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Common Sense Expands Wide Open School to Support Families

As the school year comes to a close and the pandemic has forced families to rethink summer traditions such as camps, family reunions, and beach outings, Wide Open School is now offering new free content and resources, in English and Spanish, to provide online and offline activities to keep kids active, entertained, emotionally strong, and learning.

Powered by Common Sense and built in partnership with Amplify, Wide Open School  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, ages 3-8, 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 today’s news delivered 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 Storytelling,” and “Space, Exploring, and Experiments” cover an inspiring range of subjects in STEM, music appreciation, language arts, art & 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 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