Education: Class is now in session — at home and online

Education: Class is now in session — at home and online

With schools closed, quite possibly until fall, education has moved from the campus into the home. Many schools and districts are rolling out distance learning plans to continue instruction for students, but parents likely will have to fill in the gaps when it comes to keeping their child engaged. Here are a few popular apps and websites to consider for students in several age groups:

Preschool/Early Elementary

Perfect for the early learning years, features award-winning reading, writing, math, art, social studies and science content.

Each subject has step-by-step learning paths that are designed by teachers and align with school curriculum. Learning paths include more than 10,000 educational activities, such as books, videos, songs, games and puzzles. Kids are able to track their progress and earn rewards as they progress, as well as create their own “room” with a customizable avatar.

Ages: 2-8

Cost: One-month free trial, then $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year

Devices: iOS, Android and at

Hungry Caterpillar Play School

Based on “The Hungry Caterpillar,” the beloved children’s book by Eric Carle, Hungry Caterpillar Play School offers an avenue for young kids to receive developmentally appropriate instruction in the areas of math, language and literacy, science and nature studies, creative arts and reasoning.

The familiar graphics and illustrations from the book make their way into a number of activities, lessons, songs and videos that explore the alphabet, numbers, colors, reading and puzzles. The app provides new content every month.

Ages: 1-5

Cost: $7.99 per month or $59.99 per year

Devices: iOS, Android


A leveled reading program with access to 400-plus ebooks spanning 29 levels, Raz-Kids provides a way for early elementary students to connect to a virtual library and either listen, read aloud (and record themselves reading) or read silently both fiction and nonfiction titles.

Additionally, there are comprehension quizzes associated with each text that allow both parents and teachers to monitor student progress. Kids can earn achievement stars that can be applied to their own Raz Rocket. Spanish ebooks and quizzes also are available.

Ages: Pre-K to 5th grade

Cost: 3-month free trial; additional costs vary

Devices: iOS, Android and online at

Stack the States 2 (Courtesy photo)

Upper Elementary/Middle School

Stack the States 2

An updated version of Stack the States, this interactive U.S. geography app helps kids learn about our 50 states, including state capitals, flags, landmarks and cities.

As students answer questions correctly, they can “stack the states” on their way to completing different achievement levels, and eventually, a personalized map. Free bonus games become unlocked with each completed round.

For world geography, a Stack the Countries app also is available by the same developer.

Ages: 10 and older

Cost: $2.99

Devices: iOS, Android


For curious learners, BrainPOP offers fun and engaging animated movies that cover English, math, arts and music, engineering and tech, science and health, and social studies. Each movie is closed caption for easy reading and offers an interactive quiz at the end where kids can test their knowledge.

The app’s free version includes the Featured Movie, a daily video offering with ties to current events, holidays and historic milestones. Users can access even more content on these subjects through an optional in-app subscription.

The same developer also offers BrainPOP Jr. for younger kids and BrainPOP ELL for English-learners.

Ages: Grades 5-8

Cost: Free, with in-app subscription options

Devices: iOS, Android


A popular language app for both students and parents alike, Duolingo allows users to become proficient in reading, writing, listening and speaking a new language — anytime, anywhere, for free.

Fun, bite-sized lessons that feature audio, word identification and oral exercises keep students motivated by allowing them to track their progress and earn rewards. More than 30 languages are available, including English.

Ages: 10 and older

Cost: Free; ad-free version (Duolingo Plus) available for a monthly fee

Devices: iOS, Android

High School


Offering a series of online classes taught via live video chats with qualified teachers, Outschool connects students with a variety of subjects including English, math, science, arts, coding, foreign languages and life skills.

Each user’s learning can be customized based on the topics he or she would like to explore. Live video classes meet in small groups with other students, so learning and interaction is conducted in real time in a safe and social environment. More than 10,000 classes are available, and due to COVID-19, Outschool is offering a number of free resources during this time.

Ages: 3-18

Cost: Starting at $5 per class; free resources available

Devices: Online at

Khan Academy

A nonprofit organization with the commitment to provide a “free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” Khan Academy is perfectly structured for today’s learning situation.

The site offers self-guided instruction in a range of high school subjects through practice exercises and instructional videos that can supplement remote learning. Students can set up their own personalized learning dashboard that allows them to move through the content at their own pace. Courses include math, science and engineering, arts and humanities, and economics and finance, as well as AP-level content and SAT preparation.

For younger learners, there’s a Khan Academy Kids app.

Ages: 2-18

Cost: Free

Devices: iOS, Android and online at

Additional resources

P.E. with Joe

Making sure kids get their daily physical activity is now more important than ever. Tune in each Monday through Friday on YouTube for a 30-minute physical education class for kids hosted by fitness coach Joe Wicks.


Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems

Grab paper and markers and join Mo Willems, the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, as he guides viewers daily through a drawing activity.


Aquarium of the Pacific Online Academy

Learn about creatures of the deep, conservation, sustainability and more via Aquarium of the Pacific’s Online Academy, which features 30-minute live and on-demand videos with grade-specific activities for pre-K to high

Orange County Public Libraries

While OC libraries may be closed, cardholders have 24/7 access to thousands of resources, such as ebooks, audio books, movies and magazines.


Home-schooling tips

  • With many parents now working from home, it can be daunting to manage both work and schooling for their kids. Jackie Christy, principal at Benson Elementary in Tustin, has some tips for families that should help keep things moving smoothly for everyone:
  • Follow a regular daily routine — such as eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting dressed — to help children start the day ready to learn.
  • Create a designated work space, including all necessary supplies, to provide a visual and mental distinction.
  • Involve children in daily household chores such as making beds, setting the dinner table and taking out the trash. Maintaining responsibilities can build self-esteem in kids and keep them feeling productive.
  • Take time to strengthen family relationships by playing games, cooking together or listening to podcasts. What kids will most likely remember from this unique time at home is not what they learned but how they felt.
  • Schedule breaks, incorporate other learning opportunities such as virtual field trips, and be flexible. Each family needs to find what works best for them and their unique situation.
Back to blog