With so many conversations and news stories focusing on coronavirus, it can be a relief to explore something completely different. Below are some much-needed distractions: things for the kids to do, online courses, virtual museum tours and more.
Also check out our blog for recommendations for board games, podcasts and streaming services!
Activities for the kids
Our content for kids is all to be found on our Home Education page. Don't worry, it's not all educational! Some of it is just to occupy and amuse. There are loads of free things arranged by subject (including PE), then further down the page there's info, advice and resources if you're actually trying to manage a home school.
Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department have a wealth of online courses, ranging from 5 to 20 weeks in duration, available for those who want to master a new area of academia. In response to the current circumstances they are now also offering a bank of free learning resources.
Fancy studying at Harvard, or Princeton? Well, now you can (kind of), with 450 Ivy League courses now available to take for free online.
You can still tour museums and galleries virtually, here and here, without getting sore legs from all that pensive wandering around. The National Gallery's highlights are just here , at the touch of button. Even the Palace of Versailles has thrown its doors open to the (virtual) public, allowing you access to thousands of works of art.
Closer to home, Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum lets you explore their collections in 3D, while the Ashmolean’s online collection has a staggering 103500 objects to browse, all for free. And Modern Art Oxford’s remote resources include a digital version of their latest exhibition, Johanna Unzueta’s Tools For Life, complete with short films, behind-the-scenes, and even a workshop on how to make your own organic dyes.
The Bodliean have twenty years worth of exhibitions online, covering subjects as diverse as the works of Tolkien, volcanoes and children's games.
For loads of poetry to listen to, read, and write yourself, see our Poetry Blog. (April is NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, so there is a lot of poetry out there. And in May our brilliant local Writer's Greenhouse have made their Meddling With Poetry course online/remote. Get exciting poetry packs mailed weekly and do the writing activities in a video group class. All the links are in our blog!)
Oxford Playhouse have launched the Plays On series, as a way of continuing to keep Oxford theatrical while theatres are closed. One initiative is Community Playmaker - encouraging all of Oxfordshire to write plays, and especially encouraging new voices. Resources appear weekly on the website, guiding you through the playwriting process. Send finished plays to [email protected] and they'll appear on the Playhouse's website for people to read.
Daily Info's own Lita Doolan is producing a podcast of new writing entitled Power of One, and deadline for submissions is 20th April. The criteria are quite specific (max 750 words, just one of the five senses, have one clear moment of curiosity and leave the scene with a new sense of belonging or insight. No fee, but your website or recent work can be promoted. See link for details and to listen to a previous podcast on a different theme.
African School have launched a mobile library service. You can request short stories, poetry, plays, novels and essays on the history and figures of Africa, African America, and the Caribbean, and the books will be cycled to your location and either left on the doorstep or posted through the letterbox. It's a free service, but donations are welcome for the enlargement of the library. Books can be requested by email, and more information is available on the African School website.
Art, Craft and Creativity
We don't know of any organised movement to sew scrubs for Oxfordshire hospitals yet, but there are similar ones popping up all over the country, so it's probably a matter of time. If you could join in, there's a free downloadable pdf scrubs pattern. Scrubs are supposed to be green/blue for stain identification. But it looks like at the moment rules are relaxed a little, and even One Direction fabric is currently allowed. Masks are harder, as home made ones will never protect like N95 masks. But some hospitals are still finding homemade masks better than none, and if you want to make some, this website gives lots of advice and complete instructions including a link to a Cambridge Uni study about different cloths to use. And if you want a mask for yourself, for heading out to the shops or unavoidable travel, even the government has published instructions (including some that don't include sewing). And if you're lucky enough to own a 3D printer, you can turn it to good use making face shields, in a project organised by 3DCrowdUK. [We realise this isn't much of a distraction! But helping out can give you a sense of power over events, and a focus. All our other suggestions are unrelated to any viruses!]
FirstSite is the East of England's contemporary visual arts organisation, and their mission is to get everyone doing art, being creative, and seeing the world in a new way. They've got some top artists to put together art activity packs. They're basically holiday packs but for adults (most activities also suitable for children, but they are by real artists so may be quite maverick). Just sign up to their newsletter and you can download the pack.
Ovada have a long initiative and a weekly brief. The long project is the OVADA Covid Quilt Project. Using any textile techniques you like, contribute a square to the project. Submissions end when lockdown does. For now the quilt is digital. Before long it'll be physical! The Friday Brief is a short artistic task set by a different artist each week. A recent example: create a surreal still life with household objects. Upload your piece to social media for a virtual exhibition.
Broad Canvas, that stalwart of Oxford's Broad St, has organised an Art Competition, lasting as long as lockdown. There are different age groups for entrants, and winners from each category get a £50 Broad Canvas voucher. See their website for details, and also to view and vote on the entries so far.
Roam from your home
A steadfast DI favourite, Geoguessr is a geography game in which you are plonked down in a random Google Streetview location and have to figure out where you are from your surroundings – an excellent chance to prove that you know your Punxsutawneys from your Ouagadougous. Armchair cartographers will also be able to view some of the globes from the British Library's map collection, including star globes from the 1700s, all brought to life using augmented reality.
It's good news for lovers of the outdoors (and fresh food) as a number of pick-your-own farms are opening for 2020, with social distancing measures in place. If you live in central Oxford, you can also check out our round-up of Oxford's best parks for a bit of outdoor exercise inspiration.