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5 virtual kids classes to teach them something new at home 

Baiting Hollow residents Shelby Hart, 14, and Liam

Baiting Hollow residents Shelby Hart, 14, and Liam Hart, 11, take a live "Be a Botanist" class hosted by the Long Island Science Center. Credit: Ilse Hart

While TV and social media may be providing families with home entertainment, some Long Island entrepreneurs and organizations are instead offering learning opportunities online.

LEARNING MAGIC AT HOME

“My daughter is a fan of magic,” says Hicksville resident Sean Feldman about his daughter Riley Ann, 6. “When I saw that John [Reid] had classes and I told her she would be able to do tricks … she was immediately on board.”

John Reid of East Meadow, a professional magician and balloon artist who specializes in educational magic shows, is now teaching online via his Tricky Business Magic Academy (trickybiz.com). A $180 eight-session group course (executed on Zoom) meets twice a week over a four-week period, with classes scheduled to start on May 13, 19 and 21. Lesson packs containing necessary materials are sent out before the start of each course. 

Feldman says Riley, who started her sessions, was able to perform each of the tricks shown. “She loved going step by step through the process, and with John there watching and coaching, any time she began to get frustrated he was immediately able to crack a joke or make her laugh … she loved the classes and can't wait to amaze the family in a live magic show.”

ALSO TRY: Professional magician and Stony Brook local James Lazzarini — aka Amore (magicofamore.com) — is offering virtual performances and workshops over Zoom; $7.95. 

ONLINE STEM

Ilse Hart of Baiting Hollow says her children Shelby, 14, and Liam, 11, both love science, and the STEM courses being held by the Long Island Science Center (sciencecenterli.org), such as the virtual "Be a Botanist" class, are giving them the “hands-on experience that they are missing from school.”

Live instructors teach over Zoom, showing how experiments are conducted and answering questions. All experiments are done using materials commonly found in the home. The online STEM classes are offered at 1 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday (for elementary school students) and 3 p.m. (for middle school students) until at least May 15, but will likely continue past that date. All those joining must register in advance. Details, materials and links needed to participate are sent in confirmation emails. Some classes are free; some require a donation or for participants to join as members.

ALSO TRY: The Science Museum of Long Island (smli.org) is posting hands-on science activities to try through its social media pages every weekday and will continue to do so until it reopens; register for free workshops at info@smli.org.

COOKING CLASS

Polly Talbott of the A la Carte Cooking School in Lynbrook (alacartecs.com) has been posting free, prerecorded instructional videos to Facebook and Instagram — some co-starring her grandkids. Talbott is also offering group classes and private sessions (fees vary) via Zoom or FaceTime. Cook along with her or just watch her work. Contact her at alacartecs@optonline.net or the A la Carte Facebook page facebook.com/alacartecs for schedule and registration. 

ALSO TRY: The Cooking Lab in Port Washington has a number of family-friendly, prerecorded videos at its YouTube channel (youtube.com).

CRAFTS (BILINGUAL)

The Children's Museum of the East End (cmee.org) is holding live “Crafting con Kevin” workshops 6 p.m. Thursdays on both Facebook Live and Instagram. Hosted by the museum’s experience coordinator Kevin Rojas, the free sessions involve creating games, arts and crafts. Rojas instructs in both English and Spanish.

EXPLORING NATURE

The Seatuck Environmental Association (SEA) — a nonprofit Long Island wildlife and environmental conservation group — has been running programs that aim to inspire kids to get outside and explore. Classes called “Little Peepers” and “Get Out Challenges," offered online, are intended to serve as virtual, mini field trips that can help connect kids to the natural world. SEA is also hosting live and recorded activities by way of its social media pages, including scavenger hunts and story times.
Jessica Conklin of Patchogue says her son Bennett Behan, 4, “has done a few of them,” including the “Signs Of Spring and Animal Yoga Poses … Bennett loves the outdoors.”

Bayport resident Noelle Lewandowski says her sons Ellis, 5, and Miles, 2, have tried some challenges too. “It helps me get the children out even on days I don’t always feel like getting outside … the added challenges help us find new activities to do in our own backyard.” 

Challenges and classes are free and can be found on the SEA Facebook page, facebook.com/seatuck.

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