Online learning tools for kids have soared in popularity lately. Since the onset of COVID-19, many parents and caregivers have been dealing with kids who are cooped up, irritable, hyper, and without an outlet for their energy. While there are many activities that can occupy your child for a short period of time (i.e. video games, TV, and video chats, etc.) they typically aren’t the healthiest options.
Parents who suddenly found themselves working from home while juggling family responsibilities often struggle to provide direct, hands-on activities that keep their kids busy while encouraging growth. In this article, I review some of the best online learning tools for kids that are enjoyable and help strengthen their skills.
Remember the Highlights magazine that has been around since the 1940s? Its monthly print issue was consistently a source of fun things to do. Highlights now has an extensive bank of online content for kids of all ages to learn from. Ranging from crafts, recipes, jokes, quizzes, games, puzzles, science questions, surveys, podcasts, and playlists, their website offers a range of resources for kids of all interests.
While the print magazine is still in circulation, the online portion is a relatively new source of unlimited fun. Highlights has both free and paid content with a range of open-access resources available for all parents.
Another name that has been around for quite a long time is Scholastic. Yes, that is the same Scholastic that used to host the coveted book sales at your school once a year. Scholastic has long been producing books, board games, and classroom magazine packs with a range of activities for a long time. However, their online resources have only recently begun getting more attention due to the flood of kids at home these days.
Activities are broken up into preschool and kindergarten, grades 1 & 2, grades 3-5, and grades 6-9. Each of these categories offers four weeks of structured activities for kids to learn from. Preschoolers and kindergarteners can learn about animals, space, and plants, while older children can benefit from activities related to earth science, physical science, life science, and communities. Each of these weeks contains age-appropriate assignments related to reading, writing, math, spelling, videos, and more. Scholastic Learn at Home is available for free to anyone who subscribes using their email address.
This free website allows several options to direct their own learning. Kids can choose to create their own jeopardy games based on the content they are learning in school, topics they need to gather for a presentation or any other information they would like to learn quiz-style in a fun and interactive way.
This may be a better choice for some older kids, however, Jeopardy Labs also offers pre-made games (their website reports there are over 2 million of them) on topics such as the body, algebra, the alphabet, technology, geography, art, colors, weather, travel, vocabulary, and many more. There are even leisure-based games on music, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and other popular culture. These games can easily be shared with others via email or video conferences to make learning more interactive.
Another resource with a vast digital library is Epic, which primarily targets kids who are 12 years old and under. With over 40,000 books, learning videos, quizzes, and more, Epic provides children with age-appropriate reading tools to enhance their learning. The website also offers parents the option to log in and track what their child is reading and learning about, either to report to teachers or to monitor for their own purposes.
While this service costs $7.99 per month, parents can add up to four children onto one account and can cancel at any time (like once quarantine is over and you feel you may not need it any longer). If you are an elementary school teacher or librarian, you can get access to Epic for free through June 30th, 2020. Parents can also sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Quia is a quiz-based platform that teachers may commonly use with students to create calendars, surveys, activities, and quizzes while tracking results and grading. Quia allows students to log in to the website to complete these activities on their own or in real-time during classes. The platform offers activities in over 100 languages on age-appropriate topics from alphabet and counting activities for younger kids all the way up to subjects such as economics and history for college-aged students.
Quizzes can easily be customized to meet a variety of needs and kids can create their own tools, like flashcards, Battleship, Jeopardy games, memory activities, word searches, hangman, and more. Quia also offers a free 30-day trial for instructors who are interested in using this tool with their students.
One of the most extensive online learning tools available is ABCmouse, which offers a full online curriculum for students ages 2-8 covering reading, math, science, and art. ABCmouse offers over 9,000 activities that can be accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. There are 850 lessons spread across 10 age groups and levels. Using a tickets and rewards system, ABCmouse incentivizes kids to learn more and engage in the education process, which is how this platform gets such tangible results from their users.
This tool costs $9.95 per month, but ABCmouse offers a 30-day free trial along with a 50% discount for parents who choose an annual subscription. The ABCmouse counterpart for older children is called Adventure Academy, which offers similar tools for kids ages 8-13.
There are many online options, both free and paid, that kids can learn from while having fun. Several of these options are a good fit for all age ranges and many allow kids to direct their learning while tracking results and encouraging them to do more activities. As kids slowly return to school and their “normal” routines and schedules, many parents will find that these resources can be used as a wonderful supplement to their standard educational curriculum.
What are you favorite online learning tools for kids? Share them in the comments below!