Looking for free at-home learning resources for parents? Explore these engaging activities and classes that will help your child develop a lifelong passion for STEM. From fun with magnets to a binary language decoder and even instructions for building a robotic hand, find tons of fun.
Discover free at-home learning resources and activities
It’s never too early for your kids to start experimenting and playing with the subjects of science and technology. So today we’ll cover ideas for preschoolers to middle schoolers to keep your kid having fun and learning even from home.
Free at-home learning resources for preschoolers
These curated activities and tools are designed to be accessible for young students and are the perfect launching point.
1. Scratch Jr
Scratch Jr. was specifically built for kids between the ages of 5-7 to learn the basics of coding. It offers near boundless potential for students to create and experiment with code. Currently, there is not an online version of Scratch Jr., but there is a free application that you can download. It is suggested that an adult be present to give support and help when needed, because it can be difficult for new coders to get the hang of things. The best starting point is working on the different walkthroughs, but before long, you and your young programmer will be coding projects all on your own. There are also helpful online Scratch Junior coding classes to get you started on all sorts of fun projects!
2. NASA's Airplane High Low Game
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. NASA offers tons of free games, puzzles, and activities for students to enjoy. One free favorite to enjoy is the math game where you try to guess the number the airplane is thinking of. To explore the mysteries of outer space with fun projects each week, check out the online NASA STEM Club.
3. Hour of Code
The Hour of Code started as an introduction to computer science created by Code.org. The program was designed to celebrate coding and raise awareness. It was intended to be a quick way to show that anybody can learn the basics of coding, with the goal of broadening participation in the field of computer science. Choose from more than 15 fun activities for pre-schoolers from making shapes with code to conquering a beach cleanup challenge.
4. Homemade ice cream
This fun activity helps students start working with measuring, mathematics, and chemical reactions. Many of the materials can be found in your kitchen or by making a quick run to the grocery store. Undoubtably, the best outcome of this activity is that you end up with delicious ice cream at the end of it!
5. DIY Stethoscope
One of the most accessible ways for kids to start learning about the field of biology is discovering exactly what makes us tick. This activity has students first create and decorate their own stethoscope out of a cardboard tube and funnels. Once they have engineered their own medical device, they can start listening to their family members’ heartbeats. How many times do their hearts pump in 30 seconds? How about in a minute? You can show them how to use that data to calculate how many times a person’s heart beats in a day.
6. Marshmallow Catapults
Although constructing a catapult to launch marshmallows seems more like playtime than study time, this activity can help introduce important STEM concepts like angles, gravity, and building through trial and error. Learning STEM should not be a bore, it is important for young students to view the subject as interactive and exciting in order to build a lifelong passion. A little controlled chaos and fun is okay for a learning environment, so launch away!
7. SciShow Kids
SciShow Kids is a YouTube series hosted by Jessi Knudsen Castañeda, Mister Brown, and Squeaks the Robot Lab Rat. It covers everything from ecology to astronomy to technology, and all in a clear and understandable manner for kids. Their videos can be used in conjunction with other lessons or on their own. They also have a playlist of fun and collaborative home experiments that you can do with your student.
8. Fun with magnets
It is amazing how many activities you can develop centered around magnets. While your students may be a little too young to fully understand the concepts of magnetic fields and polarity, they will be able to gain a greater understanding about the invisible forces that dictate the universe around us. There are many activities on this list, but one to highlight is the Magnet Jump because it has the students take down data and analyze the magnetic qualities of different materials.
9. Unite for Literacy
Unite for Literacy is a free library resource with many different books on scientific subjects. They are an inclusive online library with a section of Spanish language books for bilingual learners and narrations in various languages. The books are broken into different categories including Animals, Plants & Food, Technology, and many more. Your young child will foster a love of STEM and reading all in one place.
Free at-home learning resources for elementary school kids
Try these experiments, websites, projects to help your growing child learn about the worlds of science and technology.
Scratch is one of the best tools for young programmers. It was developed by MIT to simplify the coding process for new learners. While easy to pick up, Scratch is also highly scalable, and some users have created some truly amazing games and animated stories. There are tutorials for projects on the Scratch website as well as many other resources on the Internet. Create & Learn also offers many different Scratch classes for a variety of skill levels, including a free Scratch class.
You can even get started with some free tutorials on our blog:
- Make a ball bounce: Try this starter friendly tutorial to learn how to make a ball move.
- Make a chatbot in Scratch: Learn how to make your own Alexa-like chatbot with AI in Scratch with this fun tutorial.
- How to make a golf game: Make a mini-golf type of game today with step by step instructions.
- Make a Mario game: Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, is arguably one of the most popular video games of all time. Learn how to make a Mario game in Scratch.
11. Fun Event for Data Superpower
Data science for kids reveals the ways the world is influenced by data. Does your child enjoy playing sports, winning video games, and watching Youtube channels? Well, all of them are powered by data! Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Netflix could not have achieved anywhere close to the level of success they have now, without a superb understanding and utilization of the data they have. That's the power of data science! Whoever has that power, will have the power to succeed, even as a journalist or a lawyer. This free event will show your kids that they are already data experts. And that data science is full of interesting insights that are fascinating to uncover!
12. Math Event Series for Kids
If you want to learn computer science or understand how the modern world works - from video games to online payment - you have to know mathematics. However, many kids don't know how fun math can be. This series of fun math events for kids is aimed to help your child get interested in learning math - there will be new content in every session. Students will explore hands-on cool math games and puzzles on number facts, sudoku, and Eulerian tour etc. Save a spot for your child for free today! (Your child needs to know multiplication well to enjoy this class.)
13. Circuit Fun with Snap Circuits
They are in your phone, and they are in your car. They light up your house, and they run roller coasters. What are they? They're electronic circuits and they're everywhere! In this fun free online event, your child will learn the basics of electronic circuits using Snap Circuits. We will build several fun projects, while they learn what a circuit is, how circuits work, how to create one, and how to add more parts in a circuit to make sounds, light, and more! They will also learn different components of circuits, and how they can be put together to create a fun system. We are running this roughly on a monthly. Each month has a difference theme. Join again even if you have done it before.
14. Minecraft Modding Class
In this free Minecraft class, students get introduced to the platform for coding on Minecraft. It is easy to use and very powerful. They will also start building their very first mod! We will complete two challenges in this class. This is an advanced coding class for grades 4-6. In this free intro class, we will not code on Minecraft itself but will use an emulator instead, because it takes a lot of time to enable coding for Minecraft.
15. Compute It!
16. Build with recycled materials
Many home activities can feel impractical when they require piles of new materials, paid subscriptions, or kits. Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls has compiled a list of over 30 projects that can be completed at home using recycled materials like paper scraps, old cups, and used pens. With these everyday materials students can learn how to build everything from conveyer belts to rollercoasters all while using key STEM skills.
17. Make a terrarium
A terrarium is a fantastic long-term project that can help instill a strong appreciation for nature and ecology. NASA’s Climate Kids program seeks to teach children about the natural world around us through a range of activities, games, and videos. By building a terrarium your child will become the steward of a miniature ecosystem and learn how the different elements are deeply interconnected. If you would like to take this project to the next level, you can have your child keep a weekly terrarium journal to observe and track the health and changes in the terrarium over time.
18. Science Max!
Science Max! is a YouTube channel dedicated to educating and entertaining students with a mix of different science experiments taken to the max. The experiments are carried out in an engaging and energetic fashion but learning the science behind the displays is always the focus. There are several different series on the channel including a Build it Yourself! playlist. New episodes come out every Thursday and are free to watch.
19. Cloud in a jar
Give your child the power to take the distant clouds floating in the sky and bring them down to your kitchen table. You student will learn about the different states of matter, condensation, and weather cycles. The website provides many resources at the bottom of the page to help supplement the activity. Lighting a match is one possible method to create the particles necessary for the water vapor to attach, so make sure an adult is present and use the opportunity to teach your child about fire safety.
20. Binary language decoder
Show your child an entirely new way to view numbers. Binary numbers can be difficult to grasp for a learner of any age, but this Binary Art Decoder project creates a visual representation of the binary code. This is recommended for students in 4th grade or higher and requires the ability to divide. For an extra challenge, they can try to design their own binary piece of artwork, but you may need to help them with the calculations.
21. Brains On!
Brains On! is a wonderful podcast from American Public Media that rotates child co-hosts each week alongside host Molly Bloom. You get to explore and learn about a wide array of scientific topics. It is a great listen on a road trip or simply on the drive to school. Brains On! has recently spun-off into an additional children’s podcast called Smash Boom Best, in which families learn about two closely related things, sometimes science based, and debate which is superior. Brains On! is available through their website or on most podcasting apps.
Free at-home learning resources for middle school students
Complement your teen’s educational development with these interactive projects and resources.
22. Explore Robotics & AI in NASA
Are you fascinated about space travel and going to Mars? With the recent NASA and SpaceX launches, we are getting closer everyday to calling space our new home? But there are huge challenges. Many simple things become very difficult in space, like talking to someone in space. In this fun online event, kids in Grades 4-10 will meet Dr. Frank at NASA to explore how humans and robots can work together to explore outer space. Learn more about how NASA uses computer science to solve the many challenges in going to Mars.
23. Free Python Coding Class
In this free online class designed by Google and Stanford experts, students will take their first dive into coding with Python. Students will learn how to animate and draw with Python, and will build their own story project to create a cool animation. This online Python for kids class is led by an experienced teacher.
25. How Stuff Works
The world around us is surrounded by technological marvels. Often, we take these pieces of technology for granted, happy to not think about how they work, so long as they work. How Stuff Works is the ultimate encyclopedia and provides detailed articles on nearly every facet of life. Have your child write a short summary of how a household piece of technology works (microwave, door lock, Wi-Fi) on an index card and tape it to the appliance. Your child will soon have a greater appreciation and understanding of the technology around them.
26. Cotton swab micro-gliders
The evolution of the paper airplane has arrived! Instructables is full of entertaining and useful DIY projects; one of the most popular projects is building cotton swab micro gliders. As your student engineers their micro-glider you can cover how flight works with this video and the aerodynamics of the gliders with this video. If they enjoy the project, then have them make small modifications to the design to try and build a glider that can go further than their first one.
27. Build a robotic hand
This project is the most labor intensive on this list, but well worth the effort. Your student will understand the overlap between robotics and human biology and be more in tune with the needs and challenges of those who require prosthetics. Most of the required materials should be readily available around the house, but you may need to purchase other objects such as polymer clay.
28. Khan Academy
No list of free learning resources is complete without mentioning Khan Academy. The nonprofit online education platform has been teaching students since 2008. It offers courses on nearly every subject imaginable and is an awesome place to enhance your education. The library of available videos and subjects is constantly being added to and updated.
29. Composting for kids
For students who like to get outside and get their hands dirty, this composting walkthrough is perfect. This document will take you through the process of setting up and upkeeping your own compost bin. You can use this video from SciShow to further learn about the science behind composting. This activity teaches students the importance of soil nutrition and reducing our waste to help the planet.
30. Growing crystals
Bring the chemistry lab into your home. This experiment will test which temperature creates the largest crystals. Have your student familiarize themselves with the scientific method and make a hypothesis on which temperature will be the most productive. This is also a fantastic opportunity to work on their quantitative and qualitative observational skills. Boiling water and borax are used to form the crystals, so make sure there is an adult supervising.
How can parents support learning at home?
Many parents wonder how they can best support learning at home. The most important factor is simply putting in the effort of planning and performing lessons and activities. It can require a large investment of time and effort, but the benefits will far outweigh the costs. Here are a few simple tips to foster the best learning environment possible.
- Create a dedicated space and time to learning and experimenting
- Allow your child to pursue the STEM subjects that interest them the most
- Learn alongside them
- Don’t feel like you must step in to correct too fast! Let them discover their mistakes as they work.
- Don’t be afraid to blur the lines between play time and study time
How do I create a learning space at home?
Creating a designated learning space at home will be different for every family depending on space and needs. If possible, your learning space should be in a distraction free area of the home and have the needed materials close by. Ensure the space has good lighting to protect their eyesight and set up a clock and calendar so they can keep track of their time and activities. Finally, you can have your student decorate and personalize the space to their interests; it should not be an area of dread, but a space that they feel empowered and inspired in.
Enjoy free at-home learning resources for parents
In general, STEM jobs are expected to grow 10.5% between 2020 and 2030 compared to 7.5% growth for non-STEM jobs. This equates to 1 million more job openings over 10 years! Put these great free learning resources to use and start preparing your child for a successful future, while having fun today. Up next, learn more about the best homeschool STEM curriculum and check out more after-school enrichment activities.
Written by Matt Kalnay, a Create & Learn instructor. After graduating from UC Davis with a B.S. in Biology, he joined Peace Corps Indonesia as an English as a Foreign Language Instructor. Following his return to the United States, he decided to pursue his passion in the field of Software Engineering and Web Development.