By Kelly Griese
Saturday, April 18, 2020
We’re all spending a lot more time at home these days. Like many of you, I’m working from my couch. My neighbor’s children are finishing out the school semester via e-learning. Even folks in essential industries, like healthcare, law enforcement, and food services have to find something to do with their free time once they return home from a work shift. So I thought this would be a good time to share some FREE resources that can help you stay sane while following stay-at-home orders.
This list is by no means complete, but it’s a starting point. If you have additional ideas, we’d love for you to share them with us! You can email me your ideas at email@example.com, or you can share them via Facebook and Twitter.
One important note. We can’t guarantee the safety of any of the computer programs listed below. There have been numerous reports in recent weeks about various programs putting user data at risk. It’s important for you to do your research, read those terms and conditions, and create strong, unique passwords.
Netflix Party allows you and your friends to binge all your Netflix favorites together, without actually being in the same room. Netflix Party is a Chrome browser extension. It only works on laptops and desktops, not tablets or phones. Here’s how it works. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix programs.
Visit Zoos, Aquariums, and Museums
Many of our favorite places to visit are closed to the public right now, but that’s not stopping them from providing you with entertainment from a distance. A quick check of your social media feeds will reveal all sorts of videos and live chats being produced by zoos, aquariums, and museums. Here are some examples. The Indianapolis Zoo has been posting behind the scenes videos showing how their keepers take care of the animals. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has ten different live cameras that let you pretend you’re swimming in the ocean. Museums like the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles offer virtual tours of their art collections. And our own Indiana Statehouse has virtual tours available.
Even some scientists have had to press pause on their research, but they’re using their free time to educate others. I’m a huge fan of sharks and the ocean, so my favorite finds so far include Instagram live stories by behavioral ecologist Dr. Tristan Guttridge, webinars by oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, and kid-friendly “Shark Talks” with a variety of experts who work with the National Marine Educators Association. If sharks aren’t your thing, that’s okay. Pick your own passion and start Googling. I’m sure you’ll find something fascinating to learn about while you’re stuck at home. You can even try LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn has 16 of their courses available for free right now, including courses on productivity, building relationships, and using virtual meeting tools. This could be a great time for you to build your resume by learning some new skills.
Consult a Tutor
Are you struggling to help your child with their e-learning homework? Don’t sweat it. Help is available. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s AskRose Homework Help is a free math and science tutoring service for Indiana students in grades 6-12. Students can call 877-ASK-ROSE, email, or chat live with a friendly tutor to work through and better understand homework assignments.
There are a slew of apps, programs, and websites that make it possible to play games together. Experienced gamers may prefer MMORPGs (otherwise known as “massively multiplayer online role-playing games”) like Elder Scrolls, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy. But if you’re new to the idea of playing games online with other people and want to stick with people you know IRL (“in real life”), why not try the AirConsole app or Board Game Arena? AirConsole enables you to use your smartphone as a gamepad and your computer browser as a console to play more than 150 games with friends. Board Game Arena has 175 games to play, including classics and some exclusives to the website. You play the games through your computer browser after creating a login.
Of course, the stay-at-home order doesn’t mean you have to stay locked inside your house or apartment. You can still enjoy the great outdoors! Now is the perfect time to explore nature, even in your own backyard. Why not make some bird feeders, or turn your produce scraps into new plants? The Audubon Society has four DIY bird feeders that the kids can help make. Buzzfeed has a list of 16 food scraps that you can use to start your own vegetable garden.
Social distancing scavenger hunts are growing in popularity. This is a great activity for children, and you can choose new themes every week. Just make some art to put in your windows, and then go for a neighborhood walk with a piece of paper and pencil. Make notes of all the window art you find. And here’s another way to get creative outside… make some sidewalk chalk art! You can leave inspirational messages or even create sidewalk “coloring books” by drawing outlines only and letting someone else fill in the drawings with the colors of their choice.
Gyms are among the many businesses closed right now, but you can still exercise. In addition to walking and running outside, there are numerous ways to get fit inside your own living room. The Yoga Studio of Indianapolis is offering free streaming sessions via Instagram Live. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis posts workout videos on their Facebook page. And if you were working out with a trainer at your gym, why not email or text them to see if they’re offering virtual training sessions?
75 More Ideas
Finally, if we haven’t given you enough ways to keep yourself and the kids entertained during the stay-at-home order, our good friend Cherie Lowe – AKA, The Queen of Free – has more than 75 amazing tips, and they're all FREE!
The MoneyWise Matters blog has a wealth of information about managing money and avoiding fraud. You can look through the complete archive here.