22 summer learning resources your children will love
With summer holidays upon us, children face another seven weeks away from school and friends.
Parents and carers may be scratching their heads as to how they can keep children entertained and using their time productively, often while balancing work and other demands.
Fortunately, there are many online options for children to explore, learn and create.
Here’s a selection of Parent Zone's favourites.
Carry on in the classroom
BBC Bitesize Daily has been educating the nation’s primary and secondary pupils in all areas of the curriculum since late April and the daily programmes are scheduled to continue until 24 July. But all lessons and resources will remain available online, on iPlayer and the app. Colourful animations, quizzes, videos and some famous faces bring learning to life. Highlights include Sir David Attenborough taking geography lessons on oceans and weather patterns and a science lesson on animal evolution; Dr Who’s Jodie Whittaker taking on the solar system; and a host of celebrities, from Dinah Asher-Smith to David Walliams, involved in storytelling.
Oak National Academy offers hour-long lessons in all the main curriculum subjects with quizzes, worksheets and teacher-led video explanations. Developed by the government with the help of teachers, it features 180 hours of lessons each week, catering for every year group from Reception to Year 11.
Khan Academy is a global classroom offering practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalised learning programme so that people can study at their own pace. There are courses for secondary students in science, engineering, computing, economics, history. The main focus, however, is on maths – which covers everything from counting to calculus.
Mathsframe has hundreds of interactive games and worksheets linked to the KS2 curriculum.
Sumdog offers a small collection of free, highly engaging, animated maths games for primary children.
Words and pictures
Spelling frame teaches spelling rules through a range of free activities and tests or there are more colourful games for subscribers.
Children’s author Michael Rosen has 48 hours' worth of stories, poems, songs and jokes – all free on YouTube.
Book Trust has something for all readers aged 4 to 12+ including quizzes, writing workshops, drawing masterclasses and storytelling from children’s authors and illustrators.
Science and the world around us
Young scientists can make a rocket mouse, learn about plastic-eating enzymes or build their own pinball machine, among many experiments on offer, at the Science Museum’s Bringing Science to Your Living Room programme. Children can also learn about forces and motion as they navigate the obstacle-filled levels of the Launchball game or get lost in the immersive game of Total Darkness.
Spaceplace by NASA takes children 6+ into orbit with a range of free games, activities and crafts. It’s much more than a science site, with activities focused on English, maths and art. Explore the surface of Mars, practise your grammar by writing a silly space story or simply discover why the sky is blue. NASA also offers a free app – featuring videos, stories and live streaming – for older explorers who want to see the galaxy and beyond.
Become a researcher for Zooniverse and count penguins with Penguin Watch or track solar storms through space or become an earthquake detective. Aimed at older students, participants can study objects of interest gathered by researchers – images of galaxies, historical records, videos of animals in their natural habitats – and add their own thoughts.
The Natural History Museum invites children to pay the museum a virtual visit through interactive tours and online sessions. The site is also packed with activities for children to try at home, in the garden or in their local space. They can make an erupting volcano, grow a cress caterpillar, build a bug hotel, create a compass, play Dippy’s Naturenaut’s game or create a digital nature journal.
For those wanting help with the primary science topics, urban nature and climate change, there are films, activities and downloadable resources available.
National Geographic Kids encourages environmental awareness through conservation activities, games and daily challenges. Aimed at primary school pupils, there are quizzes, competitions, fact files and craft activities, such as making pebble people or paper daffodils.
Tour the world
Your child can pay a virtual visit to New York’s MOMA, Florence’s Uffizi, Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, London’s Tate Britain or 500 other museums and galleries via Google’s arts and culture collection. Wander the galleries and view some of the world’s most famous artefacts close up and without the travel, queues or cost. There are creative activities from colouring and jigsaws to recreating the artworks and a scavenger hunt following clues through four top museums.
National Parks are also opened up by the wonders of Google: children can climb down into a glacier crevasse; watch a glacier recede; kayak through icebergs in Alaska or fly over an active volcano in Hawaii.
Alternatively, children can see natural history come to life by meeting a prehistoric sea dragon or coming face to face with a Jurassic giant. Or they can travel around the world in 360 degrees – to see the archaeological treasure of Palmyra in Syria – or beyond this world into the famous star-forming region of the Orion Nebula.
Arts and crafts
The Tate has opened its virtual doors to welcome children, who can explore the art world, from Impressionism to Pop Art through games, quizzes and art activities like making a wave painting or drawing a sound creature.
Get a free Art is where the home is activity pack with creative ideas from leading artists such as Grayson Perry, Antony Gormley and Gillian Wearing.
If you have the stamina, there are week-long family projects to promote well-being offered by the children’s mental health charity Place2Be. They have a wealth of story and craft ideas, such as creating a seasons tree and building an animal home.