With schools closed across Wyoming, educators, museums, libraries and more are offering online educational lessons and activities for kids to do at home.
Among Wyoming museums, The Science Zone in Casper is offering a new “Learn with the Doc” virtual learning series, fun science videos and a virtual version of its after-school program for middle and high school students.
“And I am so incredibly proud of the work that our staff has done to continue to carry on our mission of inspiring people through science and inspiring the mind, delighting the senses and igniting a passion for the technical arts and sciences,” Executive Director Steven Schnell said. “That’s our mission, and I feel we’re continuing to meet that with these virtual offerings that we’re doing.”
“Learn with the Doc” with the museum’s microbiologist Kelsey Phillips features video lessons at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays on the museum’s “Learn with the Doc” Facebook event page. Participants can comment to share their results and interact with Phillips. These lessons are based on educational science standards and include reading and writing standards as well.
“So, for instance, scientists don’t just get to work in a lab, they also have to communicate things that they’re finding out or researching,” Schnell said.
“Idea Lab” is a virtual version of The Science Zone’s after-school program for middle and high school students now offered through Zoom conference.
“It’s a way for the kids to not only get some science content and get some education, but also a way for them to get some of their social needs met while they’re stuck at home.”
The Science Zone also posts fun “Daily Dose of Science” videos on its Facebook page and YouTube channel, and the museum is working on creating virtual field trips that meet standards and are based around what the teachers need for their students.
The Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Buffalo Bill Center of the West offers many existing online educational programs for teachers and students that staff are working to make available to families, K-12 curriculum and digital learning specialist Megan Smith explained. Those include its Skype in the Classroom virtual field trips. The center also offers Facebook Live sessions and YouTube videos and this week plans to launch an Interactive 360 Activity and Curriculum program with videos, 360 photos and activities for kids.
The center’s “Kids Programs at Center of the West” Facebook page is active with content and activities, and families also can find options on Facebook pages for each of the five museums housed under the center’s roof.
“In these unfortunate circumstances that we have going on right now, thankfully we’re set up pretty well to get some resources that were already existing out there because of that big push strategically to do that a while ago,” she said. “And we want to be here.”
The Wyoming State Library and libraries around Wyoming bring a growing array of offerings and resources for all ages, including ways for kids to keep learning at home. The GoWYLD website and gowyld.libguides.com/KidsK-8 always provides free access to online materials, including education and reading resources. Those are paid for by the Wyoming State Library and the University of Wyoming for state residents to have free access, and people at home through their library cards can access materials like ebooks, videos, animated storybooks, stories read to them and pairings of fiction books with nonfiction books and stories, school library consultant at the Wyoming State Library Paige Bredenkamp said.
In addition, the gowyld.libguides.com/freefornow website features a collection of free, limited-time resources to use at home, which include many remote learning options. The collection consists of products vendors have opened up for various limited times with much for children and adults alike, Bredenkamp added. The array ranges from authors offering story times and artists holding drawing hours to lessons and activities from the International Spy Museum.
“A lot of these are top-of-the-line database companies. And there’s a lot of great information and activities, lesson plans — I mean, we’re getting some of the best of the best here, so that’s great. And they really are all resources that would be hugely expensive to have; so enjoy them while you can.”
Those who want to know more can contact their local library or contact Bredenkamp at the Wyoming State Library.
Natrona County Library offers a virtual story time for kids through Facebook Live at 10:30 a.m. weekday mornings on its Facebook page as well as links on its website to online and digital teaching and learning tools, e-book databases and fun, educational activities. The library is also working to offer more digital resources.
The Laramie County Library System’s website also lists resources including databases for children’s e-books, math e-books and all ages audiobooks. Its staff began recording story times for kids available on its Facebook page, and the team plans to also post them on the website in the near future, communications coordinator Kasey Mossey said. Some of the storytellers incorporate activities and crafts kids can do at home, like making their own instruments out of a bottle and rice. People also can call 307-638-2552 any time to hear a funny story with “Touch Tone Tales” featuring “wild and wacky original stories” from Charlie Williams, “The Noiseguy.”
The library system is working with the Wyoming State Library to continue providing options to keep children entertained, and Mossey recommends checking the Laramie County Library System for the latest offerings and updates.
“So as this continues, we’re going to continue trying to figure out ways to be interactive virtually. Since they can’t come here, we’re going to keep trying to bring the library to them in their own homes.”
Options for those without library cards include temporary digital library card accounts with the Laramie County Library System during the closures. The Libby app offers access to their Instant Digital Card without the need of a library card, according to a Natrona County Library Facebook post.
The Natrona County School District’s website offers numerous educational resources that have been identified by the district’s instructional facilitators and team, district spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said. The educational opportunities — which include English language arts, social studies, science, math and special education — are available for review and practice but aren’t required for grading purposes, according to the website.
“We are dedicated to sharing educational resources to families during this time to assist in keeping students active and engaged in educational opportunities while keeping their health and safety as the highest priority,” the website states.
The Natrona County School District’s Facebook page also offers tips and resources as well as posts featuring schools and students working and connecting virtually.
Vibes Fine & Performing Arts in Casper moved all of its music classes, private lessons and music therapy to live instruction online. The studio teaches children and adults, and many families are learning new instruments and making music together at home, owner and director Amy Munsell said. The offerings also include online Kindermusik House Parties online with educational activities parents and caregivers can do with their children at home.
“We are happy to be helping our customers have as much normalcy and continuity as possible by pursuing their musical journeys online,” she wrote in an email. “Music education is very important for keeping brains active and allowing individuals to express themselves during a unique and sometimes stressful global situation.”
Online educational and kid-friendly activities from around Casper and Wyoming:
Natrona County Schools
also offers resources and shares schools and students connecting virtually.
Statewide library resources
currently offers free, limited-time resources that include remote learning. Find out more from your local library or Wyoming State Library school library consultant Paige Bredenkamp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-777-6331.
Natrona County Library
Find links to resources for grades kindergarten through 12, including online and digital teaching and learning tools as well as e-book databases and fun educational activities at natronacountylibrary.org/k-12-learning-resources. A virtual story time for kids through Facebook Live takes place 10:30 a.m. weekday mornings on the Natrona County Library
Facebook page and can be watched later. The library will post updates on Facebook, and librarians are available for questions at 307-237-4935.
Laramie County Library System
The system links to resources including databases including for children’s e-books, math e-books and all ages audiobooks on its website, lclsonline.org. People can call 307-638-2552 any time to hear a funny story with “Touch Tone Tales” featuring “wild and wacky original stories” from Charlie Williams, “The Noiseguy.” Find more resources and updates at The Laramie County Library System
Vibes Fine & Performing Arts
The Science Zone
The “Learn with the Doc” virtual learning series with staff microbiologist Kelsey Phillips features video lessons posted 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays on the museum’s Learn with the Doc Facebook event page. The Idea Lab program for middle and high school students continues online through the Zoom conference call platform 1-3 p.m. Monday though Friday and features activities including engineering challenges, virtual field trips and games like Dungeons and Dragons. Catch “Daily Dose of Science” videos on The Science Zone on Facebook and TSZ Casper YouTube channel, and find extension lessons to go along with the videos at thesciencezone.org. Find out more about these and updates at thesciencezone.org
The Casper Planetarium offers videos on its YouTube Channel and a variety videos, links and activity ideas on Facebook. The planetarium hopes to plan live events as well, according to its Facebook page. Find out more at Casper Planetarium on Facebook and casperplanetarium.com
Grand Teton National Park
The park posted a link on its Facebook page to its Tails from the Tetons
electronic field trip, which teaches about natural communities and the diversity of wildlife in Grand Teton National Park and includes a STEM activity. It’s a recording of a previously broadcast electronic field trip, so the live Q & A functions aren’t available; but students may post questions in the comment section for park educators to answer.
The park also offers virtual field trips
“to virtually climb the Grand Teton, hike String Lake and see spectacular wildlife on the Moose-Wilson Corridor” with corresponding lesson plans that will help students of all ages explore the complexities of mountain weather and ecology, according to the park’s Facebook page.
Find out more at Grand Teton National Park
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Many online activities, resources, programs and research materials correlated to state and national curriculum standards are available to schools and families at home at the center’s Teacher and Student Resource webpage. Offerings include virtual field trips through the museum’s Skype in the Classroom program along with related videos, activities and interactive presentations. The center’s new Flipgrid features assessments for students to test their knowledge of animal adaptations and Plains Indian cultures. The center’s blogs include content on each of the five museums as well as an education blog. Its YouTube channel offers a variety of videos. Research options include the McCracken Research Library and the papers of William F. Cody. The center plans an Interactive 360 Activity and Curriculum about the alpine habitat of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on Microsoft Sway. Find out more from Megan Smith at email@example.com. The center’s Kids Programs at Center of the West Facebook
offers content and activities, and more can be found on the Facebook pages of each of the center’s five museums offers
National Museum of Wildlife Art
The museum invites people to take an audio tour through its Museum App (both an app and a web browser version are available), take a virtual tour of the museum, search the online collection and watch the Elk Refuge Webcam. Find out more at wilddlifeart.org
University of Wyoming Art Museum
The UW Art Museum posts virtual tours, moved its Friday lunchtime drop-in meditation online and offers “Close Looking” videos and more. Find these and more on its Facebook and Instagram. The museum’s YouTube Channel features videos of from past exhibitions and artists that the museum has interviewed. People can explore the museum’s collection at uwyoart.pastperfectonline.com
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Mondays: live streaming programs on the site’s history. Tuesdays: multimedia content created by the Heart Mountain community through the years. Wednesdays: stories of artifacts in the foundation’s collections. Thursdays: Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation board chair Shirley Ann Higuchi reads from her upcoming book, “Setsuko’s Secret,” about her family’s time at the camp. Fridays: Virtual tours of the interpretive center and historic site, including the original barrack and root cellar not yet open to the public.
WyoHistory.org‘s education section offers packages designed for classrooms that meet state social studies standards. The site includes digital tool kits of Wyoming history for secondary students and above as well as elementary packages with articles, maps, field-trip lesson plans, videos and interactive quizzes. Find out more at wyohistory.org/education/
Nicolaysen Art Museum
The museum’s Discovery Center offers free video art classes feature projects people create at home on The Nicolaysen Art Museum on Facebook.
Follow arts & culture reporter Elysia Conner on twitter @erconner
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