Looking Ahead during COVID-19

A Message from Byron Sanders, CEO

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I wanted to provide a view into how we are managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic here at Big Thought. Our local leaders have taken important measures to protect public health, including the closure of schools for the foreseeable future. While these necessary measures impact the school-based programs we provide, we are re-imagining our work for this unique and challenging time.

We are proactively developing ways to continue engaging our youth, their families, and the broader community including distance, auditory and tactile learning solutions.

Because we equip youth in marginalized communities, we understand the complexity that online program delivery presents. Some homes lack access to the internet and don’t have devices readily available, which can create challenges to ensuring equitable access to learning. And we also recognize the unique moment we’re in the explore creative delivery opportunities using digital and web-based content. We are balancing all of these factors and creating solutions that will work across resource spectrums.

We are also planning ahead for our summer programs such as Dallas City of Learning and the re-opening of schools so we’ll be ready to efficiently ramp-up programming when it’s time. 

At Big Thought our view is that this is an important time for creative thinking, social-emotional intelligence, and community development to help us navigate this unchartered territory with a renewed sense of connection, innovation and perspective.

Moving through this period will take patience and focus, imagination and care. Our team is up for the challenge. While we develop our own tools, we are sharing resources for basic needs and at home learning on our website.

During this critical time, nonprofit organizations are at the front lines in delivering services to our communities. I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials to let them know the importance of supporting nonprofit as well as arts and culture organizations in any stimulus efforts. Additionally, please consider raising up the need to support out of school time learning to help our youth continue to build their skills.

We appreciate your encouragement and support – as always.

With gratitude,

Byron Sanders, Big Thought President and Chief Executive Officer

Big ThoughtLooking Ahead during COVID-19

At-Home Learning Homework Resources: Math and Science

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For more than 30 years Big Thought has supported youth in the out of school time space and with recent changes to at home learning, our commitment to youth stands — and is even stronger!

Our programming experts are busy sourcing the best resources, tools and tips accessible online or other digital spaces that will continue to support in school learning. 

Check out these low to no costs Math and Science apps and online tools designed to support your at-home learner with their homework.


MathPapa – Algebra Calculator

Khan Academy – for students ages 2-18



Photomath – Scan. Solve. Learn.

Socratic by Google

Big ThoughtAt-Home Learning Homework Resources: Math and Science

At-Home Learning Resources

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Looking for some at-home learning resources to keep your learner engaged? Here are some of our favorites!

ABCYA Online Learning Games (PreK-6th Grade): https://www.abcya.com/

Achievement First (All Grades): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

Amazing Educational Resources (All Grades): http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/

Audible (All Grades): https://stories.audible.com/start-listen

Brooklyn Museum (Middle & High School): https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/education/k_12/teacher_resources

Busuu (All Grades): https://www.busuu.com/en/keep-kids-learning

Circle Time (Early Childhood & PreK): https://circletimefun.com/

CK-12 (Science, Math, Social Studies for 1st – College): https://www.ck12.org/student/

Code Wizard: https://codewizardshq.com/coding-for-kids-free/ or https://codewizardshq.com/need-based-scholarship/

DISD At Home Learning Plans: https://sites.google.com/dallasisd.org/athomelearningplans/home

Education Reimagined (All Grades): https://education-reimagined.org/distance-learning-resource-center/

Great Schools Math, Science, Reading and Writing Printable Worksheets (PreK-5th grade):https://www.greatschools.org/gk/worksheets/

Kahn Academy (Math for K-12th Grade): https://www.khanacademy.org/

Learning A-Z (K-8th Grade): https://www.learninga-z.com/

Little Kids Rock Music Resources: http://jamzone.littlekidsrock.org/school-closure-resources/

Mental Floss Virtual Museum Tours (Middle & High School): https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75809/12-world-class-museums-you-can-visit-online

MOUSE Educator (All Grades): https://mouse.org/events

New York Times Learning (Middle & High School): https://www.nytimes.com/spotlight/learning-network-coronavirus

NYU Music Lab Experience (All Grades): https://musedlab.org/

Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/free_k-12_educational_resources

PBS (All Grades): https://pbskids.org/peg/

Scholastic Learn at Home (PreK-6th Grade): https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html

Share My Lesson (PreK-12th Grade): https://sharemylesson.com/

Smithsonian Learning Lab (All Grades): https://learninglab.si.edu/

Teachers Pay Teachers (All Grades): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

Teen Breathe (Middle & High School): https://www.breathemagazine.com/teen-breathe

We are Teachers: https://www.weareteachers.com/free-online-learning-resources/

Virtual Field Trips: https://www.virtualfieldtrips.org/

Big ThoughtAt-Home Learning Resources

COVID-19 Basic Resources

Due to City of Dallas regulations regarding COVID-19, Big Thought Headquarters is closed to the public and we are suspending in-person programming until further notice. We will continue to update this page with helpful resources during this uncertain time.

Stay Informed about COVID-19

Global Health Information:

National Health Information:

State & Local Health Information:

Are you in crisis? Take a few deep breaths and reach out to one of these hotlines.

Genesis Domestic Violence Hotline – (214) 946-4357 or consult the website https://www.genesisshelter.org/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255 or consult the website https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

North Texas Behavioral Health Authority Crisis Line (866) 260-8000 or consult the website: https://ntbha.org/

In the case of an immediate emergency, please call 911.

Financial Assistance

City of Dallas is trying to coordinate delayed billing and utility cut-off during this time. Click here to learn more about specific providers.

The IRS has resources to extend your tax filing deadline and other related payments. Please visit their website for more information and instructions.

Amazon is hiring during COVID-19 to keep up with online delivery schedule. Find our more information.

Food and Basic Needs

CitySquare Food Pantry is still open with adjusted hours and service. See adjusted schedule.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Older Adult Services Program is providing meals delivered to home-bound seniors or drive-thru hot meal service at select senior centers. Call (214) 819-1860 for more info.

Dallas ISD Grab-and-go Meals are FREE to all children and youth through age 18. Location, dates and menus are available on the Dallas ISD website.

Diaper Day Distribution: Friday, March 27, 2020, 10am – 1pm; Park South YMCA, 2500 Romine, 75215. Free. Diapers for ages 0 – 3 will be distributed by Drive-Thru while supplies last. Each family receives 50 diapers & wipes, or 1 pack of Pull-ups; and 2 sets of socks & underwear. First-come, First-served basis. SUPPLIES ARE FOR THOSE IN NEED, ONLY. Sponsors: I Look Like Love, Carter’s House, Seasons of Change.

Harmony CDC Food Distribution: Mondays, 2pm – 6pm; Tuesdays, 4pm – 6:30pm; Thursdays, 10am – 2pm; Harmony CDC, 6969 Pastor Bailey Drive, #300, 75237 (across from Concord Baptist Church). Free. Food boxes will include nutritional foods based on family size. No geographic or zip code requirements. Volunteers are also needed to unload trucks and stock shelves. Gloves and other protective gear provided. Contact: 214-467-6770

North Texas Food Bank is prepping family meal boxes and distributing through community partners. They are also hiring folks who are out of work through Shiftsmart. Find out more info on their website or call (214) 330-1396.

School meals are also being provided in other area districts. Find your on the School Meal Finder.

Internet & Technology

AT&T is waiving data overage fees to all customers so that families and students can stay connected during the pandemic. They will not terminate service of any customer over the next 60 days. All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data.

Charter-Spectrum is offering free internet for 60 days for households with students K-college:  To enroll in the service you can call 1-844-488-8395, the company says it will waive installation fees for student households.

Comcast is offering new customers 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service. To sign up, applicants can simply visit www.internetessentials.com. The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. There are also two dedicated phone numbers 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

Sparklight has made unlimited data available on all internet services for the next 30 days. Late fees are waived for customers for the next 60 days.  Customers who call to make arrangements can obtain payment deferrals. Sparklight plans to reassess after 30 days based on the continued impact and evolving nature of the virus. Sparklight’s Wi-Fi hotspots are open to the public across Sparklight’s footprint. Customers can call 877-692-2253 for more information and to set up arrangements.

Suddenlink: For households with K-12 and/or college students who may be displaced due to school closures and who do not currently have home internet access, Altice USA is offering its Altice Advantage 30 Mbps broadband solution for free for 60 days to new customer households within its footprint. Eligible households interested in this solution can call 888-633-0030 to enroll in the Suddenlink region, which includes Texas.

Verizon is waiving late fees and committing to no discontinuation of service during the next 60 days.

Connections for Displaced Workers

Many employers have critical hiring needs at this time. If you’re currently seeking employment, please utilize these resources below:

Displaced and/or Furloughed Workers:

For workers who have been displaced and/or furloughed, file for your Texas unemployment benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Job Opportunities:

Grocery & Food




  • Baylor Summer VISTA Workers Needed: This 10-week, Summer Associates program ensures that summer food services continue for students on free or reduced lunch programs by creating plans, designing outreach and educational materials, and implementing activities for children. Application Deadline: April 14th.

Connecting You to Resources:

Big ThoughtCOVID-19 Basic Resources

What can we do now?

Creative Learning from Home

Online lesson plans from schools do a great job at meeting academic needs. Creative learning and exploration is a great way to supplement online school assignments and keep kids engaged and active. In the spirit of Big Thought, and from Entertain Kids On a Dime, this creative – and shortened – ideas list (there are more!) may be a print-and-tape for the kitchen wall. 

1.     Play Laundry-List Ski Ball

2.     Design-Your-Own Duct-Tape Bracelet

3.     Make a Lifesize Indoor Boardgame 

4.     Host a Draw-and-Color Contest. Set a timer and, appropriate to kids ages, assign themes. Starter ideas: A dog astronaut. Any story character. The perfect house.

5.     Make Your Own Soap Clouds

6.      Make Crayon Sandpaper T-Shirts

7.     Shoot Off Balloon Rockets

8.     Stage a Family Car Race

9.     Make a Marshmallow Shooter

10.  Make Playdough Mats

11.  Make Fairy Mason Jars

12.  Tie-Dye Baby Wipes

13.  Create Your Own Cardboard Light Tunnel

14.  Take the Bubble-Warp Road

15.  Try Cotton-Swab Painting

16.  Do Frozen-Rice Play

17.  Play The-Floor-is-Lava Game

18.  Time for the Secret-Message Activity

19.  Learn Magic and Put on a Show

20.  Experiment with Balloons/Poprocks 

21.  Make a DIY Giant Paper Airplane 

22.  Collect a Collage
Use magazine pages, computer printouts, package wrappers, or family photos.

23.  Make Potato Stamps 

24.  Make Ice Cream in a Bag 

25.  Make Ice Eggs

26.  Host an Indoor-Hopscotch Tourney 

27.  Make a Scavenger Hunt

28.  Write and Shoot a Video. Take it in steps: Brainstorm ideas. Narrow to a storyline. Write storyline. Storyboard (optional!). Rehearse. Shoot. Consider costumes and venues. Host a computer-screen debut.

29.  Be an on-air journalist. In the make-a-video spirit, have a young intrepid journalist interview a member of the family. Topics? What do you think of social distancing? Funniest memories. Favorite teacher and why.

Big ThoughtWhat can we do now?

Navigating the New Normal

Emerging Best Practices for All of Us Juggling Work-Teach-Parenting

The Wall Street Journal declares a new normal as, around the US, couples and families divide up work, school, and family in intensely at-home days. On March 17 – the St. Patrick’s Day that wasn’t – writers Lauren Weber and Te-Ping Chen surveyed parents for a few of the emerging new best practices:

Share ideas in a Slack group (or another preferred social messaging tool). Maxed out by information, stress, strategies, and decisions, self-employed New Yorker Aaron Sylvan set up a Slack group and invited 15 parents in his neighborhood to join. Different channels solicit and share at-home education resources, entertainment ideas, schedules, and humor/sanity. Using Slack instead of group-chat threads, he says, “people can follow the conversation without it eating up the whole day.”   

Set kids’ schedules and work around them. In Durham, N.C., Lauren Hanford and her husband kicked off a work-with-kids experiment. With their two daughters, ages 1 and 4, out of daycare, Mrs. H began her days working 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.  As of the interview, both parents—he usually works in an office—worked for an hour Monday morning while the baby napped and their four-year-old had iPad time. Both hoped to hop online from around 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., after the girls are asleep. 

Agree ahead of time on scheduling Given that groups do better when they know what to expect, the Sylvans of NY, created a schedule for their daughter’s days that includes walks, play time and academic activities. Around it, they try to split supervision duties equally. When both of them both have work? The partner with the higher-paying client takes priority. 

Adjust expectations.  Ms. Hanford (see above) estimates that realistically, she’ll get in five solid hours of focused work a day, compared with eight before the outbreak. “I’m just showing a lot of support and kindness and grace to my team and asking for the same in return,” she says. “I keep telling my team, imagine how easy life is going to feel on the other side of this.”

Adjust conditions. Ksenia Peguero and husband installed blackout curtains in her daughter’s room to aid their daughter’s naptime/their work window. 

We’re all learning as we go, and that’s ok. Give yourself grace and space to learn and reflect.

Big ThoughtNavigating the New Normal