Playtime: Get your kids involved with these online art and science videos

jennifer marx

In the mid-2000s, I joined a message board for an online pregnancy magazine as recommended by my best friend from high school who was a few months ahead of me, gestation-wise. It was an opportunity to see what others were going through and identify with those who also shared a need for stretch pants and comfort in the face of “what ifs” and what is it?!? ‘ of pregnancy. Eventually, as the magazine folded and private chat rooms became too much work, the group landed on Facebook. This group has had divorces, a marriage of two members after one of the divorces, dating, growing babies, and withstanding the tragic deaths of some members. In the current iteration of the group, there are about 40 people left from the original group, the total number of which I simply cannot remember.

Besides my appreciation for this experience and its continued benefits, I say all of this primarily to use the inspiration of one of these moms to share resources online. Her use of resources she finds online, or reframing the recent series of “Shark Tank” episodes her student at home watched into something educational, is inspirational and not because that she “does it all”, although she kind of does it is how she centers what’s really important to them as a family. Now, is that what I’m going to talk about? No, but I’ll use this as a jumping off point to share some of the online resources I’ve come across or shared with me as I try to phone/pause/not answer questions/not to drop someone off.

Sidebar… Before we get to that, I received an email today from the Edmonds School District welcoming us to the 2022-23 school year – you can find the content HERE. I don’t have a lot of back-to-school juice this week, but I wanted to mention that the district says it will send out an additional email on August 19 explaining how parents can use ParentSquare to receive information from the district and schools. This additional email will contain an invitation link where you can choose how to receive information and in which language you will receive it. Be on the lookout for more information and you can also find more information about the service at ParentSquare.com

Andrea Nelson on Instagram

I also have links to online art courses and entertaining and informative science videos. I googled watercolor books, two of which I found at Sno-Isle Libraries, apparently started getting more art accounts on Instagram and found Andrea.Nelson. Art. Part of Nelson’s biography says, “It’s going to be okay. I’m here to help” and that’s one of my favorite things right now. It makes it easy for kids and adults to create things with paints of all kinds and my current favorite thing to keep my hands busy as a beginner is painting different watercolors and then tracing the shapes with ink once dry. Seriously, she calls it a “brain relaxant” and it really relaxes my brain without the pressure of making it look like an object I painted. You don’t seem to need any fancy equipment, as one of the more recent videos is that it happily explains how to paint on a white pencil. I’ve also noticed that every time I see a new video that one of my adult friends has already liked. I only agree, but will add that when she happily explains that you can do it, I feel like I could do it! You can find Nelson on Instagram, on a Crayola Sponsored Basic Video, or on ADreamoraDayArt.com.

My cousin’s 7 year old daughter makes art online and her current favorite videos are from Art for Kids Hub on YouTube. I looked through a few videos and saw that these people did some nice art tutorials and often involved their kids doing their own age-appropriate version. Their videos are things like “How to Draw a Koi Fish” where they draw and also include a letter K or “How to Draw a Minion”. For more information, you can visit them at ArtforKidsHub.com.

Draw together with Wendy Mac (New York Times bestseller and artist Wendy MacNaughton) is another online art option. Described as “The show that’s a class that’s a kids’ club”, you can find episodes on DrawTogether.Studio or on YouTube – after a quick look it looks a bit more contained on the website, but it’s still a YouTube video. The show focuses on “imagination, community and building confidence through drawing” and also includes resources for parents and educators, and “the occasional silly dance”. Mac is in a whimsical setting and the video I went through talked about indoor weather and correlated wind, rain, etc. with feelings, which of course I loved. I’ve been following her for a while on her personal account, but I can’t remember the genesis of this one. The colors and fonts she chooses/creates, just like Nelson, are soothing. Mac also does a Draw Together podcast which is described as “a bite-sized interactive art adventure with no experience required” where all you need is a piece of paper and a pen.

MD hip hop

If art isn’t for you, there are science options for kids, too. You can find the Hip Hop Science Show on YouTube which I found on the recommendation of a mutual friend! Hosted by Hip Hop MD and UW grad Maynard Okereke, Hip Hop Science “aims to bridge the gap between music/entertainment and science by bringing science elements into everyday pop culture.” Okereke breaks down “video clips, epic fails, song lyrics, and takes you on exploratory journeys through new trends in all areas of science” while donning a lab coat and chunky dark glasses. A video from a month ago is titled “Geese are better than guard dogs”. This is a short, informative, fun, and music-laden clip that I hope my kids have encountered on their internet travels – it’s also true, geese are crazy scary. You can find more Hip Hop® videos at YouTube.com/HipHopScienceShow and more information and contact information for school presentations at HipHopScienceShow.com.

My nephews are enjoying Emily’s Wonderlab on Netflix which only has one season but 10 episodes are available on Netflix. Science.Mom offers videos and projects and boasts that if you watch the videos on her website, only her videos will be suggested – I didn’t think that was a big deal until it was definitely a big one problem. I will say, though, that if you click on YouTube, there are other suggestions galore. Science Mom “has worked as a molecular biologist and a forest firefighter, and in several jobs that range from wearing a lab coat to wielding a chainsaw” and I’m pretty sure my message board friend from mom is in it, which is right under the chainsaw for me. His site offers more than 100 free educational lessons, as well as activities and experiences. She’s even been known to go up against her counterpart, Math Dad, in a series of Science Mom vs Math Dad videos. For more information and all of its content, you can visit Science.Mom.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mother of two boys in Edmonds, is always on the lookout for a fun place to take the kids that tires them out enough to go to bed on time.