Explore From Home
Go to the zoo! a concert! into space!
The library has compiled a list of free online offerings for you. Most of these activities are free and open access year-round, but a few have waved fees during the Covid-19 epidemic.
If you do not have access to the internet are currently open and are providing WiFi which is accessible from outside the building.
Animal and Nature Live Streams
Zoo Live Cameras
Atlanta Zoo – Has a live camera feed of Pandas.
Houston Zoo -Has live camera feeds of Chimps, Elephants, Giraffes, Gorillas, Leafcutter Ants, and Rhinos.
Kansas City Zoo – Has live camera feeds of Giraffes, Penguins, and Polar Bears.
Maryland Zoo – Has live camera feeds of Flamingos, Giraffes, Goats, Lions, and Penguins.
National Zoo– Has live camera feeds of Elephants,Lions, Naked Mole Rats, and Pandas.
San Diego Zoo – Has live camera feeds of Apes, Baboons, Burrowing Owls, Condors, Elephants, Giraffes, Koalas, Penguins, Polar Bears, and Tigers.
Aquarium Live Camera’s
Aquarium of the Pacific – Has live camera feeds of Jellyfish, Penguins, Sharks and large aquarium views.
Georgia Aquarium -Has live camera feeds of Beluga Whales, Jellyfish, Penguins, Piranhas, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and the Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef.
Monterrey Bay Aquarium -Has live camera feeds of Aviary, Coral Reef, Jellyfish, Kelp Forests, Penguins, Sea Otters, and Sharks.
Other Live Cameras
Explore.org – This site has multiple live streams covering everything from nature cameras to animal sanctuaries.
Music Live Streams
NPR Music – NPR offers up not only a large collection of music to listen to, but a large collection of live streamed and recorded jam sessions, concerts and events.
NPR’s List of Free Livestreamed Concerts – NPR is constantly updating this list of free live streamed concerts that are happening during the pandemic.
Berliner Philharmonic – Free access to live streamed concerts and recordings for the next 30 days.
Göteborgs Symfoniker – “The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra will be available to all music lovers on GSOplay. The concerts can be enjoyed for free for anyone on the web or through [their] app – wherever you are.”
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
All three organizations above provide recordings and live streams of their performances at no-cost year round.
Metropolitan Opera – “Every day for the duration of the Met’s closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series will be made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 20 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 3:30 p.m. the following day.”
Virtual Museum Tours
Van Gogh Museum– “The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam houses the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) in the world.”
MASP – “The Museu de Arte de São Paulo is a private, nonprofit museum founded by Brazilian businessman Assis Chateaubriand, in 1947, as Brazil’s first modern museum.”
Uffizi Gallery – “The Uffizi was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’Medici to house the Granducal Magistratures of Tuscany. “
Musée d’Orsay – “The Musee d’Orsay, … displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.”
Louvre – “Visit the museum’s exhibition rooms and galleries, contemplate the façades of the Louvre… Come along on a virtual tour and enjoy the view, thanks to the sponsorship of Shiseido.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – “The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy.”
The J. Paul Getty Museum – “The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center features works of art dating from the eighth through the twenty-first century, showcased against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views of Los Angeles.”
The Art Institute of Chicago – “The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. “
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – “Modeled after a Venetian palazzo, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston houses one of the world’s most remarkable art collections.”
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston– “The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world with a collection that exemplifies the breadth, richness, and diversity of artistic expression, from prehistoric times to modern day.”
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston– “Established in 1900, the MFAH is the largest cultural institution in the region. The majority of the museum’s presentations take place on its main campus, which is located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District .”
Science and Natural History Museums
National Museum of Natural History – “The Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History virtual tours allow visitors to take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum from their desktop or mobile device.”
National Museum of Computing– A British museum that talks about how computing came to be and what we are still using today.
Zoology Museum of Barcelona – While also containing a panoramic view of their collections, this museum also contains 360 digital renders of over 500 animal bones to explore. Not all of the website is fully translated, so be careful.
Canadian History Museum – Head up north and learn more about the history of our neighbors.
Arizona State Museum– Go to Arizona and take a tour of four different exhibits from their pottery vault to woven arts.
Boston’s Children’s Museum – “Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest, and one of the most influential children’s museums in the world.”
Digital Libraries and Collections
NASA – If you are interested in space and science, NASA has an e-book collection available to the public for free. Their website also contains multiple educational resources to explore.
International Children’s Digital Library – This online library has over 4,000 children’s books from around the world in a multitude of languages. If you are looking for tales from around the world or if you are learning a new language this is a place to stop by.
Poet.og – Produced by the Academy of American Poets, Poet.org has a large selections of poems available to read, including poem-a-day. Check out their selection, fall in love with a few new poems and maybe sign up for their poem-a-day newsletter.
The Internet Archive – Not an archive of the internet, but an archive on the internet. It’s a “non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.” Access old radio shows, early computer games, T.V. shows and over 23 Million books.
Digital Public Library of America – A collection of digital copies of original materials from various university libraries around the US.
Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg “is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.”
University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Collections – “The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections (UWDC) contain millions of images, books, maps, recordings, documents, and more from across the UW, Wisconsin and the world.” Enjoy learning more about our state’s past by browsing this collection.
HaithiTrust – “HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.” While many books on HaithiTrust requires an institutional membership, reading online is free.”
American Archive of Public Broadcasting – “Discover historic programs of publicly funded radio and television across America.”
Iowa City Public Library: Library Channel – A collection of materials produced and published by the Iowa City Public Library. Includes everything from book talks from famous authors, recorded story times and garden talks. Does contain segments on Iowa local politics and area interests, so be warned not everything might appeal to a Wisconsinite.
Junior Library Guild– The JLG has opened up their online resources for everyone for free. They also have links to other teen and kid friendly resources.
Virtual Field Trips
DiscoveryEducation– Take a field trip with Polar Bear researchers, blast off into space at the Johnson Space Center, go behind the scenes with the NFL or any number of behind the scene tours with Discovery Education. Includes teaching guides and curriculum for interested parents and adults.
OK360– Go to Oklahoma and take a virtual hike. When you’re stuck inside with nothing to do and it’s a grey day, enjoy a scenic hike. With 360 views and multiple videos of nature trails in OK, you can learn more about nature in the panhandle state.
360 Cities– 360 Cities is a large collection of panoramic interactive photographs that allow you to virtually travel around the world.
Star Atlas– An online planetarium that will show the stars from any location in the world and where the constellations are in the night sky. The site tells you how far the stars are away from earth, for information on the constellations head here.
Nature Works Everywhere– Take a field trip into nature. Nature Works Everywhere has 11 virtual field trips for multiple age ranges, alongside videos and lesson plans for parents and teachers.
ASU Virtual Field Trips– Arizona State University offers up virtual field trips for high school and college students, covering everything from the Mars rover, prehistoric times to the rain forests.
Mount Vernon– Mount Vernon is the most popular historic estate in America. Come and visit George Washington’s home virtually.
Buckingham Palace – Take a virtual tour of some of the rooms in the Buckingham Palace and learn more about the history surrounding the British Monarchy.
Story Hour Online
Story Time from Space– Listen to a story read by an astronaut living on the International Space Station.
Storyline Online– A large variety of children’s picture books read aloud by numerous celebrities. Close Captioned.
Union Square Play– While the little one’s are stuck at home Union Square Play is proving a library of online activities, sing along’s and virtual mom’s groups to enjoy.
Draw Every Day With Jarrett J. Krosoczka– New York Times-bestselling author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka everyday for a drawing lesson. Author of everything from the Punk Farm picture books to the Lunch Lady graphic novels.
Stimola Live – “Stimola Live is a website of live stream events for kids, tweens, and teens by professional authors and illustrators represented by Stimola Literary Studio.”
Storynory– Storynory offers up a large number of free audio stories for kids and families. They tell stories that range between fairytales, classic authors to myths and original tales.
David Pilkey at Home – In a collaboration between the Library of Congress, Scholastic and the children’s book author David Pilkey (author of Captain Underpants and of Dog Man), there is a new resource for parents and children stuck at home. Includes activities, sneak peeks of upcoming books, study breaks, coloring pages and more!
Learn how to Read Aloud – Here are some reading tips for parents and some videos showing how to help make story time even more fun. But remember the best thing to do is just pick up a book and start reading, there is no way to fail.
Making an Impact
Charity begins at home, so remember to watch out for each other and keep in touch (with safe social distancing) with those who live and work around us. The following organizations are a few international, national and local charities that are working to help those in need in these trying times.
Feed My People– With many people loosing their jobs due to the outbreak, more people will need to rely on food banks in order to get by. Here is their response to the pandemic and their requests for added volunteers. Volunteer or donate (if possible) to help aid our neighbors in this difficult time.
Meals on Wheels– The Meals on Wheels site provides a list of helpful tips on how to serve your community during the outbreak. You can volunteer or donate (if possible) to help elders who may be facing food insecurity.
Project Hope– A medical charity organization approved by the Better Business Bureau, Project Hope has been on the front lines of the pandemic, abroad and at home. While their preferred volunteers (healthcare workers) are all currently working they give advice on how best to help.
Crisis Text Line Counselor– Help others out through this and other tough times by training to become a crisis counselor. This volunteer position takes 30 hours of online training, but allows you to help people in desperate need.
Online Book Clubs
Goodreads – Goodreads has thousands of bookclub groups available, where you can discuss amazing books with a community of readers. Goodreads is completely free and provides book reviews, interviews with authors, giveaways and much more in addition to having a place for an online book club.
Art Education With the Kennedy Center– Join children’s book author Mo Willems, famous playwrights and classical musicians and learn about art in all its many forms. The Kennedy Center is providing virtual lessons for kids of all ages to enjoy at home.
Art Appreciation – There are multiple free online college courses that are on art history and art appreciation. Coursera has a selection of classes from the Museum of Modern Art, OpenLearn provides lessons on everything from graffiti to the renaissance and edX looks also a variety of topics and time periods.
Skillshare – Skillshare offers up multiple free art classes in almost all mediums of art from photography to acrylics and beyond. They have free and paid content, so when searching don’t forget to click the free box under filters.
Art Prompts – Have the itch to create, but don’t have a clue what to make your subject? Want to draw/paint/sculpt more? Art prompts can help you out, giving you a starting point to start being creative. Artprompt.org and drawingprompt.com both offer up more detailed ideas, but there are simpler ideas such as these by the virtual instructor.
Free Coloring Pages
#ColorourCollections – Launched by The New York Academy of Medicine Library in 2016, #ColorOurCollections is an annual coloring festival on social media during which libraries, museums, archives and other cultural institutions around the world share free coloring content featuring images from their collections.The coloring books from 2020 and previous years remain accessible year-round for free download
Super Coloring– This website will provide multiple themed free coloring pages for you to print off. Does contain ads.
Crayola– The absolute classic coloring medium provides free coloring pages for adults and kids.
Coloring Nature – This website focuses mainly on animals and natural scenes.
Just Color– This website will provide multiple themed coloring pages for you to print off.
Mental Health Resources
During any crisis mental health often takes a backseat as we concentrate on going day to day. However, often crisis creates feelings of fear, panic, anger and helplessness. Here are some resources to help address these feelings and anything that comes with them. Do not be afraid to reach out.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline– We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. If you need help Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat Now.
National Institute for Mental Health– This government site contains multiple resources for those suffering from or helping others with mental illness. Their resource list provides multiple strategies for people in immediate crisis.
Active Minds – A resource that helps those with mental health issues, focusing on college students.
Mental Health America– Is a non-profit dedicated to helping the American people with mental illness. They provide free online screening (not a replacement for visiting a licensed therapist or counselor) as well as a resource list of things that may help at home.
Calm List of Free Resources – Due to the rising stress and anxiety levels the uncertainty of the current situation brings, the Calm app (a meditation app that has free lessons) has complied a list of free meditation and relaxation resources.
Fitness @ Home
State Parks, Trails and Forest – Currently most State and County Parks, Trails and Forests are open to the public. Rules and regulations for visiting can be seen here. The DNR only asks that you keep up safe public distancing and keep the areas clean. Preferably stick to parks within your communities and stay as close to home as possible.
Nike Training Club – “NTC provides free workouts for everything from bodyweight-only sessions, invigorating yoga classes, targeted training programs, and full-equipment home workouts for all fitness levels.” The Premium app is currently free until further notice.
Fitness Blender – Fitness Blender offers “hundreds of free, full-length workout videos, the most affordable and effective workout programs on the web, meal plans, and helpful health, nutrition and fitness information.” They do have a paid membership portion that adds customized workouts and fitness trackers, but the majority of their services are free.
Do Yoga With Me – Do Yoga with me offers up multiple free classes and videos of yoga year round; however, due to the outbreak they are currently offering up 2 months of free access to all their materials.
American Civics @ Home
Absentee Voting – Don’t forget your civic duty, vote! Here’s a video showing you how to request an absentee ballet.
ICivics– Learn more about how our country is set up, on this engaging website for K-12 and beyond. While the target audience is for those still in school, this website has multiple games that will strike anyone’s fancy.
Center for Civic Education – Learn more about what it is to be citizen. Tonnes of free lesson plans for teachers and two online courses that go through everything you ever wanted to know about the American Political system.
Citizenship Resources– It’s never a bad idea to brush up on what it means to be a citizen of the United States! For those of us teaching young ones about what it means to be a member of our society here are some resources. For those studying to become citizens, here’s some resources to help your study. And for those who have been citizens for a longer time, see if you could answer the questions on the citizenship civics test! Here’s a practice test everyone can try out.
Adult Continuing Education
Coursera – Coursera offers both free and paid courses online. Certificates are only available in paid courses, but you can still learn something new for free.
Open Culture – “Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community.” This site collects multiple free education resources for anyone to use.
Edx– Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX houses multiple college level course available for free.
Khan Academy – “Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP®, SAT®, and more. It’s all free for learners and teachers.”
Open Yale Courses – “Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University.”
OpenLearn – “Produced by The Open University, a world leader in open and distance learning, all OpenLearn courses are free to study. We offer nearly 1000 free courses across 8 different subject areas. Our courses are available to start right away.”
Microsoft Learn – Learn the basics of Microsoft products through their free online database of classes. Certification costs money, but all of the teaching tools are free.
Career Village– If you are a professional stuck at home you could help answer the career questions of students of all ages on this crowdsourcing website and app. Help out kids, teens and other learners who might not otherwise get good, helpful advice.
Helping Writers Become Authors – A blog style website created by a published author to help others on their writing journey. Contains helpful guides on how to tackle tough writers block and how to start writing on your own.
List of College Courses on Writing – LearningPath.org has put together a list of free online college courses on creative writing. They cover a variety of topics and will help walk you through the writing process.
Reading like a Historian– “The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills.”
Atlas of the Geography of the United States – A dynamic map of the United States showing not only how states have changed and grown, but also the growth of churches, population and much more have moved throughout the early days of our country. There is an introductory video showing how it works, I’d recommend taking a glance before diving in.
American Panorama – Similar to the above atlas, but with a more diverse selection of maps encompassing everything from canal growth and use to the changes in our House of Representatives.
Pandemic Journals – Help record history in progress. Create a 30, 60 or 90 day journal on your experience of the pandemic for the Wisconsin Historical Society. They are asking people to create a journal in either a written, photographic, video, artistic or combination format. Help historians in the future and record your experience for the next generations.
Learn To Code: Block Coding
Blockly – “Blockly Games is a series of educational games that teach programming. It is designed for children who have not had prior experience with computer programming. By the end of these games, players are ready to use conventional text-based languages.”
mBlock – Available either through your browser or on a tablet, this site is designed to work with physical robotics, but can be played with solely online.
Dragon Architect – Play with a dragon who only speaks in code in this coding game that teaches the basics of block programming.
Code.game – You can “use graphical coding language to create projects like games, softwares, animations and stories for the purpose of training their abilities of logical thinking, task dismantling, interdisciplinary connection, aesthetic and teamwork and setting up a solid foundation for STEAM education.”
Harry Potter Coding – Code in the Harry Potter Universe. This small series of games were made for the Hour of Code and set you into the world of Harry Potter.
Learn to Code: Text Coding
Codecademy – Learn many different text based coding languages. 180 hours of education free, the rest requires a subscription.
Hour of Code– “The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.”
Crunchzilla – Crunchzilla offers three different coding tutorials: “Code Monster, Code Maven, and Game Maven are interactive tutorials where kids and adults can play with code, experiment, build, and learn.”
Department of Instruction Coding Resources – The Wisconsin DPI offers up a list of resources on coding for everyone to access.
Girls who Code– Girls who code is offering up coding lessons both online and offline of various difficulties. Each lesson spotlights a woman who was important to the tech field. New updates are posted periodically.
Homemade Face Masks
The CDC and the Federal Government both recommend wearing homemade cloth face masks in order to help prevent community spread. These are not a substitute for PPE; however, surgical masks and N95 masks should be saved for medical professionals.