50 totally free educational resources for kids stuck at home
You don't need to spend a lot in order to learn a lot.
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With the coronavirus pandemic keeping everyone indoors, we've now spent months at home with our kids. Whether your school is providing "distance learning" resources or you're handling homeschooling unassisted, you still have quite a few hours that need to be filled with activities. Thankfully, there are loads of resources available for kids and their parents, and many of them are absolutely free.
I'm still adjusting to having my two kids—ages 7 and 5—home all day while I work, but we've managed to find some pretty incredible online resources to keep everyone occupied. From printable worksheets to virtual museum tours, here are 50 of the free resources that we've discovered, used—and loved—over the last two months.
1. Children's Museum of Manhattan
My kids love the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), so I'm not surprised to see that their virtual offerings are almost as awesome as visiting in person. The new CMOM at Home features daily activities for kids that are easy and fun to do at home. Each day of the week has a theme, like Magical Monday and Artsy Thursday, and activities of all different types are pegged to these themes. While many of the projects are designed for little kids to do alongside a parent, older kids may enjoy doing them independently.
Tinkergarten, the company that's known for their outdoor-based early childhood education programs, has launched Tinkergarten at Home, to get parents outside—and learning—with their kids. Sign-up (it's free) to get access to weekly Tinkergarten activities, parenting insights, and live online sessions with other parents.
Join Beanstalk (it's free) to access the site's incredible resource of engaging video lessons that are an absolute delight to watch. The site offers both live and on-demand classes for kids from 18 months to age six, and they vary in subject matter from science—"all about your tongue"—to read alouds and crafting. Taught by actual teachers, Beanstalk is a great way to introduce younger kids to educational concepts.
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
If you're in need of some daily structure with an academic bent, Lakeshore has a huge selection of free, printable resources for kids of all ages. Lakeshore is one of my go-to stores for educational games and toys, and their printables will not disappoint—we've enjoyed a leaf etching activity and a money match-up game.
5. Scholastic Learn at Home
Scholastic's new Learn at Home website offers free daily courses for kids. Each daily lesson includes age-appropriate writing, reading, and enrichment activities, and they're even offering virtual field trips. My son enjoyed this week's focus on spiders, and even I learned some new facts about arachnids from the short educational video.
6. Dictionary.com Learning at Home Center
Another option is Dictionary.com's recently launched Learning at Home Center that provides English language lessons for students in grades pre-K to 12. All of the material has been created or approved by teachers, and includes spelling, grammar and word challenges, as well as fun family activities and writing prompts.
7. Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers an abundance of free educational resources for kids and parents. If you're struggling with how to structure everybody's days, you'll love the detailed daily schedules for kids ages 4 to 18. Khan Academy's platform includes loads of interactive exercises, videos and articles that cover a range of subjects. There's also a free companion app, Khan Academy Kids, for children ages 2 to 7.
Grade School, Middle School, and High School
8. Bored of Boredom
Started by a group of Los Angeles high school kids who were "bored of being bored," Bored of Boredom offers a unique selection of daily classes taught by the founders themselves. Available classes run the gamut from subjects like WWI history, Comic Book Making, and introduction to HTML, and have a run time of 45 minutes. They also offer one-on-one virtual tutoring sessions by request.
If you have an older child who needs more one-on-one learning than they may be getting in their daily Zoom calls, Numerade might be just the resource they need. Numerade gives students free access to the worlds largest library of STEM video lessons, covering subjects as diverse as calculus and economics. The content is broken down by subject matter and by textbook, providing students with support around specific questions they may have been assigned for homework, or if they just need some clarification about advanced subjects.
10. Seeker Learning
If you're looking for a one-stop-shop for science and health-related learning materials, Seeker Learning has you covered. Geared for kids ages 8 and up, the site offers a wide and varied selection of content focused on everything from space to the human body to technology. Don't see what your kid wants (or needs) to learn about? Kids can email Seeker directly with content requests and questions.
11. Lunch Doodles with Mo
Can you think of any illustrator who is more fun than Mo Willems? Whether Knuffle Bunny is your favorite, or Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, your child can learn to draw with Mo Willems himself, thanks to Lunch Doodles with Mo. Each short episode features Willems in his studio, teaching kids how to draw characters, and talking about his personal artistic process. A new episode gets released every day, so your children won't ever run out of Mo-tastic content.
12. Crayola At-Home Creative Hub
If you're a walking Pinterest fail, like I am, chances are that you're falling down on the crafting part of this whole homeschool thing. Good news: Crayola has put together an At-Home Creative Hub full of DIY craft projects you can do with your kids. There are step-by-step instructions for how to make cool projects like Paper Bag Stars and Paper Plate Llamas, and pretty much everything can be done with stuff you likely already have sitting around your house. They also have printable coloring pages for both kids and adults, in case you just need a soothing activity for everyone in the family.
13. Osmo Kaleidoscope
If your kids already have an Osmo kit, they can take advantage of the free Kaleidoscope App. When combined with the Osmo and a tablet, it turns everyday objects into beautiful kaleidoscopes—a great idea for turning natural materials into artwork.
14, 15, and 16. Virtual tours of the Musee d'Orsay, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and National Gallery of Art
Don't let being stuck at home prevent your kids from learning about artistic masterpieces. Use some of the time you have allotted for art class to take a virtual field trip of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Explore the galleries and famous artworks by renowned artists, such as Van Gogh, Renoir, and Cézanne. If your kids are more into modern art, opt for a tour of New York's Guggenheim Museum, or check out the offerings from The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
17. We are Knitters knitting classes
The popular We are Knitters brand of kits has launched a series of knitting classes designed just for kids. Hosted by children's knitting teacher Miss Alexandra Mpassy, the weekly classes teach step-by-step knitting basics, adding a new technique every week. The short videos are charming and easy to follow and will turn your crafty kid into a master knitter in no time. Plus, knitting is good for small motor skills and counting.
18. Tae Kwon Do
Finding virtual martial arts classes has been a challenge—until now. Join Master Davis from Musa Martial Arts Academy for twice-weekly lessons direct from his studio in Los Angeles. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 pm PST, he'll teach students the fundamentals of Tae Kwon Do and self defense. Classes are available by Zoom and Instagram.
19. Cosmic Kids Yoga
The Cosmic Kids Yoga channel has over 400,000 subscribers for a reason: It's a fun way to introduce children to yoga. Each 15-minute-long video features a cute theme and simple, beginning yoga moves that are great for toddlers and older kids alike. Start each homeschool morning with a Cosmic Kids session to help everyone get centered for the day.
20. Tiler Peck ballet classes
If your child has always wanted to take ballet class with a famous ballerina, now is their chance. Tiler Peck, principal dancer at New York City Ballet, is teaching daily ballet classes every day at 1 pm EST via Instagram Live. Throw on a pair of ballet slippers and join in as she takes dancers through basic stretching and ballet positions. She even throws in some pointe work at the end for more advanced dancers.
21. Debbie Allen dance classes
Not a ballet lover? Opt for one of Debbie Allen's Instagram Live dance classes instead. From salsa to tap, she's even featuring famous guest teachers guaranteed to get you dancing to the beat. Tune in weekdays at 11 am PST for a great class with a dance legend.
22. Kids Hip Hop Corner
Started by professional Hip Hop Dancer Dean Elix Bais, Kids Hip Hop Corner teaches children the fundamentals of hip hop via You Tube. The 45-minute classes are released each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 pm PST, and kids will love getting their bodies moving and grooving while learning awesome dance moves.
23. Indoor Recess with DJ Hesta Prynn
Under normal circumstances, Hesta Prynn can usually be found DJing for fashion brands and celebrity shindigs—she created Alexandra Ocasio Cortez's official playlist—but these days she's stuck at home with her 6-year-old, just like the rest of us. To save us all from weeks of Kidzbop or Baby Shark, she's now hosting daily dance parties she's dubbed "Indoor Recess". The 30 minute dance break—every weekday at 12 pm EST—features all kinds of great music that will have kids and their parents on their feet. Have an older kid who dreams of becoming a DJ? Prynn is also giving virtual DJ lessons via her Instagram stories.
Too tired for story time? Opt for Storyline instead! The site offers a selection of videos of famous actors reading children's books. Each month they highlight certain titles, but there's always a huge selection of books to choose from, including The Hula Hoopin' Queen, read by Oprah Winfrey.
25. PJ Library
If you're Jewish—or just curious about Judaism—PJ Library hosts a daily Jewish-themed story time every morning at 10 am EST. Kids can watch videos of authors reading their books, and learn about important concepts like mitzvahs (good deeds). The PJ Library Facebook page also offers loads of activity suggestions for projects to do with kids.
26. Storytime from Space
Have a kid who is space obsessed? Introduce them to Storytime from Space, where astronauts read children's books while in space. I love that the site features both male and female astronauts, an important lesson for girls who love space.
27. Thames & Kosmos Science at Home
Thames & Kosmos, the company behind lots of popular at-home science kits, has introduced a new Science at Home portal. Filled with downloadable instructions for DIY science experiments, as well as fun instructional videos, Science at Home offers lots of resources for kids who are missing out on time in the school science lab.
28. Generation Genius
Generation Genius offers online science lessons for grades K through 5. The video lessons cover everything from the weather cycle to the properties of matter, and they are labeled and categorized by grade. Kids will love the informative videos that look and feel more like a Nickelodeon show than a science class.
29. Mystery Science
Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic are important, but don't forget to add some science to your new homeschool curriculum. Mystery Science has put together a fantastic selection of science lessons and experiments that can be done at home. Covering such intriguing subjects as "who invented pizza" and "why do woodpeckers peck wood," kids are sure to find the subjects engaging.
30. Cabin Fever Science
For easy science experiments you can do at home with little kids, tune in to Cabin Fever Science on YouTube, where director Randy Scott Slavin and his adorable daughter, Zoe, conduct science experiments using everyday kitchen ingredients. The resulting one minute how-to videos are fun, educational, and sure to inspire your kids to start experimenting.
31. Research Quest Live
Older kids who need a dose of science instruction will enjoy the Natural History Museum of Utah's new series called Research Quest Live. Designed with middle-schoolers in mind, the free daily classes are taught by museum educators, and cover such cool subjects as dinosaurs and ancient forests. The classes run each weekday at 9:30 am MDT, but if you can't make it to the live classes, they're all archived online for viewing anytime.
32. The Cincinnati Zoo Home Safaris
The zoo may be closed, but your kids can still learn about their favorite animals without leaving the house. The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting "Home Safaris" each day at 3 pm EST on Facebook Live. Each day they'll highlight one of their resident animals—like Rico, the Brazilian porcupine—and they'll also include an activity that kids can do from home. If you miss the live videos, you can always catch it later on the zoo's YouTube channel.
33. The Philadelphia Zoo's Philly Zoo at 2
The Philadelphia Zoo also offers a weekly Facebook Live session called Philly Zoo at 2, which runs every weekday at 2 pm EST. This week kids met the zoo's brand new baby sloth bear cub, who is quite possible the cutest fuzzy creature ever. Kids will love learning about all the wild animals that call the Philadelphia Zoo home.
34. Pest World for Kids
Kids who are into bugs will absolutely flip for the offerings at Pest World for Kids. The site offers information and learning activities related to bugs for kids in grades pre-K to 8. In addition to critter-themed crafts, interactive quizzes, and pest guides, the site also provides pest-focused lesson plans for parents.
35. History at Home
The History Channel's new History at Home video series stars notable personalities delivering short history lessons on such topics as who discovered the importance of hand washing, Florence Nightingale, and the invention of toilet paper. A new video is released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11 am EST, and companion lesson plans to match the themes of the videos are also available.
36. Encantos Learning Hub
Visit the Encantos Learning Hub—ideal for kids up to age 6—and check out the selection of free educational content that's created by real teachers. Kids can take a virtual geography lesson via Tiny Travelers and learn about other cultures. Prefer bilingual learning instead? Canticos offers bilingual preschool resources so your little one can learn both English and Spanish.
37. PenPal Schools
If your kid is feeling isolated and lonely, now is a great time to set them up with a PenPal—especially one that's digital and living halfway around the world! The PenPal Schools App provides cool, project-based learning activities that enable kids to connect with their peers in other countries. They not only learn about other cultures, but they also have an opportunity to practice their writing skills while communicating with their penpal.
38. America's Test Kitchen
America's Test Kitchen Kids has made their entire site completely free for everyone. Kids will love the colorful site and its plentiful selection of recipes, projects, and cooking lessons. We're planning to whip up a batch of the Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
39. The Metropolitan Opera Free Student Streams
The Metropolitan Opera is bringing the magic of some of the world's most famous operas right to your computer screen. Their free Student Stream program offers a week-long education program for kids, with engaging ways to learn about the opera, as well as materials like illustrated synopses, coloring pages, and live sessions with featured artists from the productions. Upcoming programs include Hansel and Gretel, Carmen, and The Merry Widow.
40. The Hootenanny music class
Don't let the music stop just because school isn't in session. Kids can tune in for daily jam sessions with their favorite family-friendly groups, thanks to YouTube and Facebook. Tune in every afternoon at 1 p.m EST for The Hootenanny, a music class that's pure silly fun.
41. The Lucky Band jam session
The Lucky Band hosts a daily Facebook Live jam session every afternoon at 1 pm EST, where they sing songs and read stories, and just have a great time. Kids will love singing along and getting to know all of the performers.
42. Berkner Break with the Laurie Berkner band
Little kids can enjoy a daily "Berkner Break" with the Laurie Berkner band, every morning on Facebook live. Tune-in at 10 am EST to watch a live concert direct from Berkner's house.
43. L'il Maestros online music classes
Older kids who want to use their time at home to learn to play an instrument can take advantage of Ausounds L'il Maestros online music classes. The five week sessions are totally free, and teach guitar, piano, percussion, music theory, improvisation, and more. The classes also feature special appearances by famous musicians as well as industry experts. The live virtual lessons air every weekday at 3 p.m. EST.
44. Practicing Musician
If you've got a musically-inclined kid who needs to keep up with their lessons, Practicing Musician can help. The online music education platform offers video tutorials and private lessons for everything from tuba to trombone. The teachers have impressive musical backgrounds and the classes are completely free until September of 2020. If your child's musical instrument is trapped at school, Practicing Musician also offers rental instruments at an affordable price, and shipping is free.
Keep up their foreign language learning with the ever popular Duolingo app. The free program offers instruction in a myriad of different languages—including Arabic, Welsh, and Spanish—in a colorful and easy-to-follow program that feels more like a game than a class.
46. Sign Language
Sundra Oakley, an ASL teacher based in Los Angeles, hosts weekly sign language lessons on Thursdays at 1 pm PST via Zoom and Instagram Live. Each class begins with the basics—the alphabet—and builds from there. She covers foods/drinks, emotions, family members, simple phrases, possessives, and many more, depending on the focus of the lesson. Signs are repeated often during each lesson, so that students have the opportunity to retain what they're taught, and lessons always include something new.
If you've always wanted to try Babbel's courses, but you haven't wanted to spend the money to do so, you're in luck: they're offering three free months for students enrolled in grades K through college. Babbel's program consistently garners raves, and your child will love the easy-to-use online lessons.
The local public library may be closed, but it's still possible to check out digital books thanks to Libby. The super user-friendly app makes it easy to search, find, and check out any title the library has on hand. Users can even place holds on books that are currently out, and have the title automatically checked out as soon as it becomes available. Libby also has a great read along feature that can help kids easily follow the story. All kids (or their parents) need to get started is a library card.
49. GiGi's at Home
During non-Pandemic times, GiGi's Playhouse offers in-person classes for kids and young adults with Down Syndrome. Worried that their students' specific learning needs would be overlooked in traditional distance learning formats, GiGi's Playhouse went virtual with their GiGi's at Home site. Offering both live and on-demand classes, as well as a huge variety of age-specific online courses, kids with unique learning needs can access education made just for them.
50. Testing Mom
Unless you're a professional teacher, chances are you're probably struggling with how to best homeschool your kids—especially if you have older kids who are facing standardized admissions testing. Testing Mom offers a wide selection of weekly seminars and classes for kids and parents that address everything from how to teach your child to read (for parents) to how to approach answering analogy questions on tests (for students).
What free resources have you discovered lately? I'd love to know about them! Email me at email@example.com.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.