More schools are turning to, or expanding, online learning at home. Yet, a poll of 849 teenage students conducted by Common Sense Media in March and April found that 41% of participants had not attended an online class.
It turns out that certain obstacles, like a lack of computer and internet access, are some of the biggest contributing factors to this inequity. Furthermore, high absence rates — a problem that existed even before the pandemic — also played a key role. The reality: online learning at home can be difficult, but the internet is also a haven for engaging curricula and activities for students.
Sifting through all of these resources takes time and energy that you may not have. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 20 K-12 online activities to assist teachers, administrators, and students.
To make it easier to navigate these resources, we’ve broken them down into three sections:
Online learning at home: Full courses
Growing in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic, Outschool offers… drumroll, please… 100,000 video classes! Imagine a class you’d like to take, and Outschool probably has it. Subjects available range from math and foreign languages, to music, and much more. You’ll find qualified and vetted teachers hosting live video classes to small groups of peers. You can even customize your students’ learning plans!
2. Xceed Anywhere
Xceed Anywhere targets grades 6–12 and offers college preparatory courses. Part of Cognia, an accredited network of private schools, Xceed Anywhere connects students with certified teachers and a media-rich curriculum. Courses feature live one-on-one instruction, as well as interactive group projects and online courses.
3. Connections Academy
In search of a free, full-time public online school? Welcome to Connections Academy, where students take core courses and electives. It’s state approved, challenging, and supported by certified teachers. Connections Academy offers online learning for kids in a way that’s convenient and engaging.
Another free public school option is K12.com. This school combines online learning with hands-on experiences and heavily emphasizes personalized learning. Furthermore, K12.com offers independent courses and a tuition-based online private school.
Online learning for kids: Activities and games
Need supplemental language arts resources? Check out ReadWriteThink, a platform that offers resources for teachers and students. This LA site includes lesson plans, student interactives, and mobile apps.
Classcraft is a behavior-driven platform with learning modules called Quests that allow kids to complete school assignments with their peers. Students can create custom avatars in a fantasy world that revolves around the academic subjects you teach. They can customize their characters and earn rewards by completing the tasks you assign them. Teachers can also use Classcraft as a behavior tool that rewards good behavior. With its top-notch graphics and educational gameplay, Classcraft makes online learning at home easy and fun.
Powered by Common Sense Media, WideOpenSchool provides resources on everything from core subjects to exercising and mindfulness. Students can play games, sign up for webinars, read engaging materials on current events, and more. WideOpenSchool also has links to quality educational resources like the Smithsonian. Other highlights include a daily planner and modules on digital citizenship and emotional wellbeing.
8. Hooked On Phonics
Any ‘90s kid remembers the slogan “Hooked on Phonics worked for me! ” Well, this program has received a much-needed update and is now part of the virtual learning world. Complement your language arts curriculum with the engaging phonics games and videos available on the Hooked On Phonics app. It’s all put together in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step curriculum for your pre-reader or reader. In addition to their book series, which comes with a subscription, the program now offers online learning for kids.
Time4Learning offers free learning resources for students, including digestible PowerPoint presentations, videos, games, and printable resources that break down complex topics like geometry and high-school English. The premium subscription comes with full courses taught by individual teachers.
10. ABC Mouse
ABC Mouse keeps on getting better and offering more online learning for kids. Students can hop on the learning path — a step-by-step curriculum based on ability and grade. Along the way, they’ll play games, watch videos, solve puzzles, and more. Don’t forget to check out their huge virtual library equipped with audiobooks. And if that’s not enough, your students can even take care of virtual pets (hamsters and cats).
Originally a YouTube channel created by founder Salman Khan, KhanAcademy is now a popular non-profit platform that offers free online courses and lessons, ranging from elementary to university-level subjects. Modules include videos, articles, practice quizzes and exercises. Students earn points for watching videos and completing exercises, and they can even unlock a wide range of badges to showcase their progress. KhanAcademy is a free site that educators can easily integrate into their online classes, and it continues to grow in popularity, thanks to its accessible content and resources.
Kahoot allows teachers to create custom trivia games for any subject. The app also has an extensive library of pre-made games ranging from biology to math and anything else you can think of.
13. Adventure Academy
From the creators of ABC Mouse, Adventure Academy is a platform that offers a virtual world for students to explore. Choose from hundreds of games designed to enhance language arts, math, and social studies skills. Note that this particular learning program targets age 8–13.
MobyMax has all of the grammar and math text you need, online. This site focuses on math and reading and offers comprehensive and easy-to-follow lessons on each subject. The paid version offers progress checking and placement monitoring.
MobyMax starts with early skills and goes up to high school, and even provides state test prep resources. If you’re looking for ways to evaluate student learning and fill in the gaps with lessons, text, and more, be sure to add MobyMax to your favorites.
15. PBS Kids
Searching for online learning for kids that encompasses videos, podcasts, and games? PBS Kids definitely answers that need. Hone those STEM skills with Jet’s Bot Builder, or learn about bats with Echo Explorers. Sharpen your students’ listening skills with the Pinkalicious podcast, or check out the PBS TV times for educational content to watch at home.There’s no doubt that PBS Kids makes online learning at home engaging and fun.
16. Mr. Nussbaum
Designed by a retired teacher for grades K-6+, Mr. Nussbaum offers thousands of games in numerous subjects, ranging from math, language arts, and social studies, to science, and much more. The site even features a parent guide that offers a breakdown of appropriate activities by grade and how to navigate the online learning activities. While you’re there, check out their Jeopardy games on various topics, images of history, and fraction games, to name a few.
Online learning at home: Virtual field trips
17. Science Mill
Want to see a colossal robotic hand, an incredible ball machine, or learn about aquaponics? Look no further than the Science Mill, a site that allows students to explore science exhibits online. Stick around and build your own virtual aquarium. Science Mill serves up lots of fun online learning for kids — even Bill Nye would be impressed.
18. The Louvre
So, you’re probably not planning a trip to France anytime soon, but while you’re offering online learning at home, you can visit the most famous French museum from the comfort of your sofa. Students and educators can tour the Louvre on their computers, tablets, or even their phones.
19. Monterey Bay Aquarium
If you can’t physically be at the aquarium, live cams are the next best thing. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers an easy-to-navigate website with multiple live cams of their wildlife. Students can observe moon jellies for science, write about what they see on Monterey Bay, and more.
This one’s a sweet online activity for kids that’s full of possibilities. (We highly recommend the otter and penguin cams!). If you’re interested in more content like this, check out San Diego Zoo’s live cams as well.
20. National Museum of American History
Seeking a museum related to social studies? Check out this virtual tour of the National Museum of History. It’s loaded with exceptional digital tour experiences of current exhibits, a video library, and podcasts. You won’t want to miss this virtual field trip where students can learn about almost any period in history!
A virtual world of possibilities!
As you can see, the virtual world is full of online activities for kids and learning to do at home. For those unable to attend in-person learning, whether temporarily or for the long haul, these online learning activities offer endless possibilities for engaging your students. From full online courses to activities and virtual field trips, we hope this list of online classes and activities for K-12 students helps brighten your day.
Photo: Unsplash / Annie Spratt