Great educational websites for homeschooling kids –This post contains Amazon affiliate links for products I recommend
I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world. Adam laughs about the fact I didn’t own a laptop or computer when he first met me, and any time I need to do something remotely complicated online I have to enlist the help of an innocent passerby. Literally anyone will do, because anyone is better than I am at ‘computers’ That being said, I do believe the internet is absolutely amazing, and I’m not really sure how my parents raised me without it!
Barely a day went by in my teaching career when I didn’t turn to the internet for something or other. Either to look up something a child had asked me that I didn’t know the answer to (yes, that happened frequently – don’t judge until you’ve heard the sorts of questions kids ask!) or to use the internet to inform, entertain and amuse the class in ways I simply couldn’t have, as funny and creative as I am.
The internet is one of the best learning tools out there, and it’s also going to be such a huge part of every child’s life as they grow older. They need to understand it a whole lot better than we do!
As educational as the internet is, it’s also one of the best tools out there to give teachers and parents a break. A chance to catch your breath, to make a cup of tea, to hang up the washing or to just zone out for half an hour. I don’t think the TV or computer, or whatever it is that keeps your children quiet while you take a very deserved mental break, should be seen as a ‘lazy’ way out. I think it should be seen as a much needed tool for education, and for keeping adults sane in trying times!
So with this in mind, I’ve put together a list of some of the best educational websites and videos for homeschooling kids that I found throughout my years of teaching. Hopefully one of these will shut your kids up for an hour while you go to the toilet, or have a shower, or enjoy sitting down for a whole meal. Whatever floats your boat!
Internet Safety When Homeschooling
I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but obviously a little caution needs to be applied when leaving kids alone with the internet. You’ll have to make the decision about whether or not they’re old enough to be using it without you around!
They’ll be getting internet safety lessons at school, but make sure you talk to them about it too, since they’ll most likely be using it at home. There are some great websites out there to help you address it, and advise you of parental controls etc. Talk to them about it now, and remind them of your conversation every now and again. The older they are, the more responsibility they can take for their actions online – but remember they are just kids and they will need your help (and a little monitoring!)
Great Educational Websites For Homeschooling English And Maths
Twinkl is offering free membership for homeschooling parents during lock down, so make sure you take full advantage! When I was first using Twinkl it was mostly worksheets and powerpoints, but they’ve massively upped their game recently and there are now all sorts of e-books and songs with backing tracks that you could leave a child to peruse. The great thing about this is that you can download them, so if you’re worried your child is too young to be left alone with the internet then why not make a file for them to click through with some of these resources saved to it.
Funbrain has all sorts for primary school aged children. The games are educational and fun, and the reading books and comic section has exerts from some great books aimed at all different age ranges. Sometimes reluctant readers are far more enthusiastic about reading from a screen. I’m sure some disagree, but my advice will always be to get them reading in whatever way possible. Books, comics, websites, cereal packets, road signs. Finding something they love is most of the battle, the rest will come on from there, slowly but surely.
Starfall is an American website with maths and literacy activities for nursery and primary school aged children. The maths games aren’t particularly ‘fun’ and flashy, but I approve from an educational standpoint! They have things like fill in the blank number in addition sentences, so that children are having to think beyond the end answer. The section I love most is the talking library, with selections of books that are read to the children, with each sentence highlighted as it’s read. You get a certain amount of resources free, and if you love it you can pay a small membership fee to access more.
Topmarks has simple but fun maths and literacy games for 3-14 year olds. There’s nothing too complicated about it so they can just log in and play! I like the fact there is a wide range of abilities catered for in each age range, so if your 7 year old is struggling with numbers to 10 they will still get games that can help them by clicking on their age range. It can be pretty demoralising for a child to be struggling with ‘7 year old work’ that seems impossible to them. Trust me, I remember!
Brain Pop is full of information, quizzes and activities in key subjects. K-3 is aimed at younger, primary school aged children and the main site has stuff for older kids. It’s very American, so they might struggle more with the phonics games and activities, but it’s fun and well put together, with voice over the labels so that children can navigate easily on their own.
Science Themed Sites For Homeschooling
Dive Deep Into The Ocean
Young Ocean Explorers is full of educational videos and quizzes about a huge range of sea creatures and sea based topics. They have some great sections on the environment too that are easy for children to understand. Kids love all things animals, so this is a great one to keep them entertained. I have to admit, I spent way too long browsing this one on my own!
Learn How Astronauts Survive In Space
Chris Hadfield is a hero in my eyes. I could watch him for hours. And I probably have over the years I taught Space to 7 year olds! He is an astronaut who makes videos about life in space for kids. He covers things like how to brush your teeth in space, or how to sleep! It’s actually really amazing, so as loudly as that bath tub is calling, you might actually want to stay and watch these yourself. If you want to take things a step further then build a rocket and grab a pack of space food – it’s a really fun thing to try, and it’s ok tasting too, I promise!
Something For The Younger Ones
Peep and the Big Wide World has a selection of games and videos for nursery aged children (but there’s no reason older children won’t enjoy it too). It’s mostly science themed topics, like light and sound or shapes. There are fun videos explaining the topics, and games based around them too. It’s simple, but bright and fun and really easy for kids to navigate. The videos will keep them entertained for a while, and they’ll be learning too!
General Interest Websites And Videos
Horrible Histories is amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it, and kids won’t either. If you find they love it, then it’s well worth downloading (they even have a movie now!?) as what you can find on YouTube is pretty limited. You might want to sensor them first if your child is squeamish, but from my experience younger children tend to lap up the gory details! It’s only as they get older and properly understand that it becomes harder for them to learn about.
A Blast From The Past
Magic Grandad is still so good. Ok, so it’s very outdated and old fashioned looking now, but it tells history so well!
Get To Know Your Flags
World Geography Games has loads of different games about the world – exactly as it says really! It’s probably best for slightly older children, upper Key stage 1 – Key stage 2, as the games themselves aren’t that flashy. In fact, I’d say it’s more like a quiz than games! It’s fun all the same.
Speed Up Their Typing Skills
All the BBC resources for kids are great, so make time to have a look through. Dance Mat Typing is something a little different, and an important skill for children that people often forget about. As soon as children can type quickly they have access to a much wider way of learning. Children who struggle with handwriting skills, or spelling skills, or just get bored of pen to paper can find new creativity in typing. But until their typing is up to speed it’s tricky for them to make use of the computer as a way of getting their ideas down.
Get them making music with these interactive games. They can form a band or make their own instruments and all without that painful screeching from the recorder (but obviously recorders are great, don’t listen to me!)
Yoga For Kids
Chill them out with some kids yoga classes from Cosmic Kids Yoga. There’s some great meditation like activities too, with some well thought through social and emotional lessons thrown in for good measure. It covers lots of what we would call ‘circle time’ issues, like dealing with anger or sadness. So it’s more than just yoga. Get them their own yoga mat so they feel like a pro while they’re doing it!
Teach your child sign language and they’ll be learning such a useful language. Children pick things up so quickly, so it’s a great time to be teaching them this new skill. You might want to put in some ground work first (there’s loads of resources out there for teaching sign language, twinkl for one), but these CBeebies Magic Hands videos are just as great for children that don’t know any sign language at all. The poems and short stories are lovely and great from a literacy point of view, and they will pick up some sign language too as they watch.
There’s a few educational websites for homeschooling to get you started! Hopefully they fill a purpose during lock down and beyond. There are a million more websites I could add to this list, and I’ll make sure I keep updating it, so add any that you’ve found useful in the comments below and I’ll get them onto the list! Let me know how you find them and whether or not they’ve worked well for your kids (or you!) and check out my post on teaching while you work if you want further inspiration!