Since schools in our district (Howard County, MD) are closed, I put together a list of online learning / distance education resources, plus other ideas for things to do during the break/quarantine.
If anyone has any additional ideas for activities or other resources, please send them my way and I will add to this list – comment below.
The list is divided into eight topic areas: Educational video classes and other learning opportunities – Online courses and virtual field trips that are either prerecorded or live.Games and online fun – Great ways to pass the time and have fun, possibly while doing some learning.Random fun ideas – Just random fun ideas for things to do.Worksheets – I’ve tried to find some decent packets you can download to keep your kids on focused learning.Do science – Science experiments and ideas.Music – Learn to play and instrument and quarantine music activities.Physical activities – Get some exercise.Baking and cooking ideasArts and Crafts – Fun do-at-home art ideas to do with your childVirtual field trips – Great places you can visit.
Even better with virtual reality I hope all of us who are well, but home, can all use this unexpected time together wisely.
If you’re sick, get well soon.
[Looking for virtual birthday party ideas?] Educational video classes and other learning fun learning opportunities This break in school is definitely an opportunity for parents to get to know their kids’ academic strengths and weaknesses, in case they don’t already.The good news is that there are loads of fantastic educational websites — many of which are normally for pay, but are free for now.
Some include video lessons and classes, distance learning, others are paid courses.
Here are a few popular sites.
I have selected them by hand, so I hope you’ll find something that will engage your child in the list below: Khan Academy – This is very helpful, free website with loads of educational videos on all sorts of topics.
It’s “gamified” so your child can earn points and badges as they progress through lessons.
The videos are broken down into very specific how-to’s so you can zero right in on what you want to learn, or just follow along a given course.
I very highly recommend this site.
Here is a daily schedule for various grade levels using Khan resources.Grades Pre-K and above.Khan Academy (again!) – This is a special mention because I really like this activity – Imagineering in a box.
“Designed to pull back the curtain to show you how artists, designers and engineers work together to create theme parks.”Outschool – For a VERY limited time FREE $100 credit for classes (Sign up here) I think this is a great opportunity for kids to learn.
They have classes that are prerecorded, and others that have a live teacher that teaches your child along with classmates via video lessons.
One of my children is currently taking a language class from this site and it’s really working well.
I just signed the other up for an American Sign Language class.Grades Pre-K and above.You may also want to have a look at Unschool.School because it also offers a wide range of resources for different ways for kids to learn.Varsity Tutors – Free live online classes for K-12.
Wide variety of courses.Learn At Home with YouTube – Great list of educational channels on YouTube.
I like Crash Courses and It’s Okay to Be Smart.Kids Discover – This website is normally a paid resource, but they’re offering free access to families with kids in districts that have closed schools.
Click here to request a free account.
Here is a list a librarian created with some other resources.
Grades 1 and above.Coding schools – Ok, now would be a good idea for kids who may have some interest in learning computer programming to take some courses or improve their skills with practice.
There are some wonderful options for kids of all ages to get started.
Here are three popular choices:Code Kingdoms – Very good choice to get started coding!HourofCode is a great example, and it is very well done.
Honestly, great for any age.
Grades Pre-K and above.Scratch very good for kids age 6 to 12
Fun, entertaining.Grades 1 and above.Code.org also a great option for learning to code.
Grades 3 and above.CodeAcademy – another great resource with free and paid lessons.Scholastic – This resource goes up to 6th grade.
Lots of great materials to keep kids learning.National Geographic Explorer Classroom has some excellent webinars.
Definitely check it out.EdX, Coursera, and MIT OpenCourseWare – This could be an option for older kids – free online courses from major universities including Harvard, Yale, MIT, and probably most of the colleges you can think of.
(There is even a course about cat and dog behavior from the University of Edinburgh) The classes are on just about any imaginable topic.
Some are self-guided, others are “live” in that if you pay a fee, you can submit work for grading and you have to complete work in a given time frame.
Grades 8 and above.Linked In Learning/Lynda.com – Lynda offers a huge collection of online classes, mostly aimed at adults, but older kids/teens would benefit from many of them.
For example, they have courses in Photoshop and other digital art tools that kids could benefit from.
(Moms or dads would probably also find a worthwhile topic) Howard County Library offers it for free to their patrons, but if your library system doesn’t, the cost to join Lynda is not very expensive and is month to month.
Grades 6 and above.Instructables – I love this website.
Loads of crafts, and other how-to’s on a wide variety of topics.
Most kids are likely to find something that interests them–these would be good for parents and children to do together.
(Thanks to Milanjali for the suggestion to add this one!)Acheive3000’s Actively Learn Platform – I really like Achieve 3000’s ELA current events platform.
I have used it with students for two years when I taught school and thought it was excellent.
They are offering their Actively Learn remote learning platform for free for the time being.
CommonLit – Reading and writing program.
Parents have to go through a verification process, but this is a worthwhile platform with guides for teachers and parents.
Grades 3 to 12.Learn a language with Duolingo.
This is a fun, easy way for your child to learn a language or learn more of a language they already know.
You may also check with your local library to see if they have any other online language learning resources.
For example, .
Howard County Library offers Rosetta Stone for free
I like Rosetta Stone for a few reasons, but top among them is the fact that it can listen to your pronunciation and tell you if you have it right.I would also mention that one of my kids is taking live online language lessons on Outschool.com.
It’s working great even though the teachers and all of the students are in different states.
Grades 4 and above.Prodigy Math – Math activities for grades 1 – 8.
Grades 1 – 8.Delta Math – My kids are using this now.
Lots of great activities.
Create a free account as a teacher to get started.First in Math – This is a great math resource with entertaining games and world-wide competitions.
Paid subscription ($20 for 6 months).iCivics.org – Great stuff on this site — this is a link to some excellent social studies games…including a game where you have to get the votes in a run for president.Get out your library card and check to see what kind of electronic learning resources your local library has.
(Note that in many places, you can get a access to libraries anywhere in your state and beyond).
Here are some examples from the Howard County, Maryland library system (click to see them all – You need to go back to the library website and start there to login with your library card and Pin.
Forgot your PIN.
Reset it here):Kids Infobits Grades Pre-K and above.LearningExpress – Practice tests for AP exams and the SATs.
Library card needed to register.MuzzyScienceFlixTons of electronic books for all ages to download to your phone, Kindle, or tablet.Bookflix Do a project.
This is one of the best ways to learn.
Here is an article about project based learning–at the end of it are 15 ideas for projects including things like redesigning your city’s public transport system and solve your parents’ problem of being too busy.Watch and compare/contrast movie versions of Romeo & Juliet and Westside Story.
Take it deeper by adding in Rent (The Musical) and La Boheme (Thanks Debra T)StarFall – This is a venerable, popular website for younger kids.
Great fun.Grades Pre-K – 3.Whizzimo.com – Free until July.
Help for different learners including Orton-Gillingham.This Way Up – Great mental health resource.
This is a link to their Covid page, but be sure and look at all of their offerings.Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth – Very well reputed online courses.
This one is here because it’s a great option for some kids.
The courses definitely aren’t free (quite the opposite), and you have to get accepted into the program.
This could be a problem under quarantine since you have to test into the program.MobyMax and ListenWise – These two are suggestions for schools and school districts rather than individual families: MobyMax helps your child catch up to grade level.
This is great for different learners or learners struggling with school.
It’s free for the rest of the school year.
Call 888-793-8331 to get started.
Listenwise offers articles and podcasts about a variety of subjects, and can be effective for different learners.
Random fun Watch an Educational TV Show
There are so many, and they can be entertaining and worthwhile.
Here is my list of educational shows for kids of all ages (Mostly on YouTube
Netflix, and Hulu)Grades Pre-K – 8.Plan an end of break “dream” party.
“Money is no object” for this activity.
Organize lists of needed materials, budgets, etc.
What would the party look like.
Who would be invited.
Make invitations.Where would it be held.
What kind of music would be played?Use a Google Doc or Google Sheet to keep track of everything.
Find photos of needed items online and paste them into your document.
Share with a friend.Write a book.
For younger kids, one great option is the blank books they sell on Amazon.
Google Docs is a great way for kids who are less concerned about drawing illustrations to do the same.
There are also social story sharing websites where kids could share their writing with others.
I’d recommend adult supervision, but for example, Wattpad is very popular and Underlined is also a good option for teen writers.Play an epic game of Monopoly, Jenga, or Scrabble.
Hold a tournament.
For something a more unusual and different, try Melissa and Doug “Suspend.”Work on creating (or improving) a family tree/genealogy.
There are so many great resources for this, but start by scheduling some interviews with older relatives who can help your kids to understand your family history (Example interview questions here).
You can then look up relatives on Ancestry, Heritage Quest (free access from the Howard County library and many others), Ellis Island passenger search, or FamilyTree.com.Watch a movie.
Watch a movie series.
Watch all of the Star Wars movies in order.Watch all of the Star Trek movies in order.To say the least, .
YouTube is filled with amazing how-to videos for free
Here are some suggestions:Some kids might enjoy taking drawing courses.
Here is a playlist of drawing courses.
Grades K and above.Piano lessons.
Check out the YouTube lessons from Hoffman Academy
Grades 1 and above.Learn calligraphy You may have a calligraphy pen or marker to get you started, or you could order brush pens or a calligraphy set from Amazon.Slime is banned from my house, but if it’s not banned from yours (or you are desperate for a fun activity and have the ingredients) here is a video tutorial.
(Also see the “Do Science” section below!) Grades 1 and above.Upcycle old crayons.Grades pre-K and above.Make Homemade playdoughGrades pre-K – 2.Make a bird feeder – Here is one design using a toilet paper roll.
Obviously you’re going need some kind of bird seed.Go on a scavenger hunt outside.
There are loads of suggest lists of things to find on various sites (eg – Find something that starts with “M”, find something purple…) Hold a photo contest.
This could be between family members or friends.
Pick a theme.
If you want to have judges (not necessarily recommended), upload the photos to Facebook without credit or explanation and see which one gets the most likes.
If a contest is too much or you don’t have enough people to compete, just do a funny photo shoot and take the silliest photos of each other possible.Watch Lunch Doodles – Mo Willems.
Great stuff!Give your mom a make-over.
(Or some other family member)Teach your kids to sew a button or a hem.
Don’t know how.
See this tutorial on YouTube.
(Thanks Kate M)Write a play – You and your child can work together to create a script for a skit or play.
How about working with a friend via video call to brainstorm the plot together.
Some kids will need some help getting started.
Check out these writing prompts for ideas.Find a free story on Audible.Make a Rube Goldberg machine or a paper plate marble track.Do origami – find some fun origami projects here.Read.
Here is a reading list if your child or teen isn’t sure what to read.
If we’re lucky, those of us who aren’t quarantined could still go to the local library.
But if not, your local library probably has a great collection of electronic books that you can access online or download to your Kindle/e-Reader.
The Howard County Library has a few options including “Overdrive.”In the worst case
you could purchase Kindle books from Amazon (If you have Amazon Prime, you may get free books to borrow.) Games and online fun Here are some ideas for some ideas for fun, some of the suggestions may even be educational.
If you have a Amazon Alexa or Google Home
there are loads of fun, interactive games you could play.
Here are some suggestions of things you can do with the Google Home (and Google Assistant on your Android phone).
Here are some suggestions for games on Amazon Alexa.There are many great educational apps for iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets.
This post is about apps for the popular Kindle Fire tablet, but you’ll find the same apps on any Android tablet.
Here is a list of educational iPad apps.One of my kid’s teachers suggested the Plague Incorporated simulation game.
It’s actually really good, and you can consider it topical, if not possibly touchy.
The goal is to create a super-virus to decimate the Earth’s population.
Rather than directly link to the game, I am linking to the Common Sense Media reviews of it, so you, the parent can decide if this is a good idea.
They recently added a mode that let’s players try to prevent the spread of a disease.
This might also be a good time to go back to SimCity.
See other science games in my list below under “Do science.”Hello Kids – Online coloring for kids.
You may also want to print out a free Disney coloring page.Attend a children’s author “read aloud.”ABCYa.
The learning kind of sneaks up on you.
Great for younger kids, but there are definitely some fun opportunities for older kids up to 6th grade on this site.
Grades Pre-K – 6.Microsoft has made Minecraft Education Edition free for those with Office 365 education accounts through their schools.
Here is the form to request access.Learn and play chess with other kids on ChessKid.I have created a list of educational gift ideas.
These are really for any kid, depending on where their interests lie.
Worksheets and Learning Packets Although I am not the biggest fan of worksheets, these free downloads will be helpful for parents who need something quick and easy for their kids to do.
Worksheets have their place, but parents who have additional time may want to consider the idea of working on a project with their student instead (or in addition).
Preschool letter tracing worksheetsPhonics worksheetsHandwriting worksheetsMath worksheetsGeneral packets for grades K – 5General packets for middle schoolMiddle school math packetsReading packets for grades 1 – 9 Easter Seals School Closure Toolkit for young students with autism More advanced kids might take advantage of these algebra, geometry, and calculus worksheet packets with answer sheets.More worksheets on this Google Drive from KES, and more from education.com and Curriculum Associates.
Do science Wonderful ideas for STEM Activities from NASA JPL.Extract Banana DNA and other great experiment ideas from Arizona State University.More science experiment ideas from Science Bob.Try the iNaturalist app – Take a photo of a creature or plant and get help identifying it.
Grades 4 and above.Make bath bombsBuild a terrarium.
You will need plants, but otherwise, you probably already have what you need at home.
See this link from AlphaMom.
For those that don’t have the supplies, or need a simpler option, this kit is decent and not expensive.
Grades pre-K and above.Start a garden.
A great reason to get outside, clean up the yard, and get the soil in shape for planting.
View HGTV’s gallery of plants for kids to grow.
If you don’t have a place for a garden, consider creating a container garden.Grades pre-K and above.Learn science with video games.
(Thanks Kate C)Grades 3 – 8.Make some squishy circuits Music activities Fender Guitar Lessons – Fender has opened up its Playthrough guitar lessons to anyone for free.Piano lessons.
Check out the YouTube lessons from Hoffman Academy.
You may also want to have a look at these free courses from Udemy: Piano Basics and Learn to Play the Top 10 Classical Piano Pieces Grades 1 and above.
Have a family sing along or a home karaoke session.
Use YouTube for karaoke or try one of the a cappella apps to create your own cool arrangements.
Look up rounds on the internet and try singing them together.
(Thanks Debra T)Take turns playing your favorite songs for each other – the things you used to listen to as a young person, and the things they like to listen to now.
Notice similarities and differences in style and production.
Then check out a style you don’t usually listen to and try to figure out what people enjoy about it.(Thanks Debra T)Learn to play the Ukulele – Great lessons on YouTube for how to play the uke.
Don’t have a ukulele handy.
You can get one that’s decent at a low cost on Amazon.
Have an iPad or iPhone.
Now would be a great time to learn how to use Garage Band.
So much fun.
Why not have your child come up with a new ring tone for you to use when they call you or a family theme song.
Garage Band is free from Apple.
Here’s an introduction on YouTube…bonus: the presenter sounds like Shrek
Physical activities The Nation’s PE Teacher – PE with Joe on YouTubePlanet Fitness – “Starting Monday, tune in to Facebook Live for FREE at-home workouts for anyone and everyone.
Get moving with our trainers and even some surprise celebrity guests for a 20 minute workout to relieve stress and stay healthy.” (Thank you Kathy H)Yoga – Great yoga sessions on YouTube.
Here is Cosmic Kids yoga.
You might also try Yoga with Adriene.GoNoodle – Get your kids moving and improve mindfulness.
Free breakdancing course from UdemyHere are some other great ideas for staying active from MedStar Health Baking and cooking ideas Get out that old bread maker.
Everyone loves fresh bread, and your kids will enjoy helping to make something the whole family will enjoy.
Of course you’ll need to have yeast on hand, but there’s a good chance you have the rest of the needed ingredients.
There are loads of great recipes out there…Our challenge this break will be to make rolls that are most similar to Subway Italian bread.
TIP: If you don’t have a bread maker, just visit your local thrift shop, there’s a strong chance of finding one there.Make ice cream in a bagCooking contests.
If you have more than one child, hold a cooking contest.
Think Kids Baking Championship or Cutthroat Kitchen.
Or see who can come up with the lowest cost recipe using staple items from your pantry.
Grades Pre-K and up.
Make a pizza…from scratch.
Here is a link to my daughter’s favorite recipe.
It’s Rosanna Pansino making an “Avengers Pizza” but you can just make it “regular.” You’re going to need yeast.Make cookies.
Have the kids help you adjust the recipe by doubling or tripling.
Arts and crafts Make a pet rock.
Great reason to get outdoors and find a rock.
Take a drawing course on YouTube
Here is a list of drawing courses.
Also, learn to draw a face on Udemy.Grades K and above.Learn to do calligraphy You may have a calligraphy pen or marker to get you started, or you could order brush pens or a calligraphy set from Amazon.
Virtual field trips Go on a virtual field trip.
For example, this Madden Football by the Numbers field trip is great.
Here are some others: Field trip to Ford Motor CompanyField trip to John DeereStanley Black and Decker virtual field tripVirtual field trips for early learnersVirtual field trips for kids of all agesPeople Magazine’s list of museum virtual field tripsI know this suggestion will not be possible for most people, but if you’re one of the lucky people with access to any type of high-end or low-end virtual reality gear, there are some really cool virtual field trips that really make you feel like you’re “there.”For an over-the-top, absolutely amazing experience, I’ve heard great things about the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go (which is the cheaper of the two).
That’s the higher-end, but you and your kids can definitely get a feel for this with much cheaper options.
For example, Google Cardboard or items like this from Amazon that use your smartphone to power the experience.If you do have access to this technology, then I’d suggestion you have a look at the Expeditions app from Google.
It definitely works fine with cheaper options–and really it’s meant for use with Google Cardboard (a $15 investment).If you haven’t tried virtual reality yet, I’d just say it can be surprisingly good.
Side note is that I believe this is the future of the future for many aspects of school.
Didn’t find any activities you liked.
Here is another list that someone posted on Facebook with more quarantine activities for kids.
Definitely has some great ideas for things to do.
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