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Indagare’s Guide to Staying Home for Families: Virtual Activities for Kids 

We know this is a challenging time, especially for families who are continuing to juggle work-from-home schedules, help kids with distance learning, and keep the house stocked with groceries to feed an army of minions who are now home (and prone to getting hangry) at all hours. So to help you through the staying home part, Indagare has amassed a list of some of our favorite virtual activities to keep the entire family entertained, since it might be a little while longer before we’re out and about and traveling again.

One way to keep your clan occupied (and traveling virtually) is with the help of Indagare Global Classroomour new program designed to bring the world to our members, subscribers and friends, even as we are staying home as a result of COVID-19. Family-friendly art and history tours, participatory cooking lessons, chocolate tasting, dance workshops, virtual wildlife and conservation experiences, a geisha performance are presented live, via Zoom, from all over the world: Kyoto, Cartagena, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Italy and South Africa. “Whether you are signing up to learn more about what is being done to protect lions and elephants across Africa, make cookie dough, or watch a traditional geisha performance,” says Indagare Founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley, “you will find it is a wonderful way to connect with our community of passionate travelers, learn more about destinations and support our passionate experts around the world.” (It is also likely to be a welcome distraction from Netflix and distance learning). See the full Indagare Global Classroom lineup here. You’ll also find our compilation of ideas for what to see and do, listen to and much more. It started out as a short list, but it just kept growing…. Have a recommendation from your family? Share it at content@indagare.com and we’ll add your suggestion!

VIRTUAL TOURS

Museums We Love

Especially as parents find their children cooped up inside for long stretches, taking a virtual tour of a museum or an important historical site or natural monument is a great way to broaden travel-minded kids’ horizons. Google’s Arts & Culture Collection is a fabulous user-friendly resource  for anyone interested in art history, historical figures, culture and even nature. It has just about every museum link you could imagine and a whole lot more—2,000-plus!—to check out: You could spend an afternoon uncovering everything from Banksy murals to the Australian National Surfing Museum to Street Views of the Pyramids or taking tours of artists’ homes such as Frida Kahlo. You could also pore through source materials on John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Hillary Clinton and more. We recommend starting with the virtual tours of Versailles, Van Gogh Museum, and the Musée d’Orsay. You could also focus on one piece of art or architecture, and have your child interpret the virtual visuals by putting pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas. For more sophisticated art buffs,  MoMA is also offering free art and photography and fashion as design classes that could be good for older teens.

Some, like the Guggenheim, offer Street Views that let you tour around certain galleries. The National Gallery allows you to see some exhibits online. A few more on our list worth checking out virtually: The Louvre’s Egyptian Collection, Uffizi in Florence, the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Seoul, Pergamon Berlin, the Prado (see the Timeline) and the Fondazione Prada lab. Another interesting option is to watch tours on YouTube. Two of our favorite spots include The Frick Collection in New York and Rijksmuseum  in Amsterdam.

VIRTUAL TOURS OF NATIONAL PARKS & UNESCO SITES

It’s also a good time to learn more about national parks and World Heritage Sites. Here are a few that have piqued our interest: Bryce Canyon is one of five virtual tours of national parks available on Google Arts & Culture; get a virtual tour  of Yellowstone National Park and see 3-D models of the park created by scientists that are full of fascinating digestible factoids about the park’s thermal hot springs and geysers; glimpse Machu Picchu or take a closer look via Google Earth

VIRTUAL CONCERTS

Though rumors of Hamilton being performed on Zoom were greatly exaggerated, there’s never been a better time to introduce your kids to opera. The Met Opera is streaming a full schedule of classic performances from the last decade or more during this period, including Rossini and Puccini.

VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY

Indagare’s Avery Carmichael recommends this idea: “My family is based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Manhattan, Armenia, Palo Alto, Santa Rosa, Denver and St. Simons Island, and we are doing a Virtual Book Club together. You can put the kids in charge of organizing it for extended family—it works for all ages. It could even involve reading aloud for younger kids (or a quieter household for older ones). Anglophiles always love rereading classics like Harry Potter, but other great options include autobiographies or graphic memoirs or historical fiction with a sense of place and history.” 

Here is Avery’s short list of a few favorites for Middle Schoolers:

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak’s historical novel about Nazi Germany

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank’s famous memoir

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of Iran during the Islamic revolution

A Single Shard, children’s novel set in 12th-century Korea, by Linda Sue Park

Betsy and the Emperor, Statin Rabin’s book about a young girl who meets Napoleon and 1800s France

Esperanza Rising, set in Depression-era Mexico and California

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, graphic historical novel by Brian Selznick

For younger children, these Indagare favorites are especially good to read aloud, because they have a strong sense of place (or imaginary place) and involve lots of adventures and/or travels:

Series or books we love:

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

Anything by Roald Dahl: we are particularly fond of Danny The Champion of the World and James and the Giant Peach

Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan

Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Daniel Handler

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Heidi, Johanna Spyri

My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George

Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Black Pearl, Scott O’Dell

Magic Treehouse Series and Pompeii Lost and Found, Mary Pope Osborne

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little, E.B. White

Paddington, Michael Bond (because London and darkest Peru—there are 14 books in the series)

Picture Books

Eloise, Emily Knight (we are still awfully fond of her hotel escapades)

Madeleine, Ludwig Bemelmans (for the rhyming adventures that take her from Paris to London and Spain)

The Red Balloon, Albert LaMorisse (based on the wonderful 34-minute French film…because, Paris)

Other classics we love:

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift 

Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankeweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

Paddle-to-the-Sea, Holling C. Holling

Hatchet and The Winter Room, Gary Paulsen

FOR FOODIES

To add some fun and creativity to dinnertime, put together a travel-themed dinner, cooking dishes from specific destinations—Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel are some of our favorites. Or have a bake-off competition, inspired by Top Chef and the Great British Bake Off, like Insider Journey co-host Elizabeth Lesser does with her grandchildren. This is a great way to ensure consistent desserts keep coming out of the kitchen while on lockdown.

Here are a few cookbooks we like that are good for kids who are serious about their kitchen skills:

The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes—for the kid-friendly version of an adult favorite. Just for the silly factor: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. And for the story behind the story, check out two cookbooks by chef Alice Waters: Fanny at Chez Panisse: A Child’s Restaurant Adventures with 46 Recipes and Fanny in France: Travel Adventures of a Chef’s Daughter, With Recipes

For Tweens and Teens:

We could watch Tasty‘s hands-in-pans videos (or learn how to make a meal using an iron) or Ina Garten all day, but kids 11 and up might also like to explore country-specific channels or the easy recipes from New York Times Cooking and Bon Appetit Test Kitchen on YouTube. (Yes, gourmet Lucky Charms are magically delicious). Put the tweens and teens in your house in charge of the shopping list, meals and menus for a week and let them practice some life skills. Our Content Director Jen Barr is a fan of kitchen stunts and hacks learned by watching The Barefoot Contessa, Top Chef, ChoppedChopped Junior with her youngest daughter.

Food Shows for Older Teens:

Binge-worthy: Anthony Bourdain via A Cook’s Tour (YouTube and Amazon), Parts Unknown (Netflix), No Reservations Required (Hulu), Roads & Kingdoms (CNN.com). Other’s worth checking out on Netflix: Street Food; Chef’s Table; Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat; Ugly Delicious. On PBS: No Passport Required with Marcus Samuelsson. On Disney Plus: Gordon Ramsay Uncharted.

ACTIVITIES  & GAMES

IN THE BACKYARD

Host a mini-Olympics:“My family hosts family Olympics every summer,” says Indagare’s Avery Carmichael. “This year, in light of the canceled Olympics, and if your backyard allows, pay homage to the event and build anticipation for the future by hosting your own mini- Olympics with events of your invention outside.” 

Camp out: Channel your inner Boy or Girl Scout, now that the weather has warmed up (but the bugs are still not completely out), by pitching a tent or making a fort. Not looking to camp out? Stay inside and read Born to Explore: How to Be a Backyard Adventurer by Explorer’s Club President, Richard Wiese.

Stargazing: The Night Sky app is one of our favorites. We’ve been especially inspired bu the night sky lately, since it has been easy to spot Venus and the pink moon.

Weather forecasting: Do you obsess about weather like we do when you travel—or even when you don’t? We’re partial to Weather Bug, recommended to us by Richard Wiese, President of the Explorer’s Club, and used by scientists and geologists. It allows you to easily track weather stations and all kinds of alerts in a multitude of locations.

INDOOR FUN

Talent Show: Every member of the family has a special skill—singing, piano, juggling while playing a kazoo or reading dramatic prose perhaps? What’s yours? Plan a night and put on a show. A puppet show or a play are variations on this idea. Let the kids direct the story. Our Creative Director Simone Girner says her Mom performs a nightly puppet show via Zoom from Germany for her sister’s children and it is highly entertaining.

Prom Night: Get the family to turn up for dinner in fancy dress (or a past catastrophe) and commemorate the event with a meal cooked together or put the kids in charge of creating a family Spotify playlist just for the occasion. Listen to Indagare’s here.

Travel Photo Book: Make a family photo book from your recent travels via Mixbook 

Pen Pal: Want a pen pal in Africa or Bhutan? Contact Indagare and we’ll pair you with the pen pal who matches the place you want to learn about. 

Board Games or Apps for Kids 10+

Settlers of Catan (board game): Build your civilization or (take over another); Trivial Pursuit Travel Edition.

Destinations (our variation on Salad Bowl/Celebrity). Instructions: Have everyone in the room spend five to 10 minutes writing down as many destinations on small pieces of paper that at least two people in the room know (they can be destinations from books or movies). Gather all the destinations into a bowl. Form two teams. As with Charades, take turns rotating through team members; someone on each team has to pick destinations out of the bowl and describe as many as possible in one to two minutes (but unlike Charades, you can speak, but not name or spell). The destination/place should have meaning to you or another person or you should be able to describe it or tell a story about it in order for the team to guess it. The more details about the place you can provide, the better. (This can also be played as Celebrity, with famous or historical figures subbing for destinations.) The team with the most destinations guessed wins.

Psych (app): Create (or bluff your way through) answers to trivia questions; this can be amusing to play with four or more people.

For young jetsetters: Pack a bag and take an imaginary trip. Where are you going and what are you taking with you? Can you fit it all in? Can you draw your imaginary destination or tell a story about what you saw on your trip? Who is going with you? What adventures will you have? What will you see and do? What do you like best about traveling?

An NYC Member recommendation for younger kids: “I’ve been enjoying doing Union Square Play classes with my daughter. It’s a play space in Union Square in NYC that has been putting up on demand classes every day, they’re free (you can contribute $). They give me time to pause work and tune out everything that’s going on outside and be present and connect.” – Melissa A.

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION & GIVING BACK

Elephants

Kenya: Indagare’s Content Team recently adopted a young male elephant named Wanjala through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We follow @davidsheldrickwildlifetrust on Instagram and get regular updates about Wanjala’s progress and activity once a month and track his progress on Instagram, and you can, adopt your own and learn about the trust’s rescue efforts, too. 

Thailand: Linda and Plum are two of our favorite resident elephants at The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation at Four Seasons Tented Camp. Learn how you can support these 12-foot-tall creatures at helpingelephants.org.

Lions, Elephants, Wild Dogs and More…

South Africa: Learn about lions and the collaborative conservation that’s underway across the country through Wilderness Wildlife Trust.

Other cool programming about animals and other cultures around the globe to check out: Non-profit Reach the World is offering new virtual programming called Show &Tell on YouTube. Look out for Indagare’s Colin Heinrich sharing his trip to Antarctica and coming soon, his trip in the jungles of Sumatra to see orangutans.

TRAVEL & THE ENVIRONMENT

What to Watch: Shows or Series About the World and Adventure Travel

Planet Earth + Planet Earth II (Amazon)

Our Planet (Netflix)

Shackleton (Amazon)

Lost Cities (Disney Plus)

Born to Explore with Richard Wiese (Hulu, iTunes, Netflix)

Places to Love Samantha Brown (PBS)

Podcasts For Kids

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

Animal Sound Safari

Earth Rangers

Circle Round

The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified

Molly of Denali

Armchair Traveler

TV Series & YouTube Series 

For kids under 10

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Netflix)

Doodles with Mo Willems (YouTube)

Related: Indagare Guide to Staying Home

 

Fun Livestream feeds

Check out livestream feeds that allow you to choose by country. We suggest these in Italy: Venice, Piazza San Marco; Rome: St. Peter’s or Piazza di Spagna; Florence: Pontevecchio. Or try Times Square, Shibuya (in Tokyo), Pandas in Chengdu or Mountain Gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo 

National Parks for Watching Wildlife, here

And last but not least…

TRANSPORTING MOVIES WE LOVE

Harry Potter

Indiana Jones

The Sound of Music

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The Gods Must Be Crazy

White Fang

Night at the Museum

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Paddington

Around the World in 80 Days

Home Alone: Lost in New York

Animated

Coco

Rio

Madagascar

Happy Feet

Lion King

Mulan

Ratatouille

Moana

Curious George

Up

For more ideas about how to stay entertained, see the Indagare Global Classroom.  Have a recommendation? Email us at content@indagare.com with your suggestions about how you are staying entertained!

– Jen Barr on April 15, 2020

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