Your stay-in guide for virtual activities while sheltering-in-place.
Aquarium of the Pacific’s Online Academy
The Aquarium’s wide array of online courses cover a multitude of marine life topics, with different educational “playlists” aimed for pre-K to second-graders, third- to fifth-graders, sixth- to eighth-graders and ninth- to 12th–graders. They also host live online programs where kids can text in questions, and have live webcams of the Shark Lagoon, the Tropical Reef and other Aquarium locations. The classes can also be found on their YouTube channel along with more programs like the Daily Bubble video shorts.
Environmental Nature Center’s Virtual Learning Classes
On May 1, kids can learn the importance of native plants to the Tongva tribe and, on May 7, they’ll get the “scoop on poop” and learn to identify animal scat. Take a virtual tour of the Center on May 5, while May 12 offers a Newport Back Bay “hike.” These free classes are presented on the ENC’s Facebook page, but donations are greatly appreciated. The ENC’s YouTube channel holds short videos with nature tours and storytimes too.
Dynamic Martial Arts
This Irvine-based martial arts studio offers a Virtual Kids Martial Arts program for kids who can’t make it to the physical location. The program works perfectly for current sheltering-in-place orders. It’s essentially the same class kids would normally get in-studio except for activities like sparring. To help OC families out, the studio is currently offering them this virtual class for free.
Virtual Martial Arts Class for Little Samurais
Kids will get a real kick out of this online martial arts class! The Los Angeles County-based 1st Class Martial Arts is hosting virtual classes on Saturday mornings (11 am-11:30 am) through the end of May. It’s a chance for youngsters to get a little exercise in a structured setting, while also learning some self-defense skills and developing their sense of focus and confidence. Classes are free too, but Eventbrite registration is requested.
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To offer parents help during this stressful time, Sophie Clauss, a Newport Beach-based licensed marriage and family therapist, is hosting live online webinars. Currently scheduled to run Wednesday nights (8:30 pm-9:30 pm) through May 6, these sessions offer support and practical guidance in a question-and-answer setting. Each workshop, which costs $49 per household, is capped at 10 attendees. Sign up online.
Creative Parties for Kids
Creative Parties For Kids has moved its parties online during this quarantine. On their Facebook page, they’ve been doing live Storylady Story Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 am along with hosting Watch Parties on Wednesdays at 12 pm (a Dr. Seuss Story Time party is scheduled May 6). Plus, their characters are available for FaceTime calls and Zoom parties; check creativepartiesforkids.com/pricing or their Facebook page for details. They are also virtually hosting a special Mother’s Day royal tea party on May 9 at noon with interactive etiquette lessons, dancing and Make Your Own Tiara crafting.
Free Korean Ddajki Game Craft Kit Pick Up
Anaheim Town Square (2180 East Lincoln Ave., Anaheim) has turned its Kids Fun Zone into a “pick-up and take-home” experience, and is giving families a free craft activity to do. On May 9, between 12 pm-2 pm, you can stop by the red tent near Goodwill and Target and get a Korean Ddajki Game Craft Kit. Step-by-step instructions can be found on Instagram @Anaheimtownsquare. Check anaheimtownsquare.com and social media for updates.
ENC’s Virtual Spring Faire
The Environmental Nature Center isn’t letting the quarantine stop its 15th annual Spring Faire. They’ve just taken it online. Among the seasonal festivities happening May 17th will be local Girl Scouts leading a virtual “Craft Crawl” and “Story Walk,” and the Center’s preschool teachers will teach mini nature lessons. Dress up in a spring-themed costume or face paint, and then tag your photo #2020ENCSpringFaire on Instagram for a chance to win awesome prizes!
SOCO + The OC Mix’s Kids Club
The Kids Club at the South Coast Collection + The OC Mix (3303-3323 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa) has taken to the Internet to provide some online-based activities through a virtual version of its popular children’s program. Check its blog for details on what is happening for May’s Kids Club, but expect a storytime book reading followed by a craft project (April’s Easter-themed session ran around 10 minutes in case you’re wondering).
Virtual Liver Life Walk Orange County 2020
This year’s Liver Life Walk is less of a walk than an experience. The American Liver Foundation has created an eight-week, interactive online event where participants can do things like guided mindfulness exercises, family-friendly wellness activities and inspiring video messaging — all from their own homes. Culminating May 30th, this “Walk” supports ALF’s educational programs and patient services offered to the millions of Americans battling one of the 100 known liver diseases.
Orange County Virtual Walk for Kids
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California’s annual Walk for Kids was scheduled for April 5 at the Honda Center, but the COVID-19 outbreak changed that. However, you can still support RMHCSC’s vital work helping local families with seriously ill children — and do so without leaving your home! Simply go to their website and sign up for (and donate to) this Virtual Walk, which is open to June 30.
Disney Magic Moments
Although its parks are closed now, Disney has devised a wonderful alternative, online experience for fans to enjoy. You can watch an extended clip of Disney Cruise Line’s “Beauty and the Beast,” play a “Goofy” game of Bingo, and dance to the JAMMitors. Among the other magical moments are a variety of star-studded storytimes, several short Olaf videos, drawing lessons from Disney animators, and a virtual ride-through of “It’s A Small World.”
Berkner Break Concerts
Although kids music superstar Laurie Berkner’s April 19th Irvine Barclay concert was a quarantine cancellation, Berkner fans can still enjoy seeing her performing live. Most weekday mornings at 7 am, she performs a song live on her Facebook page (the video does stay up on her FB page). She’s also putting up music videos on social media every weekday, and her YouTube channel features long-form (around 50 minutes) interactive video compilations that are entertaining and educational.
Bowers’ Online Art Programs
Those looking to get a little artsy should head over to the Bowers’ website. The museum’s Kidseum At Home program contains a selection of art projects — like making books out of recycled materials or pounding flowers to make art pieces — that families can do together. The Bowers also has plans to present virtual art instruction videos, so you’ll want to check their website to see what new things there are.
It should be no surprise that Legoland has come up with something constructive for kids to do at home. The #LLCBuildingChallenge gives kids different LEGO-based project themes to attempt, such as creating a maze and making an animal. They also are putting up games, stories and other amusements for children to enjoy. Wednesday is a prime day to investigate the site since that’s when they typically add new online content.
LAM+LAB’s Virtual Creative Space
Laguna Art Museum has created an online space stocked with creative activities designed for all ages. You can make a map or a mask! Other artistic opportunities, inspired by the museum’s collection, include doing a still life, creating a zine and exploring textures. After finishing a piece of art, you can post a picture of it on Instagram; follow @lagunaartmuseum and use the hashtag #LAMLabAtHome to see your work featured in LAM’s Insta-stories.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Center at Home
Segerstrom Center for the Arts is expanding its website to include the all-new Center at Home, a video hub with free online activities, educational programs and video highlights of Center performances. Center at Home is an engaging treasure trove dedicated to the performing arts that will provide artistic discovery and educational resources — all in the comfort of home. Though the American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School and the School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities remain physically closed through the month of May, students will be able to participate in free online classes. Children and parents can tune into @ABTSchool on Instagram and the ABT YouTube channel for daily classes in ballet movement taught by former ABT dancers and school faculty. The School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities will be offering four virtual classes a week, free to the public. The classes will include dance, music and vocal lessons geared toward ages 4-22 and will be accessible through the Center at Home.
Fans of the popular OC-based children’s musician Jazzy Ash can find her not only on the YouTube channel for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts but also on her own — where there are several videos, including an interactive “Sevens” hand-clapping song and game. Plus, she is on the Dandelion Artists At Home website (dandelionartists.com), which offers more at-home activities to discover through links to sites for such children’s musicians as Justin Roberts, Bari Koral and the Okee Dokee Brothers.
Dana Wharf Whale Watching
During this quarantine time at home, the folks at Dana Wharf offer some at-sea adventures with a variety of whale and dolphin videos on their YouTube channel. You also can learn, among other things, how to make blubber, listen to a reading of Dear Mr. Blueberry (about a blue whale, a girl and her teacher Mr. Blueberry) and improve your math skills with the help of whales by watching Nona the Naturalist’s whale-based educational videos.
Nature at Home with The Reserve
You don’t have to lose touch with nature just because you are sheltering at home. The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo has created a “Nature at Home” program on its website. There you will encounter over a half dozen links that will lead to water-themed science experiments, weather-focused craft activities and STEM learning resources as well as finding lists for nature-related movies and books that are suitable for all ages.
Newport Beach Public Libraries Story Times
Although people can’t visit a Newport Beach Public Library for a storytime, they can enjoy one on the NBPL website, where there are over 30 videos of picture books being read. And some of these book readings are done by Newport Beach’s Mayor Will O’Neill! The website also features links to additional book reading videos and to age-appropriate game sites.
The San Diego Zoo Online
The world-famous San Diego Zoo has various viewing options for their virtual visitors. On its website and YouTube channel, you can watch a number of short videos as well as over a dozen live cams (the newer ones spotlight owls, baboons, giraffes and butterflies). They also are presenting more than 20 free classes at their Global Academy, although these classes (typically one or two hours) are for youths ages 13 and older.
Anaheim Public Library’s Story Times
The Anaheim Public Library focuses on storytellers more than books for its online storytimes. The APL’s YouTube channel presents over 25 storytimes videos, and many of them are done in both Spanish and English too. These videos often offer a mix of tales and tunes as well as having some interactive elements; they should be most appealing to little ones (in the preschool and younger range).
OCCT’s Friday Family Movie Night
The Orange County Children’s Theatre has come up with a clever twist to the “Family Movie Night” concept. The movies that they will be screening will be videos of some of their prior productions. Already online are their productions of Mary Poppins, Willy Wonka and Tarzan. Keep in mind that these are youth theater shows; however, they do provide a neat family entertainment alternative when you have gotten tired of watching movies together.
Casa Romantica Online Programming
San Clemente’s Casa Romantica features a couple of creative and entertaining online programs on its website for families to check out. Specifically for children is the Casa Kids Photography Activity, which allows youngsters to learn about photography and the Casa’s photo exhibits, and then try their hand at photography through a series of prompts. There also are some videos from past Casa performers, with the Troubadour Theater Company’s punny works probably the most appealing for families.
— Compiled by Michael Berick
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