As much of the city, state, and country stay at home and practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, you might be looking for some things to do. Whether you’re working from home and need some entertainment during your lunch break, are a parent with a curious teenager who’s itching for more outside their school day, a teacher who needs some supplementary materials for their students, or anything else, here are some engaging PBS and WTTW programs that you can stream any time, any where, for free. (If you have a younger kid, here are some games and activities from PBS KIDS.)
Even though you’re stuck indoors, you can still explore Chicagoland and beyond with Geoffrey Baer in his many specials, from Chicago by ‘L’, which premiered in early March, to Chicago on Vacation and the Chicago River Tour, among many others. Not only can you watch those programs; there’s also plenty more to explore on their extensive websites. Plus, you can travel farther afield with Geoffrey, in Weekend in Havana and the 10 That Changed America series, which focuses on influential buildings, towns, monuments, and more.
Immerse yourself in the Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen in this WTTW documentary and website covering everything from development and gentrification to arts, culture, food, and immigration.
While there’s plenty to celebrate about Chicago, as in Geoffrey Baer’s tours, the city also has some intractable problems, including gun violence. In this WTTW digital series, follow the stories of five people directly affected by gun violence to witness the human side of the tragedy. Then turn to in-depth articles, expert talks about possible solutions, and more features focusing on this devastating issue.
As spring begins to appear, it’s a great time to discover the extraordinary instances of nature that are flourishing right in our backyards–literally. Urban Nature is a WTTW digital series that looks at both the success and issues nature faces in huge cities like Chicago, Austin, Miami, New York City, and San Francisco. Two seasons of surprising nature await.
In these three WTTW digital series, indulge your passion for food and learn more about the Chicagoans who make it their life’s work to serve it. Chefs off the Clock shows what ten accomplished chefs do to relax in their scant free time outside the kitchen. Foodphiles introduces you to some Chicagoans devoted to various aspects of the food industry, from foraging to roasting coffee to serving goat. And Chat, Please! Features conversations between the creator of Check, Please! And veterans from every aspect of Chicago’s restaurant world.
Applying to and getting into high schools in Chicago is a fraught task, as students strive to be accepted into a selective enrollment school that many view as a path to a better future. This 9-part WTTW digital series follows five such students as they prepare for high school with the help of their parents, their teachers, and administrators.
Revisit documentaries from this archival WTTW series that tell the stories that have Chicago written all over them: Marshall Fields’ Christmas windows, the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the 1933 World’s Fair. For even more engaging stories, visit wttw.com/chicagostories.
Revisit America’s favorite pastime in signature Ken Burns style: exhaustively, with rich documentary material, compelling stories, and fascinating interviews with players, historians, and others who love the game.
A vast trove of Frontline documentaries going as far back as 1983 is available to stream. Cover everything from the rise of tech giants like Amazon and Facebook to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, protests in Hong Kong to a dissection of America’s toxic politics, all thanks to Frontline’s committed investigative journalism.
Now’s a good time to dive into American history, from episodes as well-documented as the moon race (the three-part Chasing the Moon is available to stream) to shameful chapters that should be better known (The Chinese Exclusion Act) as well as just unusual stories (President Theodore Roosevelt’s journey with Brazilian explorer Cândido Rondon into uncharted parts of the South American rainforest, in Into the Amazon).
Explore the wide range of human knowledge in NOVA episodes that visit the planets in our solar system, investigate the devastating California wildfires of 2018, examine the frontiers of biology, and attempt to discover the secrets of the pyramids, among many more.
Math in Music is an all-new digital series from our sister station WFMT that spotlights the surprising ways that math and music intersect, and how math can explain some of the wonderful effects of music, all in an accessible way.