School is a little different this fall—if your kids are doing distance learning or a hybrid model, you’re probably looking for educational activities to keep them engaged. Here’s a roundup of in-person and online resources in Inver Grove Heights and the Twin Cities for reading, STEM, social studies, and art activities for students of all ages. An added bonus? Many of them are completely free!
Photo Credit: Dakota County Libraries
Inver Glen Library is open for express services, such as picking up holds, finding books on the shelves, and checking out items. Curbside pick up appointments are available for patrons who prefer a no-contact, outdoor option.
Dakota County Library is also offering free virtual programming via Facebook, including storytimes, author discussions, musical performances, and virtual zoo experiences.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo
STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering)
Learn about animals and their habitats with a visit to the Minnesota Zoo (online ticket reservations are required). The zoo also has free downloadable curriculum resources for elementary and secondary students, including math activities and guides to prepare for your visit to the zoo.
Photo Credit: The Works Museum
The Works Museum is offering at home engineering kits with all the materials needed to create a STEM project, plus online video instructions and access to live educator “office hours” via Zoom so students can troubleshoot their projects and ask questions. Projects include creating a kaleidoscope, designing a mini catapult, and building a dancing robot.
Photo Credit: Bakken Museum
At the Bakken Museum, learn about STEM topics like the history of electricity, magnetism, medical technology, and even Frankenstein. The Bakken has also produced a wide range of online learning resources, such as STEM videos, design challenges, and audio tours.
Photo Credit: Bell Museum
The Bell Museum is Minnesota’s official natural history museum, with classic wildlife dioramas and high-tech exhibits. Online ticket reservations are required. In addition, the museum has a variety of online activities, including story times and home experiment demos.
Photo Credit: Minnesota State Historical Society
The Minnesota State Historical Society has a wide range of distance learning resources for elementary and secondary students, from a video series about the 1918 flu pandemic to at-home activities that teach students about primary and secondary historical sources. Students can also submit stories, images, audio, and videos about their experiences during the pandemic to the MNHS History is Now project.
Photo Credit: Hmong Museum
Learn about Hmong culture, history, and art with the Hmong Museum’s at-home kids and family activities. Many of the coloring pages and worksheets relate to videos and virtual resources from the museum’s collection.
Photo Credit: Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery
The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG) focuses on the history, culture, and art of African Americans in Minnesota. Their permanent exhibit, Unbreakable, celebrates the resilience of African Americans in Minnesota, and current temporary exhibits focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests following the death of George Floyd. Admission is free, but an online reservation is required.
Crayola Experience at Mall of America is a great option for kids of all ages to unleash your creative side. For those of you who are unable or not yet ready to come back, you can take advantage of At Home with Crayola Experience crafts for creative activities to do with your children.
Photo Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art
With over 90,000 artworks, the collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) spans six continents and 5,000 years—there’s truly something for everyone. General admission is free, although a timed ticket is required for museum entry. The Mia also has an Art from Home program, with resources for at-home art making, activities for a virtual visit, and at-home art kits for purchase.
Photo Credit: Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center focuses on contemporary art, from paintings and sculptures to films and photographs. Online timed tickets are required, including free-of-charge tickets for Target Free Thursday Nights and Free First Saturdays. The Walker also offers Free First Saturday at Home, with family-friendly art-making activities, performances, and interactive workshops.ma
Adjacent to the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden provides visitors an opportunity to enjoy art in an outdoor environment. The sculpture garden is free, and tickets are not required. A self-guided tour worksheethelps kids engage with the art.