Thepandemic has led 46 US states to close schools, some indefinitely, in a major disruption to the public education system. The closures have impacted nearly 55 million public school students nationwide so far, according to data from Education Week. In lieu of attending class in person, many parents are seeking out online resources, apps and games to keep their kids’ minds engaged at home.
Here are several free or discounted online learning resources for pre-K-12 students to complete from home to keep up the learning (and to save you from yet another viewing of Frozen 2 on Disney Plus). If you’re looking for even more, this post also has an extensive list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings.
More online courses can be found on OnlineDegreeHero.
Scholastic’s free Learn at Home program includes 20 days’ worth of curricula to help students continue learning even when school is closed. The daily lessons for pre-K through grade 6-plus include four separate learning experiences, built around a story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families or with their teachers. The lessons last up to three hours, and can be completed on any device.
Khan Academy is a free online learning platform that offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard for students to learn subjects including math, science, computer programming, history, art history and economics from home. It also has specialized content from NASA, the Museum of Modern Art, the California Academy of Sciences and MIT. In light of the recent school closures, Khan Academy released daily schedules for students in pre-K through grade 12 to follow from home.
Outschool is offering free live online classes for students ages 3-18 affected by public school shutdowns, conducted over video chat. The 10,000-plus classes cover topics in English, math, social studies, science, coding, health and wellness, music, art and world languages. You can search courses by length (ranging from one class to a full semester), format (live online or flexible schedule), subject, age range and day or timeframe.
Varsity Tutors is offering a free program called Virtual School Day, which includes live, online classes and educational resources for K-12 students. Students can receive more than 30 hours a week of live online instruction, with classes led by tutors with experience in the course topic and virtual learning. Core classes include math, reading, writing and science, while enrichment classes include topics such as history of the national parks and careers in science.
New York City Department of Education
New York’s Department of Education released a free 10-day curriculum for multiple subjects for every grade level pre-K-12. While it’s aimed at the New York City public school district — the largest in the nation — the materials are general enough to apply to a range of students nationwide.
Early learning activities, videos and games
PBS Kids newsletter, video and gaming apps
PBS Kids launched a new free weekday newsletter with activities and educational games for students ages 2-8 to do from home. The PBS Kids video app is also available on mobile, tablet and connected TV devices, and offers on-demand educational videos and a livestream of PBS Kids 24/7, with no subscription required. Plus, the PBS Kids Games app includes nearly 200 educational games that can be downloaded to play offline.
Learning to read and reading comprehension
ABCmouse.com, Adventure Academy and Reading IQ
The company Age of Learning is providing closed schools free home access for students to ABCmouse.com, Adventure Academy and ReadingIQ. ABCmouse.com is a comprehensive curriculum for pre-K through grade 2. Adventure Academy is an educational massively multiplayer online game for elementary and middle school students, with thousands of learning activities covering reading, math and science. ReadingIQ is a digital library and literacy platform for children ages 12 and under, with thousands of books to choose from.
A children’s literacy website from the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Storyline Online streams videos featuring award-winning actors reading children’s books with illustrations. Each book includes a supplemental curriculum developed by an elementary school educator, which aims to improve comprehension and verbal and written skills, particularly for English-language learners. Celebrity readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.
Time for Kids
Time for Kids launched a free digital library to bring the school-based publication for elementary and middle school students into homes for the first time. The first issue will be a special report on COVID-19, and will include resources for teachers and families to facilitate conversations about the virus, and help young people better understand it.
Epic is a digital library for kids age 12 and under, which is offering free remote access worldwide through June, based on teacher request. Students will be able to access Epic’s digital library collection of 40,000 books, audiobooks and videos, and teachers and libraries can assign books and monitor progress.
Prodigy Math is a free online math platform used by more than 50 million students, teachers and administrators, which reinforces math skills through video game-style play. For $5 a month for a yearly subscription, parents can get their students extra in-game features, benefits and rewards, as well as access placement tests, learning goals and progress reports.
Amid the school closures, Mystery Science has opened its most popular science lessons for grade K-5 for students and parents to access free. Lessons range from short mini lessons that are completely digital, to full lessons that include a hands-on activity. All are designed to use simple supplies that families likely already have at home.
For Minecraft fans, Microsoft added a new Education category to the Minecraft Marketplace that players and parents can download free through June. The education tools let players explore the International Space Station, learn to code with a robot, visit famous Washington, DC landmarks, and learn what it’s like to be a marine biologist. Each “world” to explore includes lesson plans like creative writing activities, build challenges and puzzles.
Duolingo is a free language learning app that helps kids (and adults) learn a language through short, game-like exercises, and motivates you to continue learning with a “streak” feature that tracks the number of days you’ve reached your point goal. You can also subscribe to Premium for $10 a month for an ad-free experience and downloadable lessons.
Read more: The best language learning apps of 2020
Language learning app Babbel is offering its services free to all K-12 and college students through mid-June, to allow students to use their time at home productively. The app is offering three months free access to its app and platform for 14 languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Indonesian and English.
Longstanding language learning platform Rosetta Stone is offering more than three months of free language learning to all K12 students worldwide. Rosetta Stone has more than 20 languages to choose from.
Online language learning platform Lingvist is offering all of its tools free of charge until July 31. Educators, parents and tutors can access the vocabulary, statistical learning tracking, course creation tools and a blended learning guide free, for teaching Spanish, French, German and Russian.
Outside of formal art classes on platforms like Outschool (mentioned above), students and parents can find a number of free art lessons and tutorials on YouTube. Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka is hosting daily drawing classes, and animator Mo Willems is hosting daily cartooning classes. The Art Sherpa has a number of painting tutorials on YouTube as well.
For crafty kids, DIY.org offers thousands of courses and projects with how-to videos for ages 4-13-plus. Project and course topics include drawing, photography, science, music, Lego-building and Minecraft-video making. Kids can make their own videos on the platform to share with others, which are closely monitored by the site (and parents get a notification any time their child posts something, too). DIY.org is currently offering 90% off its library of hands-on projects, how-to videos and safe learning community for kids, with the code TOGETHER.
Virtual field trips
Travel to art museums around the world through Google Arts and Culture. You can also virtually visit the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park and the Great Wall of China.
More coronavirus guides