You might know that in my professional life, I’m a digital learning specialist for my local school district. Since I have family and friends that now find themselves in the position of having their children at home for an extended period of time, I wanted to put together some resources that we use that are free for families to continue learning with. If your children are enrolled in a K-12 school, keep in mind that they might already have digital learning resources that they are using. It would be beneficial to continue using those (they’ll likely have access through a tool like Clever- which is how our students login). Ask your students and/or their teacher for ideas to continue the learning they’ve been doing already.
These resources are for younger learners (Elementary & Middle grades), since that’s where my nieces and nephews are at. If you need ideas for older kids, let me know!
I also want to mention that, these digital tools below are designed to compliment classroom instruction, not to replace it. Please don’t place your kids on these digital learning sites for long periods of time. Consider their developmental level- a chunk of 10-30 minutes is a great amount of time for them to practice. Once they’ve done that, talk with them about what they did and how it’s going. If the tool has a reporting feature that you can get at (some will, some won’t), try to look at the report and see where they’re struggling. If you’re not comfortable getting into the data (you’re definitely not alone with that one) just talk with them about it, which is SO valuable. Consider tracking their progress with smiley faces or stickers. Help them to feel good about learning and accomplishing things!
If your schedule allows it, this is a great time to read books together and explore nature. Ask your child questions about what they’re finding/exploring/curious about. That can guide a lot of learning. Add up the number of flowers/leaves/rocks they find. Read a story about springtime (or winter depending on where you’re at). Go for a hike in a park (maybe avoid the playground). Talk with kids.
My first step would be to build a daily schedule (here’s a sample I made: view it here | make your own copy here). If you have school-aged children, they’re used to a schedule, it can help keep them feeling secure and ensure that they’re staying engaged with what’s going on. Again, consider developmental level (you know your child/ren best). As you probably already know, young children often lose interest after 5-20 minutes, which is a normal thing for their brain to do. Don’t schedule a 60-minute lecture. Make learning fun and approachable. Add breaks and physical activity. I left the left column blank for you to work with your child/ren to decide on the times. Students can definitely help build out what their daily schedule might look like and might help them to be more engaged with what they’re doing. If you’re able, print and post the schedule so that children can see what’s next. If they’re an emerging reader, you can do a schedule in images, too!
Elementary & Middle:
|Subject, Name, & Link||Grades||Notes/What does it do? How might I use it & other links|
|Math: Dreambox||K-8||Dreambox offers adaptive math instruction aligned to state standards. It has built-in assessment, has family reports so you know how kids are doing.|
|Non-Digital Reading||all||Read books with your child. Read to them, have them read to you. Talk about what you’re reading and ask them questions about the reading: ‘Why do you think that happened?’ ‘Where did this story happen?’ ‘Who are the main characters?’ While the story is going, ask them to predict what might happen next. If you are able, check out some books from the library while you’re well. You can also look for a little free library near you or print books from the internet (if you’re able to).|
|Digital Reading||all||If you have a family member/friend that can and is willing, schedule online reading with them. It can break up the experience and help your child to have exposure to someone else online (ask them to do the same things as above). I created a schedule for this: view it | make a own copy|
Also, you can try a resource like Bookspring, Tumblebooks (requires login many libraries & schools have logins) or Storyline Online (videos of people reading story books)
|Scholastic Learn At Home: Reading, (& Science, Social Studies)||PK-8||Scholastic Learning is offering free accounts for families (letter explaining here). Includes daily topics (20 days as of this writing) with a video, a book to read, and activities. At levels from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade.|
|all||• Sit in a circle together- try to have nothing physically in between y’all.|
To get thinking/conversation started, Wonderopolis can be a great resource.
• Morning Meeting/Check-in Questions from Scholastic (Make them as a craft here)
• Info about Morning Meeting (supporting it) includes questions
|Remote Learning Ideas (from Maine DOE)||PK-2||A list of engaging offline, non-digital ideas and prompts. This is a good option- allowing children to choose from this list. Perhaps print it and cut them out and have child/ren choose from a bowl or basket.|
|Brain Breaks||All||Go Noodle is a great one (it’s on YouTube)|
Cosmic Kids Yoga (also on YouTube)
|Visual Art||All||Make is offering free daily art instruction videos (focused on families) on Facebook. Utilizes materials you likely have at your house.|
|Everything: Office Hours Suggestion||All||If your child/ren’s teacher is able and willing, see if they can set up an opportunity for your child to check in with them (whether it’s daily, 2-3 times a week, or weekly). There are lots of tools that are free to do video calls or phone calls (Google Hangouts Meet, Canvas, Zoom, Webex, Google Voice). It can help guide at-home instruction and work to help kids feel secure and continue the relationship they have with teacher(s). Try to avoid asking for Teachers’ at home/mobile numbers- there are lots of ways to do it without that.|
|Many subjects: Full access to Brain Pop||K-8||Videos on topics & subjects in Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts (visual & music), Health, and Engineering/Tech. Brainpop Jr is geared toward K-3. Full access to Brain Pop [login with loginbp pw: login1]|
I hope this helps you during these difficult times. I’ll continue to update it- if you have any additions you want to share, please add a comment here or on Instagram and I’ll adjust the post. I hope you, your family, and you community are able to stay healthy. I’m thinking of y’all.
Here’s an a big list of stuff, it’s really for teachers and a fair number of them won’t be available if you don’t work for a school/district.
Thank you for being such a considerate loving aunt/sister. You really are such a wonderful person. Xo