Edmonds Kind of Play: Social distancing? Many online options for families (and adults) through Sno-Isle Libraries

Through your library card, you can access audiobooks for kids — some read by library staff.

Editor’s note: This story was published before school closures and other program cancellations were announced due to COVID-19. Schools are now closed through at least through April 24, Sno-Isle Libraries are closed,  and local government agencies have announced closures of many programs and buildings. Because the situation is rapidly evolving, please visit the City of Edmonds website for the latest information on facilities closures.

If you are caring for children, you are likely getting emails from the different groups, sports, schools, and organizations you frequent regarding Covid-19 and the coronavirus. Here in Edmonds, starting March 7, recreation programs are canceled for a minimum of two weeks as the Frances Anderson Center closes to the public; this includes Meadowdale Preschool and their Meadowdale Clubhouse location. Frances Anderson Center not only has many different Edmonds Parks and Recreation options, but they are also home to organizations like Olympic Ballet School and Edmonds Montessori. As of Monday, March 9, the Lynnwood Recreation Center and Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion have not canceled youth classes or swim lessons.

On Friday, an email from Edmonds School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy alerted families that while school remains in session, “Sporting competitions, concerts, dances, plays, and information nights are canceled or postponed beginning Monday, March 9, through Sunday, April 12.” District events seen as “extensions of the school day” will continue. These are “sports practices, rehearsals, and school club meetings,” and includes Move 60! and before- and after-school child care.

With community concerns about Covid-19, some families (and adults) are choosing to practice “social distancing,” while others simply find themselves unexpectedly home with children.

So when @EdmondsLibrary asks on Twitter if you are “Entertaining a child from home this week?” the answer to this question — regardless of age — might be “Yes.” While what is considered “entertainment” varies greatly kid by kid, given ages and interests, the library has options for books, audiobooks, movies, documentaries and a recently updated games page that includes not only online games, but ideas for some activities away from the screen. If these are options you need to access in person, each Sno-Isle Branch is currently still open. We still use CDs for some audiobooks, which originally required new-to-us CD players from Goodwill, and I have an especially warm spot for DVDs from the library as my oldest found some of his favorite movies on the shelves including Wall E, which we all still love.

A family favorite: Building using marshmallows and toothpicks

I spoke with Sno-Isle Public Information Manager Jim Hills about resources for those who find themselves with an “unanticipated” need for ideas and options — from games, movies and audiobooks, to a recipe for Play-Doh. Hills told me that Sno-Isle updated its Games page, which can be found at Sno-Isle.org/kids/games. There you will find two categories of online games and activities: K-2 and grades 3 and up. Kids can find options that include a wide range of characters like Elmo, Dogman, Harry Potter, Fancy Nancy and both dance instructions and songs from Pete the Cat. Sno-Isle just added a list of activity ideas including a Marx family favorite — building with marshmallows and toothpicks — and of course, their recipe for Play-Doh.

When it comes to digital media, Sno-Isle has a lot of options for you and they are all listed on their digital media page at Sno-Isle.org/DigitalMedia. Let’s start with ebooks and audiobooks. With a library card and an internet connection, you can access ebooks and audiobooks via Overdrive, Overdrive Teens, Overdrive Kids, and the Libby app, which allows you 20 available titles at a time. My kids use this on their older model Kindles and we’ve found that it is a great way for them to make their own selections. Bonus – I’ve successfully used the list of requested titles as gift ideas. This is also a great option if you have learning differences in your family. Audiobooks have made book reports much more doable at our house. When I checked with Hills about language options offered, he let me know that the Libby app has options for English, Spanish, and Chinese as they work to expand their World Languages options, which can be found at Sno-Isle.org/World-Languages. It includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese materials. That page also links to Overdrive. which Hills says includes a number of different formats.

When it comes to eBooks and Audiobooks, there are additional options for the younger set. You can find stories read by Sno-Isle Staff, as well as Scholastic Book Flix. Book Flix, which has an option for Spanish, allows kids to watch the story with options to read along with captions and play a word match when it is done.

Sno-Isle also offers “fee-free streaming services” where you can access comics, TV shows, and movies that include kid favorites like The Magic School Bus, Sponge Bob Square Pants, and Daddy Day Care.” These offerings can be found on Hoopla, Kanopy, and Overdrive Video for use on a device or on your computer. With your library card, you can borrow up to 10 titles a month from Hoopla, which offers TV shows, movies, and comics. I found Lifetimes movies, 13 Going on 30, and a Pokemon cartoon movie in a quick Hoopla search. Kanopy, (which has general and kid homepages,) also offers 10 titles a month. Kanopy Kids offered movies and a video version of one of my favorite children’s stories, Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus. The adult homepage has Oscar award winner Moonlight and a large collection of award-winning films and documentaries.

Hills and I discussed that while Overdrive Video does have movies, the focus is a bit different. I would use the word educational, not to mean “boring” but more to mean, I didn’t see any SpongeBob. Overdrive Video, which is part of the 20-titles-out-at-a-time rule in Overdrive, allowed my choice of Eloise Goes to School to be borrowed for five days. They also have yoga videos, options to learn guitar, and kid’s science how-to’s.

After seeing different levels of class cancellations at the three closest libraries, I checked in with Hills Monday to see if cancellations were a branch-by-branch decision, and for now, they are. He added that the online calendar on Sno-Isle.org would be the best place to find information on planned activities, as print options may be outdated.

For more information or questions on how to locate the digital media, you can always call the Edmonds Library at 425-771-1933

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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