University of Illinois Extension & 4H Connection Corner Kits Available Social distancing during the pandemic, though necessary, has caused social and emotional side effects that have been felt by all of us – perhaps especially by our young people. University of Illinois Extension and 4-H serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties have created a new program to address this. 4-H Connection Corner will provide activities to help families process their feelings and form stronger connections amidst these circumstances. Families that register will receive activity kits, complete with instructions and materials, designed to help stem the tide of the loneliness and isolation felt by many. A few activities will include: Family Conversation Starters Kindness Challenges Relaxation Exercises Mood Monitoring Interested families can register to receive an activity kit and participate in 4-H Connection Corner at go.illinois.edu/ConnectionKits This program is free and open to everyone, though the activities are most appropriate for families with children, pre-k and above, at home. Additional Connection Corner resources, tips and activities will be posted each week on the Facebook page UniversityofIllinoisExtFultonMasonPeoriaTazewell.
Illinois Extension Serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell Counties Schools OnlineIllinois Extension is well positioned to help parents and teachers dive more deeply into relevant and interesting curriculum areas. Regardless of the age of the learner, our educators have crafted a set of educational resources that will help students understanding important information about topics that touch their everyday lives. These educational units are free and available to use in any classroom or home school environment. CURRICULUM UNITS BY GRADE LEVEL Elementary School Middle School High School REINVENTING.SCHOOL explores an increasingly common practice--home as a place for learning, and in some cases, as a physical replacement for a physical school facility or the library. It is our belief that many students and parents and teachers will experience much of the coming school year at home. And so, we decided to take a closer look at how this might work. We will address homeschooling, but our experts are prepared to go beyond the usual discussion. Pat Farenga describes himself as a writer and education activist who addresses academic and general audiences about working with children, not on children, to help them learn. He carries on the legacy of author and teacher John Holt. Doug Fine takes the concept several steps further, offering a unique approach that combines traditional school coursework with work outdoors at his New Mexico ranch. Diana Ortiz Burns is Director of Operations and Sustainability, Indian Creek School, and a force in the physical reinvention of local facilities used for learning.
Jennifer Garner: Books with Birdie Back in 2017, actor and mother of three Jennifer Garner began posting short video clips of her reading children’s books to her gentle and attentive Golden Retriever, Birdie. She kicked off the first episode with a note revealing her childhood goals of becoming a school librarian and a children’s author. “To date I have accomplished neither—but—that doesn’t stop me from making must read lists for my friends. After all, there is nothing more important than reading to your kids. Unless you have a dog.” Each post includes the title and author of the featured book, and sometimes additional book suggestions, too. Most recently, she “read” Marla Frazee’s wordless picture book The Farmer and the Monkey, and even acted out some scenes with her beloved pup. #BooksWithBirdie on Instagram.
Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, and Friends: #SAVEWITHSTORIES As the pandemic shuttered schools and began to take an even greater toll on kids in need, Garner, a trustee of relief organization Save the Children, and friend and fellow actor Amy Adams teamed up to create #SAVEWITHSTORIES, a new initiative to support the coronavirus response efforts of Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. Since March 16, the actors and many of their famous friends have been sharing videos of themselves reading favorite children’s books. The virtual storytimes help drive donations to Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. Scholastic is a founding partner of the initiative and has secured numerous titles from their catalog to be featured in this effort.
In a statement about the project’s launch, Ellie Berger, executive v-p and president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, said her company was proud to be involved. “With many schools, libraries and bookstores closed across the country, it’s essential to create ways for kids to still access books,” she said. “Now more than ever, families need wonderful stories to enrich their learn-at-home experiences and provide the joy and comfort of reading together in unsettled times.” The series was an instant hit. In the initiative’s first two weeks, 89 stories had been read, generating more than 41.7 million views. By early July, the campaign had amassed just over 300 videos performed by such stars as Benedict Cumberbatch, Helen Mirren, Jimmy Fallon, Reese Witherspoon, and Noah Centineo. To date, #SAVEWITHSTORIES, in combination with Save the Children’s other coronavirus response efforts, have helped 624,000 children across rural America. The overwhelming response from celebrities who wanted to help has allowed #SAVEWITHSTORIES to take a pause, and no new videos added since July 12. But the existing lineup can still be viewed for free. #SAVEWITHSTORIES on Facebook and Instagram.
Andy Cohen: Book Reviews Fans of Bravo TV personality and talk show host Andy Cohen know that he is a new(ish) dad. Lately, he’s been offering Instagram “book reports” of the board books that he and his young son Ben enjoy most. Cohen delivers his assessment of the selected book often asking for Ben’s agreement, while the boy toddles around his dad onscreen. Recent top picks are Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (“We love, love, love Good Night Gorilla. Don’t we love this?”); and I Love Trucks by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern (“This is a favorite”; “There are a lot of trucks, basically”).
What’s on actor and new daytime talk show host Drew Barrymore’s nightstand to read with her two daughters, Olive, almost eight, and Frankie, six? She lets you know, via Instagram. Barrymore shared her and her girls’ bedtime reading stacks in a recent post. The photo reflects the season and includes a lot of back-to-school themed picture books. Barrymore has mentioned in various interviews that open discussion and reading books with her kids are critical parts of her parenting approach. She spoke with 12-year-old crochet phenomenon and author Jonah Larson (now a kid correspondent for Barrymore’s new show) for an interview in Domino Kids magazine about how she has been helping her daughters understand big issues like Black Lives Matter during this era when so many kids are feeling fearful about many things. When the pandemic first took hold, Barrymore told Larson that she thought, “This is not the time to promote things or talk about anything but the conversation at hand. I made protest signs with my girls and bought a whole slew of new books to read—like this wonderful book called Raise Your Voice: 12 Protests That Shaped America [by Jeffrey Kluger], about how protesting is so important and such a catalyst for change.
Goodnight with Dolly Country music icon and philanthropist Dolly Parton helped entertain kids and families during the coronavirus crisis by crafting Goodnight with Dolly a 10-episode series featuring her clad in comfy pajamas in a bed reading titles selected for her Imagination Library book gifting program. Imagination Library has been providing free books to preschool children around the world since 1995.A documentary about the program is due out later this fall. Cozy with a blanket and a book, Dolly Parton reads as part of her Goodnight with Dolly series featuring her Imagination Library book-donation program.
Last week Natalie Portman, actor and newly published children’s book author (Natalie Portman’s Fables, Feiwel and Friends) hosted a discussion with Patrisse Khan-Cullors about the new YA edition of book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Story of Black Lives Matter and the Power to Change the World by Khan-Cullors and asha bandele (Wednesday Books). The video was part of Portman’s Instagram book club on which she shares her favorite reads—both adult and children’s titles. Natalie Portman interviews Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors about the YA edition of her co-authored book When They Call You a Terrorist.
Storyline Online is the long-running Emmy-winning literacy program of the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation. It features SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) members—from Oprah Winfrey to Betty White to Kristen Bell to Viola Davis—reading children’s books. The series launched in 2002 and receives more than 100 million views annually from around the world. This past April, actor Jaime Camil was the first performer ever on the site to read a children’s book in both English and Spanish (Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies by Megan and Jorge Lacera, illustrated by Jorge Lacera). And in response to the pandemic, Storyline Online launched its inaugural summer camp, inviting kids to choose a favorite book or write one of their own, record it in the “best storyteller voice” and mention why they chose that particular book or story and post it on social media using #StorylineOnlineSummerCamp. #StorylineOnline and @StorylineOnline on social media. SAG-AFTRA member Mary Steenburgen helps introduce the first-ever summer camp from the organization’s literacy organization, Storyline Online.
British actor Tom Hardy is widely known for his roles in such works as the film Inception, and the BBC crime drama series Peaky Blinders, among others. But he’s also a super popular reader of children’s books. Tom Hardy’s CBeebies Bedtime Stories, a series of stories recorded in 2016 for BBC Children’s preschool channel CBeebies, were requested more than one million times through December 2019. That made him the channel’s favorite celebrity reader, beating out the likes of Emilia Fox, Chris Evans, Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, and others who have recorded entries since the series launched in 2004. In late April 2020, in response to the coronavirus crisis, Hardy returned to CBeebies to record six more bedtime story episodes. The programs were filmed in his garden. Of this latest round, Hardy explained he wanted to read another round of stories to help children calm down before bed during the pandemic. Though not all of the videos are available to U.S. viewers, here is a sample on YouTube.
Actor and father Josh Gad, a.k.a the voice of Olaf the snowman in Disney’s Frozen films, began reading children’s books nightly via his Twitter feed last March to bring comfort to kids and families amid the pandemic. During his first outing—a livestreamed rendition of Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer—Gad kicked things off by explaining his goal: “Since we’re all stuck at home right now I figured we would have a little fun together, so I’m going to see how this goes, but I decided I’m gonna read to you and your children or just you, depending on what you prefer. I’m not gonna pass judgment right now since the world is a little bit of a hot mess.” Here are some examples of clips under #GadBookClub: https://twitter.com/joshgad/status/1243310290491432960https://twitter.com/joshgad/status/1240412760254504961https://twitter.com/WHSPanthersRead/status/1240030752483561474 Varsity Tutors Take a moment to review Virtual School Day, Virtual Field Trips, and the other free Varsity Tutors' resources. Several months ago, we launched free live celebrity classes led by Mayim Bialik, Julianne Hough, Coyote Peterson and others. The response has been incredible with hundreds of thousands of people signing up for these classes. We have more on the way as well with some huge names! These are a part of our growing list of free, live classes.
Comments While it remains uncertain if schools across the country will reopen for students this fall, here is a book to get young readers back in the spirit of learning and connecting with teachers and classmates—in-person or at a distance.
Picture Book Our Favorite Day of the Year A.E. Ali, illus. by Rahele Jomepour Bell. S&S/Salaam Reads, June 30 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8563-0. Ages 4–8. This tranquil tale opens on kindergarten’s initial day, as Ms. Gupta tells her richly inclusive class that the first day of school is her favorite day of the year, and that each student will have a chance to share their favorite day at show-and-tell. The library has this book in our collection. If you are interested in borrowing it, please let us know.
How to Keep Kids Learning When You're All Stuck at Home Quick tips Manage your expectations. Your kids will not be learning at the same pace or breadth as a usual school day. Figure two to three hours a day to start. Don't stress too much about this.
Make time for breaks and fun. All of us are anxious as we manage this new reality, so take any opportunity to relax and laugh together. It will make the hard stuff easier.
Set a schedule. Get everyone on the same page so you don't have to nag. Routines can be comforting for everyone.
Review schools' plans. In some cases, schools will have a very specific education plan during closures. Use their instructions as a guide for setting up your schedule. Morning
Math. About 30 minutes. Watch a Khan Academy lesson and practice. If your math skills aren't what they used to be, visit Khan Academy's FAQ for tips on how to help your kid with math or get them started on self-directed learning. Here is their Quick Start Guide if you're ready to jump in.
Connect with friends. 30-60 minutes. Tweens and teens thrive on social connections, so make sure to keep these going even if you aren't allowing in-person time. If they're already on popular social platforms, this might be the time to re-negotiate any time limits so they can get their social fix virtually.
Creative time. 90-120 minutes. Bring out the pens and paper! This can be a nice chunk of time off screens. Whatever your kid is into—piano, papier-mâché, playwriting—this is the perfect opportunity to let loose. Of course, there are lots of ways media and tech can support these interests if you choose.
Chores. 15-30 minutes. Every family has a different way of managing household responsibilities. But if you're finding this to be a particularly challenging time to get your kids to help out, you can try some apps that can help them stay organized and give some incentives.
Family time When kids are stressed, they're going to need even more chances to chill out, so this might be a time to relax rules about entertainment media. And while tweens and teens don't always tell you that they need your support, they do. Watching movies or playing games together can be an easy way to be together in a low-stress way. Here are some ideas.
Jackbox Party Packs are collections of games that groups can play using individual devices (phones, tablets, laptops). You can download the game via providers such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Comcast Xfinity X1, and the game network Steam—and then play it from the couch. You can even invite friends and family from afar to join the game while video-chatting.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Home Safari Events Each weekday, starting at 2 p.m. Central time, the Cincinnati Zoo will introduce one of their animals, and include an activity to do at home. Go to Cincinnati Zoo’s Facebook page for the Facebook Live event.
Khan Academy Free resources for ages 4-18, or a free app for ages 2-7. Requires signing up for a free account. History
Digital Public Library of America DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format. The cultural institutions participating in DPLA represent the richness and diversity of America itself, from the smallest local history museum to our nation’s largest cultural institutions.
Illinois Digital Archives The Illinois Digital Archives is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library as well as other libraries and cultural institutions in the State of Illinois. It contains historical photographs, slides, glass negatives, oral histories, manuscripts, letters, federal government documents, postcards, posters, videos, newspapers, and maps.
Newspapers.com Newspapers.com is the largest online newspaper archive consisting of 514 million+ pages of historical newspapers from 12,100+ newspapers from around the United States and beyond. Newspapers provide a unique view of the past and can help us understand and connect with the people, events and attitudes of an earlier time. DKPL card required. Language Learning
Mango Languages Reach conversational proficiency in 72 languages, including English as a Second Language, good for tourists or beginners. Free app for iOS and Android available. DKPL card required.
Weekday Live Streams with Mr. Jon & Friends Mr. Jon & Friends will be hosting weekday live streams of music and movement for kids at 9:30 a.m. Central time each day. Watch live, and then come back to re-watch alter as often as you’d like. The live stream events run from Monday, March 16th to Friday, March 27th. You can find all the info on their Facebook page.
Multitasking, distractions, procrastination—these are often challenges for kids, but never more so than right now. Adult oversight is really helpful, but it's not always possible. So after you set expectations with your kids, check out these apps and plug-ins to help them make the best of their schooling situation. A few favorites:RescueTime. This plug-in reports on productivity and lets you set limits to either totally block sites or allow a specific period of time for certain activities. Bear in Mind. Use this app to set reminders and create to-do lists to help younger kids stay on track. JustRead. Strip out all the ads from your kids' webpages with this plug-in, so they can just focus on their research. Get the whole list of productivity tools How can I support my kids during distance learning?
Most parents aren't experienced educators, and even for those of us who are, teaching your own kids is tough! We've rounded up some clever tips for setting your kids (and you!) up for success, no matter what school looks like this year. Try these:Give detailed praise. Instead of "good job," say, "You're working hard!" Use natural consequences. "If you really focus, you'll have time for fun when you're done." (No focus, no fun stuff!) Try movement and humor. Come up with crazy answers so your kids correct you. (This one works every time.) Get more tips and details
If you or anyone you know is struggling to get set up for remote learning because a suitable device or high-speed internet is unaffordable, there are resources to help. Our distance learning portal has a list of providers.
Set your family up for success with distance learning tips and schedules for kids at home, using the back-to-school guide in Wide Open School. There you'll find helpful resources from Common Sense and other trusted organizations on a wide range of topics, from using Zoom and managing anxiety to supporting social and emotional well-being. Create a positive experience learning from home with Wide Open School