Free Home Learning Resources during School Closures (Pre-K through 12)
Having kids at home due to school closures can be a challenge for parents who would like to fill the time with daily activities that are both educational and engaging. It’s easy to turn on the TV or play games, but what can parents do to help their children continue to learn while they are at home?
This can be a common concern for parents over summer months or holidays, but with many parents around the world being currently at home with their kids due to stay-at-home and social distancing COVID-19 measures, more and more parents are looking online for educational resources. Following are some free home learning resources available if you are looking for brain-stimulating activities to fill the day.
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1. Scholastic Learn at Home
Scholastic Learn at Home is a 20-day project planning resource for grades Pre-K through 9. When you open the page, you can select a grade level (pre-K and kindergarten; grades 1-2; grades 3-5; and grades 6-9), and within the grade level you select, you will find daily lessons organized by week. Activities include reading, videos, and puzzles.
2. Great Minds: Knowledge on the Go
Great Minds: Knowledge on the Go provides knowledge-building resources updated daily, which include written materials and instructional videos for English language arts, math, and science (topics vary depending on grade level). After selecting a grade level on the home page, you will find a list of modules, which in themselves will include learning activities like videos and downloads.
3. STEM from the START
STEM from the START (SFTS) is a free home learning resource focused on STEM content for children grades pre-K through 2. From the home page, you can select the Lessons drop-down menu, and either select a list of all lessons or select a lesson category (their current offerings include Awesome Animals; Mission: Temperature; Mission: Materials; and Mission: Motion). Each lesson includes an educational video along with downloadable hands-on learning activities.
Also read: Staying Focused when Studying from Home
Duolingo is a language learning program which provides learning resources for 23 different languages, and is designed to feel like playing a game. By navigating through and completing language learning exercises, learners will gain “lingots,” which they can spend on things like customizing their character or gaining access to bonus levels. Learners will also gain “XPs” (experience points) along the way to represent their skill level, designed to mimic skill leveling systems found in many role-playing games (RPGs). Duolingo is currently available via web browser, Android, and iOS.
5. Skype a Scientist
Skype a Scientist is a free service in which families have the opportunity to privately chat live with a scientist and ask them questions about anything that makes them curious. This is an interactive Q&A format, and not a lecture. After filling out an online form, families will then receive an e-mail after they have been matched with a scientist, and a live Skype session can be arranged at a mutually agreeable time.
On the request form, there is a very wide range of scientists to choose from, including ecologists, anthropologists, physicists, neuroscientists, veterinarians, and museum professionals, but there is also the option to select “any scientist.”
4. Discovery Education’s Virtual Field Trips
Discovery Education’s Virtual Field Trips are live virtual events that can be viewed on demand for free at any time, and a chance for families to visit and learn about unique places and topics—all with “no permission slip required.” Each virtual field trip comes with a companion guide with hands-on learning activities. From the home page, you can search for a topic or select and filter for specific topics, including agriculture, literacy, the natural world, science, and sports.
6. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tours
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers virtual tours of exhibits (both past and present) and areas of the museum from a desktop or mobile device, visually designed to replicate the experience of actually walking through the museum, looking at displays, and reading posted information. There is even a beta VR mode for those with a VR-capable browser or mobile device and a VR headset. Apart from tours of the museum itself, there are virtual tours available of Smithsonian research stations and Museum Support Center.
7. The Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safaris
The Cincinnati Zoo is currently conducting daily “Home Safari” virtual streams in which zoo keepers educate on a different type of animal. Because of its live nature, families viewing from home have a chance to chat live and ask questions which the zoo keepers will answer on camera. The live streams are currently conducted through the Cincinnati Zoo’s page, but videos are permanently posted for future viewing on their YouTube page as well.
8. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Live Cams
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is currently streaming live cams of many of their exhibits, including sea otters, sharks, jelly fish, penguins, birds, and Monterey Bay itself. This is a good option for some background noise while you do other activities (the live cams include some background music) or if you would just like to relax with your kids and watch animals as they go about their daily lives.
Hopefully these free home learning resources provided will help get you started on planning some educational activities with your kids while schools are closed. If you have other resources you’d like to share with other parents, feel free to leave those in the comments below!
>> For a list of more virtual tours of museums, zoos and theme parks, click here.