Some of the following resources you may have never heard of, but they are definitely worth discovering!
*Adding my newest favorite – Renzulli Learning! Free accounts for teachers now and drastically reduced rates for families! If you only try one new resource, let it be Renzulli Learning.
- The Critical Thinking Company promotes critical thinking skills in core content areas. What’s cool about it? Sure, you can purchase lots of materials from them but right now they are offering even more free perks than usual. They always offer a free online playroom and free weekly puzzles and activity sheets for various grade levels, but now you can even get a full workbook for free for your child. These workbooks are good quality and may typically cost anywhere from $9.99-$42.99. The free book for PreK-1 is “Think, Draw, & Color!”. For grades 1-5, it’s “Math Puzzles.” For grades K-5, there is also “Critical Thinking Puzzles.” Search for each of these titles and download. If you can’t find it, just email me and I’ll forward it to you!
A word of caution: If your child begins with these materials and says that they do not like it, ask them to keep trying. Some kids don’t like the online playroom because it will seem a bit old fashioned compared to new technology but some kids also say that they don’t like it because it can be difficult. Gifted kids don’t always enjoy challenges. These materials are often in formats that students have not seen before in their regular classrooms and they may not be used to thinking through these puzzles. They may become frustrated and say they don’t want to do it anymore. If your child finds themselves in this situation, just be encouraging! It’s really worth exploring. Critical Thinking Company has many materials that will be of benefit to students and help them grow.
2. The North Carolina Museum of History has a wonderful website with lots of resources for students and parents. They even have At-Home Learning Packets on an array of topics for children, like “The Story of North Carolina” and “Toy Boom!” with toys from the 1950’s and 60’s. The toy packet includes instructions on how to make your own play dough in lots of different ways, how to create your own Mr. Potato head, and how to do potato stamps. If your child loves history, they will love the NC packet. It’s very detailed but includes more than just information. It includes a video link and kids can make their own paper canoe or Thomas Day bench. The website promises more learning packets soon.
3. Science Bob is all about experiments and honestly, kids love to be messy. If you are okay with learning being messy, let your child check out this site. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and they include pretty easy supplies that your child can likely find around your home. Try “Blobs in a Bottle” or “Try Some Lava in a Cup” to get you started. Not only do the experiments have directions, but they also explain what happened and how it worked which is really cool. If you don’t want a mess right now, just let your kids watch the videos!
4. SmaLLab Learning has an online learning platform called Wink! that is now free for parents and educators. Parents can get daily reports of how their child did on learning activities and educators can assign activities and assessments to students and monitor performance as well. Free play is open for Kindergarten through 8th grade in the areas of Math, Science, and ELA. If your child needs advanced material, let them try out the games listed for higher grade levels.
5. Have you heard of MENSA? This is an international society that accepts members who have very high IQ scores, 98% and up on approved intelligence tests. You don’t have to be a member to try out Mensa for Kids. There are lots of games kids will love like Ratio Blaster and Verb Viper. Lesson and activity plans are available, even those developed in connection with Hasbro games, and TED Connections.
6. The Kid Should See This is a website filled with tons of videos that range from the highly unusual to artistic to silly to educational. They have “smart videos for curious minds.” Try out “Little Bees by Betty and the Turnips” under Music Videos or “The Legend of the Goat who Knew the True Meaning of the Mountain” under Funny. If you are interested in birds, check out “Kea parrots understand probabilities.” I’m not sure I could ever get through all of the videos on this site because there are so, so many.
7. My students love Mystery Science and they always enjoy watching the videos, voting for questions, and submitting their own questions to be answered. They offer homeschool, classroom, school, and district memberships that can be over $1,000 but right now they are offering free access due to school closures. A starter list of video lessons are available for K-5th grade and trust me, your kids will love them!
8. Everyone knows the name Scholastic and the excellence of the brand is true for Learn at Home, the online site with resources for PreK all the way to 9th grade. It is set up by weeks so you can see the first 5 days now. The material is catchy and relevant for students and I have no doubt they will enjoy these for remote learning. For example, the 6th-9th grade materials include the following for Day 1: “Celebrating Differences, Cozy Camouflage, The Future of Zoos, and All About Emojis.”