29 Mar 2020

Coronavirus lockdown at home: A guide to online resources for kids

10:05 pm on 29 March 2020

Being stuck at home with children isn't always easy, but RNZ is here to help. Here's our comprehensive guide to online resources for children to learn, have fun and explore at home

Mother looking after son doing homework on laptop

Photo: 123rf

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19


Storytime is RNZ's collection of free children's audio books. All written and produced in New Zealand for pre-schoolers, kids and young adults.

The Best of Storytime can be found here and on any podcast app.

Storytime is RNZ's collection of free children's audio books

Storytime is RNZ's collection of free children's audio books Photo: SCREENSHOT

RNZ's Not for Children collection has 13 stories for young adult readers - parental guidance advised.

Children's author David Walliams is releasing a story a day from his 'World's Worst Children' book series. The British author reads the stories, and shares links to them on his website.

A group of New Zealand children's authors will launch an online writing competition for kids from 30 March - they start the story and kids write what happens next.

Wilding Books has released a free reading of the best-selling children's book Aroha's Way, hoping it will help children with fear and anxiety around Covid-19:

Or you can watch New Zealand celebrities and notables - including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - read bedtime stories, or listen to children's books being read aloud by well-known Hollywood actors.

In response to lockdowns throughout the world, Audible has also made its children's stories open and free to all.

Most New Zealand libraries also offer e-books via their websites.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:


Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson and her robot sidekick CLAIR answer kids' science questions in Nanongirl's Great Science Adventures - and each episode has a video too! The podcast is available on RNZ.co.nz or on any podcast app.

The Globe Programme is a science and education programme for children and teenagers around the world. It invites students to participate in data analysis and research, and will be hosting a mosquito webinar on 2 April.

Exploring Mars on the Curiosity Rover

Exploring Mars on the Curiosity Rover Photo: SCREENSHOT

Nasa's Mars Exploration Programme allows you to move your way around the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.

Learn about space, the human body and the moon at National Geographic Kids' website (it also has a section on Covid-19).

Whether it's an egg drop challenge or learning how to clean coins - this website is posting daily science and cooking challenges.


Funbrain has plenty of maths games to keep the children thinking. (Note a six-year-old is typically in grade 1, seven-year-old in grade 2, and so on.)

Kids Maths Games Online has a range of maths resources for kids, including number and geometry games, facts, videos and more:

Build a station, match the cards and spot the difference in these Thomas and Friends games.

Mathscore has a range of maths quizzes for a range of age groups.

Subtraction, counting, algebra, decimals, fractions - arcademic has it all.

While it's aimed at Britain's national curriculum, there will still be some tests, games and challenges for New Zealand kids to enjoy on the Maths Factor website, which is free to everyone during the UK's lockdown.


Take a photo on your phone, upload it to the Kupu app and see it translated into te reo Māori in real time.

Te Whanake has textbooks, videos, study guides and a dictionary for learning the Māori language.

If your child is learning German, Mandarin, French or Spanish they might be interested in the language resources, including videos, available on BBC's Bitesize website. The website also has lessons for new entrants learning about words, letters and sounds.

Head over to the Māori dictionary to learn a few new words in Māori - just think of a word you want to learn, type it in English and hit enter. Click on the sound icon to hear how it's said.

Arts and crafts

The Guardian has put together a list of the 10 best virtual tours of museums and art galleries around the world.

New Zealand teacher Matua Whaitiri Poutawa has started teaching kapa haka for children on his Facebook page.

Or if you're feeling craft, here's 50 quick and easy crafts to make from home.

On DOC's website, make your own kākāpō from cardboard boxes, create your own nature scrapbook or become a bird for the day by making one of the masks.

Doodling with Mo Willems

Doodling with Mo Willems Photo: SCREENSHOT

Got a hand? Got a pen? Here's how you can draw 32 animals using your hand as the outline.

Artist Mo Willems is inviting children to join him to doodle during the lockdown.

There's also a video guide for how to draw flowers - step-by-step.

Or browse Te Papa's online collection of 800,000 artworks, objects and specimens.

Music, movement and mindfulness

Kid's Hour offers children's classics for the young - and young at heart - at 11am weekdays on RNZ Concert. Some of the stories, including Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of Animals and Tane the Kiwi are collected here on our website too.

Dance along with Kidz Bop, who have recently started doing daily dance breaks:

Go Noodle has a range of movement and mindfulness videos.

Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed for kids aged three and up, Cosmic Yoga describes its videos as "healthy screen time for 21st Century kids".

Mainly Music is putting some of its sessions for pre-schoolers online.

Les Mills has partnered with TVNZ to provide free fitness classes on TV and TVNZ On Demand. Classes aimed at teenagers and younger viewers will be broadcast on TVNZ2 at 3pm weekdays from 30 March.

Here are some free daily meditations for kids.

Joe Wicks - aka 'The Body Coach' is holding daily physical education sessions for children on his Youtube channel.

In the kitchen

Try one, or all of these 10 easy snacks kids can make.

BBC Goodfood has a selection of recipes which are easy to make and delicious.

Jamie Oliver's got a great section for cooking with kids, including how to get them involved, the best equipment to use, how to make pasta, healthy snacks and much more.

Kids cooking lessons with Theo Michaels. The chef and TV presenter is doing live video sessions on his Instagram page and later posting them on Youtube.

The Heart Foundation has a free online book on easy, tasty meals children can cook.

Here's some simple, yummy recipes children can make on their own, check out this a selection of 20 easy recipes to make with kids, or take a look at Spatulatta, which is dedicated to helping kids learn how to cook.


San Diego Zoo has launched an online programme for children, with stories, activities, games and videos, including live videos of the animals at the zoo.

The Department of Conservation's Sounds of Science podcast looks at how DOC cares for New Zealand's native species and natural environment.

The animal section on National Geographic Kids' website

The animal section on National Geographic Kids' website Photo: SCREENSHOT

Learn all about hippos, anacondas, penguins and other animals and watch interviews with animal experts on National Geographic Kids' website.

Or go here to watch animals live on cameras around the world.

Learn all about birds, count the ones you see and become part of a citizen science project.

Cincinatti Zoo has started a home safari for children in lockdown, introducing a different animal every day. It shares its videos in a live Facebook post, and then later publishes them on its Youtube page.


RNZ's The Aotearoa History Show covers New Zealand history from its geological formation until the 1980s. It can also be found on any podcast app or on Youtube:

Discover some fascinating history facts and learn about people from our past on National Geographic for Kids.

The Big History Project explores the universe, life on earth, humans and the future - for learners 11 years and older:

Or explore New Zealand's history on the government's official site.

And lastly, New Zealand Geographic's Together at Home series has a bit of everything in it - including science, nature, history and art. The magazine has published a story or video every day of lockdown, from how to research monarch butterflies to learning about how sunlight can propel things.

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