Keeping Creativity and the Arts Alive During Lockdown

Keeping Creativity and the Arts Alive During Lockdown

There’s a lot of focus on academic progress – or lack thereof – with students during the pandemic. The cancellation of in-person school is creating a lot of stress for students, parents, and teachers. But what is also happening is that many schools have cancelled “non-essential” extracurricular activities for students. Even schools that have returned to in-person classes, or a hybrid schedule of online and in-person, are not resuming arts programs, student clubs, student community outreach programs, field trips, museum visits, and the like.

While the COVID-19 learning loss is a real concern, it is compounded by the loss of social interaction and the enrichment that comes from participation in creative activity. Some schools are resuming sports activities, which is a great outlet for the population of students who participate, but many schools are not even doing that much.

Some activities, like speech and debate, can be translated into an online format. And some drama teachers are becoming creative, replacing scheduled productions with recording audio plays, short films, and table readings over video calls. And while this may work for some older students, it’s completely limited by the individual school district and resources available.

Creative Things for Kids to Do During COVID Quarantine

(or any time!)

Besides the inherent value of encouraging creativity in students of all ages, non-academic activities are also a wonderful break and may help students focus better when they do have to work on academics. Below are 21 great resources for artistic, creative, crafty, musical, dramatic, and other activities that you can do with your child, and help them interact with others during COVID.

Art Ideas

11 Incredible Homeschool Art Project Ideas

Simple Art Activities for Your Homeschool

36 Elementary Art Lessons for Kids

Museum Tours

17 Famous Art Museums You Can Visit from Your Living Room

International Spy Museum – Free Virtual Tour

The 75 Best Virtual Museum Tours – Art, History, Science

Craft Projects

50 Fun Activities for Kids

125 Hobbies to Pick Up During Quarantine

25 Cheap DIY Projects for Teens and Tweens

Starting a Hobby

Hobbies to Do at Home

The 15 Best YouTube Channels for Learning New Hobbies & Skills

13 Hobbies That Are Both Cheap and Fun


52 Homemade Musical Instruments to Make

10 Boredom Busting Musical Activities for Parents & Kids at Home

Music in Our Homeschool

Creative Writing

10 Fun Writing Activities for Kids

Five Writing Exercises for Secondary English Language Arts

8 Fun Creative Writing Lesson Plans

Drama and Video

Distance Learning: Ideas and Resources for Your Drama Classroom

20 Video Project Ideas to Engage Students

Fun Activities That You Can Do at Home

Stay Positive – It’s Good for You!

Stay Positive – It’s Good for You!

There is definitely a strong link between positivity and good health. The Mayo Clinic reports that “researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress”

A study at Johns Hopkins found that “people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.” (emphasis added)

Great! So how to stay positive?

There’s no question that this year has been stressful to people all over the world. Do a quick search online for “2020 memes” and be prepared for a few chuckles. It’s been quite a year!

Unfortunately, the news has been nonstop with fires, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, explosions, murder hornets, aliens, and of course – COVID-19, among many, many other distressing events.

While all of these things contribute to anxiety, stress, depression, and uncertainty, how does one remain positive without just escaping civilization and living off the grid on some remote mountaintop or isolated island?

Limit your consumption of news and social media

A steady diet of doom and gloom reporting on the 24-hour cycle of news and social media is bound to affect anyone in a negative way. So check the headlines once a day, block or mute the trolls on social media, and don’t feed yourself negativity.

Increase your consumption of positivity

There are many options for humorous, inspirational, positive content to take in if you just can’t put down your phone or tablet. Follow accounts that are uplifting and that help distract you in a good way. You can’t go wrong following cute animals, like this great account. While it’s easy to slip into spending too much time in front of the TV or computer screens, you can find funny or uplifting content that can actually help your mindset.

Limit idle time

Even if you are staying in and limiting your outside contact to the occasional grocery shopping expedition, it’s really important to keep busy and, however possible, to incorporate some exercise and movement into your daily routine. Idle time can contribute to depression. It’s also a great time to pick up a new hobby!

Stay in touch

Video chats, phone calls, emails, text messages, social media messaging… these are all ways to stay in touch with friends and family even when you can’t get together in person. Don’t let yourself or your children become isolated and cut off. Encourage communication. Help your child find a pen pal who lives in an interesting place and actually, you know, pick up a pen and paper and write a letter! Some schools have pen pal programs, or you can check out the resources here.

Do something for others

It is always uplifting to use some of your energy and resources to help someone in need. Here are some great suggestions from Parents magazine on how to get your child involved in charitable activity. And for some suggestions that are specifically designed for kids during quarantine, check out this information.

Get enough sleep

Sometimes, just when you’re finally able to rest your head on your pillow, all the worries of the day start flooding in and you can feel your blood pressure rising along with your anxiety. This can result in loss of sleep and restless nights which, in turn, affect you well into the next day. This is a cycle that can quickly lead to physical illness as well as depression. So how to turn off those sleep-stealing worries? Cleveland Clinic offers some suggestions. And if you wake up in the middle of the night and find that you can’t get back to sleep, Healthline has these suggestions.

We’re not suggesting that you white-knuckle it, hide your head in the sand and try to block out the rest of the world (also referred to as “toxic positivity”). If you need help cultivating a positive attitude, here are some more tips. Finding healthy alternatives to negativity can help you and your children cope with the unavoidable stresses of life in 2020.

Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

If your answer is “because the Pilgrims ate turkey on Thanksgiving”, you may be mistaken! Wild turkeys were common in the area around Plymouth in 1621, but the most widely accepted description of the first thanksgiving meal, coming from Edward Winslow, who was actually there, doesn’t mention turkey. He does mention wild fowl, though historians think that referred to ducks and geese.

This joint feast between pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians is generally considered the “first” Thanksgiving, although the participants didn’t seem to consider it a special milestone. European harvest festivals were commonplace, and many pilgrims brought that tradition with them to New England.

It wasn’t until 1863, however, that Thanksgiving was first declared a national holiday by then-president Abraham Lincoln*. And by then, turkey had popularly become the main course for Americans celebrating the holiday. Practical reasons include:

  • It’s a bigger bird than, say, a chicken, so it feeds more people
  • It doesn’t serve another food purpose (like laying eggs)
  • It wasn’t so common that it wasn’t suited for a special occasion
  • It’s plentiful and inexpensive

While many Americans add ham to their Thanksgiving feast, and some even prefer ham over turkey, the debate over which is most popular is ongoing. And for those who just can’t decide, you can always get a “turkey ham”. No joke.

  • President George Washington set a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” for November 26, 1789, but the actual date for an annual Thanksgiving celebration moved around a bit until 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving from the crew at TutorUp!

Free Online Tutoring Resources

Free Online Tutoring Resources

A quick search online shows that there are many different resources for families and students who are looking for free online tutoring help. It seems that most of these resources offer homework assistance, including 24/7 instant answers to student questions, but many also pair up tutors with students for free sessions.

  • Many school districts offer free online tutoring in some subjects to students in the district, and individual schools also have programs for their own students. Check your district and school websites for information on any free tutoring programs they may offer.
  • Public libraries have partnered with various tutoring services to be able to offer online tutoring, homework help, test preparation, and career support for free to library members. Check your local library website, or call to find out if they are enrolled in a program like this.
  • Non-profit groups in many school districts have created free tutoring programs for local students, like Ignited Minds in New Mexico.
  • National non-profit groups like Tutoring America provide funding or scholarships for students who need private tutoring help but don’t have the financial resources to pay for it.
  • There are also programs like ClassWallet that help students obtain funding to pay for private tutoring services. TutorUp is a partner with ClassWallet.
  • Some states provide vouchers that can be used towards tutoring expenses.
  • The federal government has approved coronavirus relief money to fund “microgrants” for parents to use to hire tutors or teachers.

Tuition Assistance

TutorUp has partnered with ClassWallet, a resource that helps provide funding to families that can be used on tutoring expenses.

Get a FREE Tutoring Session

First time customers at TutorUp can get a free hour of tutoring when they buy 3 sessions. Sign up here.

16 Resources for Free Math Activities, Games, Worksheets, and More

16 Resources for Free Math Activities, Games, Worksheets, and More

For Parents and Teachers

  1. Online games, printable worksheets, guided lessons and more. Organized by grade level, from Preschool through 6th grade:
  2. Want to get your kids AWAY from the computer, but still learning math? Here are games and activities that will keep them moving:
  3. Here’s a list of 11 free math sites with games and activities that include sorting, counting, tessellations and fractions:
  4. Math practice sorted by grade level from PreK through 8th grade. You can also search for math practice by skill, like Decimals, or Money, Multiplication, Fractions and more:
  5. Just for Preschoolers – 15 Hands-On Math Activities:
  6. Algebra video courses for grades 6 – 12:
  7. This is a resource for High School math with worksheets, games, projects, tutorials, and more:
  8. For grades 6 – 12, includes lessons, skills practice resources, and educational videos:
  9. Secondary Math Games & Activities – Grades 7 – 12:
  10. Free Math Resources for Schools During the COVID-19 Outbreak:
  11. Real-world lessons from Mathalicious for middle and high school teachers:
  12. Math Teacher Resources: Lesson Plans, Games & More:
  13. Math Resources for Teachers includes worksheets, lesson plans, videos, games & apps, activities, classroom tools and more:
  14. PreK – 8 Grade Fifteen Math Games in 15 Minutes or Less:
  15. Free Lessons & Publications from Pre-K through 12th Grade:
  16. 55 of the Best Math Activities for Preschoolers:

Summer 2020 Reading Lists

Summer 2020 Reading Lists

Is your child an avid reader? Maybe you have a reluctant reader, or a child who has some difficulty with reading. Every summer, teachers encourage their students to keep reading, and in some schools, the lists they make are based on the books they will be discussing next school year. These lists differ from school to school, and you can usually find them on your school website.

We’ve put together a list of summer reading lists for you from a variety of sources. The links below include a great diversity of reading material both fiction and non-fiction, for every grade level. Most of these books are available at your local library, local bookstores, can be ordered online, or come in audio book format to listen to.

Help your child find books they are interested in, find a comfy spot where they can enjoy reading, and enjoy some quiet time yourself!

1. Scholastic Books 2020 Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge Book List

Here’s their downloadable PDF list of books, organized by age, PreK – 12.

2. Texas Library Association

Little Maverick (graphic novels for kindergarten to fifth grade)

Lone Star (fiction for grades six to eight)

Maverick (graphic novels for grades 6-12)

TAYSHAS (fiction and nonfiction for high schoolers)

Tejas (English-Spanish bilingual books for grades five to 12)

Topaz (nonfiction for all ages, preschool to grade 12 and beyond)

3. School Library Journal (SLJ)

SLJ Summer Reading Recommendations

4. Association for Library Service to Children (ALA)

2020 Summer Reading List

5. Teacher Vision

Summer Reading Lists

6. Imagination Soup

Summer Reading List for Kids

7. ILA/CBC Children’s Choices Reading List 2020

Children’s Choices (PDF)

Voted on by 12,500 school children from all over the United States, this list is published by the International Literacy Association and the Children’s Book Council. It is organized by age group and format: beginning readers (kindergarten to grade two), young readers (grades three to four), and advanced readers (grades five to six).


Here are some free activities for your kids to enjoy this summer so they can keep learning without feeling like it’s “school”: Free Games & Worksheets

Fun Learning Activities to Prevent the Summer Slide