Online courses and home learning for children and teens

Course for children and home learning. Home schooling in self-isolation

If your children are self-isolating, at home for an extended period, being temporarily home-schooled, revising or independently learning at home, this list of home learning ideas should help you – as a parent or teacher – find interesting and stimulating online teaching ideas.  There is a mix of free and paid online courses for children and teens, including short and long courses, blended learning, revision, and research-based activities – all of which can be accessed and completed at home and independently.

Online home learning courses for primary school children

All primary subjects

  • The School of Life has provided a fantastic series of free resources for parents and teachers which can help with home learning – Tools for Young Minds. These downloadables include indoor activities to promote exercise and curiosity, a pack to encourage ‘a love of wisdom, an emotional learning pack to help children manage and communicate their emotions, an art therapy pack that includes a mini scheme of work, and a relationships skills course (based on Happy, Healthy Minds) that will help to develop interpersonal skills. Highly recommended.
  • EdPlace – a full range of school content courses for English, maths, and science for children aged 5-11 are covered with up-to-date, engaging and interactive videos, animations and quizzes. Ideal for short-medium term learning at home.
  • National Geographic has produced a range of resources to help families deal with self-isolation, how to talk to children about Coronavirus / Covid-19 and how to deal with boredom when children are home-learning.
  • BBC Bitesize Primary – all UK curriculum areas are covered for children aged 3-11.
  • PBS Kids – A free, and vast, website that is full of animated and fun educational games.
  • National Geographic Kids primary resources – Lots of online and downloadable resources linked to primary (especially KS2) curriculum areas, including English, maths, science, art, STEM, history, and geography.
  • A vast collection of primary-aged Coronavirus / Covid-19 and self-isolation related resources on Padlet – curated by teachers.
  • The Children’s University, Manchester – a great selection of free interactive resources and fun activities for KS2 children. All subjects are covered.
  • Good ideas by Michael Rosen – the ultimate guide to creative homeschooling for parents, and a useful insight for teachers creating resources.
  • Bogglesox TV – a YouTube channel for 0-8-year-olds, featuring activities, songs, counting animations, crafts, drawing tutorials, and spelling fun.
  • Dorling Kindersley has put together a collection of home-learning activities, videos, and interactive games.
  • Book Life has collated a series of free downloadable resources including books for topic work and activities sheets to complete.
  • If you are looking for a suitable book to help discuss the effects of Coronavirus / Covid-19and the lockdown with small children struggling to deal with isolation, a number of publishers have released useful free eBooks dealing with this subject, including Nosy Crow, Oxford University Press, and here, Andersen Press, and Bloomsbury Publishing.

Primary maths

  • Khan Academy – a free, non-profit, website that is very strong on maths, STEM, and science; but also offers literacy, arts, and humanities content. Video-based teaching is supplemented by frequent quizzes and multiple-choice assessments.
  • Mathletics – online maths learning, games, and quizzes.
  • Sumdog – this website includes a free section offering highly engaging animated maths games.
  • The Maths Factor – promoted by Carol Vorderman, this activity-based website is good for raising confidence in KS2 pupils who lack confidence with maths.

Primary literacy / English / drama

  • Creative Writing Ink’s creative writing course for children offers 7-12-year-olds the chance to explore story writing in greater depth with published writer Molly Ellson, in this comprehensive online paid course lasting six weeks.
  • Storybooks online –  our selection of free to view storytime online readalouds on YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Teaching and home learning resources from the Poetry Society – includes downloadable and interactive activities for KS1 through to further education. The videos by Joseph Coelho are ideal for primary aged children.
  • Free books, audiobooks, resources and eBooks from the National Literacy Trust. Split into helpful age groups for 0-4, 5-8 and 9-12
  • Papercutz has put together a series of free graphic novels and comics, with activities and downloadable resources, which would be ideal for reluctant readers in KS2 and lower KS3.
  • Collins is offering free online access to Big Cat eBooks (a popular KS1 reading scheme) for parents to use at home.
  • And Oxford Owl has opened up its library of reading books, including the Biff, Chip, and Kipper series, for free.
  • Dav Pilkey, author of Dog Man and Captain Underpants, in association with Scholastic,  has created a page of activities to ignite a love of reading. Perfect for reluctant readers aged 6-11.
  • Digital Library –  Free stories for younger children, with illustrations and animations.
  • Michael Rosen’s poetry for children video channel. A great collection of poems to listen to, read, join in with, and perform aloud.
  • Spellodrome – spelling practice and games, with animated videos.
  • Chicken House has put together a great collection of video author interviews and book readings from top children’s authors and poets – entitled #coopedupkids.
  • There’s also a great range of free audiobooks from the World of Stories team at World Book Day, including books read by Julian Clary and Steven Butler.
  • Puffin Schools also has a growing collection of author read extracts which are great for primary age children and ideal to emulate classroom storytime at home.
  • Storyberries –  free stories and audiobooks for preschool and EYFS children. Great to share and read aloud.
  • LearnEnglishKids – Literacy based activities and research. Ideal for reluctant readers and writers.
  • Scholastic home learning – a large selection of home-based revision materials, some of which are downloadable.
  • A wide-ranging set of free resources for literacy and English lessons from NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English). Very thorough and detailed.
  • The Show Must Go On! – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals, streamed for free each week on YouTube one at a time, starting with Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat.
  • Marvel is offering free comics via its iPhone app.
  • Children’s Poetry Archive has collected a number of poetry readings from top children’s poets, and a range of suggested activities.
  • Free audiobooks from BBC Sounds

Primary Science, STEM and DT

  • A great range of free science resources for primary aged children, from STEM learning – arranged by topic area.
  • STEM: James Dyson Challenges – a great series of daily science and engineering challenges to complete at home. Ideal for practical science, teamwork and mixed-age siblings working together. Highly recommended.
  • Little inventors – a series of STEM challenges, ideas, making projects and resources. Ideal for primary and early secondary aged children.
  • Free activities and resources from the Science Museum in London.
  • Wildlife with Steve Backshall. Live-streamed on Youtube, TV wildlife presenter answers children’s questions at 9:30 each day.
  • Science with Maddie Moate – daily science lessons streamed on Youtube by Maddie Moate – CBBC presenter.
  • A fun DT activity to make an origami paper horse that seemingly walks by itself.
  • Education consultant & DT teacher Darrell Wakelam has published a series of exciting paper automated and sculpture ideas on his Twitter profile. We really like the chameleon.
  • The UK Wild Otter Trust has produced a great series of learning modules aimed at primary aged children. These explore and explain how otters face threats in a cross-curricular topic-based format that incorporates English, maths, science and geography content.
  • Transport for Wales train activities – a great series of challenges including creating a set of ‘Train Trumps’, designing your own livery (we had great fun with this one!), and designing your own train network. Tweet your creations to @transport_wales!

Primary modern languages

  • Muzzy (from the BBC) language courses for children, including French and Spanish.
  • Lingobus – a visually appealing video package to teach Mandarin Chinese to primary aged pupils. Very thorough.

Independent study, revision, extended tasks and video content for 5-11s

  • Pupil Prime Minister – A KS2 literacy extended project focusing on creating a political party – a fun an introduction to the political process that includes planning, persuasive writing, speech writing, and presentation skills.
  • The Great Indoors – created by Bear Grylls and the Scouts, there are lots of fun and safe indoor activities for children aged 5-18.
  • PE with Joe – Joe Wicks is your new PE teacher and is in your living room! Full details here.
  • Dance with Oti Mabuse – dance in front of the computer or TV with Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse.
  • A great set of geography and culture-related activities suitable for primary age children from Lonely Planet Kids.
  • Breathe – an engaging mindfulness project for KS2. Includes writing, meditation performing and explanation presenting skills for literacy.
  • Take a Stand – an Eco related project for KS2, inspired by Greta Thunberg. Literacy based, this task includes letter writing, persuasive writing and creating a short video.
  • This is Us – a fun personal writing exercise for KS1 and KS2, using the poetry of Joseph Coelho as an impetus.
  • Magazine, newspaper, and activity book subscriptions are a great way to inspire children and keep up with daily reading for pleasure. This page has a thorough list of magazines for children and teens – with both physical subscriptions and online.

Virtual tours of exciting places – ideal to use as a stimulus for personal projects in literacy, humanities or PSHE

  • The Louvre has put up its entire collection for viewing online – a treasure trove of art and antiquities, and ideal for home learning projects.
  • Geoguessr – an addictive game that drops you into a random place on the planet. You have to work out where you are based on geographical clues, language, intuition, and deduction. The closer your guess, the more points you score. It can be played individually or with more than one player. Think of it as a visual comprehension exercise. It’s also a great starting point for creative writing – for all age groups. This game is particularly good viewed on an IWB or large screen TV.
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium – fish and sea life everywhere. Ideal for children interested in undersea life.
  • The Houston Zoo – see what the gorilla and giraffe are getting up to – in real-time.
  • The Atlanta Zoo – has a great page about pandas that includes a live webcam of a giant panda.
  • Discovery Education Tundra Connections – a detailed mini-site about polar bears in the tundra. The pages include videos, virtual tours and an immense amount of information.
  • A virtual tour of the White House, with the President of the United States as your tour guide. (That’s Obama, not Trump).
  • Explore The Vatican – with spectacular 360-degree visuals of many of the rooms.
  • Get on a Rover and explore the surface of Mars. Travel in any direction and see what extraterrestrial marvels you can discover.
  • Perhaps the ideal spot to get away from people – it’s the Moon! This 4K tour by NASA looks great on a widescreen TV and the site includes links and information for further research.

Online home learning courses for secondary school children

Online GCSE courses

We’ve hand-picked a selection of courses that can provide a complete solution for GCSE home learning if physically attending school is not possible. All of the courses below are available to enrol without an exam component and associate entry fee – which can be useful in the event that exams are cancelled and your child’s school is relying on teacher assessment.

Independent study, revision, extended tasks and video content for 11-16s

All subjects

  • BBC Bitesize Secondary – a complete collection of curriculum resources for all KS3 and KS4 school subjects, presented using videos, infographics, quizzes, and short assessments.
  • Tutorful – hire an online tutor. Subjects covered include English, maths, science, history, geography, French, Spanish, German, business and law.
  • S-Cool – a one-stop-shop for GCSE and A level revision material.
  • Labxchange –  A fascinating collection of video material collated from top academic institutions and aimed at secondary aged teens. Every school subject area is covered.
  • Scholastic ‘Learn at Home’ – free daily activities aimed at 11-15-year-olds (grades 6-9 are the equivalent of UK school years 7-10)

Secondary maths

  • Khan Academy – recommended for maths and science. A great site for KS3 and KS4 students to browse independently and seek out gaps in their knowledge.
  • Free KS3 maths revision exercises and video explanations – a complete collection of maths curricular resources for KS3 and Common Entrance (Year 8) maths revision. Video-based.
  • Mindspark – a comprehensive online maths learning platform. Very thorough, and ideal for stretching the most able. Suitable for KS3-KS5.

Secondary English and drama

Science and STEM

  • STEM learning has produced an excellent range of activities suitable for home-learning and extension work away from the classroom. Split into helpful physics, chemistry and biology topics, there are packs for KS3 and KS4, and A level.
  • Tassomai – smart learning and study techniques for curriculum content, delivered in punchy short online lessons. Good for teens who hate revision and struggle with science and maths.
  • The Naked Scientists – a series of podcasts on topical science themes produced by the University of Cambridge. Great to provoke further reading and exploration.


Economics, Politics & Business Studies

  • The Financial Times (FT) hosts a site for schools offering free teaching materials, free FT articles and features for students aged 16-19 and collaborative events and calls for entries. The site is mainly aimed at economics and business studies post 16 students, but also includes many pages relevant to geography, politics, ethics, climate change, consumerism and international development. Highly recommended.

Creative and practical activities

  • Podcasting is a great activity for older teens, or for parents to organise and supervise with younger children. It allows pupils an opportunity to articulate their thoughts on a subject, and to plan and deliver content to an audience, especially when schools are in lockdown. Spreaker offers a free package, called ‘free speech’, that includes a hosting package and all the distribution tools needed to start a podcast and get it going. All that’s needed is a mobile phone or computer, (optionally a podcasting microphone kit for the more ambitious), subject knowledge, imagination and an internet connection.
  • Animation courses for children and teens – a very detailed course that examines every aspect of computer animation. Ideal for children with time, precision, patience and an interest in computer graphics and photography.
  • The Smithsonian Museum has opened up a treasure trove of millions of images, artwork and media clips for open access. These can be used for pupils’ work, research, or to create new and exciting artworks in photo editing software.
  • The Great Indoors – created by Bear Grylls and the Scouts, there are lots of fun and safe indoor activities for children aged 5-18.
  • PE with Joe – Joe Wicks is your new PE teacher and is in your living room! Full details here.
  • If you want to turn cardboard boxes into serious geometric architecture, have a look at this inventive home educator’s blog post.

Virtual tours – take an online trip to an art gallery or museum

  • The Anne Frank Secret Annex – a stunning realisation of Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, featuring every room, historical detail, archive material, videos, and timelines. An excellent resource for extended project work.
  • Visit the Louvre – virtual tours include Egyptian antiquities and The Galerie d’Apollo.
  • The Van Gogh museum – with virtual tours of the gallery via Google.
  • Google Places has a vast library of places around the world that can be visited virtually on your laptop, tablet or PC.
  • A spectacular travel guide and virtual tour of the Great Wall of China. Ideal for home learning projects.
  • A mind-blowing and immersive interactive tour of the Kenai Fjords national park in Alaska. A truly wild place. There are more multimedia tours of US national parks here. These sites are a great resource for geography projects or extended research projects for literacy.
  • Visit the International Space Station online and drop in on occasional live broadcasts from Astronauts and NASA.
  • Explore the Taj Mahal‘s interactive graphic map – inside and outside.
  • Go inside the Space Shuttle Discovery in this 360 degree look around YouTube video from NASA.
  • Once Upon a Try – an inspirational STEM-themed site from Google that looks at key innovations in science and technology over the last 3000 years.

Online home learning courses for sixth-formers

Online A level courses

These online cloud-based courses come with an optional exam fee – useful if the government has decided that there will be no exams for that cohort.

Independent study, revision, extended tasks and video content for 16-18s

Self-isolation home learning educational activities and ideas for all mixed-aged children and teens, and families

  • Have a look at our page of writing competitions for children and teens – all of which can be entered online.
  • We also have a 100 question book quiz based on popular books for children which can test all the family!
  • Learning a musical instrument is the perfect activity for children who are spending long periods at home. Fender Play offers one of the most comprehensive and accessible online video-based guitar instruction packages, with entry points for complete beginners, or those who want to further hone their craft.
  • The Economist Educational Foundation offers a superb range of free resources for teachers, parents and children on their website and via an emailed weekly resource bulletin. Highly newsworthy and relatable topics include issues such as dealing with the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, extreme weather, fake news, freedom of speech and Brexit.
  • STEM: James Dyson Challenges – a great series of daily science and engineering challenges to complete at home. Ideal for practical science, teamwork and mixed-age siblings working together. Highly recommended.
  • An engaging and informative life skills site from NatWest to teach children and teens about money. Split into age groups suitable for KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4, and KS5.
  • Here’s a highly rated online Lego engineering challenge for children aged 8-12; and Lego contests suitable for older children here.
  • Audible audiobooks are an excellent way to expand a child’s reading, and for older children, catch up on reading for coursework or exam revision.
  • Kindle eBooks are an effective way to access books cheaply, and kindle apps and readers also feature text to voice facilities that can read text aloud.
  • Epals – is a well-established online pen pal website for children and teens around the world. Teachers or parents can moderate every aspect of the process.
  • Investigate your local library online portal. Many offer eBook and audiobook loans, and some offer free access to Pressreader.

Guidance, advice, and resources for home-educators

Other pages on this site that you might be interested in:

Online courses and CPD for teachers during lock-down How to deliver online lesson broadcasts Magazine subscriptions for kids and teens Writing competitions for children and teens

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Click for more children’s reading book recommendationsPicture books to read before you are 5 years oldReception books for 4-5-year-olds | Year 1 books for 5-6-year-olds | Year 2 books for 6-7-year-olds | Year 3 books for 7-8-year-olds | Year 4 books for 8-9-year-olds | Year 5 books for 9-10-year-olds | Year 6 books for 10-11-year-olds | Topic books for school libraries, classrooms and home learning | KS3 books for 11-14-year-olds.

About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is an experienced teacher and educational consultant who taught for 20 years in primary and secondary schools, including Woodleigh School in North Yorkshire, where he was Head of English and ran a 4000 book prep school library for pupils aged 3-13. He now reviews books for children and teens. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin