Online Freebies Offered to Fill the Social Distancing Gap

Watching jellyfish, Photo: Jeswin Thomas

Staying at home during this social distancing period does not mean you are limited to endless hours of NetFlix. There are a number of incredible free opportunities to experience things online that you might not have realized were an option. Splash Magazines Worldwide has put together a list of some of our favorite free experiences that you can experience from your couch.

Starting this Friday, March 20, the Boca Raton Museum of Art is launching a new series of free Online Community Art Initiatives for all ages at this link. Featuring the new Keep Kids Smart with ART series to help parents and their children who are home from school.
The Museum has always provided the community the added benefit of an Art School campus with an innovative art faculty, since its very beginnings in 1950. These art educators are using their expertise to develop online resources using the power of art. Also for seniors who are keeping social distance and who might feel isolated.
This series will provide art-oriented ways for people to creatively utilize their new free-time at home. Online art lessons, tips for parents to use art-making and creativity with their kids at home, and activities for all ages.
The resources on this landing page will evolve as time passes, as the art teachers receive feedback and reactions from families about their needs. It will also branch out to the Museum’s social media channels for ongoing activities — #BocaMuseumatHome.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today a robust selection of online content and social media initiatives that offer ways for audiences to access and enjoy its collection, programs, and educational resources while the Museum is temporarily closed. The newly launched #MetAnywhere is surfacing content from across the Museum’s deep digital reserves, while inviting creative engagement on all platforms. The homepage has pivoted from encouraging onsite visits to featuring web-based highlights, including 360-degree views of iconic spaces; behind-the-scenes videos; and dynamic explorations of exhibitions.

The Met will also continue to share weekly favorites like #TuesdayTrivia and #MetSketch on its social channels, while introducing new ways to feature unique stories from the Museum’s followers and for curators to share their thoughts and expertise from home. Over the last week, the Museum’s social accounts experienced significant increases in their engagement rates—Instagram increased by 78 percent, Twitter by 63 percent, and Facebook by 34 percent. YouTube views are up by 150 percent compared to weekly averages. Traffic to the website has also increased.

In the midst of cancellations of live performances due to COVID-19, the San Francisco Symphony announced today that all documentary and concert episodes of Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony’s groundbreaking Keeping Score project will be made available for unlimited free streaming on the Symphony’s YouTube channel. Episodes will be released beginning today in four batches, every Wednesday through April 8, 2020.

“Creating Keeping Score remains one of the most exciting journeys the San Francisco Symphony and I have taken together,” said Michael Tilson Thomas. “It offers real insight into the origins of the music and the devotion of the musicians who keep its message a living tradition. As we all navigate our brave new world, I take pride in being able to share with everyone the music and stories that hold such deep meaning to me and my Orchestra colleagues. Music connects us and has never been needed more.”“There is no better time to make this remarkable series available to all without barriers,” said San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson. “Keeping Score’s music and messages aren’t just timeless stories for anyone to enjoy, they are an incredible resource for educators and anyone interested in connecting with the power and emotion of our art form. MTT’s truly unique ability to communicate the joy and depth of symphonic music is one of the trademarks of his extraordinary 25-year tenure as our Music Director, and Keeping Score remains one of the most meaningful elements of his legacy with the San Francisco Symphony.”


Through nine one-hour documentaries, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony trace the lives of eight influential composers from around the world. Michael Tilson Thomas explores the motivations and influences behind major classical works by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Copland, Stravinsky, Berlioz, Ives, Shostakovich, and Mahler. Each episode is accompanied by a one-hour concert program by the San Francisco Symphony. Launched in 2004, Keeping Score was designed to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds through groundbreaking television, radio, and educational components. The video series pairs in-depth documentary explorations of composers and their music with concert performances by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony captured at Davies Symphony Hall. The series comprises three seasons of television episodes, including nine documentaries and eight concert films, all of which are also available on DVD and Blu-Ray high definition formats through the Orchestra’s own SFS Media label distributed by Warner Classics.

L.A. Theatre Works is offering 25 audio recordings of significant stage plays, each performed by leading actors of stage and screen, available free to educatorsworldwide.

LATW’s “Setting the Stage for Learning” initiative allows teachers to enhance distance learning during the Covid-19 crisis — as well as classroom learning when students return to school. By harnessing the power of professional theater, students deepen understanding of complex literature and subject content through an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

A non-profit media arts organization and the world’s leading producer of audio theater, L.A. Theatre Works’ mission is to present, preserve and disseminate classic and contemporary plays featuring critically acclaimed actors. With LATW, teachers bring the excitement of a stage play into their students’ immediate environment and allow them to share their experiences of this rich content with peers, even when separated by distance learning. Discussions about culture, context, the history and arc of the story, and personal connections to characters facing challenges and overcoming obstacles will add to students’ enjoyment as stories come to life through talented casts, foley artists (creating sound effects) and well-crafted scripts.

“Students report how listening to a play provides a different experience from reading it,” says LATW producing director Susan Loewenberg. “Drama and humor come to life in a more dynamic way through our recordings than text on a page.”

According to Dr. Denise Johnson, professor of reading education and director of the Literacy Leadership program at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the benefits of audiobooks include introducing students to books above their reading level; modeling interpretive reading; teaching critical listening; highlighting humor; introducing genres and vocabulary; and providing a bridge to significant discussion topics. Perhaps most important, she cites Baskin & Harris, writing that audiobooks allow students to recapture “the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers.”

L.A. Theatre Works offers support for educators with an introductory guide suggesting topics for engaging conversations and ideas for student-created content. Educators can select and preview a play, then select an approach, whether it be asking students to listen to an entire play with follow-up discussions and/or assignments, or breaking the play into listening segments, pausing for comprehension checks, answering questions and transitioning through the arc of the plot.

Scroll down to see the list of titles available to educators.

For more information about ‘Setting the Stage for Learning,’ to sign up, and to find out how to send a link to your students, go to https://latw.org/setting-stage-learning.

The HeartSmarts Adventure (free download and fully online) has been designed for children ages 4 to 6. The program is completely online, and offers 63 activities to get kids engaged and active, as they learn about such things as heart health and emotional well-being. Children will engage in a variety of lessons that include videos, physical exercise, coloring art, music, interviews with children, and other enjoyable learning activities. 

In a world where life challenges have become increasingly more complex, the organization hopes that the HeartSmarts Adventure can be a fun educational experience to provide younger children with essential skills to build a healthy mental and emotional foundation, and grow into happy and resilient individuals. 

The HeartSmarts Adventure, an online interactive program for ages 4-6+ is being given away to 100,000 children. The US Department of Health and Human Services report that 31% of high school students have depression symptoms, but they also report that one of out of every four students report that they have been bullied at school. It’s become clear that we need to help our children learn at an early age about emotions– this includes how to identify different feelings they might experience and how to talk about what they are feeling. The HeartsSmart Adventure program has been designed to help them do this.

This newly released program is based on the Institute’s nearly two decades of peer reviewed, published research. The program gives younger children a skill set for cultivating a healthy foundation, so they can grow into happy and resilient individuals. For more information about the program, or to obtain a free copy to download, visit the site: https://www.heartmath.org/education/e-learning/heartsmarts-adventure/100k-coherent-kids-initiative/

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