I work from home. Not just because of this COVID-19 weirdness, but all the time.
I (naively) thought I would be fairly equipped for what we’re experiencing. But, alas, I am not. Honestly, I am busier than I’ve been in a really long time keeping up with work, occupying my son so his brain doesn’t rot from watching YouTube gamers and unboxing videos, coordinating work-from-home schedules with my husband, and corralling the dog who, like me, is thrown off by the people-y-ness of our normally quiet work from home situation.
Early on, I thought I’d get to catch up on some scrapbooking. Instead, I’m starting to drink mid-afternoon and watching as the condition of my house further deteriorates!
Seriously, though, after a week of spring break, I went into last week with (what I thought was) a great plan (see above) that would keep my son occupied in at least moderately educational pursuits. We’d have theme days and keep up his schedule of specials, and I’d still get in a good 6-7 hours of work each day.
However, by Tuesday mid-day, I had totally abandoned this plan. What I needed were more things that my son could do independently to keep busy. It’s tough to get much work done in 10-15 minute increments between interruptions!
So, I have spent several evenings scouring the internet for resources. I know, I know, there are a billion lists out there of things to do to “homeschool” (fully acknowledging that this is not homeschooling!) / school at home / un-school / nurture / occupy / etc. your children. My hope is that this list contains some unique resources you haven’t seen before, emphasizing independent activity and organized by topic. Bonus: these are all either completely free or are offering a free trial during COVID-19 school shutdowns!
Reading and Literacy
- Scholastic Learn at Home: New lessons each weekday with reading, videos, and activities (pre-K-grade 9)
- ReadingIQ: 7,000 books, 700 audiobooks. Free 1-month trial (ages 2-12)
- Audible by Amazon: Audiobooks sorted by age. Bonus: there’s a section of classics that will appeal to adults, too! Free as long as schools are closed (all ages)
- Josh Gad (voice of Olaf!) reading books archived and updated daily (all ages, who doesn’t love Olaf?)
- Seussville: Dr. Seuss-related activities (toddlers through early elementary)
- Storyline Online: Celebrities reading books (all ages)
- Story Time From Space: Astronauts read books from space (all ages)
- Math Playground: Free math games and videos (grades 1-6)
- Math Chimp: Math videos, games, and worksheets (grades 1-8)
- Coolmath.com for all ages, Coolmath4Kids for 12 and under, and CoolmathGames: These sites have math games, lessons, quizzes, brainteasers, manipulatives, and more. Something for every age!
- Bedtime Math (APP): Mini daily math lessons (ages 3-9). Or check out MiniMath for preschoolers. Just search in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store!
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo Webcams: Check out their naked mole-rat, lion, giant panda, and elephant cams! (all ages)
- NASA Kids Club: Play games and learn about NASA (pre-K through grade 4)
- American Museum of Natural History’s OLogy: Broad topics with supporting articles, videos, activities, etc. (grades K-5)
- Innerbody: Interactive human anatomy to explore system by system (high school; maybe middle school)
- Science podcasts for kids: List of 19 science podcasts that are appropriate for kids (elementary and up)
- Mystery Science: Mini and full video science lessons (grades K-5)
- National Geographic: Interactive science resources (grades K-12)
- YouTube QuaranTime with Science Mom: Engaging science videos (and don’t miss out on Math Dad, too!)
- World 101: Explore the world by region or global issue (seems like high school level)
- iCivics: Many social studies/government scenario games (elementary school level)
- Carmen Sandiego: Blast from the past, anyone? Games, videos, activities, and resources about geography, culture, diversity, and more! (elementary through high school)
- Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government: Join Ben Franklin in learning all about our government (sections for ages 4-8, 9-13, and 14+)
- Google Arts & Culture: Curated content from Google focusing on art, architecture, cultures from around the world, landmarks, museums, and more (all ages)
- Art for Kids Hub: Video art projects sortable by type of project and child age (all ages)
- TheColor.com: Free online coloring site (all ages)
- Artrageous with Nate: YouTube channel with art lesson videos as well as art history videos (all ages)
- Chrome Music Lab: Lots of cool interactive music modules! (all ages)
- MusicTheory.net: Basics of staffs, notes, rests, rhythms, etc. (all ages)
- Classics for Kids: Music, composers, games, etc. to learn about classical music. There’s also a good blog post with additional resources. (grades K-5)
- Incredibox: Your kids can make their own music. Hard to describe — you just have to see it! (all ages)
- San Francisco Symphony: Kids can discover, listen, play, perform, conduct, and compose music! (ages 8-13)
- Z102.9’s 3 o’clock Move and Groove: A 15-minute dance party each weekday at 3 p.m. Listen online, on through your smart speaker, or the Z102.9 app (all ages)
- Beachbody Workouts for Kids: Collection of fun video workouts geared toward kids (all ages)
- Daily Taekwondo classes: Video taekwondo classes! (all ages)
- PE with Coach Wood: Energetic teacher leading fun PE activities on YouTube (all ages)
- Fabulingua app: Teaches Spanish thru interactive stories (elementary ages)
- Duolingo: Free online language courses for 35 different languages (including Klingon!) (all ages)
- Babbel: 14 language options! They are currently offering three months free (all ages)
- RockAlingua: Music-based Spanish learning with some free games, videos, songs, worksheets, and picture dictionaries (elementary ages)
STEM and Engineering and Coding
- TinkerCad: 3D designs, circuits, and coding – with a cool option to 3D print! (ages 5-12)
- Scratch: code stories, games, and animations and share them. Geared toward kids ages 8-16. For kids 5-7, try Scratch Jr.
- Aviation is Your Future: Self-paced online course for kids age 8-17. Deals with aviation terms, aspects of flight, major parts of an airplane, flight characteristics of a helicopter, and the goals of space exploration (total of six hours of video)
- Code.org’s Hour of Code: Coding activities (all ages)
- Pacific Science Center Curiosity at Home: Video and printable resources on a range of STEAM topics (all ages!)
- Tynker: Fun, easy, self-paced way to learn coding. They are offering free premium access during COVID-19 closures (for kids ages 5+)
- Typing Club: Typing game with levels, badges, and stars (all ages)
- TypeTastic: 700 games and keyboarding activities (for K-12). Free until the end of June.
- Dance Mat Typing: Animals with British accents teach your kids to type! (elementary ages)
Wellness and Mindfulness and Emotional Learning
- Little Twisters Yoga & Emotional Wellness: Free yoga for kids
- Brain Care, not Behavior Management: Australian music therapist with a fun series of music videos, “Music in Isolation” (for kids)
- Carmen Sandiego Fearless Kids Around the World: Web series about kids showing bravery, resilience, and kindness (grades 4-8)
- Mindful Schools: Offering 20-30 minute mindfulness classes for kids over the next few weeks (grades K-5)
- FUNBRAIN: Educational games, books, videos, math, etc. (pre-K-grade 8)
- BrainPOP: Multi-subject fun and games for upper elementary and middle school students. Sign up for a 30-day free trial (this will be extended through school closure). Also, check out BrainPop Jr. (grades K-3).
- Scholastic Learn at Home: Daily lessons by grade level. Mostly science and social studies articles (can enable text-to-speech) with supporting videos, activities, etc.
- TEDEd videos: Tons of educational videos for kids (and grown-ups!). Find a list of videos by topic.
- National Geographic Kids: Games, videos, and activities about science, social studies, and more.
- How Stuff Works: Just what it says!
- Great Minds Knowledge on the Go: K-12 videos plus supporting materials: Eureka Math, PhD Science, and Wit & Wisdom lessons
- LIVE Industry Chats: Videos about different careers (e.g., marketing, psychology, real estate, magician, etc.) as well as informational videos (World War II, drones, museum tour, virtual wetlands tour, etc). Elementary through college, each video gives an age range. You can either register to attend live (most talks are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) or have video emailed to you after.
- Iowa PBS Virtual Learning Camp: Four weeks of guided online math and reading for kids ages 5-8. See the Facebook event.
- Wonderopolis: Huge repository of answers to random questions, both articles and videos, along with thought-provoking questions and additional resources linked to each topic (all ages)
- 450 Ivy League Courses: Free online courses in computer science, business, art and design, science, health and medicine, engineering, math, education, and more from top colleges and universities
- edX: 2500+ college-level courses from 140 institutions across all disciplines
- Smithsonian Institute Fun Stuff for Kids: Activities and videos across science, social studies, art, animals, history, and more
- School Closures.org: Tons of activities which also list the level of parental involvement needed, from zero to medium to high
- Play to Learn Preschool: Free virtual preschool with circle time and activities (preschool)
- Pinna: Audio streaming of podcasts, audiobooks, and music geared toward kids age 3-12. They’re giving 60 days of free access with code PINNA4KIDS
- Crash Course website & YouTube channel and Crash Course for Kids have tons of videos arranged into courses on a range of topics (all ages)
- Smithsonian Learning Lab: A wealth of digital resources (image, video, audio, text, lessons, games, interactives, etc.) from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine major research centers, the National Zoo, and more, which can be used together, for learning (all ages)
- CuriosityStream: Documentary streaming service 40 percent off through April 6 with code StayIn40, making it $11.99 for an annual subscription! (all ages)
- Arcademics: Educational, language arts, and math games plus more (grades 1-6)
- Kids Discover: Science and social studies. Free three month subscription with code FREETHREE
- Izzit: Free videos, teachable moments, eBooks, quizzes, and current events. Topics include business, family and consumer sciences, health/PE, science and technology, math, world history, geography, economics, language arts, music, art, U.S. history, government, and civics
Bonus: For Parents
- Parents’ Guide to Google Classroom: A nice overview of Google Classroom to help you support your child whose school may use this platform