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6 Free or Inexpensive Apps and Websites That Make Home-Learning a Breeze

Technology + Gear Family Travel
by Stephanie Frias Mar 24, 2020

Homeschooling is sweeping the planet as laws mandate that ever more people stay home during widespread shelter-in-place orders. But there isn’t much time for shock, as parents and children must quickly adapt to new routines. The good news is that, particularly during an isolating pandemic, screens are our friends.

Don’t feel pressured to remain tried and true to the regimented school books and worksheets dished out to you. Get creative and use every resource available. Many experienced homeschoolers are already using amazing educational apps as supplements to their learning plans, and you should, too. Most of the sites below are for grade school kids, and many of them use games that make learning devilishly fun. Here are six kid-approved online programs that are either free or available with cheap monthly payment plans.

1. Adventure Academy

Adventure Academy comes from the creators of ABC Mouse, a well-known source of educational products for kids aged two through eight, offering coursework in math, science, reading, and art. Adventure Academy is its gaming solution for older kids. Geared at third to fifth graders, or ages eight to 13, the quest style learning app is both phone- and computer-friendly. If your kids go to public school in the USA, they may very well already be familiar with it.

The super interactive, layered game is inspired by the likes of Minecraft and Fortnite but is 100 percent kid-safe and entirely geared around the subject and topics presented during grade school. Once registered, kids are able to move in a self-directed manner through endless digital learning activities, including videos, games, books, puzzles, and lessons.

Currently, the first 30 days are free, followed by $9.99 per month or $5 per month when a year is already purchased. If your child has been using this app at school, it is possible you may be able to get free access during coronavirus school closings.

2. TinyBop Schools

For a low-intensity STEM program, TinyBop Schools is the perfect solution for little learners. The online program is focused on science topics and offers a uniquely soft and peaceful interactive learning experience. Current modules are focused on science literacy in subjects that support grade school curriculum for anatomy, zoology, physics, geology, meteorology, engineering, astronomy, and matter.

The inquiry-based system encourages kids to take actions that will lead them towards additional answers and questions. Parents can easily follow their progress online, as well as get access to supplementary printable materials including handbooks and quizzes.

TinyBop is geared at kindergarten through fifth grade and is deemed appropriate for those with special needs, as well as students studying English as a second language. The program typically costs $25 per year after a 60-day free trial. But TinyBop is currently waiving all fees through July 2020 for both teachers and parents in light of coronavirus-related school closings.

3. Math Playground

These obviously math-centered online games are always free and offer an astounding assortment of math games and activities focused on first- to sixth-grade math curriculums. The great concept of Math Playground is the eclectic mix of old-school games (like frogger and checkers) with real-time math races and new-age interactive games, too.

Although Math Playground can certainly be used as structured learning time, it also has many activities that are fun for the whole family. This is an ideal website that can be used during free time, and the kids might not even realize they are doing a school activity.

Games can be searched by grade level, specific math topic, or simply by browsing. Categories include addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions and decimals, shape and graphs, geometry, pre-algebra, and so on. Alternatively, you can search through the hundreds of math games by the type of game, such as logic games, story math, math arcade, classic games, or by themes, such as sports, animals, robots, and the like. The avenues for exploration are endless.

For the kids and parents who need some legitimate help with problem solving and explanations, there are also a plethora of how-to videos that explain numerous math concepts with step by step tutorials. These include anything from telling time to counting money, to reading graphs, long division processes, and beyond.

4. Reading IQ

As you might expect, the Reading IQ program is all about books and reading. It’s basically a massive digital library of 7,000 books designed for all readers ages two to 12. When you first log in, your child can choose to take a reading assessment to determine the suggested books for their reading level. Or you can simply browse for books divided by categories or grade level.

The best thing about it is the wide selection of books, available in several formats including Read to Me, I Can Read it, or Read With Pause. Titles range from classics to new releases and range from independent publishers to big names like National Geographic and Disney. It’s the perfect solution for visiting the library when you simply can’t.

Reading IQ is a digital platform also offered by the Age of Learning, the creators behind ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy. This means that although this app normally runs for $7.99 per month (after a one-month free trial), parents may be able to get free access during coronavirus closings if this program is used at their school.

5. Fun Brain

Offered as a dot game learning platform, Fun Brain is a series of game concept math elements catered to kids from preschool to eighth grade. It has a heavy math focus but also touches on other subjects like reading and science, too. Most of the activities are interactive games, but there are some books and video learning material as well.

The website is always free and is easy to navigate for kids. Each activity clearly displays a grade level indicator, and each game comes with basic instructions.

The Fun Brain Jr. site is specially catered to the youngest learners, helping preschoolers and kindergarteners to more easily explore without getting into topics that are too difficult to follow on their own. This division of the site also includes a parents’ section with printable materials and areas for increased focus on playing or reading together with younger users.

6. Tynker

This time away from school could be a good time to get your kids to learn something that has long interested them, but that they haven’t really had the time for. Tynker is focused on teaching coding for kids, and it really breaks down coding to the simplest level — based on kids’ previous experience with coding and their interests.

Kids can learn to game design or modding for Minecraft. They can learn coding languages like JavaScript or Python, or they can explore things like robotics and drones. More simplified game-like options teach younger kids to learn to code faster. It’s a little on the pricey side, at $8/month with a year-long subscription, but there is a less extensive version of the product that you can explore for free.

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