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Keeping the kids (and yourself) happy while 'social distancing'

After the puzzle pieces are lost and the crayons break, artists, musicians, and authors—some from Maine—are offering virtual fun for everyone.
Credit: The Kennedy Center

PORTLAND, Maine — As Maine students join others around the world by settling into distance learning, opportunities for free entertainment online abound. In addition to stories and music, kids and adults can "visit" world-famous museums and zoos, practice yoga and travel throughout the country and the world.


  • Well-known children book authors, including Mo Willems ("Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!"), are offering virtual storytimes. Willems will hold a daily Lunch Doodle daily from 1-2:30 p.m., in which children can draw and write with the author of the "Elephant & Piggy" series.
  • The Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) team from Downeast Maine will read bedtime stories live, Sunday through Thursday evenings.
  • Atlantic White Shark Conservancy will hold Shark Story Hour daily this week at 10 a.m.


  • Portland musician and artist Troy R. Bennett has performed live songs daily on his Facebook page—although Wednesday he read poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—and says he will try to continue the daily performances. "People need something fun and thoughtful to look at on Facebook and not just the endless bad news," he said.
  • Other local musicians including Carter Ruff followed suit and their performances are also available online.
  • Outside Maine, children's performers Dan Zanes and his wife, Claudia Zanes, perform a singalong "Social Isolation Song Series" daily on Youtube.
  • The Metropolitan Opera hosts nightly opera streams of past performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. On Thursday, the Met will stream Verdi's "La Traviata."


  • Move with Skylar, a Facebook Live ballet class for kids of all ages is 5:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays.


  • Twelve museums including the British Museum in London, the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, are offering virtual tours through the Google Arts & Culture app.
  • The National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute also offers virtual tours including some previously unseen archives.


  • Portland Trails offers free maps of its 70 miles of trails and green space.
Credit: Portland Trails



And when the kids go to bed...

  • Lila East End Yoga is streaming free classes, ranging from yin to yoga nidra and even "Sweaty and Sweet," through its public Facebook group, "Lila LIVE."
  • Prompted by Chris Martin of Coldplay, various artists including John Legend have held impromptu live performances on various social media platforms in recent days. Follow #togetherathome for future performances.
  • Neil Young has also promised fireside performances from his home, which he said he will announce on his website and social media sites except for Facebook.

If you've discovered exciting opportunities for exploring the world online while riding out social distancing, please email beth.brogan@newscentermaine.com, and we'll continue to update this list.

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