With many school districts closing on short notice due to the coronavirus, I know a lot of us are scrambling to find high-quality digital resources to use with our students. Many companies are offering free virtual distance learning tools for educators and families while schools are shut down, which is awesome – but also overwhelming.
Below, I’m sharing a narrowed-down list of free virtual resources that you can integrate into your lessons or share directly with students and families. While I’m curating this list specifically with 4th and 5th grade Virginia teachers in mind, these resources will work in any curriculum.
I compiled this list in March 2020. Some of the resources may no longer be free.
- author Kate Messner has compiled a list of author and illustrator resources (including read-alouds, mini-lessons, writing exercises, and more)
- Newsela (free for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year)
- Libby app: access e-books and audiobooks with a public library card
- Vooks (animated/narrated children’s books)
- check what e-book subscriptions your school has (such as MyOn and TumbleBooks)
- Time for Kids digital library (free for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year)
- check what websites or apps your school subscribes to, such as Prodigy and Origo
- Virtual Manipulatives
Science and Social Studies
- Smithsonian Natural History Museum: click on permanent and current exhibits
- Science Museum of Virginia YouTube channel
- Virginia Museum of History and Culture online collections
- Virginia Trekkers
- Mystery Science
General Distance Learning Tools
- Smithsonian Learning Lab: click on “curate” to browse pre-made collections of activities for a variety of content areas bonus, some include thinking routines!)
- BrainPOP (granting free, full access to schools closed for COVID-19)
- digital task cards through Boom Learning (offering free Ultimate subscriptions through June 30 for schools closed for COVID-19; email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a subscription)
- Scholastic Learn at Home
- PBS Learning
- Hour of Code
- CommonSense Media (great for digital citizenship lessons)
- IXL (if your school doesn’t have a subscription, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial)
- check what databases your school has subscribed to (such as PebbleGo, National Geographic Kids, WorldBook Kids, Britannica School, Kids InfoBits, and more)
- Buncee (granting free, full access to schools closed for COVID-19)
- Flipgrid (you’ll need parental permission)
- Google Classroom – check out Jamboard!
I encourage you to collaborate with your school librarian along with any resource teachers or coaches at your school. Chances are that there are tons of high-quality, free resources that you and your students have access to.
I hope this list helps you to get started wading through all of the distance learning tools available for elementary students. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or suggestions of resources to add to the list!