Online learning is becoming more popular, thanks to COVID-19 and compulsory lockdown. But it can get expensive if you’re not careful. We’ve compiled a list of websites that offer completely free learning options to help your kids study the subjects you feel they need. Whether you’re new to homeschooling or have been doing it for years, it’s always helpful to have new options on hand to engage kids.
This list offers suggestions for pre-k, elementary, middle, and high school students. We’ve left out the most obvious sites, such as Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org/), in favour of offering you other unique, engaging options that include basics like reading, science and math but run the gamut from art history to music.
National Geographic Kids: for Elementary Ages
- A wide variety of learning formats.
- Factual information presented in entertaining ways.
- It can be a bit difficult to find a desired subject in a specific format.
We are familiar with the TV version. But here is an online version for children. National Geographic is known for its factual information and its site for kids is no different. What’s great about this site is that it offers lessons in gaming, video, and photo formats. Kids of all ages appreciate the short written lessons that accompany the visuals and even the quizzes on the site are designed to engage minds with short attention spans.
Toy Theater: for Pre-K & Early Elementary Ages
- Unique approach to educational games.
- Works on computer, laptops, and mobile devices.
- You can’t search by age or grade.
- Ads. (But they aren’t terribly distracting.)
Get your kids in here for games that are out-of-the-box! These aren’t racing games; they focus on teaching children about different topics such as learning time, the alphabet, measurement, numbers, and much more. The games are very easy to play and cover math, reading, art, and music using online manipulatives and other interactive options.
Funbrain: Find Topics by Grade Level
- Offers fun ways to problem-solve.
- Is gated by grade level.
- It’s a little tricky to find certain subjects sometimes.
- Lots of ads.
A highly interactive website! If you’re looking for a site that offers math and reading options, plus offers games, videos and a general online playground, you’ve come to the right place. Funbrain is for kids from Pre-K through 8th grade and offers hundreds of free interactive games, books, videos, and printable.
Whyville: Learn about Communities
- Lots of unique activities to engage young minds.
- It’s sponsored to avoid ads.
- You can explore the site on a limited guest account.
- It’s fairly juvenile for most teens.
Created by scientists, Whyville is a site for kids from 3rd to 8th grades. It offers an online community that engages kids by letting them explore, create and solve problems. They can learn to protect coral reefs, use a Whyville currency, participate in the Whyville Senate, and more.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids: Learn about the World
- Lessons offered are hard to find elsewhere.
- Uses history, earth, and animals to engage young minds.
- It’s hard to search for specific topics.
- Kids should be able to read if parents can’t assist.
This site is just as you’d imagine but updated for the 21st century. It has a daily calendar to help kids learn what happened in history on every day of the year, teaches them about the night sky, clouds, and daily weather, and uses history and animals to teach a variety of lessons. The site is visually friendly and offers information in short chunks, which is great for elementary ages.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: for History and Art Fans
- Extremely easy to navigate.
- Turns art history into fun, simple lessons.
- Multiple ways to engage kids of all ages.
The Met is famous for fashion, but what you didn’t know is its website for kids, #metkids! The site offers three different ways to engage kids in historical art facts: a clickable map that lets kids explore 5,000 years of art from around the world; a time machine lets them select different eras to explore; and a video section offers lessons on everything from making a stained glass window (kid-style) to learning about children who live in other parts of the world.
Storyline Online: Storytime
- You can search stories by author, reader, title or run time.
- The videos and storytellers are excellent quality.
- The selection is limited.
- The filter option doesn’t always return great results.
Hey mum and dad, need a break? Then get on here. On this site, actors read stories aloud. It’s a great option to use when parents need a break; just turn up the volume or give your child headphones and let the storyteller take over in a short video. Captions are provided, which are great for helping younger kids start to read and for reinforcing reading for older children. The videos are well-illustrated and the audio is well-done, so it engages children for the entirety of the video.
Chrome Music Lab: for Music Lovers
- Encourages creativity.
- Offers multiple, unique musical options.
- No registration required.
- It’s a bit difficult to understand and use if you’re not a music aficionado.
Everything tunes on here: making them, practice them, write songs, and more. What’s unique about this site is that it encourages kids to move, to make and practice patterns, compose their own music, and even pull in math and science at times. This Twitter feed gives you an idea of the many ways the lab is used by teachers.
TurtleDiary: for Online Quizzes & Assessing Development
- Online quizzes.
- Online assessments to help parents gauge progress.
- Includes games, videos, printables and teaching tools.
- It only goes to fifth grade level.
If you have a tough time getting your child to practice math, language arts, or science or if you struggle assessing their skill level, check out this site. It offers a lot of learning options but the online quizzes remove the need for printing out a ton of worksheets and the online assessments help parents better gauge where a child’s strengths and weaknesses are. The site is simple and easy to use, so kids enjoy hanging out on it.
GoNoodle: for Activity & Movement
- It’s designed to get kids moving.
- Combines activities kids enjoy to encourage physical movement.
- Focuses on positive health and happiness.
- The site is difficult to navigate.
- Activities are limited (although they are creative!)
Since kids love to play games and watch videos, why not combine both into an educational opportunity that encourages physical movement? That’s the premise behind GoNoodle, a site that also offers activities involving healthy tips and uses movement to help with subjects like math, too.