by Janelle Schroy
S o your kid’s school is closed due to COVID-1. It’s time to get your resources together, right!? Here’s a review of my absolute favorite digital resources that I’ve found helpful for feeding the young minds in my house.
In this article, you’ll find three excellent podcasts, three educational YouTube Channels, three online class platforms, and three educational learning platforms. Let’s get started!
LET ME DO YOU A FAVOR. Take out your for phone, open up your podcast app, then subscribe to these three podcasts. You’ll be glad you did. And don’t we all love that podcasts are FREE!?
Their Description: On the Stories Podcast, we perform a new story for your children every week. The stories range from retellings of fairy tales like Snow White to classic stories like Peter Rabbit and even completely original works. Everything is G rated and safe for all ages. The perfect kids podcast for imaginative families.
My thoughts: We’ve been listening to Stories Podcast for about three years now and we’ve heard every episode (several times over). The stories integrate music, and they are artfully written and performed. It is totally engaging for kids! I recommend this podcast for ages 2 – 12 years old.
Their Description: KidNuz is Five minutes of today’s top stories, current events, politics, science, entertainment, sports and more — all nonpartisan and age-appropriate.
My thoughts: The host, Tory, is very interesting to listen to, plus there is a little quiz at the end of each episode to make sure the kids are listening to it and really processing the information. My kids LOVE trying to get the questions right! I’d recommend KidNuz for ages 5 – 12 years old. Younger can listen too, but they won’t track with it. We listen to it every morning while eating breakfast, then discuss the stories, and do further research if kids show interest in a particular story or two. This might include finding a video on YouTube or looking up a photo that is mentioned in the news. Sometimes it’s all the news I have time for in my day, too! #busymomproblems
Their Description: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Podcast is a fairy tale podcast about the extraordinary women who inspire us. The show is based on Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, the global best-selling book series inspiring millions of girls and women around the world to dream bigger, aim higher, and fight harder.
My Thoughts: We love these stories and the hosts are so wonderful. We listen to these usually to wind down before bedtime, with a sketchbook and crayons so the kids can draw something related to what they are hearing. We share the art with each other after the podcast, and add our thoughts and questions. We have incredible discussions! I recommend this podcast for ages 4 – 13 years old.
EDUCATIONAL YouTube CHANNELS
Do you have the YouTube app on your phone or device? Subscribe to these four channels and use these as resources for learning. Your kids will be delighted, and you’ll feel pumped about serving them up some educational goodness.
Their Description: National Geographic Kids makes it fun to explore your world with weird, wild, and wacky videos! Videos featuring awesome animals, cool science, funny pets, and more, are made just for curious kids like you. So pick a topic you love and start watching today.
My Thoughts: I mean, what’s not to love? All of National Geographic Kids products and services are favorites in our family because we get to explore all the wonders the world has to offer. National Geographic Kids encourages curiosity, and for kids, that’s the best thing ever. As a family, we’ve learned SO much from this channel.
Their Description: Cosmic Kids is yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation for kids. Interactive adventures that build strength, balance, and confidence – and get kids into yoga and mindfulness early!
My Thoughts: Through this channel, I’ve seen the wonders of how yoga can help my kids move and stretch their bodies. It helps them to relax as well. Jaime, the host, is a wonderful teacher and the yoga sessions are all based around fun stories such as Frozen or Pokemon or Three Little Pigs. All four of my kids love practicing yoga with Jaime–usually in the late afternoon while I’m prepping dinner.
Their Description: The Adventure Family Journal‘ channel is a growing collection of 500 short films for families shot on location in 50 countries around the world. The educational show features four kid journalists who cover the topics of: Art & Music, Food, Science & Technology, History, Animals, and Landmarks in various cities around the world.
My Thoughts: This is the show that I am a producer of, so I’m biased, of course! We have shot 80+ of the films so far, and loaded up 40 of them for you to see on this YouTube channel. We are currently traveling in country number 14, with 36 more countries ahead of us as we continue to create this educational film collection. This year, we are starting online learning communities about traveling and learning experientially (for both parents and kids). If you are interested in making education come alive while traveling with kids, join us by subscribing to Adventure Family Journal on YouTube.
These are aren’t free platforms. Rather, they are proper classes and worth every cent. We use all of these every week, and my kids love them. If you’re looking at weeks or maybe months being indoors with kids, these online classes are your new best friend!
MasterClass | Price: $15 / month (or buy an annual subscription)
Their Description: MasterClass offers online classes created for students of all skill levels. Our instructors are the best in the world.
My Thoughts: Although MasterClass is not specifically designed for kids, many of the classes are appropriate and fascinating for kids. We are always working on a different class or two each week together as a group (mom and kids together). My kids really TAKE these masterclasses with me. Together, we watch episodes, download the worksheets, engage with the community on the platform, and process the learnings. My kids have loved learning ballet from Misty Copeland (the most famous ballerina in America), gymnastics from Simon Biles (Olympic medalist), French Pastry making from Dominique Ansel (celebrity chef) and Adventure Photography from Jimmy Chin (National Geographic).
Outschool | Prices: $5 – $30 / class (depending on the class setup)
Their Description: Outschool is a community marketplace of online classes for kids. We help parents find and register for great classes that are offered outside of regular school. Our focus is on small-group, live online classes, though we support a variety of other formats as well.
My Thoughts: Outschool is new for us this year, and we are loving it! The kids can browse online classes that look good to them, and even invite their friends in other cities or countries to join the classes with them. How cool is that? My oldest is taking a once-a-week class for a month about comic book writing and drawing. My middle child is currently taking a class about rocks and minerals, what they are called and where they come from. She loves rocks! And my third child is taking a class about reptiles, where the teacher presents content with live animals (on the other side of the screen, right where we like them!) You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of options for ages 3 – 18.
Rosetta Stone Languages | Prices: $6 – $10 / month (depending on your package)
Their Description: Rosetta Stone Homeschool is designed with your child’s success in mind. Trusted around the world, our technology promotes long-term retention and correct pronunciation—without memorization or drills.
My Thoughts: My kids love learning languages. They start in Kindergarten with Rosetta Stone and they grow up with it. I believe it’s essential for their development to learn another language while they are young. I love Rosetta Stone because it’s immersion learning, and they can learn any of 24 languages. There is no English involved in it! My kids are taking French. They are presented with pictures, and a voice saying a word or phrase in French. When the student repeats it back, it captures her response, instantly assessing the response. Students complete Pronunciation, Writing, Grammar, Vocabulary and Listening in each unit, progressing from one unit to the next. And they loves it! I recommend from second grade and up.
FUN EDUCATIONAL PLATFORMS
These aren’t apps, although they do HAVE apps. These are full-on curriculum in a fun, accessible platform. They help kids learn in a way that feels playful and fun, and it’s all connected to what they are learning in school.
Adventure Academy | Price: $10 / month
Their Description: Adventure Academy is a learning game with a focus on academic subjects like math, language arts, science, and social studies. It was developed by the same developer of ABCMouse and has a similar all-encompassing approach to delivering educational material. Kids explore a virtual school interacting with other players, completing quests, and engaging with learning content. Ages 8 and up.
My Thoughts: My 9-year-old is hooked! She could play Adventure Academy all day. It feels like a beautiful game, but she’s studying all kinds of wonderful academics as she plays. It’s amazing to see it in action. It’s totally addicting (in the best possible way). Trust me, your kids will love it!
Brain Pop | Price: Some content is free, Full Access is $220 / year
Their Description: BrainPop is a group of educational websites/apps (BrainPop for kids older than 7 years old / BrainPopJr. for kids younger than 7). It has over 1,000 short animated five minute movies for students in grades K-12, together with quizzes and related materials, covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, math, engineering and technology, health, and arts and music.
My Thoughts: I wish I could explain what a treasure chest of content this is. We use it all day, every day. Let me give you an example. My 9-year-old daughter was reading a book on her Kindle and came across the word “refugee”, so she asked me what that was. I opened up BrainPop, and searched the word “refugee” in the search bar. That got us to a five-minute animated video about Malala, which we watched together and completed the quiz. Then, we discussed it further. That led us to talk about wars and dictators, which led us to explore more videos on BrainPop, one about Hitler, and one about Anne Frank. That led us to explore the story of Anne Frank and we made art related to her story. Then, my daughter asked to read Anne Frank’s book, which I purchased for her Kindle.
BrainPop videos are five minutes long and boil down a concept or idea into understandable material for the kids in an animated format. After you watch the video, you can take the quiz or complete a flowchart, print out worksheets, or do other activities. This is our #1 treasure chest for go-to info about anything and everything that kids have questions about. Gravity? Sure. Reading music? Yep. Fractions? You bet. It’s almost unbelievable the amazing set of resources that BrainPop has put together. My kids have learned SO much from BrainPop, and I will ensure that they always have access to while they are in elementary school!
Reading Eggs | Price: $4.92 / month
Their Description: The Reading Eggs program focuses on a core reading curriculum of phonics and sight words using skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success. It completely supports what children learn at school and will help to improve your child’s results at school.
My Thoughts: You have to see this in action! Pop it onto your kid’s iPad and complete the “Driving Tests” to place them in the right content area, then let them go for it! They will be practicing everything to do with Language Arts and feel like they are just doing a fun app game. This is our core Language Arts curriculum that we use for Kindergarten through Second Grade for our kids. They love it so much that I have to limit how long they can “study” reading every day with Reading Eggs. Now that’s a good “problem” to have!
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT – twelve great resources to equip you for success during this COVID-19 time (and beyond!). Strength to you, moms and dads. We can do this!
WEBINAR ABOUT THESE RESOURCES
I’m hosting a webinar on Saturday, March 21 about these resources and how you can integrate them into your day with kids, and I’ll be answering all your questions, too. I have several more resources I’ll also add to that conversation, along with some free downloads of activities to do at home. If you are interested in joining the webinar, sign up with your name and email below and I’ll send you all the info. I’m looking forward to meeting you!