PBS Kids

Teachers will want to spend some time exploring PBS Kids to discover all it has to offer. They can use the site to assign games from specific shows as extensions or explorations of topics recently covered in the classroom. Or, they can consider using the site's features as prerequisites for participating in class activities. For example, require kids to get a Webonauts diploma for media literacy before using computers in the computer lab. Games and videos can also serve as springboards for class discussion and further exploration.

Because PBS Kids is mostly a directory site for many other sites, teachers will need to either be very specific about which games they want their students to play (and then monitor them) or allow kids to explore games around a general topic. Doing a unit on math? Let kids play around on CyberChase. Kids can save their high scores and favorite games, but real performance tracking is limited, so teachers shouldn't plan on using the site to assess performance.

National Geographic Kids

While National Geographic Kids isn't well-organized for teachers, it is a fantastic resource for students to explore their interests and follow their curiosity. The site would be a great way to introduce the diversity of life on Earth: Encourage students to learn about new animals, watch the science and geography series, and explore the interactive world map. The Homework Help section can provide additional information for light research papers or projects. Teachers can search, themselves, for resources that match topics they're working on in the classroom.

Teachers of younger students will find this easy-to-use educational tool a great way to increase engagement and add extension activities for science and social studies lessons. Note: Though the site content is free, there are abundant links to subscribe to the National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Little Kids magazines.


You can easily integrate lesson plans and activities into classroom use. Everything is so well-organized that you'll know exactly how to find what you're looking for and exactly which standards are being met. The huge number of resources here almost guarantees you'll find something that works. The professional development section is pretty helpful, too, with strategy guides and information on meetings, events, and online seminars for language arts and literacy teachers.

Teachers could also encourage families at home to engage their child in reading or writing by visiting the Parent & After-School Resources section, where experts have created fun and educational materials to supplement at home what children are learning at school. Teachers can find out how best to use the site by viewing videos such as "Literacy in Action," "Presentations," and "How to Use RWT."


ClassDojo is a tool that teachers can use in class from start to finish. Begin with a short Think-Pair-Share activity, using the timer and noise manager to keep the discussion on track and respectful. Next, assign an activity for student portfolios: Let them draw out a challenge math problem, record a video discussing the novel they're reading, write a hypothesis for a science lab, or snap a picture of a completed assignment for teacher feedback. Once or twice during the lesson, send a quick positive message or image to a parent. This is a great way to strengthen the home-school connection, celebrate classroom successes, and document student learning over time. Don't forget to add pictures to your class story to keep parents in the loop. You might even want to record yourself explaining assignments, so parents can help at home.

Throughout the class, award points to positively reinforce individuals or groups for meeting or exceeding expectations, or send gentle reminders to students or groups who need them. Be careful to ensure that individuals aren't publicly singled out in negative ways: Consider privately using the app to track student behavior. Close out the class with a five-minute growth mindset activity, giving kids a chance to wind down and reflect on their learning for the day. Having all these options built into one handy tool cuts down on the need for multiple products and gives teachers lots of data to inform instruction


LearnZillion offers thousands of free Math and English Language lessons that have been developed by teachers directly from the Common Core State Standards. The terms state that teachers and parents who are the managers of a class can see information about their students or children in that class, such as the studentís or childís name, school affiliation and activity on assignments (including time of activity and any responses to questions, extending to grades for those assignments). According to the terms Information collected from students is never used or disclosed for any third-party advertising or any kind of behaviorally targeted advertising. LearnZillionís terms state that encryption, firewalls, and reasonable security measures are in place for data while stored and in transit. Lastly, LearnZillion's terms state that when school districts or teachers create primary accounts and invite students to create student accounts, they are acting on behalf of parents to give LearnZillion consent to collect student information described in their policies, and LearnZillion is acting as a service provider or school official to the school district or teacher.


Teachers can use Scratch to teach students just about any coding concept or element of computational thinking. Then, after students are proficient in using it, Scratch can become another tool for demonstrating learning in just about any content area. Through animation, audio, image, and text, students can tell stories, explain concepts, and create art. The Scratch platform can be another option for any project-based assessment or activity -- an alternative to writing, presentations, etc. For coding teachers, Scratch is a great springboard to traditional text-based coding languages like Ruby or Swift.

Scratch has a huge associated community of users and educators (from around the world, since Scratch supports multiple languages). Because of this community, everyone from the complete novice to the seasoned expert can find tutorials, answers to questions, projects to remix, and, most important, inspiration to continue building their coding skills and finding new challenges.


It's easy to imagine using Storybird as a free-write station, to prompt various writing tasks, or as a platform for peer workshopping. With a bit of creativity, storytelling can also be linked to a variety of school subjects, including history, science, and even math. Follow the developer-created monthly challenges that inspire students to think about different narrative techniques, a particular illustration, and more. Or, use the guides or interactive courses to lead your students through learning something new about writing. These curriculum guides and courses offer structured lessons and activities as well as some extra bonus features (e.g. more challenges and stickers) for students. Note that at the time of this review this section of the site had quite a few broken links, so make sure to verify that these are still available.

With a free classroom account, teachers can create assignments, and review and comment on submitted stories. They'll also be able to arrange for purchase of any student-created work, including organizing fundraisers that give 30 percent of the books' proceeds directly to the school. To bridge the gap between school and home, parents can take their kids' account with them when the class is over.

Met Kids

If you're headed to the Met with your students, you're in luck! This is an excellent tool to introduce or extend your in-person museum experience. If you can't visit, though, there's still enormous value here. Use the map to take a virtual tour of the museum. Ask your students: What can you tell about how the exhibits are organized from what you find on the map? Use the Time Machine feature to explore art from different eras, and talk about how and why the Met might have larger collections from some areas and some time periods than from others. Check out the different activities associated with each work of art; some are more detailed than others, and some are geared toward very young kids, so pick the activities that best fit your students and your classroom. Finally, check out those videos: Consider making your own Q&A videos with experts -- in your school or in local organizations that kids hope to explore -- or create your own projects that mirror the student projects featured on the site.


MathGames would work well as an in-class practice tool or for creating homework assignments. Assign specific games or question sets based on skill level and any progress reports based on previous assignments. The search filter makes it easy to create assignments by grade, skill, or standard.


Think of Biblionasium as a student-appropriate Goodreads, connecting kids to books as well as to parents, classmates, and teachers. You can use Biblionasium to keep track of your students' reading progress, or you can create contests and rewards based on how many books they've read. Students can write reviews and recommend books. It's also a great place to source discussion opportunities; if students seem to love a certain book and have strong opinions about it, you can bring that enthusiasm into the classroom.

K5 Learning

K5 Learning was founded by parents who wanted better learning tools available to their kids for home use. We licensed award winning educational software, then marketed to schools, not parents, and created K5 Learning. Since then we have also created thousands of free reading and math worksheets for parents to use with their kids. For learning and practicing some skills, there is nothing more effective than a pencil and paper. We believe K5 provides the best home use learning platform in North America for kindergarten through grade 5.

The Parent Institute

The Parent Institute Publications Are Research-Based

All materials published by The Parent Institute are research-based. Topics for all materials we publish are first identified through scientific surveys of practicing education leaders to make sure the topics are relevant to educators' needs and of high priority interest. Then each publication is developed by professional writers using the best scientific research available. During the developmental stages and continuing through the final editing process, our editors consult with education experts and review their search to be sure that there is evidence that each program, practice or idea recommended is accurately described and works.


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