13 Sep 2021

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

7:00 am on 13 September 2021

Being stuck at home with children isn't always easy, but RNZ is here to help. Here is 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

The resources are divided by subject, but remember there's also home learning on the TVNZ and Māori TV websites. 

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.

Wilding Books released a free reading of the best-selling children's book Aroha's Way during the 2020 lockdowns, hoping it would 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.

Freechildrenstories.com has a wide range of stories to explore, and you can search by age or style. 

Readingeggs.co.nz offers a free one month trial, and is a great tool to help children stay on top of their reading and spelling while they can't go to school. 

Most New Zealand libraries also offer e-books via their websites, and Auckland Library also has a range of podcasts


Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson is running live science experiments at 3.30pm weekdays on her Facebook page, and she also sends out free experiments via her website. Listen to Nanogirl's podcast and watch her do experiments on the RNZ.co.nz website, or on any podcast app.

Explore Earth from your own home via the Globe Programme - a science and education programme for children and teenagers around the world. 

The Science for Kids website is a one-stop-shop for science activities, quizzes, projects and lessons. 

The Dad Lab shares almost daily videos of science experiments to do at home, usually just using items found around the house. With 3.5million subscribers, he's doing something right. Experiments are also shared on Youtube. 

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, the moon and more 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 regularly posts science and cooking challenges.

MOTAT has a range of fun science activities to do at home. Check them out here.


There are lots of maths activities, games and challenges over at nzmaths.co.nz

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 Math Games Online has a range of maths resources for kids, including number and geometry games, facts, videos and more.

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

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

Learn how to code for free with The Code Club, Hour of Code or Scratch Foundation


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.

Reo Māori.co.nz has a wealth of resources to help people along their te reo Māori.journey, including videos on how to learn a kaikōhau and mihi, as well as helpful phrase cards. 

Or 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

Check out this list from The Guardian for the 10 best virtual tours of museums and art galleries around the world.

New Zealand teacher Matua Whaitiri Poutawa started teaching kapa haka for children on his Facebook page during the 2020 lockdown, and continued it when New Zealand went back into lockdown in August.

If you're feeling crafty, 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

The Arts for Kids Youtube channel has step-by-step videos to guide children on how to draw different subjects. Follow along, pausing when you need to so you can go at your own pace. 

Or watch artist Mo Willems teach children how to doodle during the lockdown.

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

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

Got a box? Make a puppet theatre show. 

Plenty more art activities can be found here and here

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, or head to Go Noodle for a range of movement and mindfulness videos.

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

Many kindergartens and early childcare centres are sharing stories and activities on their Facebook pages. 

Les Mills has partnered with TVNZ to provide free fitness classes on TV and TVNZ On Demand

Here are some free daily meditations for kids.

Joe Wicks - aka 'The Body Coach' holds regular physical education sessions for children on his YouTube channel, as does The Kids Coach - who has a range of workout sessions for different age groups. 

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.

Chef and TV presenter Theo Michaels posts video sessions on his Instagram page and YouTube channel.

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

Here are some simple, yummy recipes children can make on their own. Check out this 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.


Refer to this wonderful resource from SKIP for ideas on how to explore the creatures and nature in your neighbourhood and backyard.

IMAgEN8 is full of resources for budding nature photographers, and has a student resource kit to get students started. 

SPCA's education site for kids has some great resources - from animal care and responsible guardianship through to fun activities, including animal oigami, instructions on how to draw animals, games and things to make or do. 

Department of Conservation's 'Family Activities' page is full of ideas on how to connect with nature, including mapping your backyard, learning how to identify things you might find in it, and creating an insect census. 

San Diego Zoo has 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.

Take a virtual tour of Kelly Tarlton's aquarium, and check out the great educational resources when you're on the website. 

Auckland Zoo also has a great range of resources for children stuck at home during lockdown, and Butterfly Creek is regularly sharing stories about its creatures on its Facebook page

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.


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.

Dive into our navy's history at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum website, or explore New Zealand's general history on the government's official site.

These Ted ed lessons aren’t always on history, but do enlighten students about important subjects.

Auckland Museum occasionally holds live talks for children - follow it's Facebook page for details. 

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

You can always browse Te Papa's online collection of 800,000 artworks, objects and specimens to learn more about Aotearoa's history.

And lastly, New Zealand Geographic's Together at Home series has a bit of everything, including science, nature, history and art. The magazine sends a story or video to its mailing list most days in lockdown.