Free Literacy Resources for At-Home Learning

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(*Updated March 23, 2020)

As we all begin to adjust to the new quarantine/social distancing guidelines, more schools are closing, requiring students to learn from home. My local school district is closed for at least the next two weeks, although it is likely that it will remain closed for at least a month. Understandably, parents are feeling anxious about their own uncertain work situations as well as the challenges of working from home and educating their children at the same time.

I’ve seen a lot of examples of online educational resources offering their products for free during this time, and I have also found that many authors and educators are stepping up and offering their time to support our students at home in ways like reading their books aloud and hosting Instagram Live sessions of activities and lessons. It is amazing to see how many people are coming together and finding creative ways to reach our students at home and keep them engaged and learning, while hopefully relieving a bit of the burden on working parents.

Teachers and parents, I know these are difficult times, so I have done some research and chosen a few of my favorite online resources that you can use right now to help your students and children continue to learn and grow as readers, even while confined to their homes.

Join some of your favorite authors and illustrators (and some celebrity readers) as they read books aloud!

  1. Mo Willems (Elephant and Piggie books, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) will host daily doodle sessions at 10am PST.
  2. Oliver Jeffers (How to Catch a Star, The Day the Crayons Quit (illustrator)) will read a book every day at 11am PST.
  3. *Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole) hosts Mac’s Book Club Show, featuring read-alouds, drawing, and lots of general fun. Weekdays at 12pm PST.
  4. #OperationStorytime- Search the hashtag on Instagram for videos of celebrities and authors reading books aloud (including Jan Brett, Jennifer Garner, and Josh Gad). You can also click HERE for a compilation on Romper’s website of some of their favorites.
  5. *Penguin Kids– Virtual Storytime weekdays at 8am PST. This week’s schedule: 3/23-Misty Copeland, 3/24-Danica McKellar, 3/25-Scott Kelly, 3/26- Tiffani Thiessen/Brady Smith, 3/27- B.J. Novak
  6. *Save With Stories– A new Instagram account created by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams dedicated to raising money for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. They post videos of celebrities reading fantastic children’s books (Ron Howard reads Harold and the Purple Crayon, Natalie Portman reads Is Your Mama a Llama?, Lupita Nyong’o reads Not Quite Narwhal, and SO many more).

Other Websites where you can read and listen to picture books:

  1. KidLit– an excellent resource for read-alouds, drawing and writing tutorials, and podcasts for kids
  2. Brightly Storytime – Words on the page are highlighted as they are read, which gives viewers a chance to read along. Their Instagram account (@readbrightly) has a live read-aloud every weekday at 11am, but videos are available to watch anytime on their website and their Instagram TV. 
  3. Storytime in Space– Listen to real astronauts on the International Space Station read some of their favorite picture books about science, technology, engineering, art and math. There’s something especially magical about watching a read-aloud in zero gravity!
  4. Unite for Literacy– this is a great resource for early readers, as it has a large selection of short, decodable books ranging from about the A-D levels (on the Fountas and Pinnell scale).
  5. Reading A-Z– This is a paid subscription service that I used to use in my kindergarten classroom. It has thousands of leveled readers and printable activities, as well as comprehension quizzes after each story to make sure your child is engaged and understanding what they read. They offer a free 14 day trial period, which is helpful because the subscription is pretty expensive.

Other Fun Educational Websites

  • Take a virtual field trip with Discovery Education
  • Watch a live webcam of different wild animals on Explore.org.
  • Virtually visit the pandas at the Atlanta Zoo, and a variety of animals at the National Zoo, Houston Zoo, and San Diego Zoo
  • Scholastic Learn From Home has daily videos, books, and activities organized by grade level.
  • *National Geographic Kids – Games, videos, and fascinating facts about the world’s countries and wildlife.
  • *America’s Test Kitchen– Learning to cook is an important life skill that utilizes math, science, reading, and creativity, and now might just be the perfect opportunity for you to teach (or learn!) some cooking skills. America’s Test Kitchen is posting a daily recipe, along with lesson ideas, to give adults some fun and easy ways to teach their kids to cook! 
  • * Book Creator– Design, write, and publish your own digital books! This is a paid product but due to Covid-19 they are offering a 90-day free trial. Trust me, this will keep your kids occupied for hours!

I hope some of these are helpful for you and your kids. This is new territory for all of us so please be patient with your child’s teacher and school if their communication and online schooling is less than you’ve hoped for. They’re doing the best they can with the resources they’ve been given, and trust me, it will get better.

As I am not currently teaching, I am happy to help in any way I can, and I might have some more time than your child’s teacher at the moment, so shoot me an email (readingexpressions@gmail.com) if you need some suggestions for read-alouds and activities!

*Please let me know in an email or in the comments if there are any other resources that you think I should add to this page- I will continue to update it as I find out more 🙂

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