Here at Literati, we believe that the power of books trumps the power of screens when it comes to expanding your child’s imagination—but we’re not completely anti-tech. There is a place and time (example: your house during a weeks-long quarantine) wherein screens can provide a vital connection to the world around us. So, if you’re among the many parents who are easing up on the screen rules lately, don’t fret.
Books are our favorite way to travel while standing still. But when modern technology can provide a similar experience, we’re on board. There are multiple options for stimulating and educational adventures you can embark on with a little help from tech, without ever leaving your couch.
Next time the kids need a peaceful distraction, or if you’re patiently waiting for your next Literati box, go explore!
1. Visit the zoo!
Animals are likely common characters in some of your kids’ favorite storybooks, and it’s always a special experience for them to see those creatures in real life. There’s nothing like seeing your child light up as they discover another living species.
Zoos and aquariums across the country are offering live-streams and videos so you can tune in and visit from home. A zoo trip, from the comfort of your couch, with no crying over gift shop temptations and begging for ice cream? My, the marvels of technology.
- Fans of the cute and cuddly should check out the Atlanta Zoo’s “Panda Cam.”
- The Georgia Aquarium has cameras for their beluga whales, piranhas, reef exhibits, otters, penguins and more.
- Embark on an underwater adventure with the full tour of The National Aquarium.
- Tune in to any of the live streams from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Prefer an array of wildlife? The nationally-renowned San Diego Zoo lets you visit lions, lizards and elephants all in one sitting.
- Giraffes, gorillas, and rhinos, oh my! Try the Houston Zoo.
2. Inspire intellect at the museum.
Museum might be a word that sounds a bit like “Brussels sprouts” or “onions” to your kids. But home settings and virtual experiences can make museums much easier for parents and more fun for kids. Be it art, history or anything else—museums are a fantastic way to open the mind and spark interests in kids of all ages. Step inside their favorite books, and then follow up with virtual visits to similar exhibits at these museums:
- If your kids love medieval kings and queens or ancient Egyptian stories, they’ll be thrilled to explore the exhibitions of Paris’s famous The Louvre (truly, a treat for one and all.)
- The British Museum offers sweet interactive exhibits designed for kids who love to press all the buttons.
- To watch time-traveling tales come to life, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has a whole website dedicated to kids: MetKids.
- Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for an all-around educational experience, especially for your little cavemen and dinosaurs.
- Want to get out of your house and off the planet? Try touring NASA’s Virginia’s Langley Research Center and Ohio’s Glenn Research Center. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try out augmented reality with the family using The Space Center Houston’s app.
- Our personal favorite: The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center brings the renowned author’s all-time favorites like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and BFG to incredible life.
3. Take them to the stage.
Got a little performer in the house? This one’s for you and your blossoming dancer or thespian. Celebrating performance arts is a great way to develop expression and creativity in young minds. Plus, it can be a great way to add some movement to your day:
- The Paris Opera Ballet is broadcasting classics “Swan Lake” and its “Tribute to Jerome Robbins.”
- All Arts, by WNET, is offering various dance videos for your kids to get swept away with the choreography and music.
- Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater has performances of all kinds. Check out free live-streamed and archival performances on its YouTube channel.
- The Alliance Theater is streaming its production of “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience,” a colorful and energetic musical for the whole family.
4. Enjoy a theme park stay-cation.
Kids + Disney World. Enough said, right? And while you may have had to delay travel plans and these theme parks are closed at the moment, you can still visit the parks and explore the rides—and you can do it all virtually.
If you need a change of pace at home, there’s something for everyone here. Older kids might enjoy the adrenaline of a virtual roller coaster, while younger kids can take in surreal scenery and let their imaginations run wild with softer rides.
- Disney World has lots of virtual tours where you can explore different parts of the park, like Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. Let your kids choose their favorite, or discover all of them. Ride Frozen Ever After Ride, It’s a Small World, Monsters, Inc, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Got a tiny builder or future engineer in the house? Check out the online tour at LEGOLAND. This one is sure to stimulate the mind and ignite creativity.
- This virtual tour of Seaworld will let your child, quite literally, explore another world. Who knows—you might even spark a new interest in science!
In short: if they’re going to play online, you can make learning fun.
Screen time can seem defeating, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially in this day and age, technology is a phenomenal way to stay connected with the outside world. We may be stuck inside for a bit, but with the power of storytelling—be it on a screen or on a page—you have everything you need to create incredible experiences for small minds to grow.