How do you make play hands-on, engaging and FUN when you’re virtual? Leave it to the Play Experts and Educators at Port Discovery Children’s Museum to figure it out!

When schools, community centers, after-school locations and other places shut down and went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Port Discovery wanted to ensure that children and families throughout our communities continued to have access to hands-on play and learning wherever they were.

The Museum quickly shifted to online engagement activities to promote at-home learning and play, and to ease families’ stress and isolation.

In addition to offering simple at-home activities for families to enjoy, the Museum also created a suite of virtual play-based educational enrichment programs for use by Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Maryland schools and community partners.

Port Discovery’s team of educators designed a variety of fun, educational live and pre-recorded virtual programs like Aesop’s Fables: Fable-ous Stories and Activities, Unpacking Baltimore – A Virtual Art Workshop, The Great Mummy Mystery, Space-ercise, Whatever Floats Your Boat, Slime Spectacular, Animal Adaptions, Stained Glass Stories. The programs are aimed at lessening learning loss, supporting learning recovery and school readiness, and bringing playful educational activities to children engaged in remote and hybrid learning.

In order to make the virtual programs hands-on, engaging and fun, Port Discovery developed accompanying material kits, as well as Virtual Learning Support Packs to help kids engage more productively in distance learning this school year and beyond.

Each Virtual Learning Support Pack includes the book Calm by Eric Carle “featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar providing a simple easy to follow journey to relaxation”, several sensory manipulatives, a blank journal and crayons for doodling, and a sample of KIDNASIUM activity coins to encourage movement breaks through simple prompts.

Teachers and administrators tell us that the Virtual Learning Support Pack is an invaluable tool for any student participating in virtual learning, and we’ve seen first hand how these hands-on elements engage students in the fun, playful and educational lessons they’re participating in!

Thanks to funders like the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative, PwC, PNC Charitable Trusts and WBAL Kids Campaign, Port Discovery has developed 1,121 Virtual Learning Support Packs for students enrolled in various Baltimore City and Baltimore County schools and distribution is ongoing!

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