If you, like most of the world, have found yourself suddenly homeschooling your kids due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 social distancing shutdown, you’re likely feeling pretty overwhelmed. I know I am! Though homeschooling is a noble choice, we didn’t choose it for a reason. But with weeks of school closures looming in the distance, and the inability to safely venture out into the public, we’re abruptly faced with the choice of learning how to teach our kids at home or plugging them in. And while there will definitely be some of the latter, most of us want to make sure our children’s education doesn’t suffer.
I have compiled a list of free educational k-6 websites we can turn to for help in this daunting shift to instantaneous home education. Most of these are sites that my kids use after school or on weekends when they want screen time but I need to curb the mom guilt. A few are recent finds that we haven’t used yet, but seem like great resources. Either way, I’m confident that with the right tools (and a whole lot of caffeine and self-compassion) we will not only get through this, but come out of it even closer to our kids.
Stay healthy and “may the odds be ever in your favor!”
P.S. I’ll be adding new great resources as I find them, so be sure to check back every once-in-a-while to check out the new treasures.
ABC YA – Practice reading skills while playing games that will keep kids engaged and having fun.
Curriculum Associates – Free printable K-8 reading activity packs (available in English and Spanish) and guidance for teachers and families to support learning at home.
DOG ON A LOG Books – FREE Printable board games, activities and more for phonics and reading all using evidence-based methods.
Epic! Books – offering a free 30-day membership giving you access to 35,000 of the best books, learning videos, quizzes, and more.
Fun Brain – Play games while practicing reading skills
Guess My Word – Guess a new word each day. Alphabetic order and vocabulary are the focus of this game. If you have older kids, guess individually and see who can do it in the fastest or in the fewest guesses.
Into the Book – Go “into the book” to play games that practice reading strategies.
Scholastic – 20 days of lessons for each age group: pre-k to k, 1st-2nd, 3rd-5th, and 6th+. Each lesson has a book to watch and one to read, something to learn about and an activity.
Star Fall – Practice your phonics skills with these read-along stories!
Storyline Online – Have some of your favorite stories read to you by movie stars!
ABC YA – Practice math skills while playing games that will keep kids engaged and having fun.
Bedtime Math – Bedtime Math is striving to help families introduce math as a fun part of their daily routine, as common and beloved as the bedtime story. Roll math into the day, whether at bedtime, bath time, or snack time.
Curriculum Associates – Free printable K-8 Math activity packs (available in English and Spanish) and guidance for teachers and families to support learning at home.
Math Playground – Problem solving, logic games and number puzzles kids love to play.
Math Game Time – math games, worksheets, homework help & videos for teachers, parents & children.
Prodigy – a unique learning experience through an interactive math game where success depends on correctly answering skill-building math questions for grades 1–8.
ST Math – a visual math program that builds a deep conceptual understanding of math through rigorous learning and creative problem solving. Usually this is a paid service, but it is free through June 30th to help support parents through school closures. No credit card information required.
Xtra Math – master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.
Zearn – online games and top rated instructional materials that connect hands-on instruction and learning.
Amazing Space – Space telescope education program.
Be Naturally Curious – As we all try to do our part to keep our families, loved ones, and communities safe, our kids may have questions about what viruses are and how they work. While coronaviruses use RNA as their genetic material, understanding what DNA is and how genes work is central to a basic understanding of how viruses hijack our cells and cause illness. Help kids feel empowered with knowledge about what is occurring in the world around them with mini-courses Discovering DNA (designed for early-to-mid elementary school students) and How Your Genes Work (designed for mid-elementary to middle school students), which will be free until 3/31/2020. To download these PDF files, use the code GENETICSATHOME (all caps) at check out.
Cornell Lab: Bird Cams – 15 live bird cams that can stimulate conversations about animals and their habitats.
Everyday Earth – An interactive video earth science based curriculum supplement.
NASA Kids Club – A games-based website that stimulates children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by incorporating five skill levels, national education standards and NASA content.
How Stuff Works – Explore thousands of topics, ranging from the flu to black holes to conspiracy theories, with video and illustrations so you can learn how everything works.
Mystery Science – Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science. Divided by grade level (k-5), this starter set of science lessons are expertly designed to engage students, achieve learning outcomes, and be easy for parents to use, no login required. Choose short mini-lessons that are completely digital or full lessons that include an activity.
Nat Geo Kids – Find amazing facts about animals and science, along with fun competitions, games and more.
Switcheroo Zoo – Watch, listen, and play games to learn all about amazing animals.
American Panorama – A digital atlas of America using online GIS to explore and visualize data with maps.
Funschool – Great history and geography games for kids in grades 3–6. If you go to the Parents & Teachers page, the games are grouped by grade level.
Nat Geo Kids – Find amazing facts about history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more.
PrimaryGames – Test your knowledge of capitals, presidents, history and more. Name that President shows pictures of presidents and gives four possible answers to choose from to identify them. When the right answer is chosen, an interesting fact about the president is revealed.
Who Was? (App/site) – With over 150 titles, Penguin’s Who Was? series tells the incredible stories of trailblazers, legends, innovators, and creators.
Coloring Nature – More than 675 FREE printable coloring pages including: biomes, anatomy, animals, plants and more.
Doodles Academy – Art curriculum, virtually available, with lesson plans and video demos.
Hello Kids – Free online coloring pages.
How to Draw – On this site, you can learn to draw all sorts of fun things, from a kitten to Olaf from Frozen!
Incredible Art – Play fun games about art and learn more about famous artists and their work with these activities.
Kinder Art – KinderArt offers a bunch of lesson plans and activity ideas for kids.
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems – Join best-selling author/illustrator and three time Caldecott Honor winner (for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity) for doodling lessons every day at 1:00 PM EST. Lessons are recorded on YouTube, so you can come back to them any time.
National Gallery of Art – Read about some of the most interesting art at the National Gallery of Art, which is in Washington, D.C. You can also make your own art online in a variety of styles.
Century Learning – K-12 Health and Health and PE courses.
Cosmic Kids Yoga – Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids. Interactive adventures which build strength, balance and confidence.
Fluency & Fitness – Take educational brain breaks to help students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. Best for ages 4-8.
Go Noodle – A collection of songs, dance, and meditation that facilitate movement and mindfulness trough videos created by child development experts.
Virtual Field Trips
British Museum, London – The British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history and culture. Over 6 million visitors every year experience the collection, including world-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies.
Discovery Education Field Trips – Discovery Education offers a variety of free, interactive tours designed for elementary school students. From a behind-the-scenes look at the Library of Congress to a climbing expedition of Mt. Kilimanjaro, you can find plenty of tours.
Farm Tours – Learn more about the wonders of agriculture with your students through this panoramic tour of farms in Ontario, Canada. Your students can learn how dairy products are made, see farmers harvest fruit or eggs, and even explore specialty farms like an emu or deer ranch.
Home Safari Facebook Live – Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is doing a Facebook live each weekday at 3pm EST. They will highlight an animal and include an activity that you can do at home!
Hubble Control Center – A 360 degree tour of the Hubble Space Telescope’s Home.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – This virtual tour allows students to go on a deep-sea adventure through exhibit webcams that allow students to watch sea creatures in real time. Once you’ve studied the animals up close, the Monterey Bay Aquarium also provides a classroom resource page with activities, fact sheets, and games to play with your students.
San Diego Zoo Kids – With this interactive website, you can take your kids to the San Diego Zoo no matter where you live! Students can learn exciting animal facts, explore exhibits in real time with 10 live webcams, play fun games and activities.
The Louvre – The Louvre in Paris, France is one of the most renowned art galleries in the world and, by visiting their website, you can explore some of their exhibits. Take your students on a cultural tour of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, nineteenth-century Romanticism paintings, and other breathtaking exhibitst
The Secrets of Easter Island – What were the people who made the moai head megaliths like, why did they create them, and where did this lost civilization go? Uncover the answer to these and many more exciting questions through the virtual tour of Easter Island.
Walk on Mars – Thanks to NASA’s Curiosity rover, you and your students can explore the surface of Mars in a 360-degree view while learning about space.
Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is one of the most popular and breathtaking national parks in the U.S. With this virtual tour, you can view landmarks like Old Faithful, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Fountain Paint Pot.
123 Homeschool for ME – Free printable worksheets and educational activities to help making learning fun. Resources arranged by grade or subject.
American Archive of Public Broadcasting – A collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 70 years.
Brain Pop – Animated Educational Site for Kids – Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, and Technology.
Freckle – Differentiate instruction across Math, ELA, Social Studies and Science. Sign up as a teacher, there is a dropdown where you can select parent later.
Highlights Kids – Read, play games, and conduct cool science experiments!
K12MovieGuides – Turn any movie into a learning opportunity.
Kahoot – A fun way to learn trivia, practice states and capitals, brain teasers, and more. A question will show up and each person submits their answer, similar to a game show. You can play individually or with shared devices.
Khan Academy Kids – An award-winning online education program for children ages 2 – 7. Engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math, while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills.
Mr Nussbaum – Games created and designed by a teacher for grades K–6 which are sorted by subject and grade.
Smithsonian for Kids – From learning about other cultures to learning about weather, your kids can experience it all here.
Ted Talk for Kids – Fun, informative and captivating talks to inspire young minds.