YouTube, Our New Classroom

Right now we are in the midst of self-isolation in Vienna. Everything is closed, with the exception of grocery stories, pharmacies, and the bank. While I’m not sure lockdown is the official term, the government has said there are only three reasons for going outside: if you are essential personnel, if you need food, or if you need to check on someone who needs help. Which means during this time, everyone is home with their children. The days are long indeed, and the wine has been rationed. 

I do not intend to make light of the situation. It’s scary. It’s real. And what’s important right now is our solidarity. We cannot travel. We cannot meet up. But we can reach out, share, and do what we can to keep the kids entertained and learning. 

I’m not the biggest fan of TV, and I’m fully aware of what even one hour of passive viewing does to my girls. However, I’m also aware that when used correctly, videos can be a game-changer when you’re shut in. We’ve used videos to help answer the kids’ questions (What’s a virus? Why do I need to was my hands), to keep them exercising (yoga and dance lessons), and generally to let them explore what they want to explore. Because of YouTube, my four year is drawing pictures of gravity and my kids know a heck of a lot about the solar system. So, since it works for us, I wanted to share with you. Below are just a few of the videos we find ourselves turning to again and again.  

Learning about the virus and bodies

  • Curious George, The Inside Story on YouTube. Curious George is awesome anyways, and if you don’t have PBS, then you can find full episodes on YouTube. In this episode, George, in a fever dream, meets Toots the Germ, and learns about how germs make you sick.
  • Ask the Storybots, How Do People Catch a Cold Season 2 on Netflix. Remember the JibJab guys? They had kids and made a show for them. Available on Netflix and Youtube, kids can learn about a ton of different things. With catchy songs.
  • Amoeba Sisters, Viruses on YouTube. This is a really really cool channel by two sisters who try to teach science with humor and cute cartoons! Subscribe and learn all about the body.

Exercising inside with kids

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga. Despite the overacting of the onesie-wearing host, this is a really great resource for kids. Each yoga lesson is customed made to a storyline so the kids are really engaged. My kids love Frozen (obviously!) and Pikachu.
  •  Go Noodle and Pop Se Ko. While you may want to leave the room during this one, or at least tap into that rationed wine, it is a fun and silly channel and kids will get their dance on. Maybe you will too. And if your kids are feeling anxious, check out the Melting- Flow mediation video. 
  • The Kaboomers channel on Youtube has some fun music and the freeze dance song can get your littles moving and laughing.  

Get Excited for Science

  • TedEd on YouTube is the kids’ version of the TedEx talks. The older kids will love the riddles (maybe) and the younger ones will love to learn why people fart. But there’s also biographies, lessons on the environment and more.
  •  SciShow Kids has a great compilation of videos that explain a variety of subjects, including physics, space, machines and more
  • Ryan’s World is a cute channel of a happy kid with happy parents happily making things. After watching the experiments, I got immediate demands to recreate them in our kitchen. 

Awesome Learning Sites

I love, love, love the DK FindOut books, and so of course I love their website which has the same lovely white space to showcase information on science, animals, history and more.

National Geographic for Kids is another favorite of mine for childhood, and we’ve used their videos and site to learn about animals, history and more.

I hope you find this list helpful. In between teaching my own children, and figuring out how we all manage and grow as a family during the new few weeks, I will try to do my best to offer distraction and happiness. Stay healthy, stay smart, and stay inside. 

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