This article has been updated on 5 January 2021 to include more digital resources in light of a new UK lockdown
With the UK's schools shut down once again, parents are reaching deeper than ever into their bag of activities to keep children both entertained and intellectually stimulated at home. Fortunately, many institutions have online platforms and programmes for art-loving kids. Below are some artful resources that should prove useful to parents and kids alike.
The Tate museum group has a page dedicated to games and quizzes which work for a wide variety of ages. These range from colouring and painting to quizzes about famous works and historical figures. Have you ever wondered which animal from art history matches your personality? Then look no further.
The Louvre’s “Tales of the Museum” is an interactive cartoon series that lets kids and parents click on items from the museum's collection and explore their history through animated storytelling. These depict the backstories of world famous works like the Venus de Milo, as well as charting major events in the museum's history, such as the theft of the Mona Lisa.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Kids site offers several entertaining options, including an interactive map of the museum and, perhaps most useful for young ones, are the collection of videos geared towards kids with subjects like “How to Dance in Armor” and “Can a Painting Tell More Than one Story?”
An interactive "tour" visualises the British Museum's holdings on a timeline and allows you to travel through the centuries and explore highlights from the collection, from a Ancient Egyptian papyrus poem to a 21st-century ceramic vessel by Magdalene Odundo. Activity sheets are also available for some IRL fun, allowing you to play symbol detective in the Egyptian sculpture gallery and challenging you to roar like the lions in the museum's Great Court.
The Smithsonian museum group has an online learning lab that you can browse my type, such as images or videos, and by subject, such as arts, science, social studies and more.
The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose has a resources page on their website with dozens of suggestions for activities, some of which require may craft materials and some none at all.
Among the highlights of the National Museums Scotland's virtual offerings is Museum Maker, an arts and crafts video series that teaches children how to upcycle everyday items and rubbish into fun and interesting designs of Scottish animals.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a games and activities page with colouring pages, cut outs, online games and more. They also have amazing live cams, where you can keep an eye on the animals in real time. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium also has a “sea curious” page with videos for kids, and a live cam of their own.
Anyone who’s been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam knows how amazing it is to view all of the artist’s works in one place. Since you can’t actually jet off to Amsterdam, take your kids on a virtual journey through the collection via Google Arts & Culture.
Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum has a teacher’s resources page on their website, and towards the bottom of the page it has a great list of art projects for children, most of which require only simple materials and can easily be done indoors.
London’s Science Museum has a games and apps page with a dozen science-related games for kids.