Keeping busy - things to do

Here are some suggestions from Library Services on how you can take a break from studying or working from home. Do some reading, or follow a virtual tour in a world-famous museum.

  • The Barbican's Read, Watch, Listen page has a number of articles, films, podcasts, music and other cultural and arts things to do.
  • BBC Arts culture in quarantine has lots of ideas from theatre and the arts to crafts you can do at home.
  • BBC Sounds has a selection of audiobooks - you can sort them alphabetically or see what's popular. You may have to register on the site to access the content.
  • The British Film Institute has an archive of free films.
  • The Directory of Open Access Books gives access to thousands of academic books.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals gives access to a huge number of journals.

Documentaries - here are three different services that offer access to documentaries - each of the sites allows you to browse a list of categories so you should be able to find topics that are of interest to you.

  • Documentary Heaven
  • Documentary Tube
  • Top Documentary Films
  • The Internet Archive has millions of free books, movies, music and websites.
  • The National Theatre is streaming theatre on its YouTube channel every Thursday at 7pm UK time from 2nd April.
  • Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.

To get to the virtual tour in some of these links you need to scroll down once you have opened the web link.

There are free online puzzles available such as crosswords available (although in some cases you do have to watch an advert before being given access to the puzzles).

  • Ben Fogle has a wilderness and adventure lesson each day on Instagram.
  • Box Hill we can't get out to the countryside at the moment, but here is a film about Box Hill which shows how beautiful the countryside is there and has fantastic views.
  • Claire Balding joins notable and interesting people in her podcasts which take you for a virtual walk in the countryside.
  • Dawlish Beach Cam - we can't get to the beach at the moment, but if you want to see a nice sea view here's a web cam at Dawlish. With an occasional train passing by to liven things up.
  • The East End Women's Museum has created a heritage trail for a walk around Whitechapel and then Barking. If you don't want to do the walk there is lots of information on the map (just click on the circles on the map) about the different locations, local history and the women who were part of that history.
  • Explore Waddesdon Manor home of the Rothschilds and its beautiful gardens.
  • Futurelearn is an online platform for learning - many of its courses are free, Sometimes an informal course can be a break from your university study or contribute towards it (improve your study skills), or it might contribute towards a new hobby such as genealogy. FutureLearn has a great variety of subjects, including languages, history, arts, healthcare, wellbeing, environment, food technology, play, IT and study skills to name a few.
  • Glastonbury Tor has amazing views - we may not be able to travel to the countryside but there is a 360 degree view from the Tor brought to us by Google - the image was taken on a lovely sunny day and you can see for miles.
  • Go for a virtual walk in Hyde Park.
  • The Independent Newspaper has crosswords and other puzzles online.
  • The London Metropolitan Archive's Collage Database has over 250,000 images from Old London, from people to architecture to fashion among many other topics. You can search by street name, browse by subject (scroll down to see a list of subjects), look at the featured galleries, or click on a map to see how many images are available for specific locations.
  • Old Maps can be a fascinating way to find out more about a location. On the Old Maps website you can browse the maps online and purchase printed versions. You can search by postcode and by town names, zoom in and move around on the maps online and choose maps from different time periods.
  • Online Jigsaw Puzzles: this site has jigsaw puzzles for all ages. Each one shows how many pieces - for children you might wish to choose a puzzle that doesn't have too many pieces.
  • Radio Garden displays a virtual globe showing lots of radio stations around the world. Spin the globe and zoom in on a green dot which represents a radio station and you can tune in live to hear what they are playing as far afield as Hawaii or Greenland!
  • The Royal Academy has a series of short films about visits to famous artists' gardens such as Monet's Garden in Giverny, France. The films were created as part of documentary about the exhibition at the Royal Academy called Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.
  • Sculpture in the City - we can't get out to walk round and see all the sculptures this year - however, there are really good images online so you can take a virtual tour.
  • The Sounds of the Forest website allows you to listen to the sounds of the forest in forests all around the world. Just click on the map to hear different locations - we found the Gria Vathra Waterfalls, Samothrace Island, Greece very relaxing to listen to.
  • The Visual Arts Data Service has images of art, sculpture, design, furniture and many more. You can search for specific things or browse the collections.
  • The World from Above is a YouTube channel with a series of films around the world that are filmed from above. They show beautiful coastlines and scenery, castles and architecture. They are organised geographically - so you can choose films from all over the world. Try Italy from above our best sights from Verona, Venice, Vicenza in HD.
  • Audible - free audiobooks for kids from Audible - with books suitable for young children through to teens.
  • The Booktrust's Hometime Hub has free online books, videos and games for children - including videos on how to draw characters from children's books and videos where you can singalong to nursery rhymes.
  • The British Library has put together some activities on Discovering Children's Books including a tutorial on how to draw the Gruffalo.
  • The Department for Education has curated a host of resources for home schooling for a variety of subjects. They also have guidance and tips for parents which may be useful.
  • Explaining social distancing to small children - here is a short cartoon story to help children understand social distancing.
  • Fantastic for Families has all sorts of activities for children from story-telling to art projects.
  • Gelligaer Roman Fort (in Wales) has videos, an interactive map and a host of material for teachers and activities (Key Stage 2) including things like "Odd facts about the Romans".
  • The Guildhall Art Gallery has created a City of London Architecture Activity Pack for 8-13 year olds. It's only a few pages - and if you don't have a printer to print it children can use some note paper instead.
  • The Internet Archive has a page of links to resources for school age students - it has links by topic and also by age group - with fiction and non fiction separated - which makes it easier to browse to find appropriate material.
  • Islington Council's Home Learning Resources web page has a plethora of resources for home learning. Scroll down on the page and there are weekly lesson plans for the Key Stages of the National Curriculum as well as other activities. There are also links to subject specific resources and a newsletter you can subscribe to for more ideas and information on home learning.
  • J.K.Rowling is sharing her story The Ickabog online one chapter at a time - several chapters are already available on the site. 
  • Junkitecture from Open House has activities that support the science, technology, engineering, art and maths elements of the National Curriculum.
  • Kennedy Centre Education Artist in Residence Mo Willems invites learners into his studio to draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing.
  • Learning at home activities for children aged 4 to 11.
  • Mac Barnett - the children’s book author reads his books. Good for entertaining children whilst adults try to work or study!
  • NASA Stem Engagement - although aimed at the US curriculum has lots of fun activities that are interesting for kids in the UK.
  • The National Archive has shared some resources and information about Florence Nightingale - this includes scans of original documents such as the birth register, photographs, rules for nurses. correspondence. Some of the material is quite difficult to read (due to being handwritten) - so this may only be suitable for older students or those who have someone to help them with the material. A number of the special hospitals for COVID 19 patients are called Nightingale Hospital - so finding out about Florence may be of interest. The National Archives Time Travel TV has a number of activities based on documents in their collections. They stream programmes every week, but also there's a list of links to previous activities and programmes.
  • The National Archives Time Travel Club has activities for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 which are fun and cover a number of curriculum topics.
  • National Geographic resources - many of these can be used at home.
  • The National Shelf Service. Discover your next great read from the National Shelf Service - it will feature one librarian and one book recommendation each day. The selected titles will be available to borrow as e-books from most local libraries via their websites.
  • Online colouring - no need to print, this is colouring on your screen.
  • Online Jigsaw Puzzles: this site has jigsaw puzzles for all ages. Each one shows how many pieces - for children you might wish to choose a puzzle that doesn't have too many pieces..
  • Peep at the Penguins in their home in Paignton Zoo.
  • Peter and the Wolf - some children might enjoy watching Peter and the Wolf - a ballet with music by Prokoviev - the story is explained as the ballet unfolds and the costumes are beautiful. The recording lasts just over half an hour. Note: the wolf does "eat" one of the characters in this story (off stage fortunately!) so it may not be suitable for very young children.
  • Talis Homeschooling Resources - Talis the Reading List software provider has create a list of links to homeschooling resources for a variety of subjects and ages. It is divided into sections that make it easier to find material relevant for your children's study.
  • The British Library's World and Traditional Music collection - not all of the recordings are open access, but a large number of them are.
  • Jango has over 800 curated playlists - you can choose a decade or a genre such as reggae, folk, gospel, funk - to name just a few.
  • Radio Garden displays a virtual globe showing lots of radio stations around the world. Spin the globe and zoom in on a green dot which represents a radio station and you can tune in live to hear what they are playing as far afield as Hawaii or Greenland!
  • The Royal Opera House has made access to some of its productions available - the site gives information such as a short synopsis of the storyline of the production in question. If you have never watched a opera or a ballet before try Mozart's Cosi fan tutte or the ballet Peter and the Wolf with music by Prokoviev.
  • Members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have recorded some videos from their own homes and shared them on YouTube.
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