Playtime: Engage your kids with these online art and science videos

Jennifer Marks

In the mid-2000s, I joined a message board for an online pregnancy magazine, as recommended by my best friend from high school, who was a few months ahead of me, gestationally speaking. It was a chance to see what others were experiencing and connect with those who also share the need for stretchy pants and comfort from the what-ifs and what-ifs?!?” of pregnancy. Eventually, when the magazine folded and the private message boards became too much work, the group landed on Facebook. This group had divorces, marriage of two members after one of the divorces, dating, more and more babies and experienced the tragic death of some of the members. In the current iteration of the group, there are roughly 40 people left from the original group, the total number of which I just can’t remember.

Besides my gratitude for this experience and its continued benefit, I say all this mostly to use my inspiration from one of these moms to share some online resources. Her use of resources she finds online, or her repurposing of a recent series of Shark Tank episodes her homeschooler watched into something educational, is inspiring, and not because she “does it all,” though she does , but how she brings into focus what is really important to them as a family. Now, is that what I’m going to talk about? No, but I’m going to use it as a starting point to share some of the online resources I’ve come across or had shared with me while I’m trying to make a phone call/rest/not answer questions/leave someone .

Sidebar… Before we get to it, I received an email today from the Edmonds School District welcoming us to the 2022-23 school year – you can find the content HERE. I don’t have much Back to School juice this week, but I wanted to mention that the district says they will be sending out an additional email on August 19 explaining how parents can use ParentSquare to get information from the district and schools. This additional email will contain an invitation link where you can choose how to receive information and in what language to receive it. Stay tuned for more information and you can also find more information about the service at ParentSquare.com

Andrea Nelson on Instagram

I also have some links to online art instructions and fun and informative science videos. I googled some watercolor books, two of which I found at Sno-Isle Libraries, I seem to be getting more art accounts on Instagram and found Andrea.Nelson.Art. Part of Nelson’s bio says, “Everything is going to be okay. I’m here to help” and that’s one of my favorite things right now. It makes it easy for kids and adults alike to do all kinds of things with paint and my favorite thing to keep my hands busy with as a beginner right now is to paint different watercolors and then paint the shapes with ink after it dries. Seriously, she calls it a “brain relaxer” and it really relaxes my brain without the pressure of looking like an object I’ve drawn. Looks like you don’t need any fancy equipment as one of the latest videos is her hilarious explanation of how to draw on white crayon. I also noticed that every time I see a new video one of my older friends has already liked it. When I contacted him, he said that even though he doesn’t do art, Nelson’s posts are “guaranteed 0% bad news,” and I not only agree, but I’ll add that when she happily explains that you can you do, I really feel like I can do it! You can find Nelson on Instagram, in a Crayola sponsored feature video, or at ADreamoraDayArt.com.

My cousin’s 7 year old does art online and her favorite videos are from the Art for Kids Hub on YouTube. I went through a few videos and saw that these people make cute art lessons and often involve their kids making their own age-appropriate version. Their videos are things like “How to Draw a Koi Fish” where they draw and also include the letter K or “How to Draw a Minion”. For more information, you can visit them at ArtforKidsHub.com.

Draw with Wendy Mack (New York Times bestseller and artist Wendy McNaughton) is another online art option. Described as “The show that’s a class that’s a club for kids,” you can find episodes on DrawTogether.Studio or on YouTube – after a quick look it looks a little more subdued on the website, but it’s still a YouTube video. The show’s focus is “on imagination, community and building confidence through drawing” and also includes resources for parents and educators and “the occasional silly dance.” The Mac is in a whimsical kit and the video I reviewed was about indoor weather and the relationship of wind, rain etc. with the feelings, which of course I liked. I’ve been following her on her personal account for a while now, but I can’t remember the genesis of it. The colors and fonts he chooses/creates, like Nelson, are soothing. Mac also does the Draw Together Podcast, which is described as “a little interactive art adventure that requires no experience” where all you need is a piece of paper and a pen.

Hip Hop MD

If art isn’t suitable, there are also science opportunities for children. You can find the hip-hop science show on YouTube, which I found on the recommendation of a mutual friend! Hosted by Ph.D. of hip-hop and UC Maynard Okereke, Hip Hop Science is “aimed at bridging the gap between music/entertainment and science by introducing scientific elements into everyday pop culture.” Okereke breaks down “music videos, epic fails, song lyrics and takes you on exploratory journeys through new trends in all areas of science” while donning a lab coat and thick black glasses. A video from a month ago is titled “Geese Are Better than Guard Dogs” which is a short, informative, funny and great music filled clip that I hope my kids come across on their internet travels – it’s also true, Geese are crazy scary. You can find more Hip Hop MD videos at YouTube.com/HipHopScienceShow and more information and contact information for school presentations at HipHopScienceShow.com.

My nieces enjoy Emily’s Wonderlab on Netflix which only has one season but has 10 episodes available on Netflix. Science.Mom offers videos and projects and boasts that if you watch the videos on her website, only her videos will be offered — I didn’t think it was a big deal until it definitely wasn’t. I will say, though, that if you click on YouTube, there are plenty of other offerings. Mom Science “has worked as a molecular biologist and wildland firefighter and several jobs that fall between wearing a lab coat and spinning a chainsaw” and I’m pretty sure my friend on the mom message board has a crush on her, which is just below the chainsaw bit for me. Her site offers over 100 free educational lessons, plus activities and experiments. He’s even been known to go up against his math dad counterpart in a series of Mom Science vs. Math Dad videos. For more information and its full content, you can visit Science.Mom.

– By Jennifer Marks

Jen Marks, a mother of two boys from Edmonds, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that will tire them out enough to go to bed on time.

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