When School Is Closed: Resources to Keep Kids Learning at Home

Two young kids reading under a tent

Most of our schools and afterschool programs have closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis — and you may be looking for engaging ways to keep kids reading, writing, exploring, and learning at home. Here, you'll find lots of ideas to immerse kids in language and stories, build background knowledge, and inspire creative play. 

Resources and activities from Reading Rockets

Start with a Book

Start with a Book: Learning About Our World

What do your kids want to explore? At our companion website, Start with a Book, you can dig into 24 high-interest topics — dinosaurs, bugs, flight, planets and stars, our green world, inventors, detectives, explorers, musicians, and much more. Each topic includes recommendations for fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, writing ideas, educational apps, and kid-friendly websites. Here are some of the topics we offer:

Want to browse all 24 topics? Look here >

DIY Science Camps

Start with a Book also offers two 5-day DIY science camps. You can dip in and just try one or two activities, or devote a whole week to each topic.

Growing Readers Parent Tips

Written especially for parents, our Growing Readers tip sheets provide information and activities (in English and Spanish) for raising strong readers and writers. Here are some activity ideas from our Growing Readers library:

S​cience and math activities:

Find additional science and math resources, plus video interviews with children's science writers, booklists, and more in our Literacy in the Sciences section.

103 Things to Do Before, During, or After Reading

Improv, timelines, mapmaker, movie trailer, and more in this collection of interactive activities that help kids become more involved in the stories that they read.

See also: When kids say "we're bored" ... try Reader's Theater!

Let’s Write!

Give kids a chance to exercise different writing muscles — from nature journals to poetry to persuasive writing. We’ve put together some fun, simple writing activities to do with your child or as a group activity with friends and neighbors. Plus tips from children’s writer Mary Amato on keeping a diary or writer’s notebook.

Digital audiobooks, ebooks and video read alouds

Public Library Digital Services

Is your public library closed? See if your public library offers OverDrive where you can borrow and read free ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines on your phone or tablet — all you need is your library card to get access. See our booklist: Our Favorite Audiobooks.

Use our Book Finder tool or browse our themed booklists for children's books we recommend. Then check to see if you can borrow the audiobook or ebook versions from your public library.

Audiobook and Ebook Services

There are also a number of online services that offer high-quality audiobooks and ebooks. Listening to audiobooks builds vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension skills. Here are some digital book services we recommend — you can start with a free trial to explore what they offer:

Picture Book Read Aloud Videos

Find more links to picture book read aloud videos in this blog post from teacher and blogger Pernille Ripp.

Podcasts for Kids

"Best of" kids' media from trusted organizations

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media rates movies, TV shows, apps and more to help parents make informed media choices for their kids. Common Sense Media offers a large, trusted library of independent age-based ratings, reviews, and curated lists. Here are a few examples:

Common Sense Media has many more resources for families during the coronavirus emergency, including guidance on understanding news stories about the virus as well tips on staying calm and managing stress. 

Parents' Choice

Established in 1978, Parents' Choice Awards is the nation's oldest nonprofit program to recognize quality children's toys and media. Browse their award-winners in each of these categories:

Online learning for pre-K and elementary students

Here's a selected list of trusted sources for online learning. Most are free or offering free access while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Learn at Home: Resources from City and State Departments of Education

PBS KIDS: math and science programs and activities

NEW: PBS KIDS Daily Newsletter

As schools across the country are closing due to COVID-19, PBS KIDS is here to help. Sign up for a new newsletter, with activities and tips you can use to play and learn at home with your child.

From special episodes to recipes, and activities to crafts, we'll share tips each day for your family to enjoy from shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Pinkalicious & Peterrific and more.

Subscribe today to begin receiving daily updates Monday through Friday from your friends at PBS KIDS.

PBS Kids logo

Nature Cat (Ages 3-8)
With the help of his animal friends, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures that include exciting missions full of nature investigation.

Peg + Cat (Ages 3-5)
An animated math-based series that follows Peg and her sidekick Cat as they embark on adventures, solve problems together, and learn foundational math concepts and skills.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That (Ages 4-5)
In each program, the Cat in the Hat and his friends Sally and Nick go on a science adventure such as shrinking to bee-size to explore a hive and discover how honey is made; flying with birds to discover how and why they migrate; or diving inside flowers to find out more about the animals that depend on them to live.

Dinosaur Train (Ages 4-5)
This animated series embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains, while encouraging basic scientific thinking skills as children learn about life science, natural history and paleontology. Along with the animated stories, there are short live-action segments hosted by a paleontologist.

Sid the Science Kid (Ages 4-5)
This animated show uses comedy to promote exploration, discovery, and science readiness among preschoolers, and taps into children's natural curiosity about science in everyday life. The energetic and inquisitive Sid starts each episode with a new question like "why are my shoes shrinking?" or "why do bananas get mushy?"

Plum Landing (Ages 6-9)
In this animated series, meet Plum, a video game designer from the desolate Planet Blorb, who longs to experience nature. The Plum Landing curriculum is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and is designed to give kids an undderstanding of the science underlying healty ecosystems and sustainability.

WildKratts (Ages 6-8)
Chris and Martin Kratt encounter incredible wild animals, combining science education with fun and adventure, while traveling to animal habitats around the globe. The program can help strengthen basic skills of observation and investigation that children will use increasingly as they continue their study of science.

Cyberchase (Ages 8-12)
Designed for kids ages 8 to 12, the program uses mystery, humor, and action to deliver positive messages about math by teaching concepts in a fun, understandable way. From tackling time in ancient Egyptian tombs to cracking codes in creepy caves, kids learn that math is everywhere and fun to use! A live-action segment shows kids how math can help solve life's crazy problems in the real world.

SciGirls (Ages 8-12)
SciGirls is designed to spark a girl's curiosity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The show is all about hands-on science inquiry. Viewers learn the scientific process, work collaboratively to investigate meaningful questions, and see how STEM helps people solve problems, achieve goals, and help others.

Health and hygiene information for kids

There are simple habits students can learn to help stay healthy all year round, but especially during this coronavirus outbreak. Use these resources from KET, PBS Kids, Sesame Street and other public media as a reminder for kids. (Compiled by KET: Habits to Keep Students Healthy)

What Kids and Families Need to Know About Coronoavirus (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

Healthy Habits | Everyday Learning
This KET video demonstrates two of the most important habits we can teach children: covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands. In this video, a young girl demonstrates the correct procedure for performing these two simple tasks. It’s important to introduce preschool-age children to healthy habits and to reinforce these habits while they are young so that they become automatic.

Sid’s Health Day | Sid the Science Kid
In this episode of Sid the Science Kid, Sid and his friends learn all about how to stay healthy. They discover that washing their hands with soap and warm water, eating nutritious foods, brushing their teeth, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all ways to keep sickness away.

Wash Your Hands! | Sesame Street in Communities
A hand washing song and activity featuring Elmo that explores when it’s important to wash your hands.

Handwashing: Step by Step | Sesame Street in Communities
Print this page and invite kids to color it in, then help them cut it apart and put the steps in order. Post the cards in the correct sequence near the bathroom sink. The next time kids wash their hands, help them try Elmo’s trick: Sing the alphabet song to remember how long to wash!

The Federal Bureau of Ick | PBS LearningMedia
Uncle Sam is asking you to do your part to fight ICK! Wherever ick may be.

Reading Rockets (2020)


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Storyberries ( https://www.storyberries.com/ ) provides free bedtime stories, poems, fairy tales, chapter books, picture books and baby books to millions of readers around the world, providing the largest resource of free quality stories for children aged 0-12 across the web.

They have 2 free ebooks and videos about Covid-19 for children:

Olive stays In - Olive's school has closed, and she and her family have to stay in the house... a book to help parents talk about coronavirus.
This story is available in English, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese and Farsi.


The inside book - Why is everybody staying inside? And why are people wearing masks? A picture book helping children understand COVID-19https://www.storyberries.com/bedtime-stories-the-inside-book-kids-storie...


I am a mother of a 4yr old and 6yr old.... I'm so grateful for all these wonderful resources while I homeschool my kiddos.

I have two smaller kids in school grades 3rd. And 5th!! And need to help get together things in order for them have during this!!! Thanks!!!

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges