Looking for an online learning program for kids? We have compiled a list of free and affordable online classes for kids, for those rainy days when you are stuck at home or for when your toddler’s school is canceled, or for whenever you want to provide your kids with a fun, online education.
For the kids, there are many free online education courses available, including courses from reputable institutions and renowned learning companies including Khan Academy, Scholastic, Epic, Fun Brain, National Geographic Kids, and PBS.
Adventure Academy provides simple educational activities and entertainment, while some offer full curriculums. They are all useful for helping kids of all ages take advantage of free online learning opportunities. These free online learning classes can also help kids stay active, and play at a time when movement and learning are so very important. Below are some classes that have free trial periods, so you should check them out as well.
The Best Online Education Classes For Kids
GENERAL CURRICULUM (SCIENCE, MATH, READING, SOCIAL STUDIES)
Ages: 3 and up
Why It’s Great: If variety truly is the spice of life, then Outschool is a dish with something for everyone. You choose a class based on age, interest, start date, and the length of the class. The courses run the gamut, from beginner reading (for $23/class) to film animation ($40/class) to basic multiplication ($19/class). There’s even a class on mindfulness because of course there is. So while the classes aren’t free, the sheer number of them, coupled with the very affordable rates and the expertise of the instructors make this one very worth your while.
Ages: 9 and up
Why It’s Great: Surely you’ve heard of Google. Well, the massive entity is now offering classes that teach kids 9 and upcoding, and technical skills. And the classes are, well, fun. For real. Students in fourth grade and up learn coding through activities, hands-on lessons, and lesson supplements. Sample challenge: Kids program a conversation between two characters to explore the very vital role of dialogue in storytelling because words matter. A lot. Creating and sticking to a coherent storyline is a critical part of learning.
Ages: 10 and up
Why It’s Great: STEM, STEM, and more STEM. Plus, while this is not free, you can now get a pretty massive discount. Students get access to CodeAcademy Pro for $90, which is $150 less than the usual price of $240. Just in time for back to school. Students build real, portfolio-ready projects and learn every single aspect of coding.
Ages: 6 and up
Why It’s Great: The folks who gave us the Roomba have put together a repository of great STEM lessons, most of them free. Kids, from first grade on, can use the paper code blocks to program dances, or do a slew of different exercises from a printable STEM activity book.
Ages: 5 and up
Why it’s great: It makes math fun. Yes, we said it. Fun. The site uses animation, embedded instruction, fast-paced drills, and thorough tutorials to teach kids through self-paced digital lessons. Kids get positive feedback, and encouragement when getting something wrong. Parents or teachers set up accounts for kids.
Ages: 4 and up
Why It’s Great: The Bronx Zoo, which just reopened, is a magical experience if you take your kids to see the animals in person. The gorillas alone are worth the price of admission. But if you can’t be there in person, your kids can at least learn to draw an American bison or a sand tiger shark, or a red panda, courtesy of free instructional videos.
Ages: 2 and up
Why It’s Great: Viola Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, and Chris Pine are just a few of the wonderful talents who make storytime that much more fun and engaging for kids by reading to them. And yes, it’s free. Kids can choose anything from Clark & Shark to Brave Irene to Catching the Moon. Reading to kids boosts literacy, and the book selections here are stellar.
Ages: 2 to 8
Why It’s Great: The learning modules are immersive, engaging, and just damn fun, helping kids learn everything from sight words to the fundamentals of writing by letting them create their stories. You get a free 30-day trial, after setting up your child’s profile.
The company says that after only 15 minutes per day, kids become better readers as they engage in 1,000+ lessons, stories, and activities personalized to children’s specific interests, skill levels, and type of learning. Also, your membership buys you four profiles, so it’s especially ideal for multi-kid households. The cost per year is $60.
Ages: 2 to 7
Why It’s Great: The Khan Academy Kids app is free. The videos help kids learn how to write their letters, do some basic math, boost social and emotional development, and they’re beautifully designed, with bright colors, and fun characters that make the lessons a little more fun.
Unlike the regular Khan Academy channel, which provides lessons in chemistry, civics, and advanced math, Khan Academy Kids is available on the iPad or iPhone only — which also means that parents don’t have to worry about their kids browsing YouTube unattended.
Ages: 3 to 14
Scholastic’s “Learn At Home” is a free resource that helps keep kids learning even through school closures. The available classes are simple enough that some kids can be able to do it on their own, but “Learn At Home” can also be utilized by teachers who are keeping the curriculum going during school closures.
There are plenty of activities for kids in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, as well as kids up to the 9th grade. But for young kids, there are read-along where kids can watch an animated story and read the book alongside it.
For young kids, the lessons are divided into days: So on day one, kids can learn about rabbits. On day two, kids learn about pants by watching a story, reading a book, learning about plants, and brushing up on plant vocabulary. Day three, for example, is about the life cycles of animals. Right now, there are five days of lessons on the site — and Scholastic promises to upload at least 15 more days of lessons.
Ages: 4 to 12
Why It’s Great: In light of the recent school closures, Epic, a virtual library and resource for teachers and students, decided to make remote student access completely free across the world until June 30th, 2020 through teacher invitation. Email your child’s teacher about it and they can sign up.
Once this happens, kids can access the full Epic library on all devices. Kids can explore the library on their own, which features 40,000 books, but teachers can also take advantage of the platform by providing lessons, assigning books, and tracking reading activity and progress, too.
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READING AND STORY TIME CLASSES
Ages: All Ages
Why It’s Great: My Story Book skews a bit older — a five or six year old will get a lot more out of the platform than a three-year-old, and still most likely with mom or dad’s help — but the resource is a fun creative tool for kids who like to write stories. Through the platform, kids get to take a writing lesson and build a virtual storybook (with drawings!) which they can then share online for free (or pay money to get it made into an actual book.)
Ages: 4 and up
Why It’s Great: Sometimes kids just need a break — and Storyline Online can help provide that. The storyline is a digital archive of books read-along by celebrities like Sean Astin, David Harbour, Chris Pratt, Sarah Silverman, and more. Some of the books are a bit above the reading level of six-year-olds, but parents can assess the fitness of the texts on their own while enjoying the beautiful faces of their favorite celebrities.
Ages: 6 to 13
Why It’s Great: Got a kid who is obsessed with space? Got a kid who loves to read? Enter: Story Time in Space, a read-along series where astronauts read popular kid’s books on video. Story Time in Space features astronauts in wacky configurations in anti-gravity reading classics like “A Moon of My Own,” among dozens of other books.
Ages: 5 to 18
Why It’s Great: KidLit TV has shows, radio, crafts and activities, book read-along for kids. Some of the TV shows include Storymakers, a talk show that highlights authors and illustrators, Read Out Loud when the authors at KidLit TV do read-along, and Young at Art, where kids can learn art skills used in book illustrations. The radio show is a children’s literature podcast for kids — and is available on SoundCloud or iTunes.
ONLINE EDUCATIONAL GAMES FOR KIDS
Ages: 8 to 13
Why It’s Great: The key to getting kids excited about learning is by making it seem like it’s a game. That’s where Adventure Academy comes in.
From the company that brought ABCmouse to younger kids, Adventure Academy features games that help 8- to 13-year-olds learn Language Arts (reading comprehension, writing, and spelling), math, science, and social studies.
Kids can access hundreds of hours of educational activities in an immersive virtual environment that, frankly, looks more like games than educational activities. The games also cover a wide range of subjects.
Students will learn about geometry, multiplication and division, reading comprehension, environments and ecosystems, molecules, maps, globes, geography, and more. In addition, kids can play with their friends in a safe environment, create an avatar to go through the game universe and create player homes. The game is available on all platforms.
Ages: 7 to 13
National Geographic Kids offers a lot of great videos, games, and information about animals and the world around us. Even though it does not fulfill any curriculum requirements or include worksheets, it is the type of entertainment that is genuinely educational. Science explainers and experiments are provided for children. In addition, they can watch how elephant toothpaste is made, investigate rocks, and more.
At home, you can do a variety of experiments – like bottling eggs, coating candy, dropping dye in white paint, and other school science fair experiments. Kids can still sit and watch videos about the animal kingdom if they can’t be interactive or supervised.
Ages: 3 to 8
Why It’s Great: Fun Brain features hundreds of free educational games, online books, and videos that help kids evolve their math, reading, and problem-solving muscles.
Ages: 2 to 7
Why It’s Great: Who doesn’t love public broadcasting? On PBS Kids, young children can play games featuring characters such as Daniel Tiger, Arthur, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Instead of being educational, these games are designed to make young children happy. However, it’s quality content specifically designed for children. Additionally, children can print out activities, play games, and color their favorite characters.
Ages: 4 to 12 grade
Why It’s Great: While this website is a more cut-and-dry form of education, it serves as a great, free resource to supplement subjects kids are learning in school. It curates hundreds of tutoring, video courses, and interactive lesson plans on a variety of topics so depending on your kids’ interests, and areas they may need more help with, there’s sure to be something that fits their needs.
ONLINE ART CLASSES FOR KIDS
Ages: All Ages
Why It’s Great: Mo Willems, an artist in Brooklyn and the Kennedy Center’s first Education artist-in-residence, will lead a daily, free, online drawing session at 1 p.m. EST. All live lunch doodles can be found on the Kennedy Center website daily and previous lunch doodles are on YouTube. And, for the record, parents are welcome to join in.
ONLINE EXERCISE CLASSES FOR KIDS
Ages: 3 and Up
Why It’s Great: Kids need exercise, and being potentially cooped up in an apartment for weeks at a time is not easy for parents or their kids. Cosmic Kids Yoga isn’t an educational course, but it does provide a much-needed activity break — think of it as a replacement for recess, if necessary — with characters, playfulness, music, and, of course, yoga. It’s free on YouTube. Moana, Harry Potter, and Frozen-themed yoga included.
Ages: 5 to 10
Why It’s Great: GoNoodle is free — but parents need to create an account to access it. GoNoodle, created by child development experts, helps kids get moving and helps them practice social skills. Some videos include Flo Yo’s Bubble Pop, where kids wave their hands and move their bodies to free fish, another video includes kids clearing the weeds in a virtual garden by jumping and sweeping their arms. These animated videos provide incentives for kids to jump around and get some of that energy out while, of course, having fun.
ONLINE CULTURE CLASSES FOR KIDS
Virtual Museum, National Park, & Zoo Tours
Ages: All Ages
Many zoos, museums, and other public spaces are shutting down, limiting parents’ ability to take their kids to places they could if they didn’t have school. Thankfully, places like the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone, the Louvre, and the Great Wall of China, among others, have uploaded virtual tours of their spaces so that kids can have fun, see new things, and feel like they’re there. Neither math lessons nor worksheets are required. Children can just spend time exploring great places or watching animal cameras and have a blast.