legends, Fortnite and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

Draw Every Day with JJK
Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka offers drawing lessons every day

Writing Prompts for Students from the New York Times
Looking for ideas for remote learning? Each week The Learning Network offers a dozen new ways for students to practice reading, writing and thinking using Times journalism — all free.

Scholastic Learn At Home
Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers.

Hogwarts Digital Escape Room
A digital escape room for Harry Potter fans! 

Free Dice Games to Play at Home 
Do you have dice at home? Here are some free dice games to play for fun and math skills! 

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood 
Explore the set, meet the cast and watch 5 new episodes every other week. 

Crayola At Home Activities 
DIY crafts and at-home Learning 

Personality Quizzes for Kids from National Geographic 
Find out what type of dinosaur you are or which animal pattern is most like your personality. We’ve got a bunch of Apatosaurus’, a Stegosaurus, a Triceratops and a T-Rex on staff at the Library! 

Sesame Street: Caring for Each Other
Your favorite Muppet friends share videos, games, activities and more, specifically geared to this unusual time.

Four Drawing Games by Jarrett Krosoczka
The author-illustrator of series like Lunch Lady and Star Wars Jedi Academy gives fun drawing challenges.

Dav Pilkey at Home
The creator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man offers new activities and videos every Friday to keep you going.

Harry Potter at Home
Quizzes, puzzles and more to keep Muggles occupied.

Celebrities Read James and the Giant Peach
Enjoy a readers’ theater interpretation of Roald Dahl’s classic.

Mondays with Michelle Obama
Join the former First Lady as she reads beloved picture books.


Read Alouds with Neil Gaiman
Read Coraline and The Graveyard Book with the author himself.

Brightly Storytime
Ms. Linda reads picture books with a new video every week!

Best Podcasts for Kids
Enjoy various stories and themes with these podcasts.

Check in each week as author Rex Ogle writes and presents the story about a middle schooler in the time of the coronavirus.

#OperationStorytime and #SaveWithStories
Famous people reading children's books is one good thing coming from social distancing.

Josh Gad Reads Stories
The voice behind Olaf from Frozen is reading books to kids online during the quarantine.

Storytimes from Space
As if astronauts don't do enough, they also do storytimes from space!

Stuck, Written and Read by Oliver Jeffers
Because we're all feeling a little bit stuck right now.

Author Read Alouds curated by the Children's Book Council
With Lemony Snicket, Eric Carle, B.J. Novak and more!

Storyline Online 
More celebrities read stories! 

A collection of animated talking picture books, read-alongs, ebooks, quizzes, lesson plans, and educational games. Log in with your Helen Plum Library card. 

Goodnight with Dolly
The country star and founder of Imagination Library reads bedtimes stories on Thursdays at 6pm.

Time to Come in, Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing
A short, sweet video explaining social distancing to young children.

Free Online Ballet Lessons from Cleveland Inner City Ballet
Free ballet classes online through Facebook. Information on how to access and timing of lessons is linked in the title above.

Yoga with Adriene 
Free yoga videos for all levels, bodies and genders! 

Morton Arboretum Yoga Online
One-hour classes practicing poses, breathing and meditation to help ground you. $7/class (discounted rate).

Free Mindfulness Class for Kids 
12pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mindful activities, movement and read-alouds.  

Read Along by Google
Take advantage of this free reading app!

Family-Friendly Snacks
Hungry for fresh, exciting science activities based in amazing phenomena? Science Snacks are hands-on, teacher-tested and use cheap materials. Science at Home
Enjoy activity ideas from the Museum of Science and Industry.

DK Home Learning for Kids
In case you’re missing your favorite DK books, here are some fun activities to keep you going.

Charlie Chaplain's ABCs
Watch the silent film star’s alphabet antics.

Practice math and language arts at your own level.

Khan Academy Kids
A free educational program for children aged 2 to 7 that includes printables and stories.

SCBWI Shares
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has tons of stories, activities, podcasts and more.

Free eBooks, readalongs, audiobooks, videos and more from this award winner.

Prodigy Math
For Grades 1–8, play fun games and learn math at the same time!

codeSpark Academy
Kids can have fun learning coding at home (and parents and teachers can learn too!)

Junior Library Guild provides free resources and activities for continued learning.

Free eBooks from Big Timber Media 
Need more books for your at-home classroom? Big Timber Media is offering free eBooks through June 30.

A collection of 160+ fun, hands-on STEM activities and videos for K-12 that can be done in an hour or less, usually with materials easily found at home. 

Efficient game-based study of literacy skills using any word list. Currently free with code "VSCFree90". 

Scholastic Teachables 
An online tool offering unlimited access to award-winning activities and skills sheets, lesson plans, clip art, customizable games, and other resources. Log in with your Helen Plum Library card. 

Free Access to Books 
Amicus Publishing is offering free access to its eBooks by Amicus Publishing.

National Geographic has quizzes, science experiments and more cool learning tools.

Sesame Street Tool Kits for Parents
Sesame Street Tool Kits provide opportunities to build closeness and confidence, making learning fun and keep your child's world safe and secure.