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: Kids and Devices?  Great tips on how to get your kids off their device!

Article: Kids and Devices? Great tips on how to get your kids off their device!

Toddler_Device_article

Ever try to pry a tablet from sticky fingers? Check out these tips to avoid the tantrum.

“Just a sec,” say nine out of 10 parents answering an email when their kid asks them for something. If it’s hard for us to jump out of the digital world, just imagine you’re 3 and the lines between fantasy and reality are already blurred — then throw in a super-engaging, colorful, fun, immersive experience. Or you’re 5 and each episode of Mutt & Stuff on the Nick Jr. app is better than the last. Or you’re 8 and you’re almost finished building something amazing in Minecraft. Why would you ever want to stop?

This is why getting kids off their devices is so tough. And when threatening doesn’t work, and you discover the research that two-minute warnings aren’t the best option either, what can you do? Thankfully, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some new guidelines around screen use that ease some parental guilt, but you still need to get your kid off the iPad at some point. Aside from being a strong role model, try these tips to minimize conflict and find the balance we’re all seeking.

  • Have another activity lined up (bonus points for making it seem fun). For the youngest device users, transitions are hard — period.  Even if the next “to do” is a “must do” (such as eating lunch), tell your kid what’s coming next. You can rehearse the process: “When I say stop, it’s time for the iPad to go night-night. Let’s see how fast you can flip it shut! As soon as it’s asleep, we can sneak into the other room and paint.”
  • Use visual and sound cues to help kids keep track of time limits. For kids who don’t yet know how to tell time, try a timer that can help put them in charge of the process: “When the time is up, it’ll look and sound like this.”
  • Find apps with built-in timers. Video streamers like Cakey and Huvi throw parents a bone and have internal timers so the app stops on its own. Then it’s up to the parent to make sure kiddo doesn’t just jump into another app.
  • Tell kids to stop at a natural break, such as the end of an episode, level, or activity. It’s hard for kids (and adults!) to stop in the middle of something. Before your kid gets on a device, talk about what they want to do or play, what will be a good place to stop, and how long they think it’ll take. Set the limit together and hold to it, though a little wiggle room (a couple of minutes so they can finish) is fine.
  • Discuss consequences and follow through when kids test the limits. When all else fails, it’s important to have discussed consequences for when your kid won’t give it up. For little kids, the line can be something like, “If it’s too hard to turn off, the tablet has to go away for a whole day.” For older kids it’s more about keeping devices in a public space, setting expectations, and enforcing them. If they show you they can be partners in moderating and regulating themselves, there can be more flexibility.

About the author

Christine Elgersma works on learning and social media app reviews and parent talks as Senior Editor, Parent Education . Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app, taught the youth of America as a high school teacher, a community college teacher, a tutor, and a special education instructional aide. Christine is also a writer, primarily of fiction and essays, and loves to read all manner of books from Stephen King to Anne Lamott. When she’s not putting on a spontaneous vaudeville show with her daughter, Christine loves to hike and listen to music, sometimes simultaneously.

 

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.

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