For the introverts, the recommended social distancing during the COVID-19 situation might be the thing that happy dreams are made of. The extroverts, not so much. Many local kid-focused businesses, zoos and museums are going over-and-above to make self-quarantining manageable, and maybe even fun at times. From long walks in massive parks to art masterpieces created at home, we’ll keep updating this story with resources and ideas as they come available. So read on and, well. . . good luck, friends!

Art Institute of Chicago

A family visit to the Art Institute of Chicago may have to be put on hold, but prep for a future trip at home with JourneyMaker, an innovative digital interactive kids can use to create their own one-of-a-kind adventure with works of art from the Art Institute’s collection. Kids can fly through galleries like their favorite superhero, travel back or forward in time or discover strange and wondrous beasts.

Support ARTIC at

photo: Bubbles Academy

Bubbles Academy

Kid-favorite Bubbles Academy is streaming multiple virtual classes, Mon.-Sat., while they're closed. Registration is pay-what-you-can, including free ticket options as they understand many families are impacted by the current state of the world. 
Support Bubbles Academy at

photo: Mr. Dave Music

Mr. Dave Music

Mr. Dave Music in West Town is closed until Mar. 29, but he is offering virtual classes/concerts for an indefinite period of time. Some are free, while others will be listed with a fee. You can register at Mr. Dave is also creating an interactive show that will be featured on his youtube channel. Subscribe at and you'll be alerted when new content becomes available. 

You can also support Mr. Dave Music during this difficult time for small business owners by purchasing a gift card to use at a later date or donate at Save Mr. Dave

Support Mr. Dave Music at

photo: Art Makers Outpost

Art Makers Outpost

Classes at Evanston's Art Makers Outpost are temporarily canceled, but they are busy putting together Outpost Distance Art Kits for home delivery and accompanying tutorial videos on their website to help provide art education & activity options. Please check their website & Facebook page for updates and to order your kit.

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photo: The Laboratory Collective

The Laboratory Collective

We know The Laboratory Collective for their wildly popular STEM date night drop-offs, classes and day-off and summer camps with fun themes like Spa Night, Harry Potter Wizarding, Robots, Dragons and LEGOs, but while schools are canceled and kids are home, they are offering free live classes where they talk about books, show science experiments kids can do at home and show a crazy demo. Follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on offerings and watch pre-recorded lessons on their youtube channel.

Support The Laboratory at

photo: Morton Arboretum via Maria Chambers

Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle has closed all their buildings and Children's Garden through Apr. 7, but their 1,700 acres of trees and outdoor space are still available for midday brain breaks. Be sure to go potty before you go because restroom availability is limited and the more this can be simply about going on a walk and the less contact you have with facilities and people, the better. 

Support Morton Arboretum at

Stages Performing Arts 

Stages in West Loop offers baby music classes, musical theater classes and camps and birthday parties with (you can probably guess) . . . performing arts themes. They jumped into high gear and created virtual class options to help kids pass the time. For the virtual classes, you'll need to enroll and there will be a fee, but they are also offering FREE Facebook live events.

Support Stages at

photo: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

Sea Curious — From octopus to otters, this video series brings the animals, experiences and stories at Shedd to virtual visitors. Designed by kids for kids, the videos range from uncovering animal superpowers and discovering how they play to witnessing animal behaviors. Each episode pairs curious kids from the Shedd Aquarium Adventure Club—a diverse group of Chicago area students ages seven to 10—with one of Shedd’s Animal Care experts, as well as a Chicago celebrity guest star, to answer a different question about sea life. Also available on Shedd’s YouTube channel.

Underwater Beauty Live Cam — Need to recharge? Take a break for beauty with Shedd's special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, live cam! Discover the dreamlike patterns of angelfishes, wrasses, tangs and butterflyfishes.

Audio Guides — Dive deeper into some of your favorite habitats at Shedd! These free audio guides share everything you’d want to know about some of the aquarium’s most memorable species, from a beluga whale “who’s who” to the amazing rescue story of green sea turtle Nickel. 

Virtual Reality Penguin Expedition — Utilizing Google Expeditions, this free virtual reality experience allows users to digitally visit Shedd’s penguin exhibit, going behind the scenes to learn more about how the aquarium cares for two species of penguins – rockhopper and Magellanic. Explore 360-degree scenes shot in the aquarium’s animal hospital, kitchen spaces and of course, the penguin exhibit. (Can be viewed with or without VR googles)

Okay, so this one won't buy you too much time, but oh the cuteness! Once they closed their doors to the public, Shedd Aquarium let their penguins go on a little walk. You can see the video in Chicago Tribune's story. Once this is over, you can visit the penguins yourself with Shedd's Penguin Encounter experience.

Support Shedd Aquarium at

photo: Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry

Museum of Science & Industry is closed until Apr. 6. However all day, every day, even without a pandemic, MSI has an Experiment tab on their website with games, videos showing a virtual tour of their massive submarine and of baby chicks being born in their Hatchery, and hands-on science experiments that can be conducted at home. 

Support MSI at

Tula Yoga

Tula Yoga in Logan Square has discontinued in-person classes for now. But, grab a yoga mat for you and your kids (or lock yourself in a room) and stream classes at home. Visit their website to learn how to participate, and namaste.

Support Tula Yoga at

photo: iStock

Prairie Grass Cafe

Prairie Grass' James Beard Award-winning chef Sarah Stegner has opened a hotline to help with cooking tips during Covid-19. She will be available 2 p.m.-4 p.m. daily to answer questions regarding food prep and cooking in order to help you plan a nutritious, balanced meal at home. She can be reached at 847-920-8437. If you prefer to leave the cooking to Chef Sarah, curbside service is also available at her Northbrook restaurant.

Support Prairie Grass at

Kohl Children's Museum

On its website, Kohl Children’s Museum is providing the “Home Zone,” remote learning video series with stories, activities and experiments that can easily be replicated at home. From exploring the science (and fun) of making bubbles, to discovering unique patterning and help kids express themselves with fly swatter painting, the learning videos are available free on the Kohl website.

Kohl also has teamed up with the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) to offer free STEAM digital learning experiences and is offering story time videos featuring museum educators reading children’s books.

Remote Learning Resources
For at-home activities and to download PDFs, visit the Teacher Resources page.
More STEAM activities can be found here.
Scholatic Learn at Home site

— Maria Chambers


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