Apr 6, 2020

Staying & Trapped at Home with the kids: 20 Best (& FREE) Ways to Entertain & Bond with them

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Welcome to the world of Stay-At-Home, where the acronyms of WFH (Work-From-Home) and HBL (Home-Based Learning) are more relevant than ever. For the next one month, both parents and children will be confined to the four walls of their homes and let's just say things WILL be extremely challenging. Besides trying to get some real work done, perhaps the most difficult task is to the keep the hyperactive kids occupied!


Because there can only be that many YouTube videos one can watch or video games one can play, there are actually more ways you can keep the kids entertained. And best of all, take the chance NOW that you are at home with them to bond with them over these activities:

1.Explore Harry Potter At Home for FREE without leaving the house


Got a Harry Potter fan at home? Head to the Harry Potter At Home hub where you will find all the latest magical treats to keep you occupied - including special contributions from Bloomsbury and Scholastic, nifty magical craft videos (learn how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, quizzes, puzzles and plenty more for first-time readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world.

LINK

2. Enrol in a FREE Disney online course on how to be an Imagineer


Disney Imagineers design and create Disney theme parks and attractions around the world. So if your child has ever wanted to step into the shoes of a Disney Imagineer, now's the chance to do so. Khan Academy and Pixar have teamed up with Walt Disney Imagineers to create Imagineering in a Box, a free online course that gives participants a behind-the-scenes peek into theme park design.

The course takes students through three lessons. The first is named "Creating Worlds," and it illustrates the process of creating a themed land, including land layout and landscape. The second lesson is all about designing attractions, and it includes a ride simulator exercise. The third and final lesson is dedicated to characters — including character concepts and animatronics. All is completely FREE!

LINK

3. Take part in LEGOLAND Malaysia's daily month-long LEGO challenge & win prizes


Does your kids love LEGO, and are always building? Then be sure to let them take part in LEGOLAND Malaysia's daily LEGO online challenge. From 6 April 2020 onwards, a LEGO challenge will be annouced on its Facebook & Instagram page every day for the next 30 days. For example, the 6th April 2020 challenge is to build the coolest new dinosaur ever existed with LEGO bricks. Once your kid has completed the challenge, take a photo and upload the creation on either its Facebook or Instagram platforms with the hashtags #LEGOLANDMalaysia and #30daylegochallenge. Your child may just win a cool prize!

LINK

4. Share your childhood memories with the kids by streaming FREE 80s cartoons on YouTube


If you grew in the eighties, you will probably remember classic cartoons like He-Man, M.A.S.K., She-Ra, and G.I. Joe. And great news, the episodes are now available to stream for FREE on YouTube amd it's all legal!

Introduce your kids to some of the most classic cartoons that you grew up with and maybe, they will become fans as well.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: LINK
M.A.S.K.: LINK
She-Ra: Princess of Power: LINK
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: LINK

5. Convert any photo into an online jigsaw puzzle and solve it together


I’m a Puzzle is a web based game that allows you to convert any image into a free-to-play puzzle. It is easy and intuitive to create puzzles and play. You can upload a personal photo and solve it together with your kids. Best of all, there will not be any missing pieces because it's online!

LINK

6. Play Cards Against Humanity with the kids for FREE


Hang on, this is NOT the M18 Cards Against Humanity card game version. Instead, Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition is a brand new game written specially for both kids and adults to play together. Recommended for kids aged 8 and up, the card game is FREE but with a catch - you have to download the entire deck of cards and print them out before you can play. But hey, it's free no?

LINK

7. Re-create McDonald's iconic Sausage And Egg McMuffin at home


Here's a fun thing to do with the kids. McDonald's has shared the recipe of its iconic Sausage and Egg McMuffin online so that you can re-create it at home! To create your very own masterpiece, you'll need English muffins, sausage meat, eggs, American cheese slices and potato.



8. Head to the parks for fresh air (But make use of NParks' Safe Distance real-time Map first)


I know it can be challenging to stay home the entire day... and for the entire month. We are allowed to head out for some fresh air in the nature parks BUT make sure you only head out with your family members who are living in the SAME household as you AND not with other relatives or friends. Also, if you see that the particular park is crowded, please stay away. In fact, Nparks has come out with a nifty website which gives real-time information on the visitorship of some of the major parks and green spaces. Visit https://safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg/ before heading down to the park to see if it is experiencing heavy footfall.

Alternatively, I have compiled 8 of the most ulu nature parks in Singapore which are not so popular with Singaporeans. Perhaps you can consider THESE.

9. View wildlife from home via explore Live cams


Can't travel? No sweat, you can explore the world together with your kids from your home by checking out explore, which has a variety of live cams from seeing hummingbirds up close, to trying to spot gorillas in the wild, to seeing African wildlife, to even the Northern Lights (minus the cold)!

LINK

In addition, the Georgia Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium have turned on their web cams so you can still watch otters, penguins and marine life without squeezing with the crowds.

10. Go on a digital museum tour 


Now you can even spend a day at the museum without leaving home... and without having to walk! Travel and Leisure has a list of 12 museums that offer virtual tours. You can check out famous locations in the US or abroad in Seoul, Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence and more.

LINK

11. Read FREE comic books from Marvel & Dark Horse


Comixology is offering a dozen free Marvel comics to read, from Avengers vs. X-Men Collection, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and even Civil War. Also, Dark Horse has free first-issue comics available for reading, with a section for kids: Frozen, The Incredibles, Disney Princesses and Zootopia.

Marvel Comics: LINK
Dark Horse Comics: LINK

12. Attend a FREE online Photography workshop


If your child is into photography, then be sure to sign him/her up for Nikon School Singapore's online courses. Whether they are learning or perfecting their photography skills, there will be ample online courses throughout the month of April to keep them busy. And it's FREE for everyone - you don't have to own a Nikon camera to participate. But registration is compulsory as the video link will be sent after registration. Check out the available courses in the link below.

LINK

13. Pick up animation skills with Pixar online learning tools


Always wanted to learn about animation? Now’s your chance! Dive into Pixar in a Box, a free online learning tool for aspiring filmmakers, artists, and more! Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. It's great for older kids who are fascinated with animation.

LINK

14. Stream Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals online for FREE


Andrew Lloyd Webber will be streaming his musicals for free online! Entitled "The Shows Must Go On", the series started with the 2000 adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, Maria Friedman, Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins which was streamed free for 48 hours from 3 April 2020. This following week will see the streaming of the 2012 production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Further shows are to be announced, so subscribe to the YouTube channel for reminders.

LINK

15. Read (or listen to) something new


Libraries closed? No porblem! You can borrow eBooks from National Library Board - and more than 3.5 million titles in 4 languages at that! - and download them into your electronic devices. In fact, the kids will be able to search for the books themselves and borrow them effortlessly without having to leave home. Borrow up to 16 eBooks (including eAudiobooks) which lasts for 21 days each and the beauty of the system is the eBook will automatically expire after that so there are no fines to worry about for overdue items.

LINK

OR if you prefer audio books, head to audible where kids can instantly stream an incredible collection of eAudio stories.There are books for various ages, from little ones to tweens to teens. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

16. Exercise together in a fun way


Before Project Circuit Breaker, one of the most common reasons of not being able to exercise is the lack of time... "because must work". Now, there is sunddenly so much more time to spare so instead of laying on the sofa, grab the kids and get those bodies moving and perspiring. There are plenty of virtual fitness programs to choose from that you can do at home - do a search on YouTube for some of the best YouTube fitness channels for workouts you can do at home OR if you have young kids, you can search "Just Dance videos" on YouTube for fun workout dances! No need to own a gaming console!

17. Learn to play a musical instrument


If you have been putting it off due to a lack of time, now is the time to learn a new musical instrument. And you can learn together with your child! There are a host of free lessons for musical instruments that you can search online - here are a few:

Free Piano Lessons
Free Guitar Lessons
Free Guitar, Bass & Ukulele Lessons

18. Binge watch shows & movies on Tubi TV, a FREE streaming site


Not willing to pay for Netflix but still want to binge watch? You can... for FREE! Tubi TV offers considerably more movies than it does TV shows but its offerings are usually older and more obscure ones. But considering it's free to stream, I guess there will be no complaints. Plus you don't have to sign up for an account before watching.

LINK

And in case you didn't know, you can also watch 1,150 movies for free online! Just head this way: LINK

19. Challenge the kids to a FREE video PC game, or just Minecraft together



GOG is giving away a whopping 27 PC games, including classics dating back to 1979 and a playable prologue of the brand new city-building sim Builders of Egypt. All titles are compatible with Windows with some are also available for Mac.

Or you can just enter the Minecraft and see what the deal is with this massive game. The original, classic Minecraft is now playable for FREE and can be played by everyone. No downloading required; you play on the web browser and you can play with up to nine other people. You can't save the game (since it's on browser) and it only has Creative mode but hey, it's free. So if you have been wanting to check out Minecraft and play together with your child, it's worth to check it out.

GOG Free Games: LINK
Minecraft Game: LINK

20. Learn the Game of Thrones language, High Valyrian, for FREE + other foreign languages


Even though we can't travel now, it doesn't mean we can't pick up a new language! Duolingo offers FREE online courses to anyone who wishes to learn a new language. Pick from a list of languages including Japanese, Korean, Spanish , German, French and even High Valyrian (if you are a Game of Thrones fan!). Duolingo lessons are bite-sized, fun and addictive. Kids (and adults) can earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Best of all, Duolingo lessons adapt to your learning style. Exercises are tailored to help you learn and review vocabulary effectively.

LINK



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Mar 26, 2020

10 Free Online Resources for Kids & Parents during COVID-19 Stay Home period

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With the current escalating Covid-19 situation in Singapore, I guess bringing the kids out probably isn't a good prospect... especially if you are thinking of heading to the attractions, shopping malls or playgrounds. If you absolutely must head outdoors, then it's best to go somewhere ulu (remote) or nature boardwalks.

But if you are stuck at home with the kids - whether you are working from home or over the weekends - then it will be best for your sanity if you keep them ocuppied with ample activities. Fortunately, because of the worldwide virus outbreak, plenty of companies and organisations have made their resources online for FREE. And trust me when I say there are A LOT TO CHOOSE FROM!


You can just do a simple Google search for 'free online resources for kids' and you will find endless amount of activities and ideas to keep the kids entertained at home - be it homeschooling resources, eAudio Books & eBooks, Math & Science tutorials or music & foreign language lessons.

What I have done is picked a few of the more interesting ones and compiled them into this handy list for you. Hope it helps you and your kids through these challenging times! 🦾

1. TIME FOR KIDS


For 23 years, TIME for Kids has published a weekly magazine for students providing age-appropriate stories kids are excited about, information just for kids that explains the world around them, and high-quality, trusted journalism that teaches news literacy.


And for the rest of this year, TIME for Kids is granting free access to its library of four grade-specific digital editions of TIME for Kids and Your $ financial literacy magazine. Simply sign up with your email address to get your child to start reading!

LINK HERE

2. PIXAR IN A BOX


Always wanted to learn about animation? Now’s your chance! Dive into Pixar in a Box, a free online learning tool for aspiring filmmakers, artists, and more!


Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. It's great for older kids who are fascinated with animation.


LINK HERE

3. audible eAUDIO BOOKS


Kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of eAudio stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. There are books for various ages, from little ones to tweens to teens. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.


LINK HERE

4. NLB eBOOKS


You can borrow eBooks from National Library Board - and more than 3.5 million titles in 4 languages at that! - and download them into your electronic devices. In fact, the kids will be able to search for the books themselves and borrow them effortlessly without having to leave home.


Borrow up to 16 eBooks (including eAudiobooks) which lasts for 21 days each and the beauty of the system is the eBook will automatically expire after that so there are no fines to worry about for overdue items!

LINK HERE

5. CARING FOR EACH OTHER
by Sesame Street


To provide support during this period, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is offering a broad variety of free resources to help children and families during the coronavirus pandemic through a new Caring for Each Other initiative.


The resources have been designed to help parents provide comfort and manage anxiety, as well as help with creating routines, fostering playful learning at home, and staying physically and mentally healthy. This marks the beginning of a commitment to support families for the duration of this crisis, with brand new content featuring the Sesame Street Muppets sharing messages of love and kindness, playful learning activities, and virtual play dates launching soon.

LINK HERE

6. CODEMANCER GAME


Originally US$10, the game is now available for FREE! Codemancer brings the mystery of magic and the exhilaration of learning to code together in a fantasy universe that uses spell casting as a way to teach and learn programming skills.


Codemancer’s fantasy universe is filled with rival sorcerers and their minions for players to encounter along their journey. Designed for 6 to 12 year olds as an educational game that teaches the magic behind coding, it is a non-violent, entertaining, and educational game which is accessible to learners at any stage... and can be fun for grownups, too!

Available for download for Windows, iOS, and Android.

LINK HERE

7. SCHOLASTIC LEARN AT HOME


If you prefer to follow a schedule, this will be perfect. Scholastic Learn At Home features day-to-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking and learning. Great for kids from pre-kindergarten to 13-14 year old teens, the site includes daily reading quests as well as virtual video tours!

LINK HERE

8. THE KID SHOULD SEE THIS


TKSST is an unprecedented collection of over 4,500 kid-friendly videos, curated for teachers and parents who want to share smarter, more meaningful media in the classroom and at home. Focusing on science, art, technology, and more, the selections are grown-up-friendly too and it's ALL FREE!

LINK HERE

9. KHAN ACADEMY


Khan Academy is a free resource for students, teachers, and parents. The site offers free lessons in math, science and humanities from kindergarten through the early years of college. Students can use its exercises, quizzes, and instructional videos to learn and master skills... and get immediate feedback and encouragement.


LINK HERE

10. explore LIVE CAMS


Can't travel? No sweat, you can explore the world together with your kids from your home by checking out explore, which has a variety of live cams from seeing hummingbirds up close, to trying to spot gorillas in the wild, to seeing African wildlife, to even the Northern Lights (minus the cold)!

LINK HERE

Or if you prefer museums, you can take virtual tours of these 12 famous museums too.

BONUS!

PLAY MINECRAFT FOR FREE!


The original, classic Minecraft is now playable for FREE. Originally released as part of Minecraft's 10 year celebration, the original 2009 version of Minecraft can be played by everyone. No downloading required; you play on the web browser and you can play with up to nine other people. You can't save the game (since it's on browser) and it only has Creative mode but hey, it's free. So if you have been wanting to check out Minecraft and play together with your child, it's worth to check it out.

LINK HERE



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Mar 23, 2020

Here's how to borrow up to 16 FREE eBooks for your Kids without leaving the house

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Compared to life three months ago, we are living in vastly different times these days. In a time where social distancing and being socially responsible are drilled into everyone, it is great that we can all borrow eBooks from Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) without leaving the house!


Yes, in case you didn't know, you can borrow eBooks from the library - and more than 3.5 million titles in 4 languages at that! - and download them into your electronic devices. In fact, the kids will be able to search for the books themselves and borrow them effortlessly!

You can borrow up to 16 eBooks (including eAudiobooks). Each ebook lasts for 21 days and the beauty of the system is the eBook will automatically expire after that so there are no fines to worry about for overdue items! Plus, you don't even have to head down to the library to return the books!

How do you get started on borrowing eBooks from NLB?

Firstly, you need to be a Singapore National Library member AND have a myLibrary ID. If are already a NLB member but do not have the myLibrary ID, you can sign up via online HERE. Or you can download the NLB Mobile App from the App Store or Google Play to register as well.

If you are NOT a NLB member at all, you must first sign up to be one before having a myLibrary ID. Annual membership is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents but the latter will be charged a one-time registration fee of $10.50. Singaporeans and PRs can immediately sign up via online (for SingPass users aged 15 and above) while foreigners have to head to the nearest NLB library to sign up.

Next, download the NLB Mobile App onto your electronic devices.

Sign in with your myLibrary ID and password, and you can proceed to browse for book titles and borrow them if they are available.


In addition to borrowing eBooks, eAudiobooks, accesssing eNewspapers, eMagazines and online courses, NLB Mobile also lets you easily check your account and perform transaction like the payment of fines.

Search for the eBooks you want, and proceed to borrow if they are available.




But here's an IMPORTANT point: while NLB Mobile lets you read or listen to eBooks & eAudiobooks while you are connected to the Internet, it does not have an in-built reader for you to read downloaded eBooks.

How do I download eBooks so that I can read them offline?

Download the FREE Libby App from App Store or Google Play.

Libby is a third-party app which allows you to borrow and download NLB's eBooks and eAudiobooks, so that you can enjoy them even when you are offline.

Once you have downloaded the app, you have to set it up for the first time so that you are able to borrow eBooks from NLB. Don't worry, the set-up process is a breeze.

When asked if you have a library card, tap "Yes". Then, let Libby guess your library by tapping "Yes, Guess My Library".


National Library Board will be shown in the next page and tap "This Is My Library".


Enter your library account details (myLibrary ID and password) and you are all set!


You will then be brought to the main page of NLB where you can browse and search for eBooks.


There are loads of titles to browse, with a section dedicated for kids.


You can search for specific titles... for Ale, she wanted 'Dork Diaries'.


Unfortunately, most of the Dork Diaries eBooks' borrowing quotas were full but you can tap "Place Hold" to reserve the eBook. Once the next copy is available, it will appear in your borrowed books list.

For eBooks that are avilable, you can simply tap on "Borrow" and it will automatically be downloaded onto your device so that you can read them offline.



When the download is complete, just open the book to begin reading!




Frankly, it cannot get easier than this and everything is so simple that a child can do it. What I like about the eReader app is there is a scrub timeline for the eBooks so that you can drag the scrub control to shuttle forward or backward to the page that you had previously left off.


To see the eBooks that are currently on loan, just tap on "Shelf".


Empower the kids by allowing them to explore the eBooks listing and choosing which eBooks to borrow on their own. Even if an eBook is mistakenly borrowed, you can just tap on the eBook and return in immediately. No hassle!

More importantly, you don't even have to step out of the house, head down to the library and come into contact with the physical books. Of course, not every hard copy book at the library has an eBook version but I would say the selection is pretty adequate... plus the chances of borrowing a popular eBook is much higher!

And best of all, you can borrow up to 16 eBooks per account and everything's FREE!


For more information and FAQ on using Libby, click HERE.


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