Educational Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained This Summer

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By Gianna Jirak

It’s summertime, and, this year, your kids have already been home for months. We imagine you’ve heard “I’m bored” multiple times this week — maybe even just since this morning. With all this extra unscheduled time, kids often need direction in their days and ongoing opportunities to prevent that summer slide.

COVID-19 and its accompanying restrictions and concerns will certainly make some favorite activities less accessible this year, but that doesn’t leave your children with nothing to do. From museums tours to classes, here are our suggestions for safe, virtual fun.

Smithsonian Museums Virtual Tours

You no longer have to take the Metro to get off at Smithsonian Station. Some of D.C.’s biggest tourist destinations, the Smithsonian Museums, are offering virtual tours of their buildings and exhibits.

The National Museum of Natural History offers a tour of its entire facility, allowing you to search through fossils and mummies as well as admire the Hope Diamond, and the Butterfly Pavilion, all for free.

Those more interested in art and culture can do virtual tours of the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of Asian Art. While viewing the art from a computer screen may not feel like a similar experience, it does allow for the viewer to spend more time contemplating the picture, something a visitor to a crowded art museum may not be able to have.

If art and science aren’t what you are looking for, the Smithsonian also offers virtual tours of the Smithsonian castle crypt, the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the Smithsonian Marine Station Wet Laboratory
and the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center. Find more information on these tours at si.edu/museums.

Online High School Courses

Prince William County Public Schools, as well as the Virginia Department of Education, allows high school students of all grade levels to take online courses. The courses can be taken to graduate early, to retake a class for a higher grade or to simply get a class out of the way for the upcoming school year.

Nearly all core classes are offered, including driver’s education and physical education. However, Advanced Placement classes are not offered. The registration for Virtual Prince William, Prince William County School’s virtual education system, opens on May 15 and ends June 15, with classes lasting from June 22 to July 31. The tuition fee per course is $470 for PWCS students and $705 for non-PWCS students. Find more information on Virtual Prince William at virtualhs.pwcs.edu.

The registration for Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s virtual education system, begins on April 1 and ends June 17, with classes lasting from June 17 to July 28. The tuition fee per course is $375. Visit virtualvirginia.org for more information on Virtual Virginia.

Virtual Arts and Crafts Classes

While embroidery, quilting and watercolor may sound difficult, they can be made easy through practice on Creativebug. Creativebug is a website that offers a large variety of virtual arts and crafts classes for all different skill levels and interests, as well as downloadable patterns, templates and recipes. The website offers a subset of classes specifically dedicated to teaching kids things they are interested in, such as how to make slime, masks/costumes and puppets. For older kids, they offer crocheting, knitting, sewing and other more advanced subjects. To access the courses, sign up for a free trial membership at creativebug.com.

Virtual Dance Classes

Random dance parties are a great cure for boredom, but these virtual dance classes will have kids dancing like professionals. Tippi Toes Dance, a dance company founded in 1999, offers virtual dance classes aimed at children ages 2 to 8. In the classes, students learn dance terms and receive high-energy lessons each week that are suitable for both experienced and amateur dancers. Each virtual class is 30 minutes long, teaches students six dances, two specific dance step breakdowns and a review of the dance steps at the end of the class. Tippi Toes boasts more than simply its dance instruction. Students will also gain the added benefits of “confidence and the development of positive connections between activity, healthy habits, education and dance,” according to their website. To begin the classes, sign up for a seven-day free trial at
tippitoesdance.com.

Gianna Jirak is an intern at Prince William Living with aspirations of becoming an international and political reporter. She is currently a junior at Hylton High School and the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper.

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