By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 31, 2020 at 2:02 PM

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday life, but it doesn't need to change who we are. So, in addition to our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus, OnMilwaukee will continue to report on cool, fun, inspiring and strange stories from our city and beyond. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed and stay joyful. We're all in this together. #InThisTogetherMKE

If, like a lot of parents right now, you’re finding that it’s easy enough to keep kids occupied, but less easy keeping their minds firing on all cylinders, I’ve got you covered.

Of course they can and should go outside and exercise, kick the soccer ball around, chase the dog and shoot hoops.

And of course they should be baking cookies and making dinner.

Definitely cleaning their rooms and helping with other chores.

But the rest of the time doesn’t have to be spent slack-jawed in front of mindless unboxing videos.

Here are some things they can do – in front of a screen and not – to exercise their minds a bit during these unprecedented – at least in most of our lifetimes – times.

Draw a favorite building and win!

Cedarburg’s Groth Design Group is hosting a contest for an Amazon gift card and social media stardom (sorta).

They’re asking kids ages 5-12 to draw their favorite building – it could be home, school, the Eiffel Tower, whatever – between April 1 and 30 and submit a photo of it to along with a little explanation of what they like about their chosen building.

Groth will pick a winner, who will get an Amazon gift card and their drawing will be featured on Groth’s social media accounts. Full details are here.

Explore Milwaukee virtually

Even if you can’t get out and explore your own town, there are some great ways to do it virtually right from home.

For starters, they can see inside interesting places and read about history and some architecture in these 10 places that I’ve written about.

There are a few hundred more to be found on this map of all the Urban Spelunking stories I’ve written.

Then, check out this list of other great virtual peeks into many interesting Milwaukee museums and other sites.

PBS Wisconsin goes academic

Of course, public television is always full of engaging and educational programming but during this Safer at Home period, PBS Wisconsin teamed with Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Milwaukee PBS to create a programming schedule that supports at-home learning by connecting to Wisconsin’s state academic standards from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays.
You can see a full schedule below and please note that all the programming will also stream online at alongside free related digital content.

Milwaukee Public Library’s Library Now

MPL has gotten together with and Milwaukee Public Schools to provide free digital access to all the library's online resources to every MPS student from 1st-12th grades via Library Now.

There is access to online tutoring, book and music downloads, magazines, games, research databases and more, all accessible by a student’s MPS ID number on computers, tablets and phones.

It also allows students to log on and use computers at all Milwaukee Public Library branch locations once those are open again.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.