Need ideas to keep kids busy or help teach them at home? Enter: The Internet. Here is a list of online homeschool resources that are free, educational companies waiving subscription fees, and podcasts that are entertaining and educational. These are the ones we’ll be using to help our elementary-age kids learn and hopefully stop parkouring in our house. If anyone has any suggestions I might have missed, let me know and I’ll add it to the list. (I mean. Maybe. We’ll see.)
Homeschool Resources Free
Here are some excellent homeschool resources that are always free, and some that have fees that have been waived. There are lots of them, but we’ve picked these for a reason – some are really basic and uncluttered learning tools, some include engaging games and activities that will keep your kids occupied (and learning!), and all of them are worth checking out.
Age of Learning provides schools closed due to the coronavirus with free home access for all affected families to leading digital education programs ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and ReadingIQ. Programs serve students in preschool / pre-k, elementary school, and middle school. (ABCMouse/Adventure Academy)
This is a really great resource for some of your youngest students. The Alphabet Soup’s Alphabet Coloring Book provides a printable page of images to color for each letter of the alphabet. (Alphabet Soup)
Bedtime Math helps kids learn to use math in everyday life. The daily activities and games usually take around 5 minutes and there are four different skill levels. You can opt to receive emails with daily challenges, which makes it easy to get a little math lesson in each day. (Bedtime Math)
This one is for students in middle school and high school. It’s a social studies curriculum that aligns with Common Core ELA standards. Big History includes a course guide that allows educators to manage classrooms, assign tasks, track progress, and personalize instruction. Even though it is primarily designed for teachers, the site offers different versions better suited for parents. This one is totally free, you just need to create an account. (Big History Project)
ClubSciKidz is usually a science summer camp, but because of school closures its SciKidz blog now posts daily science activities and experiments that you can do at home with your kids. These science programs are designed for the kids aged 4-15. (Club SciKidz)
Discovery Education Experience is an online K-12 service combining curated curriculum resources with on-demand teaching strategies. Its standards-aligned content is assignable and meets the varying needs of diverse student populations in a safe and secure environment. (Discovery Education)
Edpuzzle is an online platform for remote learning that allows you to make any video your lesson. Connect with students virtually by using YouTube safely and explore our popular channels like TED Talks, National Geographic, Crash Course and Khan Academy, or upload your very own video. (EdPuzzle)
This free resource offers printable worksheets, games, lesson plans, and so many more resources to teach kids in K-5th grade. It covers a TON of topics, including space-related lessons like “How is A Star Born” and “Know Your Planets” worksheets for each of the planets (some kids are really into space). (Education.com)
Funbrain offers free educational games, comics, books, and videos for children from Pre-K through 8th grade. These fun activities focus on developing skills in math, reading, problem-solving, and literacy. (Funbrain)
If you need to get your kids to use up some energy, GoNoodle is a good choice. It offers lots of active games and videos designed to get your kids moving. It was initially created for classrooms, but it works just as well at home. (GoNoodle)
Khan Academy Kids is a free, award-winning online education program for children ages 2 – 7. Our mobile app was designed by child development experts at Stanford University and engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math, while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills. It is age-appropriate, personalized based on where your child is at, and engaging. (Learn More)
A game-based learning platform that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment. Educators in more than 115 countries are using Minecraft: Education Edition across the curriculum! (Minecraft: Education Edition)
If you just want your kids to practice some basic math skills, in a very simple and easy to use app, download Math Drills Lite to a phone or iPad and they can work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (Math Drills Lite)
So. Many. Math. Worksheets. If you’d rather your kids work on worksheets, this site offers more than 11,000 free printable math worksheets and answer keys. (Math Drills)
This is a really basic, bare bones site that is a great resource for age appropriate math exercises for Kindergarten through 5th grade. This is another math worksheet resource, but it also has a few games like Soduko and mazes, which your kids might discover (or already know) they love. (Math Fact Cafe)
Interesting facts about animals, science, history and geography, and fun competitions, educational games and great videos centered mostly on animals and the natural world.Kids can take virtual tours of different countries, which include interesting facts and information. Also a good place to find ideas for outdoor learning activities. (National Geographic Kids)
Newsela is an educational website that uses news stories to improve literacy. It has five different reading levels, so any student can practice literacy skills while also learning about current events. It includes tools that allow educators and parents to evaluate reading comprehension and vocabulary, monitor progress, and personalize lessons. Newsela includes free articles, and many of its tools are free. Usually its Pro version is an additional cost, but following school closures Newsela announced that the entire service will be free for the rest of the school year. (Newsela)
PBS LearningMedia is a free, PreK-12 digital media service available to educators nationwide. Our free service offers teachers access to more than 30,000 learning materials aligned to state and national standards, including 25,000+ videos, interactive lesson plans, media galleries and more to enrich classroom instruction. Educators can easily browse and find content that demonstrates key curricular themes by subject area, standards, and grade bands. (PBS Learning Media)
ReadWorks offers free content, curriculum, and tools to support teaching and learning from the Kindergarten level through 12th grade. It includes an easily searchable library of content, and a daily learning opportunity called Article-A-Day. You and your child can read each article, discuss what they learned or thought was interesting, and record it – this can take just 10 minutes a day to build background knowledge, vocabulary, and reading stamina. (ReadWorks)
This free resource includes 20 days of interesting articles, stories, videos, and fun learning activities. You can choose which order to do them in, and when to do them. They offer lessons from Pre-K to Grade 6+, including virtual field trips, learning about successful authors, and diving deeper into topics your kids love. (Scholastic Learn at Home)
Storyline promotes children’s literacy. It features famous people reading popular children’s books, like Mark Duplass reading “When a Dragon Moves In”, or Annette Bening reading “The Tooth”. Children can listen to the stories, follow along with the words, and enjoy the colorful illustrations. (Storyline)
This is a game-based learning website that kids can use to learn math and spelling skills (numeracy for kids 5-14 and literacy for kids 5-11). The games are engaging and personalized, so that kids will enjoy learning new skills and be encouraged to continue. A lot of the games are multiplayer, so your kids can play “against” thousands of kids worldwide. It is adaptable to each level, and Sumdog is offering free access to all of its resources during school closures. (Sumdog)
Recently, Varsity Tutors announced the launch of Virtual School Day—a free remote learning program that includes live, online classes and educational resources intended to help parents fill their kid’s day with enriched learning and to help keep students from sliding academically during COVID-19 school cancellations. So far, they’ve had more than 40,000 class registrations. To supplement Virtual School Day, they also announced Virtual Summer Camps to support students and parents that will likely continue to be impacted through the summer.
Educational Podcasts for Kids
Sometimes everyone has had enough of worksheets and reading and you’re feeling some serious guilt about your kids’ screen time. Fortunately for us (parents and kids alike), we have access to some truly fantastic podcasts, so someone else can teach your kids or read them stories, and everyone can get a break from each other. This is clearly the podcast’s time to shine. Here are a few that we love.
One of our kids favorite podcasts.
Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz guide curious kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the wonders of the world around them. We’ll go inside our brains, out into space and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology. (link)
An award-winning science podcast for kids and curious adults from American Public Media. (link)
But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. (link)
Tumble is a science podcast for kids, to be enjoyed by the entire family. We tell stories about science discoveries, with the help of scientists! Join Lindsay and Marshall as they ask questions, share mysteries, and share what science is all about. (link)
A Few Tips: How to Homeschool For People Who Never Thought They’d Homeschool
- Try to relax – you’re not going to know the best way to handle this right from the start. A lot of homeschooling is figuring out what works best for you and your family, and being flexible when it comes to creating a schedule. Try a few different things out and see what works for you.
- Let your kids’ interests help guide what you do next. What do they love doing? Ask them what they want to learn about, and think of ways to incorporate it.
- Be mindful of giving your kids breaks when they need them – if they’re getting frustrated with a math problem or some other assignment, having just a 15-minute break will help everyone. For my kids, getting outside for awhile and getting some exercise always helps.
- There are A LOT of free homeschool resources out there (see excellent suggestions above). You really don’t need to spend anything to get started. Seriously. Check out the ones we recommend here.
- Don’t try to cram too much schooling into one day. Kids learn over time. If you start obsessing about how much they’re learning every day, you and they will get stressed and burnt out really quickly.
- Take notes. Write down what you’d like homeschooling to look like for your family, some goals you have, what you’re worried about, what success looks like for you, ideas for activities or topics – write it down somewhere.
- Decide on a schedule and start planning your days with learning time, chores, meals, quiet solo time, and other activities (include things you know your kids love and will look forward to). Students are used to having schedules at school, so having one at home can feel familiar. Be reasonable though – kids aren’t learning the entire time they’re at school. And if you’re mindful about not filling the day with too much work and keeping your expectations realistic and flexible, this is going to go a lot better for everyone. You can be flexible and switch things around depending on the day, or you might find your schedule needs some rearranging. Make a schedule, and then adapt it till it works best for your family.
- Try to learn some things that excite and interest you as well – it’s good for your kids to see you get excited about learning.
More Ideas for Kids Games and Activities
Here are some other ideas for activities, because suddenly we all have a lot more hours to fill and sometimes ideas are hard. Most of these can be adapted for any age and most can be done individually or together – encourage your kids to engage in these together if they have siblings, or alone if they need “alone time” (we know that’s best sometimes).
Math Activities and Games
- Cook or bake with an adult
- Add, subtract, multiply with cereal, legos, or other small objects
- Use dice to add and subtract and record on paper if they can- use a timer to see if they can beat their time
- Use playing cards to practice math fact fluency – add, subtract, and multiply – make it a game with siblings/parents or beat their own time using a timer
- Play store – practice buying and selling – use fake money if you have or any small items as “units of money”
- Build towers, mazes, traps
- Make a map: your room, house, community or school – you could also have your kids create a treasure map and have them hide things for each other to find
- Shape hunt/scavenger hunt: find something red, something small and square, a piece of string, money, three puzzle pieces, etc
Reading Activities and Games
- Read – to themselves, adult, teddy bear, friend, through phone/video chat, or just read with your kids if they’re not reading yet. You can also have nonreaders “read” to you by telling you the story using the pictures.
- Find nouns in your house – if possible have them write the words and add a checkmark when they find them.
- Use adjectives to describe the nouns – happy, silly, super, smart, gigantic, tiny, enormous, short, brave, bright, fluffy, adventurous
- How many verbs can you do? Have them do them and write them down in a “physical activity log” each day.
- Rhyme – you can play a rhyming game where one person says a word and the next has to rhyme with it.
- Write a letter to family or friend.
Health and Fitness Activities
Your kids can:
- Help plan and prepare a meal with your family
- Try a new food and write a food critic review
- Have a dance party, or lookup dance tutorials on Youtube so they can learn new moves
- Stretch and breathing exercises (Cosmic Kids is a very entertaining online yoga class for kids on Youtube, (think Pokemon and Harry Potter yoga), and there are many free online yoga videos
- Workout – jumping jacks, high knees, run in place, push-ups, sit-ups, arm circles
- Write or draw your feelings about: your family, friends, pet, yourself, etc
- Learn to ride a bike
- Go for a walk, bike, scoot. Ask them to find certain objects on your walk (pine cone, red bird, dandelion).
- Play catch
- indoor snowball fight with socks
- Charades – choose a specific category, like movie characters/animals
And for now, that’s it! Let us know if you have any great homeschooling resources or activities that your kids love. And good luck parents. We got this.