Because my son is in first grade, and the school year is coming to a close, we are looking for the best ways to “keep it educational” over the summer. There are a lot of great educational websites out there for kids, but here are the top FREE ones! And some may benefit older students, and teachers too!
From Passion for Savings:
PBS Kids – This is a great site for kids of all ages featuring all of your kids favorite characters from PBS!
Random House Kids – Featuring Books, Activities, Games and more all surrounding your favorite Characters from Random House Books! This is a great way to make books come alive for little ones!
Starfall – This is a great website for learning to read. Starfall takes your kids all the way from ABC’s to Learning to Read! There are some fun games and more that surround Phonics, Sounds and putting sounds together in words! This is great for preschoolers learning to read!
The Magic School Bus – There are tons of Great Videos and Games about the Environment & Science. This is a great website for older children who want to learn about weather, geography and more.
Brain Pop – This popular Subscription service also has a Free Content section where you can get learn for Free! This is a great way to give Brain Pop a try and see if you like the format, Again this is great for older children!
Highlights for Kids – My kids LOVE Highlights Magazines, and the website is just as great! There are games, books, crafts and of course Hidden Pictures.
ABCYa – This is another great learning site for kids. There is everything from Counting Games, to Graphing, Patterns and more. Great for learning early math skills. This is one of my Son’s Favorite Free Websites!
National Geographic Kids – This is a great site for exploring our world and learning all you can about the Ocean, Animals, Geography and more! There is a TON of information on this site and also some great videos, Puzzles and quizzes!
Wonderopolis – Similar to the National Geographic Website, this provides fun facts about our world and the animals in our land. So many fun facts to explore!
Fun Brain – Reading, Math, Tic Tac Toe and more are all a part of FunBrain.com! Explore tons of new games for kids and learn as you go. They even have fun Mad Libs to help with reading!
A database of websites and apps, searchable by grade, discipline, or need.
I’m going to keep updating the list as I come across more sites or apps.
Edited 2/04/2016 to add:
Use this site when you have a very specific amount of time to fill. ReadWriteThink has ideas that range in length from 5-minute writing prompts that can kick off an assignment to multi-week units. The calendar activities section is packed with ways to tie your reading and writing lessons to seasons, notable people, and multicultural holidays.
Have a question about teaching reading and writing? You can probably find a well-researched answer to it on the Reading Rockets site. Spend some time watching professional development videos by education experts, and gather tips to better serve children with disabilities and English Language Learners. You will also find book lists, author interviews, and lesson ideas.
Browse thousands of lesson plans by grade level and subject. Many of the reading and language arts lessons tie into other subject areas as well. The Book Wizard is a brilliant tool for finding titles for hard-to-please readers and students who are above or below grade level. Check the Top Teaching blog for a mix of fresh ideas from teachers in the field.
This is a good resource when you have readers who are difficult to reach. Find lists of kid-friendly comics and books that address diversity, or find an interview with a student’s favorite author. The site also provides news about education research, policy, and more.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics provides this site with lesson plans, online games, and brainteasers. The lesson plans include Common Core standards, assessments, and links to related lessons. Fair warning: If you start reading the brainteasers, you might find it hard to stop.
Check out the “problems of the month” section for questions meant to get students to think deeply about math. There are also assessments for second through fifth grades, all tied to Common Core standards. The site offers teaching support with example videos of successful classroom lessons.
You will find hundreds of math games and activities here that are ready to be printed for your students. This site shines in explaining the many ways you can integrate math in your classroom, with sections on math journals, math centers, and mental math.
You will find material on all of the core subjects here, including a comprehensive math section. The math worksheets are organized by topic and can be printed. Students can use the free games without registration.
Need some fresh ideas quickly? Discovery Education offers free lesson plans in every core subject area. The plans come with an activity, evaluation tools, a list of vocabulary words, and links to academic standards. Sign up for one of the virtual field trips, which allow your students to see new places and hear expert speakers via video.
You’re probably aware of the dozens of education shows on PBS. Now you can easily find clips from those shows to share with students, along with support activities and links to academic standards. You can search by grade and subject matter.
This is a great site for teachers who want to dig deeply into a subject. Find lesson plans in all of the core subjects, along with historical documents and photographs. Your students can even watch interviews with researchers who work for the Smithsonian. Check out the “field trips” tab for ways to enrich off-campus journeys.
The New York Times produces this blog that offers lesson plans tied to stories in the news. Categories include the core subjects, along with topics such as economics, health, and journalism. Check for age-appropriateness because the blog offers content for students from third grade through high school. And, yes, there are crossword puzzles.
This site, associated with The Kennedy Center, shows how art, music, dance, and history can be incorporated in classroom lessons. The site includes thorough lesson plans with links to videos.
The museum provides lesson plans based on art from its collection. Search for ideas by grade level, culture, and skill. Many of the lessons include videos and links to other learning resources.
If you need breadth, this is the website for you. Teachnology has lesson plans, worksheets, and a bundle of other resources on a range of subjects, including music, physical education, art, and drama.
From Best Teacher Blog:
From Not Consumed:
2. Math Bingo
This is a game that never gets old. Division and multiplication features of the game with the same zeal they had at the beginning. It never gets old to beat the timer and collect bingo bugs, all the while knowing that you are strengthening your math skills! These essential facts are the building blocks for a successful math student, so this app is used daily in our home.
Learning to write neatly can be a challenge, especially for boys. I do have written practice daily in K-2, but we still use the app alongside the written work. It’s great reinforcement and the kids love it. Plus there is the added benefit of reading the words that they are practicing.
There is always a need for a dictionary in our homeschool. With this app, students can quickly find the meaning of a word, as well as it’s synonyms and antonyms.
This isn’t an app that way play everyday, but it sure is addicting. I assign it a few times a week for geography practice. It’s hard to get bored in this game with 50 states and multiple types of questions. And of course, can you stack the states without tumbling them over?
Gone are the days of writing each word “3 times each.” Ok, well maybe some people still do that. Spelling practice is much more fun with Freefall Spelling. You can let the app decide what words to quiz or put in your own custom list. This app is made for the picky parent! The settings allow you to select your own preferences in many areas.
Grammar is essential to effectively communicating your point and this app makes it fun to practice. Like the other subjects, there is paper and pencil grammar practice in our home, but Grammar Pop provides extra reinforcement rather than piling on the worksheets. Check out Write About This if you have a reluctant writer.
It’s bound to happen. Your child will take a standardized test, someday. Make the transition easy, by reinforcing those skills now. If it’s a natural part of learning, it won’t seem so foreign on the test. This app provides timed reading practice with comprehension questions all customized for multiple students and age levels. Remember, it’s game! No need for frustration if you can’t beat the timer. Just keep trying.
I find it fascinating how much my children love to learn about the presidents. Fortunately, this app provides a super fun history lesson and memory game all in one.
10. Kid’s Weather
Kid’s Weather offers daily weather, plus it teaches kids to graph and compare the stats. And, it just might help Billy figure out that shorts are not such a good idea when it’s snowing out.