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Teaching kids at home? Classroom-worthy virtual experiences can ease your burden

A dinosaur checks out an Indy race car, part of the learning experiences offered at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
(Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

Across America, entertainers, chefs and veterans are among those now connecting live on various social media platforms. During the pandemic, they are allowing us to come together virtually, travel to intriguing destinations and, particularly for parents, provide kids with some engaging educational opportunities. Here are some of them. All times are Pacific. The various experiences will be recorded so that they can be viewed at other times.

Indianapolis

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: This 500,000-square-foot museum is one of the largest in the world, so it’s not surprising it has an outsized number of ways to interact online. Beginning May 7, educators and actors will present themed, live shows at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Because Indianapolis and auto racing are synonymous, the first topic will be “Let’s Chat Racing.” Themes to follow include dinosaurs and space.

Disappointed children whose birthday parties have been derailed because of social distancing can celebrate online with the museum’s virtual birthday parties the first day of each month. At 3:30 p.m. Friday, kids who have May birthdays can join an ‘80s dance party that promises to provide a release for plenty of pent-up energy.

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We want to hear from you. Send us your questions and one of our reporters will answer them. Plus, send us your drawings and pictures.

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Anchorage

A Native Alaskan performs a traditional dance during a ceremony at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. While shut down, the center is providing live storytelling online.
A Native Alaskan performs a traditional dance during a ceremony at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. While shut down, the center is providing live storytelling online.
(Alaska Native Heritage Center)

Alaska Native Heritage Center: There’s no need to bundle up to visit with Native Alaskans during live storytelling sessions on the center’s Facebook page.

“We’re able to go beyond what people see in the Heritage Center,” said Dustin Newman, program coordinator. “I’m actually able to contact people down the chain in Kodiak Island, Bethel, Nome [to] take over our Facebook for an hour to show people what it’s like living in rural Alaska.”

At 2 p.m. Thursday, artist Hanna Scholl will explain the ornate headdresses she beads.

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In the coming weeks, topics will include traditional uses for plants and the preparation of fish patties.

Columbus, Ohio

Then-Army Lt. Josh Mantz, center,  on a humanitarian patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, about an hour before he was wounded on April 21, 2007. Mantz’s response to trauma provides the foundation for his inspirational talks.
Then-Army Lt. Josh Mantz, center, on a humanitarian patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, about an hour before he was wounded on April 21, 2007. Mantz’s response to trauma provides the foundation for his inspirational talks.
(Joshua Mantz)

National Veterans Memorial and Museum. The museum’s doors may be locked, but it still provides a key to knowledge. “Our mission didn’t change,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the president and chief executive. “We connect and support and we impact lives.”

Vets are sharing their experiences through a series of webinars. At 10 a.m. Thursday, Maj. Josh Mantz will present “Navigating Life’s Battlefields.” On the outskirts of Baghdad in 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mantz was critically wounded. In public presentations, he explains how field medics brought him back to life after his heart had stopped, “against all odds … after 15 minutes of being dead.”

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Mantz, a West Point graduate and one of 25 veterans profiled in the museum’s alcoves, said there are parallels between the trauma he experienced and what people worldwide are experiencing during the pandemic.

“Everyone has, at least to some degree, felt a collective sense of vulnerability because of this virus,” said Mantz, who is working on his dissertation in behavioral health. “It’s not about overcoming trauma, it’s about learning to move through it. ... It’s about learning to integrate the meaning of what’s happening into our lives as we move forward.”

Follow the Memorial and Museum’s Facebook page for Mantz’s event and others, including a virtual celebration of Memorial Day on May 25.

California and Hawaii

Road Scholar: The nonprofit group that arranges educationally focused travel worldwide is bringing some of its in-person hosts to the Internet for live lectures with time for questions. The May 12 presentation will visit Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum for a tour with art historian Simon Kenrick of Cal State Long Beach. The presentations are free, but pre-registration is required.

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Cooking with the Meritage Collection: Chefs from this group of luxury hotels are sharing the skills and secrets through once-a-week live cooking classes. On May 9, the day before Mother’s Day, Chef Vincent Savignano of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa will show family members how to prepare a complete meal so that Mom doesn’t have to lift a finger.

Other classes include keto-friendly cooking with Chef Vincent Lesage of the Meritage Resort and Spa on May 23 in Napa Valley and “light Hawaiian” cooking with Chef Noelani Planas of Kauai’s Koa Kea Hotel & Resort on June 6. All classes begin at 1 p.m. on the various resorts’ Facebook pages.

Sharing Aloha”: Hawaiian Airlines is sponsoring live classes to share island life with those stuck on the mainland. Upcoming topics include lei-making on Friday (Lei Day in Hawaii) and “Olelo Hawaii,” an introduction to the Hawaiian language on May 8. All classes start at 5 p.m.

Updates

7:09 PM, Apr. 30, 2020: An earlier version of this story reported that Las Vegas headliner Mat Franco was performing weekly live magic shows online. Franco has since decided to halt those performances.


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