We love Detroit PBS Kids and Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum is a family favorite. Based on Brad Meltzer’s children’s books, the show teaches everyday social lessons (be kind, try new things, face your fears) and history lessons (did you know Marie Owens was the first female police officer). If you’re looking for home school solutions (and a 20 minute break), let the littles watch Xavier and follow up their favorite episodes with these easy activities.
Episode 1: Johann Sebastian Bach & Marie Curie
- Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician. His lesson is that practice makes perfect. If you have instruments at home, introduce daily practice time. Don’t have an instrument at home? Make one! You can also introduce your littles to classical music with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s free Replay offerings online.
- Marie Curie is a Nobel Prize winning scientist. A woman has won the prestigious honor 54 times since 1901, check out the list of winner and show your kids what these incredible women accomplished in their fields. Then try your own chemistry experiment with household items.
Episode 2: Mary Shelley & Harry Houdini
- Mary Shelley is famous for her novel Frankenstein. Pull out your arts and craft supplies to make your own monster and come up with ‘spooky’ stories to share before bedtime.
- Harry Houdini is known for magic – and we could all use some magic these days. Try your hand at illusions at home – if it works, you could get plenty of free time while they practice their skills.
Episode 3: George Washington & Susan B. Anthony
- George Washington is the nation’s first president but who was the 2nd? Learn about the presidents with a fun, free game that has you place the presidents in order (15 at a time). Older kids can have take it to the next level with this free sortify game that asks players to identify additional facts about presidents.
- Susan B. Anthony helped women get the right to vote and in August we celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment. Watch School House Rock’s Sufferin Till Suffrage video and talk to your kids about voting. Find out who represents you at the state and federal level and write a letter or email to officials letting them know about the issues most important to your family.
Episode 4: Isaac Newton & Golda Meir
- Isaac Newton is known for defining gravity and the laws of motion. Teach your kids physics with a fun craft – Newton’s Cradle – and eat an apple during snack time.
- Golda Meir was a stateswoman who dedicated her life to helping others and solving problems facing people in her community. Talk to your kids about ways they can help others – from donating old toys, to writing letters to elderly at nursing homes, or being kind to a family member.
Episode 5: Winston Churchill & Cleopatra
- Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II and remembered for helping secure a victory for the Allied Forces. Build your littles’ strategic thinking with a game of checkers, chess (here are some great tips for beginners) or capture the flag.
- Cleopatra was the Queen of the Nile and a master politician. In the episode she teaches Xavier how to formulate his argument to negotiate a later bedtime with his parents. Teach your kids how to get what they want by understanding the pros and cons of the issue, in addition to compromise and charisma to win over your target. Let them practice these new skills on you to try to earn a new privilege or treat.
Episode 6: Catherine the Great & Tomioka Tessai
- Catherine the Great was the Empress of Russia and known for her charismatic personality. In the episode she helps Brad makes friends and it’s a great reminder to reconnect with our own friends now that we can’t see them because of social distancing. Sit down for FaceTime or write a letter/draw a picture to send to a friend and let them know you’re thinking about them.
- Tomioka Tessai is a Japanese painter and calligrapher and his works of art are known around the world. Origami is another popular Japanese art form and fun for kids to learn. Pull out some paper and have fun folding it into creative shapes.
Episode 7: The Wright Brothers & Bronte Sisters
- The Wright Brothers invented the first successful motor operated airplane. Even if we’re stuck on the ground, we can still fly. Make some paper planes and see which design flies the furthest.
- The Bronte Sisters were famous English writers and poets. Help your kids write and illustrate a story that you can read at bedtime.
Episode 8: Mark Twain & Abigail Adams
- Mark Twain is an American humorist and in the episode he teaches Xavier that things are more fun when they’re funny. Clean up the house and tell 200 jokes while you’re doing it. After a job well-done, celebrate with a movie night and watch Tom and Huck on Disney+, based on Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
- Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adam’s, one of America’s Founding Father’s and second president, she pleaded with him to ‘Remember the ladies’ when the colonists were debating Independence at the Continental Congress. Her advice fell on deaf ears but we can do our part to remember the ladies who have helped change the world. Have a family discussion and ask each person to name a woman they admire and order a new book for your family library.
Episode 9: Julia Child & Neil Armstrong
- Julia Child was a television cooking host who taught families to have fun in the kitchen. Have fun with your littles and invite them help you cook. Start with breakfast! Here are our favorite recipes and easy ways to put those little hands to work.
- Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon. Download the Google Sky Maps and let the kids stay up til dark to spot constellations. You can start tracking the moon’s lunar cycle each night to see it go from a new moon to a full one. You can also make some simple moon pies.
Episode 10: Helen Keller & Alexander Graham Bell
- Helen Keller was blind and deaf but that didn’t stop her from becoming a writer and activist. Without the ability to see or hear, Keller learned to read. Dedicate some time to reading – whether you read to your kids, help them learn to read or start a family book club to discuss a common book – celebrate literacy at home.
- Alexander Grahm Bell was an inventor who patented the practical telephone. Save some soup cans and make your an old-school phone to have fun with around the house.
Episode 11: Florence Nightingale & George Washington Carver
- Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing and nurses are at the frontline of the current COVID-19 crisis. Pull out the crafting supplies and make cards you can send to your local hospital to brighten someone’s day. If you’re looking for guidance in how to talk to your kids about the situation, Amanda put together a great list of talking points for parents.
- George Washington Carver was a botanist and ‘plant doctor’. Follow in his footsteps and start a garden at home – here are 3 easy steps to get started!
Episode 12: Leonardo da Vinci & Amelia Earhart
- Leonardo da Vinci was a man of many talents. Take a page from Jennifer Garner’s Instagram feed and plan a talent show. Do a humble brag and show case your little’s singing, acting, athletic or other talent with a recorded upload, live feed or a more intimate FaceTime with family. If you post on social be sure to tag @littleguidedetroit so we can see it too!
- Amelia Earhart was a famous female pilot who fearlessly took to the skies. We’re all being brave these days but it can help to talk about things that scare us. Whether it’s the current situation or green beans, give your kids the secure environment to express their fears and perhaps formulate a game plan to overcome them too.
Episode 13: Zora Neale Hurston & Charles Dickens
- Zora Neale Hurston was an American author during the Harlem Renaissance. Put on Louis Armstrong radio, read the poetry of Langston Hughes and help your kids write a poem (from simple rhymes to haikus – you can do it too).
- Charles Dickens was a British author and in the episode he shows Yadina the power of a good imagination. Let your littles tell you a wild story that you draw out on paper (stick figures are okay) and play a game of pictionary with your bigger kids.
Episode 14: Jackie Robinson & Anna Pavlova
- Jackie Robinson was the first black player to play Major League Baseball. Put on the number 42 and throw the ball around the backyard, then have hot dogs for dinner.
- Anna Pavlova was a Russian Prima Ballerina. Practice ballet at home or watch the New York Ballet perform online.
Episode 15: Mary Leaky & Alexander Hamilton
- Mary Leaky was an anthropologist and your kids can be one too. Hide some toys in a sand table or dirt outside and let them search for the items with mini shovels and paintbrushes (as the kids learn in the episode go slow and have patience). Show them the results of real life archaeological digs and take a virtual tour of the Louvre in Paris to see Egyptian Antiquities from the Pharaonic period.
- Alexander Hamilton was the nation’s first Secretary of Treasury and the subject of one of Broadway’s most successful musicals. Play the soundtrack and have a dance party. Teach your kids about currency and personal finance with easy to use lesson plans (for pre-K to 12th grade) from the FDIC.
Episode 16: Theodore Roosevelt & Eleanor Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt was an American president and conservationist who founded the National Park system. Put on your Rough Rider cowboy gear and head outside for an adventure in your backyard or on a nature trail.
- Eleanor Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt’s niece and Franklin Roosevelt’s wife) was an icon in her own right as First Lady, stateswoman and humanitarian. For over 25 years she wrote about her activities in a newspaper column called My Day. Start chronicling your day in a journal that your kids write on their own or that you do nightly as a family.
Episode 17: Lou Gehrig & Marie Owens
- Lou Gehrig was a baseball player and his message in the episode is ‘think about the good stuff’. It’s an important message these days and we have 3 easy ways to reassure your kids during these difficult times.
- Marie Owens is the first female police officer in the United States. Talk to your kids about careers that help our community. From police officers and fire fighters to nurses and teachers, play pretend for each career with your littles and do some career research with your older kids to see if it’s something they think they’re interested in.