These resources for learning, interacting, coping and initiating conversation (among other topics) have been gleaned from local news media, found online and submitted by BBBSWNC staff and supporters. Scroll down for a county-by-county resource list.
But in the meantime …
Spend Some Time Touring the World!
So you can’t go anywhere, but you can visit places online all over the world!
It’s Earth Week—Go On Safari With Your Kids! Earth Day turns 50 on April 22. Nat Geo is encouraging families to discover the planet through its amazing animals. First check out these activities for inspiration—then create a neighborhood safari with your family!
Google Earth is such an amazing tool to use with your child to encourage them to explore the world. You can be at home on your sofa or at our desk and transport to anywhere on the earth.
Prominent against South Dakota’s Black Hills, Mount Rushmore National Memorial represents the birth, growth and development of the United States, as well as its legacy. This is a fun virtual tour of it
Wander into the belly of an Egyptian pyramid, explore the house where Mozart was born, or fly over the rocky peaks of Glacier National Park, and do so much more in “52 Places, Virtually,” a collection of fascinating places to see compiled by The New York Times.
Here’s something weird that you can tour virtually – a museum of historic, working computers! The National Museum of Computing houses the world’s largest collection of functional historic computers, including the rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world’s oldest working digital computer. Follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
Take a journey through Gombe, Tanzania, exploring Jane Goodall’s famed chimpanzee reserve. There, you can even follow a day in the life of a chimpanzee, tracing a female chimp named Glitter through the Gombe forests.
Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet! These virtual reality voyages use 360-degree images to highlight the amazing habitats, animals, and cultural resources you can find in each national marine sanctuary.
The Asheville Art Museum website lets your tour exhibitions and collections. You can also play “I Spy” with your kids using artwork from the museum’s collection. Color our Collection (for kids and adults) has downloadable coloring sheets and note cards.
Take virtual tours of colleges and universities throughout the country and world at YouVisit. Among the North Carolina schools listed are Appalachian State University, Duke University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, N.C. State University and all the UNC schools.
International trips are one thing, but, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can take a virtual trip to Mars NASA, this USA TODAY story shows (click on it for other tours as well!). NASA partnered with Google to offer a tour of a 3D replica of the Martian surface recorded by the Curiosity rover.
For those who want to surround themselves with nature without the traveling and going-outside aspect of it all, national parks are also providing virtual tours of America’s most popular parks, this USA TODAY story shows (click on it for other tours as well!). Virtual visitors can travel through the trails of Yellowstone National Park, as well as the Yosemite National Park.
Virtual tours of a handful of Egypt’s archaeological marvels — including the ancient Tomb of Queen Meresankh III and the fourth century Red Monastery — are now available at this LiveScience.com website. The 3D tours show the ancient Egyptian sites in stunning detail, allowing viewers to “walk through” different parts of the ruins, much like how the navigation on Google Street View works.
This virtual tour of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force allows visitors to take a virtual, 360-degree, self-guided tour of the entire museum by navigating from gallery to gallery either by using a drop-down map or by following navigational arrows connecting the individual nodes. Icons indicate hotspots where the visitor can get additional information such as videos, audio and links to online resources.
While the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is closed, its educators are working to fill your child’s day with engaging interactive activity. CMOM can still be a part of your day through videos, sing-a-longs, games and so much more for you to do together with your family at home!
Good Housekeeping online has this great list of virtual tours, including LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Sea World Orlando, the National Aquarium, and the Atlanta Zoo (check out their “panda cam” livestream), as well as cool museums like the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
What’s cuter than a prickly porcupine named Rico eating a dried apricot? Not much, other than the live broadcasts that The Cincinnati Zoo is doing on Facebook Live every day at 3 p.m. that features one of their adorable, fascinating animals? Not much, except perhaps archived videos (including Rico!) here of other animals at the zoo!
20 Amazing Places You Can Visit Without Leaving Home by TravelZoo is a super-cool way to visit … some of the most amazing places you can visit without leaving home! Tour places like The Louvre, The National Museum of Natural History, watch the sea otters (and other animals) at Monterey Bay Aquarium, go on a live safari.
Tour the world’s great museums! This Travel + Leisure article links you to some of the most amazing art, history, and science museums in the world, such as the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of more places where you can gain knowledge about art, history, and science.
Project Chimps, a chimpanzee sanctuary in the United States, was founded to provide lifelong exemplary care to 200 former research chimpanzees at its sanctuary on 236 acres of forested land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia. Today, Project Chimps is home to 79 chimpanzees and is are working to move nearly 130 more to permanent sanctuary.
Make an Easy Face Mask!
Got a bandana and two ponytail holders? Then you can make this super-easy cloth face mask.
Concerned About Eviction?
This information came from a Pisgah Legal Services webinar.
- NC DOES NOT have a state moratorium on evictions.
- There is a federal moratorium on evictions for housing properties with federal backing, such as public housing, Section 8, etc. For these properties, you cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent through July 24, but don’t wait because a large bill will build up. You can be evicted for a lease violation.
- March 31 Governor Cooper mandated that utility companies (electric, gas, water, and wastewater) cease cutoffs for non-payment for 60 days; a person has 6 months to pay back late fees. He also ENCOURAGED banks and telecom companies to follow the same rules.
- Judges will not hear eviction cases until April 17. A landlord can file an eviction notice, but it won’t be heard in court until after 4/17.
- Pay RENT if you can! Talk to your landlord and ask if you can pay when your stimulus check arrives. You don’t want rent payments to build up.
- The ONLY way you can be LEGALLY evicted is through court. If the landlord puts a padlock on your door, takes your belongings, or cuts off your utilities, that is ILLEGAL. Call the Sheriff’s Department, and call Pisgah Legal Services at 253-0406.
- If you need assistance with a landlord/ eviction issue, call Pisgah Legal Services at 253-0406 or apply online: https://www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance/
Virtual Field Trips, Drawing Lessons and Music Classes!
Wideopenschool.org is one of the coolest free websites out there for the breadth of topics it offers Parents, Kids and Bigs. Click “We Are A Family” and start looking for the topic you want help in, by age group, such as Emotional Well-Being, Live Events, Special Needs Kids, even Academics (as if you haven’t gotten enough!). Live Events is especially cool – it’s a list of scheduled things like drawing lessons, music classes and performances, story times and cooking classes (!).
Tips For Staying Connected!
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters put together this Virtual Mentoring Guide and Toolkit, an extensive list of fun, engaging activities and resources for staying connected with your Little and their parent/guardian. Watch one of these concerts together, start a journal together, take a dance class, or calm down – there are lots of helpful links here (probably the biggest list we’ve seen yet!) for younger and older kids, male and female.
Karate, Crafting, Cooking, Music and So Much More!
Idea Makers out of Cerro Gordo, Ill. has compiled (and maintains) this wealth of online videos and activities for kids during the crisis. Drawing, yoga, music, tours, science – and that’s just the beginning!
Health and Fitness!
Free workout videos for kids, adults (and active older adults) are available at the YMCA’s “Virtual YMCA” website. You and the child in your life can participate in videos about yoga, Tai Chi, bootcamp, youth soccer, youth sports performance and a bunch of other cool workouts.
Let’s dance! Want to get your Little or your little (-ish) one moving? Director/choreographer/dancer/actress Debbie Allen (of “Fame” fame) is giving free dance classes via Instagram.
GoNoodle.com engages 14 million kids every month with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Available for free at school, home, and everywhere kids are!
Watch and Discuss!
In today’s video from Storyline Online, Oprah Winfrey reads “The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen,” a story by author Thelma Godin about Kameeka and the conflicts she runs into on the day she hopes to beat her hula-hoppin’ rival, Jamara. The video last 13 minutes.
Read and Discuss!
Billy Kelly’s This Is a Family Show! is a stand-up comedy experience (with music) that parents and kids can enjoy together. From jokes about nocturnal animals and microwaves to Ben Franklin and people throwing turtles, the whole family will laugh along while listening to this comedian’s unique perspectives. It’s one of the free books from Audible (see the next entry).
Books to listen to (for free)! Audible is making stories for children free during this shutdown time. Elementary, Tween, Teen (and even Littlest Listeners) will benefit from the wealth of stories read to them at Audible/discovery.
Write and Discuss!
Hey Bigs and guardians, let’s get our Littles to write a story! It’s easier than it sounds with Story Starters, where kids pick their age level and the kind of story they want to write (Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi … or take your chances!). We gave it a spin this morning under Fantasy, and through a crazy combination, we got “Write a futuristic story about a magnificent ogre whose magical shield blocks every weapon!” Cool, right?
Draw and Discuss!
Drawing with Michael Woodside: Learn to draw Disney characters, live streamed on YouTube and Instagram daily at 10 a.m. – #drawingwithwoodsy (videos are also recorded).
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems: Around the world, people of all ages have joined Mo Willems, Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, in his studio for weekday LUNCH DOODLES. The three-week run, all 15 episodes and their downloadable activities, are archived here. Let the doodling continue! Tag your artwork on social media with #MoLunchDoodles so everyone can all see it!
Here’s a list of other authors and illustrators who are sharing stories and leading activities online.
Deb’s Virtual Art School: Artist Deborah Putnoi does lessons on Facebook daily at 1 p.m. (videos are also recorded).
Coping Help For Everyone!
Children often take their emotional cues from adults and are likely to be worried if they see adults in their lives as worried, according to this article in The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring. “Calm reassurance is needed – and mentors should reach out to their mentees (by phone, video, text, or whatever their program recommends) and be a steady source of comfort and conversation about their concerns,” the article states. The article has some suggestions for how you as mentor can steer these conversations.
How to help teens “shelter in place” and other ways of helping Littles, their parents (and yourself) cope with these weird times are available at Greater Good Magazine, whose slogan is “Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life.”
Fun Things That Keep Kids Engaged!
Macaroni Kid Asheville just published this “30 Free Educational Resources Kids Can Use At Home” guide that has segments for different ages and fun things to do for all!
Parents, if your kids can’t help you, here’s The Parents’ Guide To Google Classroom.
End of Grade Testing
This email was sent April 1 to parents of students at Asheville City Schools and likely applies to parents of all students in North Carolina.
“By now, you may have seen news reports and have questions about the student testing that could occur if we are indeed able to return on May 18th. Please know that we are continuing to collaborate with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and while there are still many unanswered questions, for today, we can tell you the State Board of Education has unanimously approved the submission of a one-year waiver of federal student assessments. This means, for this school year, there will be no End of Grade exams for elementary and middle schools and no End of Course exams at the high school level. We are waiting on confirmation from the State about other accountability measures and will continue to keep you informed.”
This county-by-county list starts with Buncombe County and is followed by other counties with BBBSWNC branches. (Much of this information, posted soon after the pandemic broke in early spring, may be outdated. It’s best to call the organizations/entities below to make sure their offer still stands.)
Need help with pet food?
The ASPCA is distributing free pet food to Buncombe County residents impacted by the pandemic. This will be a drive-through event by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call the ASPCA hotline (800) 738-9437 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. There will be no same-day appointments, and you will be required to show a photo ID when you arrive.
The Humane Society’s Community Solutions Department has launched a pet food + supplies delivery system for needy residents. Residents of Buncombe County should email or call the Safety Net Helpline at (828) 760-2008 for assistance.
One Buncombe Fund May Help Parents/Guardians/Bigs
The One Buncombe Fund is designed for to meet two needs in our community:
1. Provide immediate assistance to individualswho have lost employment due to COVID-19. If granted, these funds can be used for life-essential needs caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis such as electric bills, deposits, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas, propane, wood, mortgages, overnight lodging, etc. Funds will be paid to the service provider, not directly to individuals. To apply, contact COVID-GA@buncombecounty.org or call (828) 250-5500.
2. Help locally owned, small businesses affected by COVID-19. Small businesses will be eligible for loans up to $10,000 that are designed to bridge the costs associated with staying open until they can also receive longer term disaster funding from the SBA and other places. To apply, review your eligibility here.
Special Shopping Hours For Vulnerable Populations
Parents/Guardians, if you’re elderly, many local grocery stores have created special hours for you to shop that will minimize your chances of being out among the public, according to this Buncombe County website.
Spring Break Student Meal Sites
Buncombe County Schools will observe Spring Break during the week of April 6. Locations that will be offering student-age meals during spring break can be found at this website.
Asheville City Schools created this image to help you get the academic/school support your child/Little needs.
Buncombe County Schools Virtual Days launched March 18 to help you keep your child/your Little up to date with their school work. The school campuses may be temporarily closed, but Buncombe County Schools’ Virtual Days will allow learning to continue! BCS teachers have worked diligently to prepare lessons that help students remain connected to their curriculum and their classmates virtually. Learn more by clicking this link.
Free internet “hot spots” for Buncombe County Schools students: If you don’t have Internet at home and your child/your Little goes to Buncombe County Schools, the school system is offering “hotspots” that will help your child or Little get online to continue his/her classes. Parents of children who currently do not have Internet access at home may request a Homework Hotspot for connecting their child’s BCS 1:1 device to the Internet by clicking on this link.
Technical assistance for parents/guardians/students of Buncombe County Schools: Buncombe County Schools’ technology Help Desk is currently open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and can be reached at 828.255.5987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a library card? Buncombe County Libraries has made free to cardholders Lynda.com, which offers hundreds of instructional videos and training exercises in Audio, Music, Design, Photography and Video instruction, as well as many more topics. Also available at the link are
The YMCA continues to host regular no-cost mobile produce markets, using pre-packed bags to prevent any additional exposure/contact. Additionally, weekend meals will be served on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Ferguson YMCA (31 Westridge Market Place, Candler, NC 28715).
Bounty & Soul in the Black Mountain/Swannanoa area will be hosting drive-thru pick up sites for participants to collect pre-made healthy food boxes. Sites are open on Tuesdays at the St. James Episcopal Church (424 W. State St., Black Mountain, 28711) parking lot from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Fridays at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church (117 Montreat Road, Black Mountain, 28711) parking lot from 4-6 p.m. Guests are asked not to arrive earlier than the scheduled times.
Some restaurants in Buncombe County are offering free meals to school-age children. Here is an updated list of who’s providing what.
If you need food, here is a list of Buncombe County food pantries.
School breakfast and lunch programs
Buncombe County Schools’ free student-age meal site is here.
Asheville City Schools free student-age meal site is here.
Free Data Plans, Food Stamp Assistance and Other Services
Buncombe County government has created this website for updated news and information on the COVID-19 crisis. Click on the Community Resources tab, then go to the bottom of the document to access the “COVID-19 For Community Members” pdf to get daily updates on services about public assistance, community resources, new unemployment information, and other resources that might be beneficial to you (including waivers of late fees on delayed payments for certain utilities, plus 60 days of unlimited data for people with Internet providers).
Counseling for Littles/Children
If your Little or child at Asheville City Schools needs mental health support, school counselors, social workers and other professionals are available at 828-350-6133, according to this March 18 story in The Asheville Citizen-Times. “Buncombe County Schools counselors will assign social and emotional learning tasks on Google Classroom for students to access during the district’s Virtual Days program,” the story states. “According to BCS Student Services Director David Thompson, every school counselor will make a phone number available for students to anonymously call during school hours.” Also in the story are what five charter schools in Buncombe are doing.
Field Trip Refunds
Asheville City Schools on April 1 sent an email to parents stating “the district has been working with Young Transportation and other companies to help recover the dollars that families invested in their child’s school related field trips. We are pleased to announce that, in most cases, we have recovered the majority of refunds for in-state and out-of-state trips. Please know that there are several out of country field trips that we are still working on. Your school will be in touch with you regarding these upcoming refunds.”
Burke County government has created this website that has several helpful links, including where to find emergency child care services. There are links to the county’s COVID-19 YouTube channel, to Centers for Disease Control info, to EPA-approved disinfectants and county media briefings.
Burke County Schools has this website with links to food distribution sites, the day care application and the school systems latest update threads (hilo de actualizacion mas reciente). It also has links to remote learning resources, community volunteer forms and other helpful links.
Here’s some good news – With the help of one family working in Burke County, The Good Kitchen out of Charlotte is donating more than 25,000 kids meals to Burke County Public Schools as of March 27. The school system will give out the meals starting March 27 as part of the food distribution program taking place while schools are closed.
Cherokee County Schools is working hard to continue to provide learning opportunities for all of our students during this time of uncertainty, according to its website. “ACE and Remote Learning Plans will continue to guide and allow students to complete schoolwork at home on days when schools are closed, the website states. “We will continue to follow the directive of our state officials and provide remote learning opportunities as directed. As a school system, we are working with local businesses, charitable foundations, and state agencies to provide WiFi hubs to make our remote learning opportunities widely available to each community. We will continue to update as more resources become available.” ACE and Remote Learning Plans, plus more, are here.
Updates and local information from the Cherokee County Health Department are linked to this Facebook page.
Announced April 1st: “Due to changes in staffing schedules, meals from Haywood County Schools will now be distributed Monday through Thursday until further notice, including bus routes and at school distribution sites (those are open 11am-1pm). Meals on Thursdays will include two breakfasts and two lunches.” Mon-Wed, Meals will include a breakfast and a lunch. You may pick-up these items in a drive thru fashion only. Children do not have to be present to receive a meal. Pick-up areas will be clearly marked at each school. If your school is not a food distribution site, feel free to go to any of the schools named. You may pick-up meals for any child ages 1-18 at a pick-up area at each of the following schools.
- Bethel Elementary
- Clyde Elementary
- Hazelwood Elementary
- Jonathan Valley Elementary
- Junaluska Elementary
- Meadowbrook Elementary
- North Canton Elementary
- Waynesville Middle School
Some restaurants in Haywood County are offering free meals to school-age children. Here is an updated list of who’s providing what.
School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
Henderson County Public Schools will provide free meals to students over the school closure. Here is a list updated April 3 of grab-and-go pickup meals available for pickup and delivery sites for meals dropped by bus.
Some restaurants in Henderson County are offering free meals to school-age children. Here is an updated list of who’s providing what.
HIGHLANDS (MACON COUNTY)
Macon County Schools’ website has information about food distribution sites; at-home learning; wifi access, devices and technical assistance; and more.
The Town of Highlands’ link has these links inside.
- North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services – NC updates & info on COVID-19
- CDC – Center for Disease Control & Prevention – Federal COVID-19 updates & information
- Macon County COVID-19 Call Center – 828.349.2517 – Monday-Friday (8am-5pm)
- Macon County Public Health– Facebook updates
- Angel Medical Center – Website Angel Medical Center on Facebook
- Highlands-Cashiers Hospital – Website Highlands – Cashiers Hospital on Facebook
- Macon County Public Schools – Website Macon County Public Schools on Facebook
CASHIERS (JACKSON COUNTY)
Jackson County Schools created these two websites:
- Request Form for Meal Delivery: https://www.jcpsnc.org/food
- Student Device Tech Support: https://jcps.zendesk.com
Jackson County Schools’ Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/jcpsnc/.
Polk County has placed its COVID-19 resources under one website, https://polkschools.org/coronavirus/. The site is extensive, with links to student food distribution sites, free wifi locations and Internet access, student activities like Chrome Music Lab. There is a telehealth service link to Blue Ridge Health, as well as links on how to protect yourself and what to do if you’re sick. There’s even a NC State Health Plan with info for state employees.
If you need technical assistance for your student’s of Little’s remote learning through Swain County Schools, call 828-488-3120 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on school days.
School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
In Swain County, school bus drivers will be running their regular school routes throughout Swain County to deliver meals to children. They will make all regular stops to see if there are children that need meals. All kids will receive the meals for free. If there are other children at the homes the buses stop at, they may receive a meal too (they do not have to be enrolled in Swain County Schools to receive free meals). The buses will be on routes between 10am and 12pm. The bus driver will stop at each bus stop, blow the horn and wait several minutes to see if someone comes out to pick up meals. Please send adults or older children out if possible to pick up the meals. Meals will still be available at school cafeterias for pick up from 7:20am-2pm. To be added to the bus route for food delivery, please call Tessa at 828-488-3129 x 5163.