21 FREE TOOLS TO KEEP KIDS ENTERTAINED
When it comes to keeping kids entertained at home for long periods of time, there’s no shame in making the best use of the internet. Happily, there is a vast world of online learning to discover, which we can tap into any time we need.
Once everyone finds their rhythm, much teaching can take place informally on daily walks, while cooking, or over a storybook. The key is to stay relaxed and make learning fun Read on for some free resources that are both educational and fun.
Reading for younger children
Reading Eggs is offering two weeks of free access so you can see if your child enjoys the program before committing. If your child is a fan of storytime at the local library, Storyline is a great online substitute, with celebrities reading a range of picture books.
Maths is one of those subjects that move quickly in a class setting, and quarantine can be a great opportunity to help your child catch up. The best known online maths teacher in Australia is Eddie Woo, who explains mathematics in bright, engaging ways on his YouTube channel.
Created by astrophysicist and mother Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, Bedtime Math is another fun program that offers fun daily maths problems for kids to solve quickly – a way of making maths part of your daily routine.
One thing that many parents know is that kids need to burn off energy, and their learning will be improved if they move their bodies.
PE with Joe
This has been the breakout hit of lockdown and social distancing – a PE teacher in the UK is now joined every day at 9 am with people all around the world. His 30-minute PE sessions are fun and leave you feeling great. You’ll find them all on his YouTube channel.
Another great way of getting a workout in a confined space is yoga. Cosmic Yoga for Kids offers themed classes for beginners. Adults and older kids will enjoy Yoga by Candace; she offers free sessions in short and longer bursts, classes for beginners, and soothing evening yoga with meditation.
Free learning platforms
An incredible non-profit online resource is Khan Academy. In response to Covid-19, it has pulled together schedules and lesson plans for students aged from 2-18, and the Khan for Kids app offers rich learning opportunities for younger children.
FutureLearn is a similar platform that offers a vast range of courses taught by industry professionals. For high school students, some time spent here would be a great way to research something they are passionate about.
Start a new language
Duolingo is where you go to learn one of 35 languages, from Italian to Navajo. And if you want to supplement your language learning with discovering more about the country of origin, check out Country Reports, which offer cultural, historical and statistical information about your country of choice.
Less formal ways to learn about science including cooking and gardening. Nomsterchef is a recipe website designed specifically for kids, with easy click-through picture recipes. And Kids Gardening will help kids think more about where their food comes from.
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems is a friendly daily class by illustrator Mo Willems – ideal for kindergarten-aged children. And both All Kids Network and Artsology offer projects, printables and craft ideas. For older kids, galleries and institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial offer digital content including discussions with curators and more.
History and geography
While we’re spending more time at home, we can also use the internet to discover more about our corner of the world. WhatWasThere asks you to type in your postcode and then unites Google Maps with historical photos to give you an understanding of local geography and history. The National Geographic Kids website is another rich learning resource with games, videos and more.
Another option while planes are grounded is to visit the online versions of world-class cultural venues. The Smithsonian Institute has some incredible marine biology videos. And Google has pulled together the websites of many museums and galleries around the world to explore.
While we all muddle through the pandemic, the most important thing, say many educators, is not what children learn but how they feel. So relax, enjoy the slower pace, and know that when school goes back they will soon catch up on anything they’ve missed.