Virtual Family Fun: What’s On at Newcastle & Hunter Libraries, Museums & Galleries

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Want to stay at home this week but still enjoy family fun at local libraries, museums and galleries in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter? While you’re social distancing at home, you can still enjoy fun activities and events from your home including live and pre-recorded storytimes craft sessions, theatre and magic show sessions and science experiments. Check out the list for all the details about what local attractions are offering virtually during this COVID-19 year.

LIBRARIES

Newcastle Region Library

Although library branches have reopened, you can still stay home and access e-books, e-magazines and stream legal music with Freegal. For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home.

Newcastle Libraries have gone virtual for Rock n Rhyme . Join all your favourite library friends for Rock n Rhyme Online! They will be singing songs, dancing together, and giving you some great activity ideas to keep the fun going at home. These sessions are 20 minutes long and suitable for ages 0-3 years and available on the website to access.

For older kids, you can view taped sessions of Story Stomp. Find a comfy spot and join them on the website for some Story Stomping fun. Every session, they will be exploring a new story, singing songs and sharing some great ideas to keep the fun going at home. These sessions are 20 minutes long and suitable for ages 3 – 5 years.

Join in the science fun of the Little Bang Discovery Club. A hugely popular, fun-filled 4-session science program hosted by Newcastle Libraries is now available online! This hands-on program combines everyday objects and experiences with genuine scientific enquiry methods that children and their accompanying adults will thoroughly enjoy. A different program is presented in each of the sessions. A parent or carer is required to participate with the children in these sessions. Ages 4 – 8.

Join in the fun of Virtual LEGO® Club to show off your skills, master cool builds and share what you make with friends online. For this fun program you will need bucket loads of LEGO® for a different challenge every week. Fun for all ages, and a great project for the kids to do with adults. LEGO Challenges are posted each week and you access them on the website.

In-person Crafternoon might be suspended but you can check out virtual sessions with Sally.  Crafternoons are where you can show off your creativity with weekly art and craft fun, including STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) activities. Suitable for ages 5 – 12.

Lake Macquarie City Library

Lake Mac Libraries have rolled out a range of programs online. Enjoy story-time sessions with local authors Lynn Jenkins, Katrina McKelvey, Deborah Kelly, Paul Russell and Sami Bayly as well as magic shows with JD’s World of Magic on the Lake Mac Arts and Libraries YouTube channel.

You’ll also find Little Bang Discovery Club. Discover science with your pre-schooler at home, using everyday objects with Little Bang Discovery On Demand. Enjoy hands-on activities designed to develop ideas and skills to inspire scientific exploration and learning over four sessions. A parent or carer is required to participate with the children in these sessions.

Maitland City Library

Even though the library branches have reopened, you can still access e-books, e-magazines and stream legal music with Freegal with Maitland City Library at home. For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home.

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Newcastle Art Gallery

The Newcastle Art Gallery has reopened for pre-booked visits but there is plenty of fun to be had online. Take a virtual tour of the Art Gallery and visit different exhibitions. Missing weekend Art Cart? Explore Art Cart at home by downloading and discovering a range of accessible and hands-on activities. All inspired by iconic works of art in the Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection.

Museum of Art and Culture (MAC)

Museum of Art and Culture in Lake Macquarie has added more online content. This content includes art tutorials and activities for kids, plus artist interviews and other educational content for adults. In addition to our new video series, they have also developed a range of online resources which will allow parents and kids to create art at home. They’ve set up ARTSPACE@HOME (ages 2-8) and MAKERSPACE@HOME (Ages 8+) to help encourage kids to get creative. These programs are designed with creativity and sustainability in mind, with activities simply requiring the use of everyday household items (such as milk bottles). There are new activities each week to ensure there’ll be plenty to keep you entertained from home.

Maitland Regional  Art Gallery

To support the community staying connected and creative from the safety and comfort of their own home, Maitland Regional Art Gallery launched a big list of things to See, Make and Do.  Your family can see an exhibition online, make your own artwork with downloadable worksheets or get doing with a range of activities designed to get those creative sparks firing. You can find all of the content at See Make Do at Home section of the MRAG website.

Maitland Gaol

Learn about the history of Maitland Gaol with Snitch’s Spot. While the historic site has now reopened with self-guided audio guides, you can still enjoy the fun remotely. Maitland Gaol has created some fun online resources guided by the ghostly character ‘Snitch the Rat’ to entertain kids at home. For those familiar with the Gaol site, Snitch the Rat is the voice of the children’s self-guided audio tours, and he comes to life in the newly launched ‘Snitch’s Spot’ on the Maitland Gaol website, where his picture can be seen for the first time. There are also activities for kids to try including making their own butter and liquid soap.

Newcastle Museum

Newcastle Museum is always a popular spot for local families but with Supernova and Mininova still closed, it’s a different experience. However, they have a variety of different online resources for curious kids to enjoy from home. If you’re a fan of their science shows, check out the Museum Express @ Home to find science experiments you can do in your home with budding scientists. Watch the BHP Steelmaking Stimulation and see a steel ingot pour. You’ll also find highlights of and insights into their important collections, videos, interviews and a whole lot more. Tune in on Tuesday mornings at 10:30am on Facebook for their preschool storytime Tuesday Tales.

ANIMALS & NATURE

Blackbutt Reserve

If you don’t feel like going out to Blackbutt Reserve, enjoy it from your own loungeroom? You can still get up-close and personal with some of Australia’s most revered wildlife on Blackbutt Reserve’s Facebook page. Try a fun new activity each week, such as wildlife colouring-in sheets and a whole host of other virtual animal encounters. You can also join spy on a koala. Join the koalas of Blackbutt Reserve for lunch. This video stream was filmed every day for a week, you can see them being fed and explore their enclosure with a 360-degree view. You can also meet Sally the Wombat and see peacocks and wallabies.

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