Online learning resources you may have missed

New: Globe Theater streaming Shakespeare's plays, fun activities while home bound from National Geographic

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.


Thursday is Shakespeare’s birthday, and England’s Globe Theatre is streaming his plays free on YouTube. Romeo and Juliet is available until May 3. The Two Noble Kinsmen will be next, starting May 4, with more to follow.

For Earth Week, National Geographic has a new hub, NatGeo@Home, which includes Neighborhood Safari, a collection of art about animals made by people staying at home, and it encourages readers to contribute their own. Many of the magazine’s online offerings are being provided at no cost.


A series Mondays With Michelle Obama, in which the former First Lady reads children’s books aloud, will premiere as a livestream at noon EST on Monday, April 20, on the PBS Kids Facebook page, PBS Kids Youtube channel and Penguin Random House Facebook page. This Monday she will be reading The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, a book about a mouse taking a walk in the woods. The reading will also be available for on-demand viewing later.

For parents watching the series with their children, the Read Together, Be Together website is offering optional activities and resources to accompany each book.

Future selections: April 27, noon, There’s a Dragon in Your Book, written by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Greg Abbott

May 4, noon: Miss Maple’s Seeds, story and pictures by Eliza Wheeler

May 11, noon: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


The Alliance for Watershed Education (AWE) has virtual programming that allows families to connect with nature while staying at home. Children (and parents) can learn about migratory birds and butterflies, meet the animals that live in our forests and rivers, and learn how rain barrels in your backyard can help reduce stormwater pollution.


Hunt for a bear with Shannon at the Heritage Conservancy as she discovers and identifies all sorts of animal tracks in the woods.

Learn about the creatures you can find in and along the Delaware River, including a mayfly nymph, a giant swallowtail butterfly, and fly-fishing lures pretending to be creepy-crawly river friends as you color them on these awesome coloring sheets offered by Independence Seaport Museum.

Learn about the nature that’s right in your backyard, some Lehigh Gap history, and meet Maize the Snake through a series of videos from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

Meet a turtle and a crayfish with Park Rangers Kelly and Bri at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Center.

Meet a plated lizard at the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium

This is just a sample of online activities and educational videos offered by AWE Centers. Check out the full list by CLICKING HERE.


The American Writers Museum is bringing its newest exhibit, My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibit is free and features more than 30 authors who explore what it means to be an immigrant in the United States today. It runs through May 2021 and is designed to prompt conversation on a wide variety of issues, such as the refugee crisis and the perception of immigrants in our country. Parents, teachers, and students can view the exhibit HERE.

Public Citizens for Children & Youth (PCCY) has created an online arts education guide, called #ArtsEdAtHome, with a curated selection of free arts education resources organized by artistic discipline: general art/virtual field trips, visual arts, music, dance/movement and theater/poetry. All resources are available now on the PCCY website.

– Neena Hagen


Mount Airy artist Kim Soles has a popular summer camp called Indigo Nature Arts, and during the school shutdown she has created an online program for children primarily between the ages of 6 and 12 called “heart + spirit.”

The 28-day program has begun, but you can access information on her website, and it is fine to join in now as each day offers a new activity. Click on heart + spirit and register to access the program. There is no cost to register, but to participate there is a nominal daily fee. “Registration is important for me to know who is participating so I can stay in touch,” said Soles. You can read more about the program in this article in the Chestnut Hill Local.


College Board, the company that writes the SAT and PSAT, has teamed up with Khan Academy to create personalized instruction for students practicing for these standardized tests. Based on students’ PSAT and SAT scores, which they can send from College Board, Khan Academy will develop a learning plan that targets students’ weaknesses and delivers practice questions in those areas. Khan Academy will also create a personalized learning schedule, so students can keep track of their progress.

Students can create an account by clicking “sign-up” on the homepage and entering their name and email address. After that, Khan Academy will prompt students to log in to their College Board account and send over their test scores. If a student hasn’t yet taken the PSAT or SAT, they can simply take a diagnostic test on Khan Academy and receive personalized instruction from the results of that test.

Curriculum Associates offers free printable activity packets in math and reading for K-8 students looking to bolster their skills at home. The packets are broken down by grade level; math packets range from counting for kindergarteners to pre-algebra for eighth graders; reading packets range from kindergarten-level to eighth-grade-level reading comprehension. Each packet also comes with an answer key for teachers and parents. Students, families and teachers can find the packets HERE.

–Neena Hagen


Class Central offers thousands of free college-level courses in subjects such as business, the humanities, social science and computer science. Many are taught by professors at Ivy League universities. Students can filter through classes by clicking on a subject, which pulls up a variety of course offerings. Examples of courses include: The Ancient Greeks, Introduction to Psychology and Data Analysis with R. Once you’ve identified the class you want to take, simply click on the class and follow the sign-up instructions. Most courses will ask you to enter your name and email address, but exact instructions vary by course.

The 2020 Parents’ Guide to Google Classroom by Tanya Bratton, M. Ed., teaches parents how to navigate Google Classroom to ensure that their kids are staying on top of home assignments during the COVID-19 crisis. The slideshow goes through the process of signing into Google Classroom and viewing classes and upcoming assignments. Parents can access the slideshow HERE and log in to Google Classroom HERE.

Neena Hagen


The News Literacy Project (NLP), a national nonprofit that teaches students how to distinguish between credible and misleading news sources, has removed all paywalls and other barriers to its resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and educators can now use Checkology Virtual Classroom for free, which includes 13 lessons on topics like misinformation on the internet, the First Amendment, and the role of the press. The virtual classroom comes with quizzes and challenges that help students practice their news literacy skills. NLP has also added a special section to its website for COVID-19 content to help individuals tell the difference between credible coverage and false information. Students, families and teachers can access the site HERE.

National Geographic also offers a set of free resources for students. A tab on the website, called “Learn at Home,” offers online lessons that help K-12 students develop skills in social studies and science. The National Geographic Resource Library also offers lessons and videos for a wide age range. Parents and kids can access the National Geographic website HERE, or visit the links above for specific services.

– Neena Hagen


Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education has gathered stories, activities, and tips to address issues facing educators and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. One article, titled “Connecting in the virtual college classroom,” offers tips for instructors transitioning from a classroom to at-home teaching. Another entry links to a YouTube presentation by a Stanford lecturer in which she provides advice for parents on how to make online learning productive for K-12 kids. Parents can also browse the site’s collection of resources by age group, which are split up into the following categories: preschool to age 8, elementary, and middle and high school. Students, families and educators can view resources HERE.

Mom’s DESK provides links to online learning resources for children of all ages. If you go to the site and click the “Expand Categories” button, a drop-down menu appears where you can filter the site’s resources by subject (i.e. math, science, social studies, etc.). The site links to Mathantics, a YouTube channel that provides basic math videos, and GeoGuessr, a geography guessing game, to name a few offerings. Families, educators, and students can access the site HERE.

– Neena Hagen


Vroom, a global program run by the Bezos Family Foundation, offers a free series of brain-building exercises for children under 5 years old. The exercises are designed to enrich the minds of young children through simple, everyday activities at home. Once parents sign up, they’ll find a sample activity on their dashboard each day. If the child doesn’t like the sample activity, the discover tab on the Vroom website features a range of activities, from “Fun With Chores” to “Everyday Routines,” that teach parents how to turn chores like doing the dishes into fun games and conversations. Parents can view sample Vroom activities (called “tips”) HERE, and they can sign up for the full Vroom service HERE.

Early Learning Nation also offers a free series of brain-building exercises for young children. The home page features a slideshow of articles that teach parents about the ins and outs of early childhood learning, including “The Ooh-and-Coo Duet of Babies’ Language Learning” and “7 #StayHome Brain-Building Activities from First Book.” Parents can visit the website to view articles or subscribe to Early Learning Science by entering their email address and clicking the subscribe button.

Neena Hagen


The National Constitution Center has a series of online offerings, and this Friday, April 3, at 1 p.m., renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will join Jeffrey Rosen for a session on “The Constitution in Times of Crisis.” They will look at “moments in our history during which constitutional battles emerged amidst moments of crisis, including the American Revolution, Civil War, World War II, and the Great Depression, as well as what constitutional issues may arise out of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Parents, teachers, and students can register for the class HERE.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the center has a series of free daily online courses for students in middle school, high school, and college, offered via Zoom. Full details of the program, including weekly schedules and topics, registration details, and information on the program structure, can be found HERE.

In addition, PBS Learning Media has launched a new platform called “Ken Burns in the Classroom” aggregating all of its teacher resources for Burns’ films into one destination.

Springboard Collaborative, a nonprofit founded to aid families in helping their children with reading and literacy after school and during the summers, also has a trove of online resources. It has a six-week at-home coaching plan. Its website resources page can be found here.


Charlie McGeehan, a teacher at Philadelphia’s the U School, with Harrisburg teacher Adam Hosey, has created a poetry class via Instagram called Iamb Staying Home. It’s designed for high school students, but anyone can participate. Each day at 2 p.m., they are posting a short lesson focusing on a poem they selected, followed by a prompt for students to write their own poems. They are, McGeehan said, “centering the voices of Black Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC), women, and queer folks in the poetry we select.” You can access the course via Instagram.

The folks at the Free Library, who are organizing the citywide Read by 4th campaign, have a list of resources for families to keep young students on the path to proficient reading and writing while they are at home.


The Notebook is collecting online learning resources that teachers and parents may not know about. We plan to update the list as we become aware of more worthwhile resources – with your help.

Draw the Lines PA , devised by the Committee of Seventy, was designed as an online teaching tool about elections and gerrymandering. Since the coronavirus outbreak has closed schools, the Committee of Seventy has created a new activity packet for teachers and professors to make it easier to use. They are available for classroom Zoom sessions and are now hosting webinars for interested educators. Draw the Lines meets Pennsylvania’s new mandate for civics education.

The educational services organization Foundations Inc. has curated and vetted a series of online sites, broken down by area of study. There are links to virtual field trips, artists leading doodle sessions, and suggestions for physical activity, as well as more traditional sources of reading and math lessons.

This year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. “Suff Buffs,” run by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, is providing educational materials to help commemorate the milestone – as are many other entities, including the Library of Congress, Rutgers University, and the National Education Association. The fight for women’s suffrage is not told in much detail in most American history textbooks. For instance, did you know that women were arrested for holding peaceful protests in front of the White House (the Silent Sentinels) and force-fed in jail when they went on a hunger strike? While many of us have heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, some suffragists in the later generation whose pressure led to the passage of the 19th Amendment have never become household names. Ever heard of Alice Paul? Ida B. Wells? Lucy Burns? Inez Mulholland? It is a great story. More resources at from The Alice Paul Institute and a daily lessons for various ages on social media at #AlicePaulHomeschool. More resources at the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative.

Please send recommendations for additional resources to or as you come across them. Include a short summary of how you used the resource and why it is worth sharing.