Common Sense Expands Wide Open School to Support America's Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Wide Open School introduces Spanish-language resources, as well as themed lessons to combat summer slide and provide structure and family support services.
Common Sense Media
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

New "Watch Now" area includes exclusive content from NBC News featuring Lester Holt, Stephanie Ruhle, Steve Kornacki, Craig Melvin, and Sheinelle Jones

SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, 2020As the school year comes to a close and the coronavirus pandemic has forced American families to rethink summer traditions such as camps, family reunions, and beach outings, Wide Open School today announced new free content and resources, in English and Spanish, to provide families with online and offline activities that will keep kids active, entertained, emotionally strong, and learning this summer. 

Powered by Common Sense and built in partnership with Amplify, Wide Open School (www.wideopenschool.org) is a new free destination for families and educators that debuted in March 2020 in response to the pandemic and the ensuing nationwide shift to distance learning. Wide Open School's mission is to collect, curate, and disseminate the best online content and offline activities, as recommended by Common Sense's expert editors, who rate and review media and technology based on age-appropriateness, quality, and learning potential. The Wide Open School site is designed to supplement distance learning, support working parents with daily structure and a suggested schedule of activities for their kids at home, and present a diverse set of offerings that will appeal to every kid, from preschool through high school. 

"Summer slide is always an issue for families, but this year, kids may have lost months of school, and without support, the gaping weeks of summer risk putting them further behind," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "Common Sense's free Wide Open School resources and the new partners and Spanish-language resources we've added will provide families with the structure and enrichment they need to support kids and families through these unprecedented times."

Wide Open School's new features and content include: 

Wide Open School en español 
Wide Open School now features Spanish-language selections with recommendations for free websites and weekly activities for kids to practice essential academic skills like math, reading, writing, and science. Also included is a new section on family well-being, designed to nurture hope and gratitude in the face of the countless unprecedented challenges resulting from the pandemic. There are listings and links for Latino career and family services, plus physical and mental health supports for Latino kids, tweens, and teens. 

Text-based support in English and Spanish
Families without broadband at home now have the option to sign up for a free text-messaging program featuring selected weekly content from Wide Open School. The content is curated for parents of young kids, age 3 to 8; offers weekly suggestions for both online and offline family activities; and includes tips for balancing media and technology use. To join, families can text the word "Kids" for English or "Familia" for Spanish to 21555.

New "Watch Now" content from NBC News
Students of all ages can also now go to the new "Watch Now" area on Wide Open School to access a rich, exciting slate of programming from NBC News, including the newly launched Nightly News Kids Edition with Lester Holt, which is a digest of the day's news developed specifically for a kid audience. They can also tune in for exclusive lessons from the journalists of NBC News, such as "Money Talks" with Stephanie Ruhle, "Voting 101" with Steve Kornacki, and "Recess," classes with Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones. 

New content and activities for summer learning
In partnership with a growing list of top-tier content producers, the editors at Wide Open School have put together an exciting roster of online and offline summer activities designed to keep kids of all ages active, engaged, learning, emotionally strong, and having fun throughout the summer months. 

New themes such as "Animals, Plants, and the Planet," "Self-Expression and Story-Telling," and "Space, Exploring, and Experiments" cover an inspiring range of subjects in STEM, music appreciation, language arts, art and creativity, and more, all designed to help kids and families discover new interests, fend off summer slide, and enjoy the summer. Vital social-emotional resources from the Child Mind Institute, Peer Health Exchange, and We.org will provide content for both kids and teens and their parents and caregivers to support their emotional well-being. 

Thanks to the site's content partners, this summer users of Wide Open School will be able to:

  • Immerse themselves in the history and legacy of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony through Universal Music Group and renowned violinist Ezinma.

  • Develop petal potion concoctions with Tinkergarten at Home or build a bug hotel with Super Simple.

  • "Win the White House" with iCivics or learn about the world of fake news through the art of rap with Flocabulary.

  • Build social and emotional skills with BrainPop through lessons that promote self-expression, interpersonal connections, and achievement.

  • Engage young children while learning and moving with Ubongo and Mother Goose Club.

  • Take daily at-home adventures with Camp Kinda, exploring topics ranging from the mysteries of history to the wild world of extreme weather.

  • Visit amazing places like the White House, the Canadian tundra, and the Super Bowl with Discovery Education through a series of immersive virtual field trips.

Wide Open School is generously supported by foundations, corporations, and individuals including the Bezos Family Foundation, Google.org, Imaginable Futures, Niagara Cares, the Walton Family Foundation, AT&T, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, First Republic, Activision Blizzard, the Morgan Family Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

About Wide Open School 
Wide Open School features the internet's best education resources and content from publishers, nonprofits, and education companies, delivered in partnership across platforms committed to supporting kids, families, and schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Partners include 826 National, 4-H, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, the American Federation of Teachers, Amplify, Apple, AT&T, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, BrainPop, Charter Communications, the Child Mind Institute, CK-12, Code.org, Comcast, CommonLit, Cornell Social Media Lab, Cox Communications, Crisis Text Line, Discovery Education, Ed Navigator, EL Education, ELLevation, EveryoneOn, Facing History, GoNoodle, Google, Great Minds, HITN, iCivics, JumpStart, Kahoot!, Khan Academy, the Latino Community Foundation, Learning Heroes, Lego Education, Mind in the Making, the Mother Goose Club, National Geographic, the National Head Start Association, the National PTA, NBC News, Nearpod/Flocabulary, the New York Times Learning Network, the News Literacy Project, Newsela, Noggin, Outschool, PBS, Peep and the Big Wide World, Peer Health Exchange, Playworks, Raising a Reader, Salesforce, Save the Children, Scholastic, Scratch, Sesame Workshop, the Southern Education Foundation, Time for Kids, Tinkergarten, Ubongo, Understood, Universal Music Group, Vroom, We.org, XQ Institute, YR Media, YouTube, Zearn, and Zoom.

Find the full site at WideOpenSchool.org.

About Common Sense
Common Sense is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.

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Common Sense contacts:

Cassandra Matter

[email protected]

(408) 960-5115

 

Andrea Moreno

[email protected]

(408) 768-9607