Recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar

I thought I’d depart from my usual book recommendations this month. With the coronavirus pandemic, many of you are faced with school closures and may be looking for resources for educational things to do with your kids to supplement any online learning the schools are setting up. As a homeschooler, I thought I could share some of our family’s favorite resources for learning at home with you.

Language Arts

Bravewriter is a website that offers freewriting prompts, ideas for poetry teatimes, and a free 7-Day Writing Blitz curriculum for elementary school kids.

poets.org is run by the Academy of American Poets and has hundreds of free lesson plans for all age groups, look under “Teach This Poem”.

This free lesson plan from mensaforkids.org uses song lyrics to teach literary elements.

Grammar Girl is a podcast and website. The episodes are quick and cover things like grammar myths, apostrophes, commas, and word origins.

Ted-Ed lessons on “Why You Should Read ______” are funny and great for enticing teens to read Dickens or Austen or Shakespeare or other classic works.

Other ideas: Mad Libs, classic Schoolhouse Rock videos on You Tube (Conjunction Junction anyone?), free Audiobooks from the library (the Libby app is great as you can access multiple library systems through it if you have a card at each one).


Prodigy Math is a great free website that uses a video game approach to work on math with kids. You do have to sign up for a free account.

XtraMath is another free website that offers practice for math facts.

Being home with elementary school kids offers lots of fun ways to “play math”…cook together but make the kids figure out how to halve (or double or triple) a recipe, set up a pretend store and use Monopoly money, measure things around the house. Many classic board games offer math skills practice (Monopoly). My kids and I also used to practice math facts by playing the classic (and boring) card game War. The twist was that we would play addition war or multiplication war. Each player turns over two cards, add (or multiple or subtract or divide) the two and the highest number wins.


Deep Space Sparkle is one of my favorite websites for art projects for kids. Although there is a paid membership to access all the lessons, she also offers many free projects. They are helpfully organized by grade, technique and subject.

Masterpiece Society offers online video art lessons. These include projects for young kids and more technical classes for adults and teens. There is a fee but you can do a short-term membership for a reasonable fee.

History/Civics/Social Studies

icivics.org is a website stared by Sandra Day O’Connor that offers free resources for teachers as well as interactive games for kids. There are a lot of timely games right now (Design a Presidential Campaign, Argue a Supreme Court Case, Solve an International Crisis)

CNN 10 is a free YouTube channel that offers a 10 minute current event segment geared towards middle school students and above.


Mystery Science is a video science curriculum for kids in K-5th grades. They offer free homeschool memberships for the first lessons in each unit. Each video starts with a mystery or question and includes a hands-on experiment with simple household supplies.

Steve Spangler Science has a large number of free experiments available on the website.

Ameoba Sisters is a website and YouTube channel that has funny videos, comic and free resources (handouts). The focus is high school biology but the format is watchable and understandable for younger kids.

Don’t forget Bill Nye and Magic Schoolbus. Many episodes are available on YouTube, or you can get the DVD’s at the library.


Crash Course video channel  on YouTube created by Hank and John Green has videos on just about any topic (economics, psychology, biology, history, theater, literature) you can think of. I haven’t watched them all but the ones we have watched are high quality.

Khan Academy I think everyone knows this site but it’s a worth reminding us all that it offers a huge variety of free videos and lessons.

Teach With the Movies has lesson plans based on movies Organized by topic (yes, they have one for Contagion) and by grade.

Curiosity Stream is a paid subscription service with thousands of documentaries on every imaginable topic. There is a $3.00 monthly subscription.

Ted Ed is another website with short videos on just about every imaginable topic under the sun.