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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 02/ 9/2010

Activities for kids when schools are closed

By Valerie Strauss

Kids don't have to spend every minute of the day on Facebook or playing video games.

D.C. Public Schools has put together a great list of activities, including visiting a museum online, watching animals through the National Zoo’s webcams,and spending time on educational websites. Many of these are aimed at younger kids, but there's enough here for students of all ages.

True, these suggestions are for kids who have resources--books, computers, paper and pens. Not every family has these, but most have some. Here are some of the suggestions on the DCPS site, and you can click here for the rest, with links and suggestions of what to do when you get to some of the websites.

*Set aside time every day for quiet reading.

*Take a virtual field trip:

--Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
The site provides links to various museum exhibits and includes links to interactive guides. Notables on this site:

--¡del Corazón! Latino Voices in American Art is an exhibit that goes behind-the-scenes and uses photographs, videos, and other resources to reveal the artists and their works. Explore each section to learn how they express universal cultural experiences.
--Meet Me at Midnight is an interactive art lesson and mystery for you and your child to work on together. Put together by the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, this on-line tour of the museum is sure to teach you and your child about art and what you can visit in DC.
---Explore the on-line tours.

*The National Zoo
Check out what the animals are doing via webcam!

*Metropolitan Museum of Art
Under “Museum Kids” you’ll find “Explore and Learn” – and great online experiences for you and your child. In this section you and your child can:
* explore several famous pieces of art through a “sing-a-long” (warning: it’s a catchy tune!)
* learn more about the influences and methods of Vincent Van Gogh (there’s a great surprise at the end for your budding artist.)
* take a walk through Romare Bearden’s “The Block”

*Museum of Science and Industry
Find fun and easy hands-on activities, including Analyze Candy Using Chromatography (think, “CSI: Candy”) and How to Build a Lever.

*Download Google Earth and go anywhere in the world or universe!
The site allows you to take your child on trips to see streets in Johannesburg, Tokyo, Paris or Atlanta. Additional links allow you to see images of Earth, the Moon and footage from the Hubble Telescope.

*Watch online performances
--The Kennedy Center website has hours of video of past performances at the Millennium Stage.
The extensive archive gives you the chance to expose your child to the performing arts ranging from ballet, opera, gospel music, Irish folk dance, blue grass and much more.
The Family/Kids selection includes performances that range from musical numbers to puppet shows to dancing.

Here’s a sample of what you can find:
---Indonesian Gamelan Music and Shadow Puppet Show
---Voices of Malian Women
---Chinese Traditional Music Ensemble
---Christon “Christylez” Bacon: A native Washingtonian, hip hop artist Christon “Christylez” Bacon is known for diverse instrumentation and unlikely musical combinations

*Take a trip to the library - online!
The DC Public Library site has a section called “downloadable material.” Using your library card you can download ebooks, audiobooks, movies and music to your home computer! And yes, you can get a library card on-line if you don’t have one.

*Go to the DCPS site for instructions on how to help your child create a book.

*And here are other suggestions:
--Have your child write or draw about something they’ve done or learned each day of the winter break.
--Have your child write down questions they have about anything and then leave blank space. As your child learns the answers, she or he can write them in and keep them as a book.
--Ask your child to write down or draw their dreams: What do they want to be when they grow up? What do they want to learn in school? What do they think the future will be like?
--Set aside time to have your child read to you from a book, magazine, newspaper, labels on food (for example, cereal, pasta, frozen vegetables, etc.) Reading with your child for as little as 15 minutes a day can a make a big difference
--Play cards and board games.

Remember there is more here at the DCPS website.


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By Valerie Strauss  | February 9, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Learning  | Tags:  d.c. public schools  
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As a parent (and teacher) I was pleasantly surprised and impressed when I received this email today. My husband, son andI will be completing some of these activities.

Posted by: 39aka94 | February 9, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Very nice! Maybe in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin, a neighborhood book swap of sorts? Plus, older kids reading to younger kids and vice versa.

The suggestion about writing down questions amused me. I remember when our kids were young and we were on our way back from spending Christmas with family. We heard some discussion in the back of the van and then one child asked us a question, "Why did Aunt Amy give us these books?" Here's the funny part.... My sister-in-law, a teacher, knowing that our young twins were always very curious and asked lots of questions, had given them each a book for Christmas, "The Book of Why 1" and "The Book of Why 2" to help them along.

By the way, they are both in grad school now, still asking lots of questions.

Posted by: shadwell1 | February 9, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

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