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BY JANA BEAUCHAMP

While a new version of summer fun is in the air and things are starting to open up, we still plan to have a lot of time safe at home. Here are some of our favorite resources and fun and games to help make summer staycations extra fun while avoiding the summer slide.

Photo via American Girl

American Girl Stay & Play Hub is a content hub for kids to explore, be creative, and learn. One of the first at-home activities was a virtual read-along of Kit with American Girl Author Valerie Tripp. In addition to American Girl’s free online library, the Stay & Play hub offers sing-alongs, free yoga classes, and easy & fun recipes. We also love the endless imaginative play the AG dolls offer and especially love the School Backpack set and Truly Blue Hairstyling Caddywith the Salon Chair & Wrap set for playing in quarantine fashion.

Carnegie Hall introduced an ongoing series of free concerts and activities for kids and families. Drawn from programs created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), this collection of resources encourages musical learning, discovery, and play for your young ones, from babies and toddlers to students in grades K–5. Your family can sing and move to music from around the world, listen to the soothing sounds of lullabies, get creative with coloring pages, and learn about the instruments of the orchestra in an interactive game. Check out their growing library of free resources for families, and stay tuned for concerts, activities, and more.

Photo via Crayola

Crayola developed an At-Home Creative Hub in which parents, teachers, and kids can visit for easy access to educational and crafting resources. From Creative Lesson plans, DIY crafts, How-To Videos, Free Coloring Pages, At-Home inspirational emails and their brand new live “Color & Sing Alongs” — Crayola hopes to provide creative solutions to consumers’ daily routines during these unforeseen times. It houses 100s of Craft Tutorials with complimentary How-to Videos and Craft recipes, providing families with fun, clever and easy creative activities, in addition to a varied supply of Free Coloring Pages.

Learn Through This campaign is utilizing its VTech and LeapFrog brands to support teachers and parents with the tools they need to keep kids busy, learning, and active while at home. As a company grounded in learning and discovery, VTech and LeapFrog are offering comprehensive resources including free content such as articles, printable activity books and educational activities curated by its team of learning experts; an extended free trial of its interactive learning program, LeapFrog Academy, and recommendations for products that deliver key learning and developmental activities such as reading, writing and role-play.

Lite Brite is a bright light in this time at home. The new retro-inspired styling resembles the original Lite-Brite from the ’80s and now features a bigger screen, brighter pegs, and more templates including six retro patterns!  Just insert the pegs into the templates or freestyle an original design – then press the button to see the creation light-up in four different ways, from steady to blinking. With an updated stand on the back, kids can easily create and display their masterpieces…then turn off the lights for the ultimate effect!

Mattel Playroom is a free online resource that offers play-from-home activities, games, content and expert advice. Mattel is bringing families activities and content from its iconic brands, including American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends and more.

Played by 112 million people each month, Minecraft has made a name for itself as one of the most beloved video games of all time. Now, you can continue exploring the Overworld, build structures, and mine resources — this time through a shared, in-person experience with the Minecraft: Builders & Biomes board game from Ravensburger and developed in collaboration with Mojang.

My Fairy Garden’s Fairy Light Garden is an enchanted fairy mushroom home that doubles as a night-light! Creating your own magical oasis has never been easier thanks to the easy-to-follow guide that takes children through each step on how to plant and water the seeds, while also teaching valuable STEM lessons. This set includes everything you’ll need to make a special garden for the fairy Saffron and her beautiful unicorn Calista! Plant your seeds and play in your fairy world surrounded by the magic of nature.

Speak & Spell is back and it’s just like you remember! One of the earliest computer learning systems from the ’70s and ’80s, Speak & Spell was the first educational toy designed to help children learn to spell over 200 commonly misspelled words using a speech synthesizer. Now, a whole new generation can enjoy this classic toy with friends and family for years to come. With multiple play modes and challenge levels, kids will have fun and learn at the same time!

The Story Pirates offer “screen time” that parents can trust: live improv performances, educator-approved writing and music classes, and a variety of interactive musical and sketch comedy entertainment for young people, refreshed each and every day. Along with free streaming content via StoryPirates.com, the Story Pirates recently launched a Creator Club. This subscription service features continually updated activities that coincide with episodes of their award-winning podcast, writing prompts, live-streamed classes, improv, a daily radio show, and a video library to entertain and encourage creativity for kids at home. Another new offering of the Creator Club is Story Pirates University with interactive live-streamed classes taught by expert Story Pirates teachers. Sessions include expository writing lessons, script school, and Music Monday, which features guest composers behind Story Pirates award-winning songs.

This story first appeared on newyorkfamily.com.

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