These virtual field trips for kids ensure adventure without leaving the house
Virtual field trips for kids have the whole family feeling like they're out and about - without needing to remember the packed lunch
While schedules will be busy with parents trying to negotiate working from home with distance learning for their children, there is also something rather wonderful about not having to rush the kids from activity to activity, being able to enjoy meals with them, watch endless movies and do some family livestream drawing sessions together.
Here's another thing you can do without getting up from the sofa: take the kids on a virtual field trip. See exotic animals, check out some of the greatest art on the planet and go on a thrilling rollercoaster ride together. The best part? You don't need to remember the packed lunch.
Photo: Jeremy Avery
Virtual zoos and safaris
Spring is the time of year for animal visits, and even though you can't get up close and personal with the animals in London, you can still get up close with several around the world.
- The Cincinnati Zoo: Enjoy daily Home Safaris on the Cincinnati Zoo's Facebook page (3pm EST, but you can watch them on YouTube whenever), which not only include video sessions of different animals each day but also arts and crafts activity ideas.
- San Diego Zoo: With over 10 live cams, you can see various San Diego Zoo animals in action whenever you like, including giraffes, pandas, elephants, koalas, penguins and more.
- Edinburgh Zoo: Another zoo with live cams, see what the tigers, penguins and koalas get up to all day.
- Shedd Aquarium: This Chicago-based aquarium is taking people behind the scenes with live footage and animal videos, including vids of penguins exploring the premises.
- Denver Zoo: The Denver Zoo's "Zoo to You Virtual Safari" brings you daily animal interactions, where kids can meet the zoo's harbour seal, learn elephant facts and see a baby rhino.
- Melbourne Zoo: Another zoo live streaming their animals, including snow leopards, zebras and lions.
- Google 3D animals: Parents and kids have been loving having a living room full of tigers, pandas, sea turtles and more. Just input the animal of your choice into Google, click "View in 3D" and spend the rest of your afternoon snapping pics of your child stroking a wild beast.
- WildEarth: Watch daily live safaris in Africa on WildEarth's YouTube channel here
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Jouwen Wang
Online museum tours
Whether your preference is Degas or dinosaurs, there are loads of virtual museum and art exhibition tours you can embark on at home. These might just do the trick in creating a lifelong passion for art in your child.
- Yayoi Kusama's Mirror Rooms: Those who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this immersive exhibition from the beloved Japanese artist at the Tate Modern can still get their Kusama fix in this Infinity Mirrors video from NPR.
- Louvre: Enjoy a virtual tour of one of the Louvre's special spaces, like the Egyptian antiquities collection and the Galerie d'Apollon, which features a major work from Delacroix in the ceiling. Bonus points if you nibble on a croissant during the experience.
- British Museum: Museum buffs should bookmark Google Arts & Culture immediately. It provides access to exciting museums and collections around the globe, including the British Museum, which you can explore in an interactive space online as you discover the museum's extensive collection of historical objects, with expert commentary from curators.
Natural History Museum, London. Photo: Tuguldur Baatar
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Met Kids website is a fun, interactive space where children can watch videos and hop back in a "time machine" to learn all about the museum's interiors, paintings, sculptures, armour, decorative objects and more.
- The Natural History Museum: London's Natural History Museum is always a favourite destination to visit with kids, and the massive skeletons look pretty amazing on the small screen, too.
- The Hermitage Museum: St. Petersburg's Hermitage is one of the most glorious museums on the planet - and also one of the vastest (apparently, it would take daily visits for 15 years to see every item in the collection). Or just watch this video, instead.
- Banksy street art: Calling all fans of street art. Even if you can't take a stroll to your favourite Banksy spot in London at the moment, you can see all of them in one place online. Thanks, Google Street View.
- National Museums Liverpool: National Museums Liverpool have launched a fun project, My Home is My Museum, asking children aged 4-11 to curate their own exhibition of artworks and artifacts which represent them.
Kids are encouraged to create a list of up to 10 objects that would be in an exhibition about them, with a description of why next to each, or to make their own art gallery with up to 10 artistic creations that represent objects and people important to them. Kids should then make a poster and create a video to promote their exhibition, which they can share on social using the hashtag #MyHomeIsMyMuseum.
- Aga Khan Museum: This Islamic art museum in North America is not only hosting 3D tours of exhibitions past and present, but also educating visitors virtually with webinars, performances and activities for kids. Use the #MuseumWithoutWalls online portal to access exhibitions like Caravans of Gold: Fragments in Time and Emperors and Jewels: Treasures of the Indian Courts.
The Palace of Versailles. Photo: Louis Paulin
Stately homes and sites (as well as some further afield options)
Fancy a tour of somewhere, uh, fancy?
- Houses of Parliament: Learn all about the political world, or at least imagine yourself in a seat of power, with a virtual tour of the Houses of Parliament.
- Versailles: Need some new interiors inspo? We are going to be home a lot. Put yourself in the centre of the Hall of Mirrors with this Google Arts and Culture virtual tour.
- National Trust: Longing for an English adventure? The National Trust's glorious sites may be closed to the public for now, but we can still take in their majesty online. Why not head to the Giant's Causeway and Kent's Sissinghurst Castle next time the kids need a 20-minute respite from schoolwork?
- Mars: For those hoping for a real adventure, why not spend a morning exploring the surface of Mars? This is the real deal, recorded by NASA's Curiosity Rover - here.
- Space Mountain, Walt Disney World
- Frozen Ever After, Walt Disney World
- Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland Paris
- Hydromagnetic Raft Watercoaster Ride, Yas Waterworld UAE
Photo: Dave/Unsplash Virtual rollercoaster rides
Take the kids for a thrill ride or an immersive adventure with these awesome POV rollercoaster and watercoaster vids.