“Education

LeVar Burton Reads Stories on Twitter and Other Livestream Learning Opportunities This Week

Learn hip-hop dance or do citizen science without leaving home this week, thanks to the internet’s many intrepid artists and educators

Parents who remember fondly the days of "Reading Rainbow" can introduce the next generation to LeVar Burton's story times, with the Twitter livestream of "LeVar Burton Reads." (Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
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At this point, the vast majority of Americans are under some form of stay-at-home order. In many places, kids have been out of school for more than a month, and the novelty of not having to wake early to catch the bus is wearing thin. Even unlimited screen time has lost some of its thrill. Fortunately, an ever-growing number of live streaming learning opportunities is here to keep kids engaged and give parents time to write a few emails. Here’s a schedule of some of this week’s most interesting offerings:

4 a.m. (seriously, though, any time—it’s archived): Physical Education

Popular UK fitness coach Joe Wicks has been rousing nearly a million fans each morning for at-home kids’ P.E. classes on YouTube. They’re at 9 a.m. in the UK, which is 4 a.m. ET, but unless your kids are truly determined early birds, they can watch the archived videos on Wicks' YouTube channel. The high-energy half-hour sessions involve lots of bouncing, skipping in place and cartoon-style kicking.

10 a.m.: Music

Beloved children’s performer Laurie Berkner is hosting a morning “Berkner Break” on Facebook Live with singing, stories and dancing. It’s 10 a.m. most weekdays. She’s also posting a new music video each weekday at 7 a.m. for “Berkner Breakfast” and 7 p.m. for “Berkner Bedtime.” Last week’s selections included “Froggie Went a’ Courtin’” and “Fireflies,” and included links to tutorials for kids to learn the songs on their own.

11 a.m.: Animal Behavior

Tune in before lunch to enjoy a Facebook Live “Zoo School” with the zookeepers from Pennsylvania’s Elmwood Park Zoo. See ducks visit the veterinarian, cheer on a turtle race, or watch giraffes being fed.

Also at 11 a.m., Christine’s Critters, a Connecticut non-profit that rescues and rehabilitates birds of prey, has a Facebook Live with its raptors. Join in to watch red tailed hawks building nests or bald eagles shredding stuffed animals.

11 a.m. alternate: Outdoor Education

UK adventurer and journalist Ben Fogle hosts an “adventure class” from his children’s treehouse every weekday on Instagram Live (4 p.m. his time), teaching kids outdoor and wilderness skills and telling tales of his adventures in places like Antarctica.

Noon: Art

Children’s author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi is posting a daily creative challenge on Twitter through the end of April. Previous challenges, aimed at kids 12 and under, have included turning circles into different creatures and creating a found object collage. Challenges will go up by noon every day. Ohi is also collecting all sorts of content, from art activities to readalouds, on her YouTube channel.

Syndicated cartoonist Joe Wos is posting “how to ‘toon” lessons on his YouTube channel every weekday at 1 p.m.. Last week’s subjects included how to draw a zebra, seaside scenes and creative “creepy characters.”

Noon alternate (Mondays): Story Time

Parents who remember fondly the days of "Reading Rainbow" can introduce the next generation to Star Trek legend LeVar Burton's story times, with the Twitter livestream of "LeVar Burton Reads." On Mondays, at noon, kids of all ages (perhaps over lunch) can tune in to the read-aloud expert, who has devoted decades of his career to fostering literacy. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m., Burton is offering a session for teens. Parents, no need to get jealous: there's even a "For Adults" reading on Fridays at 9 p.m.

1 p.m. (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday): Civics

The National Constitution Center is offering live Zoom lessons on America's foundational document for middle and high schoolers. High school sessions are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 1 p.m., while middle school offerings happen Wednesdays and Thursdays at noon. Chat-enabled Zoom will let kids engage with topics like freedom of speech and civil rights, with prominent guest speakers. Last Friday, famous documentarian Ken Burns discussed the Constitution in times of crisis, from the Civil War to the Great Depression to World War II.

2 p.m.: Performance and Creative Arts

Lincoln Center’s new Pop-Up Classroom brings dancers, visual artists and other performers into your living room. Programming ranges from hip hop dance lessons to puppetry workshops to flipbook-making.

4 p.m. (Wednesday and Friday): Language Arts

HarperCollins’ Epic Reads YA program has live content every Wednesday on Twitter and Friday on Instagram, with readings, drawing lessons, games, chat sessions and more from the publisher’s authors. Last week’s content included a virtual chat with Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give. HarperCollins also has tons of YA content on their Shelf Stuff YouTube channel.

Also, in case you haven’t heard, Sir Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day on Twitter, so if your teens are missing their Shakespeare unit, send them here stat.

After dark: Astronomy

April is Global Citizen Science Month, and one way to get involved without leaving your own backyard is by participating in Globe at Night, a campaign to raise awareness about the negative effects of light pollution. Use the organization’s online tools to choose a constellation appropriate to your location, and make observations about which stars you can see. These data points will help Globe at Night understand how light pollution is impacting different places across the world.

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