Some people get bored when they have to stay home. If you find yourself in this situation, today I will share with you things you can do for FREE if you have internet access.
The idea for this post came from my friend Laura-Marie who writes the blog dangerous compassions. (Go ahead and add that blog to your list of things to read now that you have some time on your hands. It’s good!) Laurie-Marie offered to share a list of free learning resources she knew about. I’m using her list and adding free things I’ve heard about too. I hope you find some activities to enjoy here. (Also, I’ll include some more beautiful photos from my collection for your viewing pleasure.)
The first six resources and commentary were provided by Laura-Marie.
Clozemaster is a free language learning website offering sentences with one word missing, and you fill in the world multiple choice style. You’re informed whether you entered the right word, then hear someone speak the sentence. I enjoy that it’s a different approach from usual–I like variety in my language learning attempts.
Duolingo is a free language learning website that offers a ton of languages and is fun and easy to use. Like any way of learning a language, different people’s minds are helped by different methods. I don’t do well learning verbs through this website, but otherwise, I find it helpful for my study.
Librivox is a website for free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers. The audiobooks are available for download. You can listen, read aloud, or both.
Project Gutenberg is a library of free public domain ebooks–great for if you suddenly need to read Paradise Lost and got rid of your copy from college countless moves ago.
Open Culture lists “the best free cultural & educational media on the web.” Laura-Marie says, “This list of free online courses is long.” The website says it lists “1,500 online courses from universities like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, Oxford and more.” You can also find 1,150 free movies, 700 free audiobooks, 800 free ebooks, and 300 free language lessons.
The #freepermaculture website offers “free online permaculture courses [to] help you create ecological gardens and homesteads and connect with a global community of co-learners, innovating hands-on solutions and envisioning a sustainable future, together.” Laura-Marie says, “I’ve been enrolled in this free online year-long permaculture [course] for about six months. I love how it’s packed with information [and] well-organized. Also, it’s special because it’s taught by women instructors. I enjoy the lady-friendliness. Each lesson has bonus material at the end, with plenty of essays to read, diagrams to see, videos to watch.
The rest of the resources and commentary are by Blaize.
Another source for free courses is the Saylor Academy. The website says you can “Build new skills or work toward a degree at your own pace with free Saylor Academy courses.”
A third source for online learning is Courses.com. This website offers a collection of free online courses from top educational institutions for anyone to take.
For more free options for learning a language online, read Larry Kim‘s article “9 Places to Learn a New Language Online for Free.” (Kim also mentions Duolingo and Open Culture.) Also check out FluentU‘s article “49 Free Language Learning Websites That Are Almost Too Good to Be True” by Jakob Gibbons. (You can also get a free 14 day trial to FluentU, which brings you “real world video content that’s entertaining, timely, and ideal for language learners.”)
Want to build, craft, or create something but you’re not sure how? Want to learn how to prepare food? Instructables offers step-by-step instructions to help you complete a wide range of projects. I used instructions from Instructables to learn how to make infinity scarves on my round knitting loom.
Skillshare offers thousands of free online classes on topics including design, business, photography, drawing, cooking, and more.
Another place to learn for free is at wikiHow. I often use the wikiHow website as a source when researching for blog posts. The wikiHow website says,
Since 2005, wikiHow has helped billions of people to learn how to solve problems large and small. We work with credentialed experts, a team of trained researchers, and a devoted community to create the most reliable, comprehensive and delightful how-to content on the Internet.
Many museums around the world–including Detroit Institute of Arts; the Galleria dell’Academia in Florence, Italy; The Dalí Theatre-Museum; and the National Museum of African American History and Culture–offer virtual tours. To find out how to view collections from the privacy of your own home, see the Upgraded Points article “The 75 Best Virtual Museum Tours Around the World [Art, History, Science, and Technology]” by Jarrod West.
You can also take a virtual tour of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, one of my favorite places.
If you’d rather look at animals than art, check out the extensive variety of animal cams available on the EarthCam website. Here you can find cams to let you view everything from bison to giraffes, pandas to tigers. Here you can even find the Michigan Snowman Cam! (Is a snowman an animal?)
The EarthCam Webcam Network also offers you peeks into places aross the United States and around the world. Missing Lake Michigan? Check out the Lake Michigan Beach Cam. Wish you were at the beach? Check out the Hawaii Surf Cam.
Many aquariums also have cams to check out. Some aquarium cams you can watch are available from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (with ten live cams to choose from including the aviary cam, the coral reef cam and the moon jelly cam); the Aquarium of the Pacific ( including Shark Lagoon and penguin habitats above and below water); and the Seattle Aquarium (harbor seals! sea otters!) Other aquariums offer cams too. Simply search “aquarium cams” and see what pops up.
If you’d rather watch opera than animals, many opera companies are offering free streaming of performances right now. David Salazar has compiled “A Comprehensive List of All Opera Companies Offering Free Streaming Services Right Now” for the OperaWire website.
If you want learn more about music including songwriting, music theory, playing guitar, music history, and so much more, see Class Central‘s list of 200+ free online music classes. (According to the website, “Class Central is a search engine and reviews site for free online courses popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.”)
If you want to narrow down your search for music classes, check out Springboard blog’s post “The 30 Best Free Online Music Courses” by Rajit Dasgupta. The post ends with a list of five other free resources for musicians.
Fender (as in guitars) is currently offering three months of free guitar lessons. (No credit card needed.) If you want to sample what Fender has to offer before you commit to three months of lessons, you can try out the three levels of online lessons the company offers for free via video.
Writers who want to hone their abilities should check out Class Central’s guide to free online courses to improve writing skills.
Folks of any age who like to color can find hundreds of free coloring pages online. Download free coloring pages from over 100 museums and libraries; see this BookRiot article for all the details. Just Color offers “1,500+ Free Adult Coloring pages to download in PDF or to print : various themes, artists, difficulty levels and styles.” The Spruce Crafts provides free printable coloring pages for adults from a variety of sources. Even Crayola has gotten into the act with free coloring pages for grown ups.
For people who want to try painting, Kelly Allen of House Beautiful reports “You Can Watch Every Episode of Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” for Free Right Now.“
Not only are Ross’s videos a great way to pass the time when you’ve run out of options on Netflix, but you could, in theory, create 403 paintings right along with him…
Not to mention, listening to Bob Ross as he paints a picture is extremely therapeutic. If you’re highly anxious or just overall exhausted, his videos can offer you a calming effect that’s as reliable as a weighted blanket.
If you’d like to learn about shooting photos or videos, Nikon (as in cameras) is offering all of their courses for free during April 2020.
The Bluprint crafting website is offering free unlimited access to online classes and projects until April 16, 2020.
If you want to move your body but need some inspiration, you might want to check out one or more fitness apps. Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T. runs down “11 Free Fitness Apps That Will Help You Work Out When Your Living Room Is Your Gym” for the Self website. You can also try a free live-stream workout; Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN shares “25+ Fitness Studios and Gyms Offering Live-Stream Workouts During the Coronavirus Outbreak” on the Good Housekeeping website. (Note: Some of these apps and classes typically cost money but currently are offering free trials.) You can find a free 38 minute gentle yoga flow video on the YogiApproved website or check out TCK Publishing’s list of “15 Free Online Yoga Classes.”
Before I wrap this up, I want to encourage you to also check out TED Talks, the Stuff You Should Know podcast (and everything else in the How Stuff Works family), and YouTube as other great places to learn about a variety of topis. There are also lots of good suggestions on the Business Insider post “The 43 Best Websites for Learning Something New,” a “list of great knowledge sources, inspiring blogs, tools, communities and course platforms that will help you discover fresh ideas or master new skills.”
If all of these suggestions aren’t enough for you, check out the extensive list of free things to do while practicing social distancing provided by a librarian from Tennessee State University.
I hope some of these ideas prove helpful in keeping you busy during this time of social isolation. If you know of other resources, please feel free to share them in the comments.
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I took the photos in this post.