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35+ Free Online Resources for Parents Homeschooling Their Kids Ideas, activities, lesson plans & more from local and national sites

Free online Resources for Parents Homeschooling Their Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic

We know that balancing working from home and working to ensure your children are still learning, active and engaged is not going to be easy. But as parents, we can rise to the challenge.

To help you navigate this unprecedented time, we’ve rounded up more than 35 free online resources for parents homeschooling their kids right now. Keep checking back as we update this list with both local and national resources.

If you have an online resource to share, please email our editor at pfeinstein@midatlanticmedia.com. 

Online Learning

Scholastic Learn at Home is offering 20 days worth of activities activities built around a story or video for students in Pre-K and K, grades 1 and 2, grades 3-5 and grades 6 and up.

Parents can browse PBS Learning Media for free videos, interactive activities and lessons plans covering a range of school subjects for every grade.

Download lesson plans, print worksheets, and find more than 350 craft ideas and activities on Lakeshore. You can even make your own word searches and flashcards to keep kids busy offline.

BrainPop is making all of its online content free while schools are closed. All subjects, including STEAM, can be broken down by units or topics for a range of ages.

Learning Without Tears is offering free 90-day access to their interactive teaching tools, including handwriting and keyboarding for grades K-5 and pre-kindergarten development.

STEM/STEAM 

Find free science lessons for students in kindergarten through fifth grade on Mystery Science. Mini-lessons run 15-30 minutes, while full lessons, which include hands-on activities, last 45-90 minutes.

The National Children’s Museum‘s team members are hosting a “STEAMworks” series on Facebook every day at 2:30 p.m. Join for an assortment of digital STEAM projects, challenges and stories for kids 12 and under.

Polar Bears International is debuting a curriculum for April, “Chill Out With Polar Bears,” that includes live chats with scientists, webcasts, research involvement opportunities and more for elementary and secondary students.

Story Time

Several children’s book authors, including Mac Barnett and Oliver Jeffers, are reading and discussing their own titles every day on Instagram. If you can’t catch them live, you have 24 hours to watch before the videos disappear.

On Storytime with Ryan and Craig, two funny guys read picture books aloud using silly voices, big emotions and improvised dialogue.

An award-winning literacy website, Storyline Online features videos of celebrities like David Harbour of “Stranger Things,” Chrissy Metz of “This is Us” and even Betty White reading children’s books.

Astronauts on the International Space Station read STEM-themed children’s books (in zero gravity!) at Story Time From Space.

Washingtonian explains how to download books and media from local libraries.

Arts and Culture

Join Kennedy Center Education Artist in Residence, Mo Williams, at his home studio for his weekday Lunch Doodle series and learn how to draw some of his beloved characters, including the Pigeon and Elephant.

All this week, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton is teaching live #DrawTogether classes on her Instagram account, @wendymac. Each lesson lasts about 20 minutes and is available to watch for 24 hours.

Children’s book author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka is posting daily drawing lessons on his YouTube channel.

Art for Kids Hub has hundreds of easy-to-follow videos on its website and YouTube channel where kids can learn to draw just about anything.

Social distancing means no museum visits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore their collections. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers room-by-room virtual tours of its current exhibits as well as past exhibits and never-before-seen archives. You can also virtually tour parts of the Smithsonian Castle and Hirshhorn.

Wanna get out of DC? Google Arts and Culture offers virtual tours of museums around the world, including the British Museum, Van Gogh Museum, MoMA and hundreds more.

Head to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery‘s Facebook page for Open Studio workshops with DMV-based artist Jill Galloway every Friday at 11 a.m. and Story Time sessions every Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Check out our editor talking about more things you can do with your kids at home.

Zoo and Aquarium Visits

Tune into the Maryland Zoo‘s live feeds to watch the penguins get fed at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and giraffe feedings between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Smithsonian National Zoo‘s Panda Cams are always a favorite, but your kids will also get a kick out of the lion, elephant, and naked mole-rat cams.

For a few moments of zen, check out the livestreams from the National Aquarium‘s Blacktip Reef, Jellies Invasion and Pacific Coral Reef exhibits.

Check out this site for links to six more zoos and aquariums across the country offering live videos of their animal.

Social Studies

Design a spy gadget, crack a top-secret code and test your memory skills following the easy instructions on the International Spy Museum website. There’s also a recommended reading list and lesson plans on historical events that are up to curriculum standards.

Fly over an active volcano, kayak through an iceberg or fly with the bats at National Parks across the country thanks to Google Arts and Culture.

Children can explore the worlds of animals, space, science and geography at National Geographic Kids and take quizzes, play games, watch educational videos and experiment at home.

Studying American history? George Washington’s Mount Vernon has games, quizzes and coloring pages for kids as well as age-appropriate lessons and virtual tours of our first president’s home.

Physical Education 

CosmicKids mixes story telling with easy yoga moves for children ages 3-9. Download the app and or find the videos on YouTube.

From dance parties and yoga session to mindful exercises and games, GoNoodle has hundreds of videos to get your kids off the couch and having fun.

Children’s musician Laurie Berkner hosts daily “Berkner Breaks” at 10 a.m. most weekday morning on her Facebook page to get little ones moving and grooving. Parents can also find a 50-minute playlist of educational music videos about the alphabet, telling time, emotions and more on her YouTube channel.

Extracurriculars

At some point, you’re going to want (or need) to stick your kids in front of a screen. Common Sense Media offers recommendations for both free and paid programming, apps, games and websites, along with privacy tips for parents to keep in mind.

With contributions by Sara Warfield.

About PJ Feinstein

PJ Feinstein is the managing editor of Washington FAMILY. When she's not reporting, writing or editing, she's schlepping her two sons to their after-school activities or walking the family dog around the neighborhood. Despite being chronically sleep-deprived, she can't stop binge-watching TV and scrolling through her social media feeds late at night.

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