Updated May 12, 2020
Whether you’re home because school has been cancelled (Hi! Welcome!) or you’re an experienced homeschooler who is actually staying home now (ask a pre-quarantine homeschooler about socialization… or maybe don’t), you’ll find that actual schoolwork takes up very little time and you suddenly have hours upon hours on your hands. Be sure to also check out our post Suddenly Homeschooling: Resources for When Schools Close with information about temporary homeschooling.
Spending time outdoors is optimal, but not always an option, and probably not realistic right now if you live in a crowded city. You may even at some point want a break from reading (you don’t know how painful that was to write) or the 100th family game of Monopoly. Fortunately, we have the internet.
I know you’ve seen all the social media posts about all the great resources and classes being offered. We’ve made it easy and compiled everything into one list for you. Some of these are not-so-well-kept homeschool secrets and some are resources or events being offered due to the current quarantine, but this list should help provide fun and/or educational options for the whole family. The best part is everything on this list is currently free.
First things first, you’ll need internet access. If you don’t already have internet service at home, many U.S. internet providers are making it easier for everyone to get online. As of this writing:
- Comcast, AT&T, and Charter are offering free wi-fi from their public hotspots
- Charter Communications and Comcast are offering free home internet for families who qualify
- T-Mobile has removed their limits on smart-phone data
- Sprint, AT&T, and Comcast have temporarily removed data caps on home plans
If home internet has previously been out of your budget, contact your local providers to see what options you have right now.
🖼️ Virtual Tours
- Many of the state-by-state field trip destinations in the TheHomeSchoolMom’s database have virtual tours so we pulled them into a new page just for Virtual Tours by State.
- Google Arts & Culture has a collection of virtual tours from 500+ museums around the world.
- See Yellowstone National Park without ever leaving your house.
- A trip to Mars sounds good right about now. Until Elon Musk returns my call, though, this will have to do.
- Canadian website FarmFood360 offers 11 virtual farm tours.
- You can take a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China…which…virtual is probably best for now….
- Discovery Education has a variety of virtual field trips for free.
- The Smithsonian has a library of 1.7 million multimedia online experiences.
- You’re stuck at home, and nothing will make you feel better than looking at photos of homes with more space to roam. Okay, maybe that’s not the best intro. Nevertheless, here are 10 historic (and large) homes you can tour virtually.
- Speaking of amazing homes, 17 Frank Lloyd Wright sites are participating in a virtual tour bonanza! You can find all the info and links to each site’s social media here, but if you’re not a fan of social media, don’t worry. It looks like they’re posting at least some of the videos on this page, so scroll down past the social media list.
📺 YouTube Channels
- Starting 3/18, Joe Wos of MazeToons fame, will be holding 20-30 minute live lessons on his YouTube channel. Classes will take place weekly Tue-Thur at 1 PM PDT.
- Art for Kids Hub has a YouTube channel *full* of “how to draw…” videos that will appeal to your young artists, and from what I hear, keep them occupied for hours. Check out their website to find the best way for your family to find the videos.
- A group of children’s authors have set up a new YouTube channel, Authors Everywhere, with “workshops, readings, activities, art projects, writing games, writing advice, and more.”
- We can all use a little mindfulness and calming right now. Cosmic Kids Yoga is designed for kids 3 and up.
- Mark Rober (the space engineer/glitter bomb guy) will be live streaming science lessons M,W,F at 1pm PT on his YouTube channel.
- Award-winning Mark Kistler is offering an entertaining and FREE hour-long art class every day at Noon CST on FaceBook and YouTube. Episodes will be posted for streaming later.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an amazing YouTube channel that includes their #MetKids playlist (videos made for, with, and by kids) and their Met 360° Project, which offers full views of museum galleries and spaces not typically available to the public.
- Chances are your little artist is also a Disney fan, so you definitely want to check out the Disney Parks channel How To Draw series, where they can learn how to draw their favorite Disney characters. And if you need your Disney park fix, take a look at all the other videos on their channel.
🎞️ Free Streaming
- Effective 3/13, Oznoz.com is opening up their streaming service for free for 2 months. Oznoz has a library of multilingual cartoons.
- The Seattle Symphony will be offering free live streams and rebroadcasts on YouTube and Facebook until they are permitted to hold audience performances again. Sign up on their website to be notified when they update their broadcast schedule.
- Fan of the opera? (Yes, the almost pun was intentional. It’s been a long week. Work with me.) Starting 3/16 and running through at least 3/31, the Metropolitan Opera will be streaming encore presentations from their Live in HD series. Each performance will be available from 7:30 PM EDT until 3:30 PM the following day. You can see the schedule on their website. (It may take a minute to load.)
- Starting 3/19, a North Carolina-based National Weather Service office will be holding free virtual weather classes. See their website for class schedule and to register.
- The Facebook page Mikey the Rad Scientist has one “live” science show for elementary age kids already up, with more planned.
- Skype-A-Scientist-Live is the place for your aspiring scientist to be! It’s actually Zoom (which is a completely safe, free download), not Skype, but it’s still cool. You can see their schedule and sign up for the sessions on their website.
- Supercharged Science is offering free webinars in Marine Biology, Robotics, and Physics. You’ll need to register for each one individually. They also have free science lessons at superchargedschool.com and a Facebook Live science class every day, M-F at 10 AM PDT.
- Cincinnati Zoo will have a live stream on their Facebook page every day at 3 PM EDT featuring an animal and an activity kids can do at home.
- The MAKE gallery in Paducah, KY will be streaming art lessons for kids on their Facebook page.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium has live animal cams!
- I’ll spare you my teen son’s opinion of pandas, but even he enjoys watching them play. You can catch them on the Zoo Atlanta Panda Cam.
- Check out Houston Zoo’s 6 animal webcams.
- Georgia Aquarium is currently closed to visitors, but you can watch some of their animals live on their site.
- Want even more fish? The Atlantic White Shark Conservatory will have a Facebook Live every day this week at 10AM EST for Shark Story Hour. Each day they will be reading a new shark themed book followed by a shark Q/A session.
- Homeschool with Minecraft has a free weekly Builder’s Club Wednesdays at 3 PM EDT. You’ll need to register on their site beforehand. (Note that the tablet version will not connect to their server, but they do have a Discord channel you can join.)
- Kennedy Center Education Artist-In-Residence Mo Williams will host LUNCH DOODLES every week day at 1 PM EDT. Kids can even send in questions for Mo! If you can’t make it at 1:00, don’t worry. Episodes will be posted for streaming later.
- NPR has a list of virtual concerts of all genres.
- The Global Space Education Foundation has an ongoing program in which astronauts in the International Space Station read children’s books. Not only do kids get to hear a story from someone new, they get to see the inside of the space station!
- Planet Fitness offering free online workouts for members and non-members 7 p.m. ET each day until March 30 on their Facebook page and YouTube channel. No equipment is needed, and the classes last 20 minutes or less.
- Susan Wise Bauer and Julie Bogart held the Homebound Online Conference, an at home FREE online conference for homeschoolers and “suddenly-at-home” schoolers, the week of March 23-27. Replays are available.
- A group of Canadian Indigenous educator volunteers are posting video lessons on the Think Indigenous – Online Indigenous Education K-8 Facebook page.
- Artist At Heart Paint Party Facebook page is holding art classes for kids at 12:00 PM EDT. If you miss the live lessons, you can still watch the videos.
- The National Film Board of Canada has an “online Screening Room” with more than 3,000 films, all free for streaming. There is a wide variety of films here and some parents/guardians may determine that not all films are appropriate for all family members.
- Playbill has compiled a list of 15 Broadway musicals and how you can watch them from home.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals are streaming free at the rate of one per week (available for 48 hours only) on a dedicated YouTube Channel.
- Richmond National Battlefield Park is holding Ranger Chats via Facebook Live. The first video is on their page and more are planned.
- YMCA 360 is currently offering free on-demand health and fitness videos.
- Sci-Tech Discovery Center has live Zoom events on topics such as lizards and backyard birding.
- Former First Lady Michelle Obama will be reading a children’s book each Monday for 4 weeks, starting 4/20, at 12 PM EDT. The storytime sessions will be shown on the Facebook pages of Penguin Random House and PBS Kids. PBS Kids will also stream the sessions on their YouTube channel. The videos will available to view on-demand on those platforms if you miss a story time.
- History At Home is a series of brief videos from the History Channel, covering such topics as The History of Hand Washing and The History of Toilet Paper. Because of course they are.
- GoNoodle has free videos to encourage movement, mindfulness, and fun!
- Science, math, social studies, and photography lessons are available for free on CK-12.
- Sparkle Stories features original audio content for children and they’re currently offering 30 days free with the code FUNATHOME.
- This one is more for the adults (or maybe teens) in the house, and is always available. Class Central has collected a list of 400+ MOOCs (free online courses) from Ivy League schools.
- Storyline Online features videos of celebrities (Betty White and James Earl Jones? I’m there!) reading children’s stories. The videos are free to watch. Don’t let the “Buy This Book” button throw you off. (That’s a link to actually…buy the book.…)
- Scholastic’s website has new lessons every day, for all ages. And the previous days’ lessons are still accessible so there is so much to do here!
- Elementari is a “K-12 online platform to read, write, code, share, and remix interactive stories using professional illustrations and sounds” and is currently free for parents and educators. You’ll need to fill out their School Closure License Request. It’s linked at the top of their home page.
- izzit.org offers free educational videos, activities, quizzes, and more.
- PBS LearningMedia has videos and other teaching resources for all ages.
- PBS Kids features games and activities for your little ones. You can also sign up for their newsletter to receive daily activities.
- Funbrain Jr. has games, stories, and printables for your younger students.
- Mystery Science is offering free science lessons for K-5 right now.
- Khan Academy is absolutely the worst-kept secret in the homeschool community. They started out with a full range of math lessons, but have expanded to science, history, test prep, and more, and it’s all free!
- Teach Your Monster to Read is free to play/learn on the computer version.
- Prodigy is a free math supplemental program for grades 1-8.
- Open Culture is an amazing, if slightly overwhelming, free resource with free music, language lessons, courses, and more.
- Radio Lingua hosts some of my favorite language-learning podcasts and they are currently offering their K-12 programs for free.
- San Diego Zoo has a website just for kids!
- Brave Writer is offering some of their writing resources for free on their site.
- ChiliMath offers free math lessons and worksheets created by a secondary math teacher mostly in the field of algebra (topics in Geometry, Number Theory, and Proof Writing are gradually being added).
- NOAA has a page for with activities and resources for kids.
- Readwritethink.org is a free website with a wide variety of K-12 resources, including lesson plans and teacher resources.
- Audible Stories are available in six languages and free as long as U.S. schools are closed.
- What We Do All Day has loads of unplugged activities, including dice games for kids.
- I bet you finally broke out that deck of playing cards that’s been hiding in the kitchen drawer for years. Here are some fun ways to use them for math.
- Krieger Science has a page of free downloads for teaching astronomy (sun dials, a lunar phase dial, lunar calendars, and much more), mechanics (simple tools like cranks, pinwheels, and scales), music (cool instruments from straws and more), and optics.
- The TIME for Kids Digital Library is free for the rest of the school year.
- The World History Digital Education, in partnership with the National Council for Social Studies, has developed a 3-day learning module with free resources for teachers to address the current crisis.
- The Distance Learning Lab from the North Carolina Coastal Federation has compiled educational resources which allow you to dive deeper into the world of coastal sciences and solutions. Find resources on Clean Water, Coastal Investigations & Exploration, Oysters, Estuaries & Living Shorelines, and Marine Debris.
- This is a stressful and trying time for everyone, especially our kids, who may not have the experience or language to understand, share, and deal with their emotions. EmotionalABCs is currently free for parents and teachers. “The research-based emotional skills program is designed for children ages 4-11 and gives kids practical tools for dealing with impulse control, frustration, and acting out. Emotional ABCs teaches children how to figure out what they’re feeling, why they’re experiencing that emotion, and how to make better choices for lifetime emotional resilience.”
- A group of Harry Potter fans got together and created Hogwarts is Here, a site where, among other things, fans can take online Hogwarts classes.
- If you have a science or space fan in your house, NASA’s got your back. They have this handy list of 10+ things to do with NASA at home, which links out to a rabbit trail of goodies, including their page of STEM resources for students and educators.
- Are you musically inclined? Would you like to be? MakeUseOf.com has put together a list of sites and apps where you can learn to sing, play an instrument, or even become a music producer or engineer for free.
- FabuLingua is an app that uses stories, audio, and games to teach Spanish to kids. They are currently offering their subscription service for free.
- Sophia.org is opening their platform for free until 7/31. Sophia offers ACE testing to save on college tuition, or you can just do the learning thing. Either way, it’s all currently free. (Personally, I’m taking the opportunity to get some credit hours for myself and my teen. Not together, obviously.)
- PennState Extension is offering free classes, including a Beekeeping course. My younger son and I took a beekeeping course from a local group a few years ago and it was fascinating, even to someone who will probably never actually keep bees. Registration closes for the beekeeping course on 4/30.
- Cambridge University Press is making more than 700 textbooks available in HTML format for free until May 30. They also have resources for teachers, students, and parents around the world. If you’re in the U.S., keep in mind that Cambridge isn’t, so be prepared for a lot of extra Us in the text. 😉
- Tiffany at Homeschool Hideout has compiled a list of 150+ educational shows on Netflix. Who says you can’t Netflix and learn?
- Dyson has 44 engineering experiments you can do at home, some of which are easy enough for even younger kids to do on their own.
- The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has a treasure trove of cultural and educational resources for all ages.
♟️ Things to Do During Social Distancing
We have an entire series of things to use instead of curriculum, but here are some of our favorites that are free:
- Playful Path is a free ebook download made up of tools and ideas to inspire the possibility-building, wide-open glory of playfulness.
- Check out our list of 36 educational podcasts for homeschoolers with teens.
- Learn editing through bad writing.
- Practice the ABCs with an alphabet walk.
- Play math games.
- Learn chess.
- Become a citizen scientist from your own home.
- Complete the activities of a Boy Scout merit badge.
- Foster or transport a Rescue Dog – Rescues are in need of people willing to transport and foster dogs as abandonments and turn-ins are up. Check with your local rescue organizations to see where help is needed.
- Keep a daily log of life during social distancing.
- TheHomeSchoolMom has thousands of homeschool resource links categorized by subject and topic. Not every resource listed there is free, but most are.
- SchoolhouseTeachers.com has suggestions for 20 activities for elementary students or middle and high school students.
- Check out the websites and social media accounts of your county and state Extension offices. Many are posting activities and information for both children and adults. Your local library may also have activities like read-alongs or scavenger hunts on their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts.
- Veteran homeschooler Laura Grace Weldon has a very fun list of 38 ways to have fun with snail mail. No one is in a hurry right now so this is a great time to revive a practice that isn’t as outdated as it may seem.
- Unique Voice is UK organization that uses the arts to teach. They’ve put together a free PDF with activities you can do at home.
Know of a free educational resource that we missed? Drop it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!