K-12 Parent & Teacher Resources

The coronavirus pandemic has upended many aspects of kids' lives- including the start of the school year. As many Illinois students, families, teachers, and staff start the new school year with distance learning, many parents are wondering how best to help their children navigate these unprecedented times and thrive in virtual learning situations. It’s my hope that this list of activities, tools, and information to support families and teachers will help. 

We will continue to update this page with activities for all ages. 


  • The Adler Planetarium partners with Latinx astronomers, astrophysicists, astrophotographers, and scientists to demonstrate the amazing contributions of Latinx individuals to these fields, show barriers to be overcome in a field entrenched in racial biases, and provide advice and inspiration to future generations of the Latinx community. 

  • Meet some of the female science communicators who engage their communities with science. We dive into how many have succeeded by utilizing a mutual ground technique that personally connects them with their audience. 

  • Printable Journal and Instructions: As you embark on your journey as a scientist, keep your activity notes organized by making a Science Journal.  Can be used in combination with the videos the Shedd has created. 

  • If you look closely, you can find many different plants and animals that live right in your neighborhood. All the species in a place make up its biodiversity. How much biodiversity can you find in your neighborhood? To explore the biodiversity of your neighborhood, with the help of an adult, you will create your own set of “biodiversity binoculars” to focus your attention. You will also get a Bingo card to take with you on your neighborhood adventure to record your observations. 

  • Play online jeopardy with questions all about Fermilab, particle physics, and astrophyics. 

  • Attract helpful bees to your garden by making an egg carton nursery and planting flower seeds that bees like. Then observe bees pollinating as they travel from flower to flower.  This activity helps students learn about germination and photosynthesis. 

  • Virtual Zoo Visit for grownups and kids alike! 

  • Virtual Zoo Visit for grownups and kids alike! 

Civics & Government Activities

  • Printable story book & activities about the importance of an accurate census count 

  • Maze: A Bill has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Help him get to the White House for the President’s review. 

  • Connect the dots by following the numbers to see the coin silver inkstand—the oldest relic in the House! 

  • Show your gratitude for the mail and package carriers working hard to keep us connected with these downloadable coloring pages. Display your finished sign on your window, mailbox or door as a message of support and thanks. 

  • It’s fun to create an internal postal service—whether at home or in your classroom, sending letters to your friends is a wonderful way to show them you’re thinking of them! Using supplies that you can easily find at home, these directions will guide you through building a paper mailbox to deliver your mail. 

  • Printable PDF coin designs for coloring.   

  • FBI-SOS is a free, fun, and informative program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating students in third to eighth grades on the essentials of online security. 

Health & Wellness Activities

  • Be a healthy hero! Meet the healthy heroes, everyday kids with the power to stay safe and healthy. Through these fun coloring pages, stickers, and puzzles, you can learn how to stay safe and healthy, too! Available in Spanish on website too. 

  • Printable Guide. The COVID-19! module is a step-by-step guide to help learners, their families, and their community understand the science of the virus that causes COVID-19 and other viruses like it. It will help learners figure out how this virus is impacting them, or may impact them in the future. It will help students to understand the actions that they can take to keep themselves and their community safe. Designed for students ages 8-17. Available in 15+ languages. 

Language & Language Arts Activities

  • Students will learn about important Civil Rights figures and their work for a better tomorrow.   

  • This reading contextualizes modern art pieces created by African Americans. Students learn about the Greek Mythology these pieces were based on. 

  • This reading features a broad range of information on Latino art and culture.  

  • This reading features a broad range of information on Latino art and culture.  

History Activities

  • This reading contextualizes modern art pieces created by African Americans. Students learn about the Greek Mythology these pieces were based on. 

Library of Congress Webinars for Educators

  • National Book Festival for Educators - 20 Years in the Making

  • September 9, 7:00-8:00 pm ET

  • Register for the Webinar

  • The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will connect with audiences across the country for an interactive, online celebration of "American Ingenuity" for the festival's 20th year, featuring new books by more than 120 of the nation's most-renowned writers, poets and artists. During the weekend of Sept. 25-27, virtual stages will offer on-demand videos, live author chats and discussions, and options to personalize your own journey through the festival with particular themes. Educators and students will have the opportunity to engage with authors like never before. This webinar that will give you a sneak peek into the National Book Festival platform. There will be plenty of time to discuss how you can work the Festival into your instructional plans. Attendees in the live, one-hour special educator webinar are eligible to receive a certificate of participation.

  • Foundations: Information Literacy and Primary Sources- Recording coming soon

  • Information literacy involves multiple skills, including examining information sources in a variety of media; evaluating claims and evidence; identifying bias; and researching for additional information. In this interactive webinar, participants will apply these information literacy skills to historical primary sources from the Library of Congress and reflect on how these strategies may be used with their students.

  • Teaching Civic Ideals through Primary Sources Webinar

  • A one-hour webinar demonstrating how the use of primary sources can offer students specific examples of civic principles, highlighting ways that a civic ideal has been tested, interpreted, and applied throughout American history.

  • Scientific Literacy, Citizenship, and History: Analyzing Primary Sources from the Library of Congress Webinar

  • In this one hour webinar, we shared resources and strategies for educators interested in helping their students analyze Library of Congress primary sources to explore connections between scientific literacy and citizenship.

  • Introduction to the Question Formulation Technique for Primary Source Learning

  • This free, one-hour interactive webinar introduces educators to the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), a strategy through which individuals develop their ability to ask, work with, and use their own questions.

  • Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

  • The exhibition "Shall Not Be Denied" tells the story of the largest reform movement in American history with documents, photographs and scrapbooks from a diverse group of women who changed political history 100 years ago. Many suffragists donated their personal collections to the national library so that their stories would be remembered. The exhibition is part of the national commemoration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2019 and 2020. Manuscript Division Chief Janice Ruth and historian Elizabeth Novara describe the creation of the Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote exhibition and highlight online primary sources related to that topic. Ms. Novara will also demonstrate By the People (http://crowd.loc.gov), a crowdsourced transcription project, to encourage teachers to use with their students. Take a look at the exhibition here: https://vimeo.com/341006311

  • Foundations: Analyzing Primary Sources from the Library of Congress

  • In this interactive webinar, participants will learn and apply foundational strategies for analyzing primary sources. How can we facilitate learning activities that help students become engaged, think critically, and construct their own understandings? It starts with making observations, reflecting on them, and asking questions. We'll practice these strategies and consider how to apply them in participants' settings.

  • Reflecting on Using Primary Sources to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners

  • Explore key moments across U.S. history at which individual advocacy and broad campaigns for civil rights enabled people with disabilities to move from the far margins of society into full citizenship. Identify points in the typical U.S. History curriculum (such as Antebellum Reforms, early 20th century Immigration, and Post WWII social movements) to infuse elements of this history. Access a wealth of primary sources, free curriculum, and communities of support. Gain practical strategies and tools to make history truly accessible for ALL learners–especially students with disabilities. This session will be facilitated by Rich Cairn and Alison Noyes, from Collaborative for Educational Services.

  • Foundations: Finding Resources on LOC.gov

  • The Library of Congress web site (www.loc.gov) offers millions of digitized primary sources free to use with your students, along with many free teacher resources. In this webinar, we'll share tips for finding resources in the Library's vast collections by navigating www.loc.gov and effectively using the Library's search engine. Come with your questions and let us help you find what you need!

  • Pairing Primary Sources and Picture Books

  • A picture book that focuses on a historic event or individual can introduce students to a piece of history. Layering in primary sources allows for new engagement and understanding. This session will focus on how the pairing of primary sources and picture books can enhance the awareness of a historic event or individual, the research process taken by authors of historically based picture books, as well as the author's or illustrator's portrayal of history. Tom Bober, Missouri Association of School Librarians, will facilitate the session.

  • Foundations: Analyzing Complex Images

  • In this interactive webinar, participants will learn and apply foundational strategies for analyzing primary sources that are particularly rich and complex in detail. How can we help students identify and analyze details that may otherwise go unnoticed? And how can they relate these details together to arrive at a larger understanding? Participants will also reflect on how they might use these strategies with their students.

  • Turning Inquiry into Action: How to Engage Young Learners with KidCitizen

  • This presentation highlights KidCitizen episodes that engage young children in analyzing resources from the Library of Congress and connecting what they learn to their daily lives. KidCitizen is a freely available digital interactive designed to foster young children's inquiry with primary sources. The digital episodes facilitate a developmentally appropriate process of careful looking, historical thinking, and evidence-informed analysis that are at the center of disciplinary literacy. By slowing down the act of looking, children discover new information and construct viewpoints as primary sources are mined. This session will be facilitated by Ilene R. Berson and Michael J. Berson, University of South Florida.

  • Foundations: Selecting Primary Sources

  • Thoughtfully selecting a primary source can be critical for the success of an educational activity, to ensure that students will be engaged and able to work effectively with the source. In this webinar, Library of Congress education specialists will share their criteria and processes for selecting primary sources. Participants will practice the selection process as well and reflect on how they can select appropriate and effective sources for their students.

  • Learning to Teach All Over Again: Teachers' Reflections on Using Primary Source Analysis to Engage English Learners in Critical Democratic Discussions

  • Teachers of English Learners are challenged with designing instruction that simultaneously facilitates English language development and grade-level academic content mastery. However, many teachers struggle to move from policies to practices and mindsets to materials. Furthermore, many educators unintentionally enact a pedagogy of pity, lowering expectations to protect ELs from experiencing failure or struggle, a phenomenon that Pedro Noguera refers to as the "pobrecito syndrome" (2008). This session will discuss outcomes regarding changes in teachers' attitudes about ELs' abilities to succeed as well as their experience with facilitating rich democratic discussions with ELs using primary source analysis. Andrea Kolb, Center for Schools and Communities, will facilitate the session.

  • Foundations: Analyzing Multiple Perspectives

  • Library education specialists will lead an interactive session in which participants will learn and practice strategies they can use to help students examine primary sources from multiple perspectives. Among the strategies used will be "Circle of Viewpoints" from Harvard Graduate School's Project Zero program. Participants will also reflect on how these strategies may be used with their students.

  • Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words

  • Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words showcases rarely seen materials that offer an intimate view of Rosa Parks and documents her life and activism—creating a rich opportunity for viewers to discover new dimensions to their understanding of this seminal figure. This webinar will provide insight into the life of Rosa Parks as well as highlight resources that can be used with students.