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
Here's a handy rundown of virtual field trips for kids - you can watch webcams from zoos, tour some US National Parks, or why not just head for space?
Animal lovers can also enjoy these live animal webcams and this very soothing Turtlecam footage - watch from a camera atop a turtle's shell as it pootles around off the coast of the Bahamas (for 3 hours!). For something far less soothing, delve into the depths of the ocean in this deep sea animation (beware goblin sharks and the colossal squid!).
Illustrator Sarah Wimperis (who has worked for the BBC, Jackanory, and The National Trust) has lots of free colouring sheets on her website to amuse you or the kids (or both).
BookTrust's Home Time has free online books and videos, draw alongs, and book-themed quizzes and games. You can also access digitised versions of children's books through the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature - great for a browse or a bedtime story.
Tate Kids is a superb option too, packed with games, quizzes, art activities and more. For a local museum with online resources, the History of Science Museum is a good bet. The website for the museum's latest exhibition, Alice in Typhoidland, breaks down a tricky topic through games and activities.
Even though playgrounds are closed, there is still plenty to see and do in the park. Oxford Tree Trails has beautifully illustrated printable maps of Oxford's green spaces, letting you know what flora and fauna to look out for while you wander. A really good option to add an extra dimension to a family walk, if that's to be your essential exercise.
Skype a Scientist is a great way for you and your kids to get more familiar with science, and put some tough questions to the people who are qualified to answer them. Just sign up to be matched with a scientist, organise a time slot over email, and then chat away on with a scientist on Skype.
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. 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.
Live Canon’s online poetry courses are still running! All you need to sign up for a wide choice of courses is an internet connection. Also still open are Live Canon’s pamphlet competition (until 31st March), collection and individual poem competitions (deadlines in May) and children’s poetry competition (until March 29th). Also well worth a look and an ear are Live Canon’s dedicated Youtube and Soundcloud profiles, with plenty of poetry to watch and listen to.
Other bits and pieces
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.