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Low-Cost, Educational & Fun: The Ultimate Guide to Online Learning Resources for Kids

Especially in the midst of a pandemic, parents (with kids ages 5-18) are struggling to find distance-based resources to keep children entertained and educated. And while there is definitely an ocean of options available online, it can be overwhelming to search for resources. Then there’s the issue of making sure kids can stay engaged healthily with technology, as screen time is becoming a major concern.

So where to start?

This guide highlights 15 online resources that are low-cost, educational, and fun. These sites also provide the right balance of engaging entertainment and learning to support healthy student learning.

Please note that unless otherwise specified, these tools are available across the gamut of Apple and Android devices, including computers, tablets, and phones.

ABC Mouse is an award-winning early learning online program for kids ages 2-8. In the digital classroom, students can access over 850 lessons and more than 10,000 activities. Modules include lessons, activities, puzzles and games for reading, mathematics, art and colors, the world around us, music and songs, and a library.

With fun games like painting, math blasting in outer space, and solving puzzles to find Egyptian treasure, it is definitely a fun and educational learning program.

  • Cost: $9.95/month, with the first month free

Adventure Academy is an online learning program for kids ages 8-13. In this program, students embark on knowledge quests in a fully immersive learning universe where they can interact with friends in a safe, monitored environment.

Modules include lessons, activities, and games for language arts, social science, mathematics, and science. Digital pirates, scientists, and other figures exist in the program to promote learning and help students on their quests.

  • Cost: $9.95/month, with a free 30-day trial and promotions available

What started out as a group of five passionate high schoolers ready to make a difference in the world, has since grown to a program involving over 900 students and 400 volunteers, either in high school or college.

Bored of Boredom aims to fill the social void created by social distancing measures following Covid-19 by providing free, daily group classes to Pre-K through 12th graders. In group classes, children around the world can interact with each other, and individual tutoring is also available for students. The program has a GoFundMe to raise money in support of closing the digital divide.

  • Cost: Free

Due to overwhelming demand, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan has taken its mission to create experiences at the intersection of the arts, sciences, and the humanities online to help children and families thrive at home. These experiences include exhibitions, classes, workshops, and performances online.

The Museum’s special areas of focus include early childhood education, creativity, health, and world cultures. Students can follow programs daily online, which include a mix of online and offline engagement activities every day of the week.

  • Cost: Free

A great option for kids to healthily interact with the screen, students can take online yoga classes for free using Cosmic Kids Yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga uses stories and imaginary adventures in online video lesson plans to make learning yoga and mindfulness fun for kids. The videos support students’ safe engagement with physical and mindful activity at home. Parents’ and teachers’ feedback on the site’s lessons report improvement in students’ self-regulation, focus, and empathy.

  • Cost: $10/month or $65/year, with a free 14-day trial

With nowhere to go, it’s the best time to brush up and take the time to gain language skills. Using Duolingo, students can study a plethora of languages, such as Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and many more.

Using gamification to make lessons fun, learning programs adapt and are personalized to a student’s learning style to help them advance understanding quickly. The language-learning website and app are free, though premium services are available for a fee.

  • Cost: Free

Take a break from cartoons and learn about significant moments in history ranging from modern medical practices to the invention of toilet paper. Offered by the History Channel online, HISTORY At Home provides students the chance to explore core history topics.

HISTORY At Home is a special collection of free educational and at-home activity plans for parents and kids. Video lessons are posted weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11:00 a.m. EST along with an activity plan to complete at home.

  • Cost: Free

Do your kids ever wish they could learn from a famous voice-actor, artist, and writer? Well, now’s their chance.

In Lunch Art Doodles with Mo, supported by the Kennedy Center’s Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education, students can join Mo Willems on a doodling adventure. Around the world, people of all ages have joined Mo in his studio for weekday Lunch Doodles. The free series spanned a three-week run, with all 15 episodes and their downloadable activities available as archived work online.

  • Cost: Free

Do plants eat dirt? Why are so many toys made out of plastic? Mystery Science features multimedia science units for students K-5 delving into topics of scientific inquiry for learners to explore.

Each lesson plan is designed to provide teaching, hands-on activity, experiments, written work, and oral discussion for students to engage with online lesson materials. Each lesson is in line with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core learning objectives.

  • Cost: $69/year, with free trials through June 2021

Numerade is a venture-backed, high-growth education technology startup based in Los Angeles focused on creating exceptional video and interactive educational content and experiences. Its mission is to close the opportunity gap by providing online learning to students around the world. The site’s video library includes content on over 3,000 fine topics and lessons created by postgraduate educators in the fields of mathematics, science, economics, and test prep.

  • Cost: Free

PenPal Schools connects students from around the world to learn together in a safe, digital environment. Students collaborate through online projects ranging from human rights and the environment to fake news and robotics—all while practicing literacy, technology, and empathy skills.

The program has won numerous awards, was recognized by President Obama, and has grown to half a million students in 150 countries. PenPal Schools is offering free access throughout the duration of the pandemic so that young learners everywhere can access high-quality material and social interaction to support their education.

  • Cost: Free

Research Quest is a series of real-world science investigations designed especially for kids to access online in the pandemic period. Led by the Natural History Museum of Utah scientists who are experts in their fields, students can follow along with live and archived classes to analyze evidence and develop theories and understanding of mysteries that need to be solved.

The site is perfect for middle school students, and great for younger kids too, with the help of a teacher, parent, or older sibling. The website is packed with videos, 3D viewers, models, interactive maps, and more.

  • Cost: Free

Students can learn about and appreciate the historically-significant culture of opera by following along the Metropolitan Opera’s Free Student Streams. Each week, the Met Opera will offer one opera specifically selected for young audience members around the globe, along with a collection of educational materials to help viewers engage with and enjoy the performance.

The Met draws on its extensive online library of operas and curricular materials designed to align with Common Core Standards and incorporate live virtual conversations with Met artists to make the experience truly educational.

  • Cost: Free

Prima ballerinas and young dancers stuck at home can have a brush with greatness by taking online classes with the New York City Ballet’s principal dancer and former Broadway star, Tiler Peck.

Peck has launched an online series of daily ballet classes on her Instagram account. She teaches free, live classes weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. PST. Older follow-along classes are archived in her Instagram account under Live Classes and are also available for learners to use.

  • Cost: Free

Why stay at home when you can visit Paris? Well, digitally at least. The Musee d’ Orsay is providing a virtual tour of its collections during the pandemic to bring art to people and learners as they are stuck at home.

The museum boasts a wide range of historically significant French art, including furniture, sculptures, photographs, and paintings by greats like Renoir, Money, Degas, Manet, and van Gogh. The museum’s site also provides a learning page with detailed history, information, and commentary on specific pieces within its collections. As a learning source, kids will be free to explore famous French art from home at their leisure.

  • Cost: Free

Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is a journalist with experience managing publications at several global universities and companies related to higher education, logistics, and trade. She holds two BAs in international relations and asian languages and cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in international studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Toczauer speaks Mandarin and Russian.