Article: 30 free online learning activities

Article: 30 free online learning activities

30 free online learning activities

Links, videos, and instructions for really fun family projects. By Sierra Filucci 
With summer in full swing, lots of kids (and parents) are going online for ideas to keep busy. At Common Sense, we’re partial to activities that are a little, well, different. We’ve rounded up 30 unique things you and your kids can learn to do online (for free!) by a). watching a video, b). following instructions, or c). reading about a subject.

Note: Many videos include an advertisement at the beginning, and some websites might link off to other topics or websites that might not be appropriate for your kids. We suggest previewing or watching along with your kids.

Editorial Intern Nayanika Kapoor contributed to this article. 

About the author Sierra Filucci

Sierra has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade, with a special interest in women’s and family subjects. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. With an extensive and abiding interest in pop culture, kids, and bossing people around, her role as executive editor of parenting content brings her skills and obsessions together in perfect harmony. When she’s not watching Miyazaki movies with her two kids, she enjoys re-watching Parks and RecreationStar Trek: The Next Generation, and The Facts of Life.
commonsense2Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.
Article: 8 awesome learning podcasts for kids from Common Sense Media

Article: 8 awesome learning podcasts for kids from Common Sense Media



8 podcasts

Bring fresh voices into the classroom with free, high-quality podcasts.

May 23, 2017

Bronwyn Harris

Editorial Assistant
Check out a few favorite podcasts from Common Sense Media. Your kids can use these to help prevent the #summerslide and learn all at the same time! You can even subscribe and download these podcasts to your device so you can stream them on summer drives! Parents, these apps do use data if you are live streaming them – so be sure to watch your limits!
When podcasts first gained popularity in the early 2000s, they seemed to be a quaint throwback to radio. But that changed quickly as more and more people jumped in and started experimenting with the medium. Now, hits like Serial have launched podcasts into the mainstream. You can find podcasts on nearly every topic — from movie reviews to academic lessons to celebrity gossip — and in nearly every genre, from short fiction to in-depth journalism to comedy.Podcasts are a great way to hook kids into learning about a topic. They draw listeners into the story in a unique way, providing different viewpoints from what students are usually exposed to. Teachers can use podcasts to supplement the curriculum with high-quality, free content. And you can find podcasts that will work for every grade level and subject area. Check out a few of our favorites to get started!

wowWow in the World

Grades K–6

NPR’s brand-new podcast premiered on May 15, 2017. It’s the first NPR podcast to be aimed at kids, and the goal is to “guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey.” While the specific topics the podcast will cover remain to be seen, the creators say it will focus on important science and technology subjects and questions that families — or classrooms — can explore together.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

 

brainBrains On Grades 1–6

Every teacher knows that kids love to ask questions, and science provides plenty of questions for them to be curious about. Brains On tackles questions and topics that are totally relevant to kids’ interests, including slime, dinosaur bones, fire, lasers, and airplanes. Teachers can encourage students to take one of the topics and research it more completely or to use it as a jumping-off point for science experiments and research-related questions.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

scienceScience Friday

Grades 6–12

Science Friday with Ira Flatow covers a variety of complex science topics, which are great for high school students to use in research or when developing a project or paper. For middle school teachers, Kidsnet offers the Science Friday Kids’ Connection curriculum referencing the Science Friday material but in a form more digestible for that age group. Teachers can find any scientific subject covered in the archives, so no matter what you’re teaching, the podcast and accompanying curriculum can be priceless (and you may learn a thing or two as well!).

No app – listen online.

 

storycorpStoryCorps

Grades 6–12

One of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps consists of more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Students at just about any grade level or in any subject area could use the StoryCorps interviews in a variety of ways. In a National Teachers Initiative section, listeners can find interviews between teachers and students or former students. The interviews can be used as writing prompts, discussion topics, primary sources for research projects, and more. Students also can record their own stories.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

 

believeThis I Believe

Grades 6–12

This I Believe was a radio series on NPR (now archived) that focused on the writing, sharing, and discussing of people’s core beliefs through short personal essays. In the classroom, teachers can use This I Believe to get students to write about their own experiences. Personal experiences, beliefs, and values can make a rich foundation for classroom discussions, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve created a safe space for sharing. A companion book and website offer plenty of resources for teachers and students to work on personal essays.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

youthYouth Radio

Grades 6–12

Youth Radio is not only a great podcast for students, but it’s also created by kids. The kid journalists of Youth Radio offer a very honest take on hot-button issues and current events, with perspectives that don’t often appear in the standard news world. Youth Radio segments can spark discussion on anything from Afghanistan to graffiti to the economy (they’re often featured on NPR’s Marketplace). Your students may even be inspired to start producing their own pieces.


NPR One NPR One by NPR

Price: $FREE

NPR One is a whole new way to listen to stories, shows, and podcasts from NPR and your local public radio station.

It’s public radio made personal.

"By connecting to audio content from.

grammarGrammar Girl

Grades 9–12

Grammar is notoriously boring, but Grammar Girl, part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, manages to make it interesting, and English teachers everywhere are grateful. The website has transcripts of each episode, but the audio delivery is animated and friendly and probably of more interest to students. This podcast is best for middle and high school students and incorporates both traditional grammar questions and more quirky analysis of new types of grammar unique to social media, for example.


Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by QuickAndDirtyTips.com

Price: $ USD

.

hardcoreHardcore History

Grades 9–12

Every teacher and student knows that, while history may not have been boring, history textbooks often are. Hardcore History with Dan Carlin is aiming to change all that, with honest and dramatic looks at historical figures and events that go far outside the basic historical outline many of us learned. While Hardcore History is not released on a predictable schedule and the episodes are often very long, it brings history to life in an invaluable way. History teachers who take the time to curate clips may find that their students have a whole new interest in learning.

No app, listen online.

 

Which essential podcasts did we miss? Let us know your favorites in the comments!

About the Author

Bronwyn is an author, educator, and editor living in the East Bay. She is originally from Petaluma, California, and earned a bachelor’s of science in psychology from UC Davis, and a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU Sacramento. Bronwyn began her teaching career in 2000 in the most violent neighborhood in Oakland, California, and has since written a book about her experiences: Literally Unbelievable: Stories from an East Oakland Classroom.Bronwyn has written for Teaching Tolerance and AlterNet, among others. She is an avid reader and knitter and uses Common Sense reviews to guide her on movies for her nieces and nephew.

commonsense2Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

Article: 11 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out by Common Sense Media

Article: 11 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out by Common Sense Media

screen-time

From outdoor adventures to summer enrichment to computer coding, online camps keep kids busy, learning, and having fun.

Virtual summer camps — where kids head to the computer instead of the pool or park — are a thing now. But don’t worry: These aren’t the solitary, sedentary, screen-centered experiences you fear. Plenty of virtual summer camps offer kids the chance to make projects, investigate ideas, and explore the world. And many are free.

Going to camp online is a great way to keep your kids occupied during a “staycation” or between their other activities. It can also give kids something unique: individual attention. You, a babysitter, a grandparent, or even an older sibling act as virtual camp counselors, leading — and even learning alongside — your kids. With many of the virtual camps below, you can mix and match activities to tailor the experience to your kids’ interests. Expect to be more involved if you go for the free, choose-your-own-adventure camps. But fee-based camps call for some adult participation, too. Check out these offerings:

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Summer Camps

Start with a Book. Free; age 6 and up.
In addition to a summer science camp, this site offers a long list of themes, such as Art, Night Sky, and Weather Report, for kids to explore. For each theme, you get book suggestions (for all reading levels), discussion guides, hands-on activities, and related sites and apps. You’ll need to shell out for books if you can’t find them at the library.

PBS Parents. Free; age 3–9.
With an emphasis on summer reading, the PBS Parents’ site offers a variety of practical, step-by-step plans to incorporate books into the dog days of summer. In addition to the downloadable Summer Reading Chart and the “Book-Nik” guide to a book-themed picnic, you can use the Super Summer Checklist PDF to plan hands-on experiences.

DIY. Free and fee-based; age 7 and up.
This site offers dozens of skill-based activities (which it calls “challenges”) in a variety of categories, including Art, Business, and Engineering, that kids can do year-round. Every summer, DIY runs camps and shorter courses. Some of the camps have online counselors who interact with your kid. Sign up to get notified of the latest offerings.

Make: Online. Free, but materials cost extra; age 12 and up.
The folks behind the maker movement offer weekly camps based on themes such as Far Out Future and Flight. You get a PDF with daily activities that support the theme, such as making slime and designing and flying kites.

Made with Code from Google. Free; age 12 and up.
A wide range of projects, including making emojis, animating GIFs, and composing music, is designed to ignite a passion for coding in teen girls. (There’s no stopping boys from doing these projects, though.) The site offers inspiration stories from female tech mentors as well as ideas to make coding social, such as a coding party kit.

Structured Learning

JAM: Online Courses for Kids. Free for first 30 days; $25 per month (per kid) with discounts for yearly enrollment; age 8–16.
What can’t kids learn at this online school? There’s drawing, cooking, animation, music, and much more. Each course has a professional mentor and is broken down into easily manageable “quests” that kids can complete at their own pace.

Khan Academy. Free; age 6 and up.
While Khan Academy doesn’t offer specific camps, it provides meaningful, step-by-step exploration in a variety of topics, including math, science, and arts and humanities. Kids can sign up with a coach (a teacher, parent, or tutor) who can monitor their progress and suggest lessons. Kids also can earn badges by learning and teaching. The custom dashboard has a progress map that fills up as kids work their way through the skills.

Brain Chase. $79, extra for electives; age 7–14.
Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer, Brain Chase takes a creative approach to enrichment. It starts on June 19, 2017, and runs for six weeks; kids work on math, reading, and typing all while competing in a real-life treasure hunt for the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.

Camp Wonderopolis. Free for campers; optional $25 instruction guide for parents; age 7 and up.
Sponsored by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), this online camp lets kids explore topics such as weather, food, and technology. Each topic includes lessons, outdoor activities, videos, and additional reading suggestions for all ages. The 2017 theme is Build Your Own Wonderocity, where families explore the wonders of construction and engineering in 42 lessons.

Connected Camps. $69-$99; age 8-15. For tech-curious kids, check out Connected Camps, which offers week-long, instructor-led, Minecraft-based camps including coding, game design, and engineering. There are also courses in Minecraft and the Scratch programming language just for girls.

TechRocket. Free for a course sampling; memberships: $19/year, $29/month; age 10 and up.
Launched by iDTechCamp (the popular — and pricey — computer day and overnight camps), TechRocket offers online instruction in coding, game design, and graphic design. Each camp offers a variety of levels and challenges as well as a dedicated instructor.

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.

 

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.

Article: 5 Refreshing Ideas for Spicing Up Your Lesson Plans

Article: 5 Refreshing Ideas for Spicing Up Your Lesson Plans

5 Refreshing Ideas for Spicing Up Your Lesson Plans

lesson plans

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

 

Many people don’t realize how tricky it can be for teachers to find new, unique ways to present lesson plans to students. It’s a delicate balance between informing and engaging, and some material can be especially tricky to make interesting. If you’re in need of some new ideas to make your class a place students can’t wait to go to, here are a few strategies to try.

 

Let students role play

 

It’s people who make history, whether it’s in the math, science, political, or literary world. Assign students a famous person from history—it can be from 200 years ago or even someone who’s made important strides in recent years—and let them present an oral report, but here’s the catch: they have to actually assume the identity of that person for the presentation! It’s a great way to add a little creativity to any subject, and for some students, it could help make the material easier to grasp. Your class might have trouble relating to a mathematician from the early twentieth century, long before calculators and computers did so much of the work for us, but taking the time to learn about them as an actual person could pique their interest.

 

Invite a guest speaker

 

Even if your students adore you, there’s always something exciting about a fresh face at the front of the classroom. Invite a guest speaker to come speak to your class about a topic they have unique perspective on: perhaps your grandmother was an avid protester in the civil rights movement, or your neighbor used to work for NASA. It can even be another teacher! If you’re having trouble finding someone who can physically be in class, ask if they’d be willing to video chat with your class instead.

 

Have a debate

 

If your students love to argue, make that the assignment! Give your students a topic and two choices for how to argue it. For example, a literature class might debate the interpretation of a certain chapter of their reading, or a science class could argue different ideas about converting from fossil fuels to clean energy. You can let students choose which side they’re on, or instead challenge them to argue against what their initial instinct is. You can have different topics for pairs of students or break the class up into groups. Make sure their arguments are backed up appropriately, and when the debate is on, allow both sides follow-ups and rebuttals.

 

Tie in a familiar element

 

It’s often easier for students to understand information if they can easily apply it to their own lives. If your history class is discussing the development of the assembly line, have them come up with a list of all the items we currently make through this method. For heredity and gene lessons in science, you can take a class poll to see what kind of dogs your students have and any particularly special traits they might have: one green eye and one brown eye, unique markings, or even a curled tail. Discuss what characteristics their pup’s parents may have had to lead to that trait, and how its siblings may have looked.

 

When it comes to teaching, you don’t have to settle for the ordinary. Try shaking up your classroom with these strategies!

Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.

Pin It on Pinterest