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Free educational classes and programs for kids at home


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With the coronavirus pandemic keeping everyone indoors, you’re facing weeks—potentially months—of spending time at home with your kids. Whether your school is providing “distance learning” resources, or whether you’re venturing into homeschooling unassisted, you’re still going to 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 18 of the free resources that we’ve discovered, used—and loved—over the last few days.

1. Worksheets, activities, and lesson plans 

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.

Get free educational materials at Lakeshore

2. All-around learning 

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.{{ ad_skip }} 

Access the lessons at Scholastic

3. A total education online

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.

Get started at KhanAcademy.org

4. Storytime

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.

PJ Library on Facebook

5. Drawing classes 

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.

Watch Lunch Doodles with Mo on YouTube

6. Family-friendly playlists and DJ classes

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 releasing family-friendly playlists every few days on Spotify. Have an older kid who dreams of becoming a DJ? Prynn is also giving virtual DJ lessons via her Instagram stories

Get Hesta Prynn’s newest playlist on Spotify

7. 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.

Join Tiler Peck on Instagram

8. More story time

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.

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. 

9. Visit with wild animals 

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.

Visit the Cincinnati Zoo on Facebook

10. Digital art
 

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. 

Download Osmo Kaleidoscope in the App Store

11. Original 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 tour 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.   

12. Cool 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.

Find science lessons at MysteryScience.com

13. Learn about the world 

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.  

Visit Encantos

14. Get cooking

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

Cook-up fun at America’s Test Kitchen Kids

15. 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. 

Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube

16. Outside education

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.

Sign-up for Tinkergarten at Home 

17. Music classes

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. The Lucky Band hosts a daily Facebook Live jam session every morning at 10 a.m. 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. 

18. Learn another language

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. 

Sign-up for Duolingo

What free resources have you discovered lately? I’d love to know about them! Email me at alane@reviewed.com.

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