With New Jerseyans statewide stuck inside due to COVID-19, keeping busy is more complicated than ever. For parents, replicating both educational and entertaining activities for children, all from the confines of their houses, can be daunting. While families adjust to new at-home-only routines, local museums, dance studios, theaters and zoos are serving the community in a whole new way—online. Here is what a few NJ spots are offering in the way of virtual kids’ activities to keep families entertained at home.
Count Basie Center for the Arts
The team at Count Basie Center Academy has put together a wide range of weekly virtual classes as well as daily workshops—not only for kids, but people of all ages. The assortment includes vocal, acting and music lessons, plus dance parties, improvisation and more. The workshops are broken up into age ranges, including ages 4–8, 9–14 and 13+.
State Theatre New Jersey
This New Brunswick–based theater may be physically closed, but it is packing its website full of activities and pastimes for families. The website now offers games and trivia, documentaries and behind-the-scenes videos, craft ideas and fun facts—all centered around the theater and the arts. Also offered are “keynote study guides” designed to teach readers more about the theater’s shows. Children ages 3 and up can enter the coloring contest, with a chance to win four tickets to a 2020–21 season show, once the facility reopens.
Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater
The company’s instructors are offering classes in dance, musical theater, spoken word and more for various levels each weekday. Initial workshops are free.
Bergen Performing Arts Center
The Performing Arts School at bergenPAC launched online instruction on the Google Classroom platform so children can study with its faculty from the comfort of their homes. Click here to see the current classes.
The Growing Stage/The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey
TGS TV is an online creative arts academy. The free hub incorporates theater and arts into daily distance-learning schedules through virtual kids’ activities. Each week, a new theme with corresponding educational resources is shared. Each Sunday at 9 pm, the new theme is announced via The Growing Stage’s Facebook page.
Kids can practice their acting and improv skills from the living room with this Sparta-based theater school. Parents can email [email protected] to receive a link to sign up for free classes.
Aspire Performing Arts Company
Private lessons and a weekly songwriting workshop via Zoom are available for those who pay to enroll.
GlassRoots Studio is bringing its glass art programs online with GlassRoots Virtual Studios. The weekly programs include live demos, challenges, lectures, movie nights and special product sales. Check out their website to see what’s on the schedule each week.
Newark Museum of Art
The Newark Museum of Art brings the museum experience to your home with Facebook Live and Zoom events offered throughout the week. Q&As with astronomers, “Lunch and Learns” with guest hosts and painting workshops are just a few of the digital options NMOA offers. Keep up to date on the latest online events through the museum’s Facebook page.
Montclair Art Museum
Follow along with Montclair Art Museum’s online sketchbook challenge; it’s great for any age. (It began March 21, but you can still catch up!) Past assignments are posted on the MAM Facebook page. Each day the museum posts artwork from its collection and a virtual prompt for drawers. Just grab a sketchbook and pen, and create your own work of art. Share your drawings on social media with the hashtag #MAMSketchbookChallenge for the chance to be featured in the museum’s daily roundup.
Battleship New Jersey
Battleship New Jersey in Camden is offering plenty of virtual activities—including tours, scavenger hunts, curated lesson plans and printable color sheets—to keep stuck-at-home students entertained and informed about the nation’s most decorated battleship. Tune in daily to their YouTube channel for new, interactive content.
In efforts to keep kids busy while also learning about animals, Adventure Aquarium added downloadable daily worksheets to its website. Word scramblers, writing prompts and compare-and-contrast activities are just a few of the offerings. Additionally, the aquarium has video content featuring animal-related Q&As and feeding footage.
Cape May County Park & Zoo
Cape May County Park & Zoo is now hosting virtual “Zoo School” daily. Find new videos showing the zoo’s different animals on the Facebook page each day during the school week at 11:30 am. Zookeepers are available for questions during the live-streamed videos. If you miss out or want to watch again, each video is uploaded to the zoo’s website.
Tune in every Thursday at 10:30 am on the Cohanzick Zoo’s Facebook page for short videos they call “Beastie Brain Breaks.” Hosted by a zookeeper, they’re three-to-five minutes long and feature a different “beast” every week.
The following dance and gymnastic schools are offering remote classes or lessons: