From Broadway in New York City to the Hollywood studios of Los Angeles, families are self-quarantining in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. That means mommies and daddies all across America are looking to their television sets and the web for unique ways to keep their kids busy — especially the little ones who have no virtual school and a limited capacity to self-entertain.
Over here, the Maglios are getting desperate for ways to keep our 3-year-old daughter busy. All of this extra screen time has meant lots of Disney+, but how many “Doc McStuffins” episodes can one kid watch, and how often do we need to replay “The Little Mermaid”? (The realistic answer to both questions is “a lot.”)
As much of a Godsend as the Disney streaming service has been, contrary to popular (kids’) belief, that “Puppy Dog Pals” theme song actually can become irritating. Plus, and don’t tell this TV editor’s boss this, we hear television can rot the brain.
First though, a professional recommendation: Nickelodeon, which has seen a surge in TV ratings, has launched #KidsTogether, a prosocial campaign featuring a hand-washing obsessed SpongeBob, among other characters with teachable quirks and important messages. The offering also includes downloadable games and ideas for stay-at-home activities.
Additionally, through the help of national partner organizations, Nickelodeon has made Noggin — its direct-to-consumer interactive learning service for preschoolers — free for three months to kids in need.
Below is a list of other options you may not be as aware of, as curated from a survey of this work-from-home father’s friends, family and colleagues. Stay safe — and six feet apart — out there.
Brianna M. (Mom of a girl age 3)
Laurie Berkner of the Laurie Berkner Band (and formerly of Noggin) is doing a Facebook Live every morning at 10 a.m., where she performs songs, reads books and interacts with fans.
Additionally, each weekday the band will be “posting a song for a morning Berkner Breakfast (7 a.m. ET), an afternoon Berkner Break (3 p.m. ET), and an evening Berkner Bedtime (7 p.m. ET),” Laurie wrote on Twitter.
“Our daughter loves Laurie Berkner and all of her music, so the daily 10 a.m. Facebook live streams sounded like a perfect addition to our morning routine. Penny was enthralled to see Laurie playing the guitar in her home and danced around our house during the live music session. In fact, she insisted on having her own guitar to play along!”
Lindley M. (Mom of two girls, ages 1.5 and 6)
We’re watching “Christine’s Critters” at 11 a.m. ET each day via Facebook Live.
Marisa M. (Mom of two boys, ages 1.5 and 4.5)
Little Rockers Band’s livestream on YouTube was good for the younger one more so than his big brother. Little Rockers are live-streaming music classes at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. ET.
We also watched Pete the Cat creator and author James Dean live on Instagram where he drew Pete live and did a read along.
Of course, “Frozen” on Disney+. She also likes watching Kids Fun TV “Frozen” stuff on YouTube.
(Note: Disney has made “Frozen II” available months ahead of time on Disney+)
“We have really loved the Mo Willems Lunch Doodles. They are providing our family with a regular activity and a routine, one based in literacy and art, but more importantly I am finding my kids (and myself!) really benefiting from Mo’s conversations. This week in teaching the kids how to draw Gerald, the elephant from his Elephant and Piggie series, he pointedly used his book ‘Waiting Is Not Easy’ and connected it to our current social-distancing, life-on-hiatus way of being. It allowed me to talk to the kids about how we are waiting to do so many of the things we normally do, and how that can be challenging, but that there is good in the waiting, too. Mo Willems is a calm, reassuring voice I am so grateful to be able to tune into daily.”
(Note: Through The Kennedy Center, Willems is doodling every weekday at 1 p.m. ET. Hey, if it’s good enough for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kids…)
Jes O. (Mom of a girl age 4)
The Cincinnati Zoo is doing Facebook Live streams of its safari seven days a week starting at 3 p.m. ET.