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Free resources for educators during the coronavirus pandemic

A collection of tools, tips and guides to help educators weather instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

18 min read


Free resources for educators during the coronavirus pandemic

Brennan Scarlett (Photo credit: Zach Tarrant/Houston Texans)

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(Updated May 26, 2020) As educators in all 50 states shifted, rather abruptly, to virtual instruction amid school closures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, companies and organizations serving this market stepped up to help. Here is a list of free tools, services and resources — divided by topic or subject area — aimed at helping educators keep their students learning and engaged. And don’t miss the And More section with links to even more curated lists of fabulous freebies and guides.

What’s New

Here are the latest freebies for teachers during coronavirus to support your online learning efforts. Did we miss your favorite? Drop us a line and let us know. We will update this list weekly.

The Collabrify Roadmap Platform is a free, open, device-independent platform that provides teachers with the tools needed to create curricula and collaborative lessons for students. The curricula allow students to collaborate with their teachers and classmates in real-time. All the curricula, which are stored in a searchable repository of online lessons, are created by the University of Michigan Center for Digital Curricula, which develops, vets, and provides standards-aligned digital curricula. 

MetEOR Education, the nonprofit Center for College & Career Readiness, and Rhithm have partnered to offer the Rhithm app to educators free of charge. The app asks students to express their feelings, well-being and engagement using emojis from five categories: mental, energy, emotional, physical and social. Based on responses, the app suggests ways teachers can help students address their issues, such anger of feelings of conflict. Register online to gain access.

The Character Tree has created two new character development video lessons that can be used to teach perseverance. The lessons, geared toward students in first and second grades, feature the champion racehorse Seabiscuit and Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe. Parents and teachers can sign up for free access to the videos (and the rest of The Character Tree’s library) through June 30, 2020. All video lessons from The Character Tree are standards-aligned and come with a teacher’s guide and printable resources for students. Sharable links are available for teachers who want to give students home access to The Character Tree’s library of episodes.

For Remote Teaching and Learning

Summer Camp Hub has a list of four free virtual summer camps for students. The camps focus on different themes and offer activities on STEM, art, space, nature and music, among others. 

PBLWorks has developed a resource site to provide teachers with best practices and tools to support project-based learning remotely. Resources include project ideas, examples and webinars with teachers sharing their stories.

SHARE Professional Learning is offering a 90-minute, self-paced course Teaching Through the Coronavirus Pandemic. The three-module course discusses stresses caused by responses to COVID-19 — such as quarantining and social distancing — and provides strategies to help teachers and students cope. Optional activities describe learning materials teachers can create to teach resilience during crisis. 

Feedback Fruits is offering eight free pedagogical tools that help higher education teachers to create engaging online courses. Tools cover a wide range of online teaching necessities from interactive study materials to online assessment solutions.

The New York Times and Verizon are providing free access to to students and teachers in high schools within the U.S, through July 6, 2020. Included in the program is unlimited access to content on the website and in the New York Times app, plus lessons from The Learning Network.

The College Board is offering AP online classes and review sessions led by teachers. Students can attend live classes or view them on demand at the College Board’s YouTube page.

Numerade, a free online education platform, includes a feature called Office Hours that lets teachers create video lessons using its recording and whiteboard system. Teachers can also create a playlist from more than 200,000 existing videos, plus receive anonymous questions from students and answer them through video. Sign up here.

EdisonLearning, is offering free access to its educator training and professional development webinar series through June 30, 2020. There are nearly 20 total webinars covering topics including: getting organized for remote learning, instructional methods, creating virtual PLCs, and social-emotional learning, advisement and student skills. See the full list of webinar offerings here.

Houston Texans linebacker and literacy advocate Brennan Scarlett reads to students from Tiki and Ronde Barber’s book “By My Brother’s Side.” The read-aloud session is one of several in the series Texans Storytime featuring different players — including Justin Reid and Darren Fells — and members of the Texans organization. The series is part of the Texans’ Huddle at Home program, a collection of free digital resources for teachers and families of K-12 students. Students can participate in a reading program, math drills, a statistics challenge, short workouts with players and log their progress on an activity tracker.

Summer Slugger, from Major League Baseball, helps fourth- and fifth-grade students practice their math and literacy skills through a baseball-themed game-based program. Originally designed to help combat summer learning loss, the 18-week curriculum has been made available early to help support remote learning. 

Remote Possibilities, a blog by veteran education technology editor Kevin Hogan, delivers down-to-earth insights and practical resources to parents who have suddenly found themselves teaching their children. Get ideas for creating fun (seriously!) teachable moments in Digital Diaries; see What’s Streaming; or find activities for young learners, elementary, and middle- and high-school students. Hogan’s brand of wit makes it a particularly enjoyable experience.

BetterLesson is hosting free virtual sessions in April — one track for teachers, one track for leaders — designed to aid the transition to online learning. Leaders will collaborate with peers to develop a plan tailored to the practical needs of their school and staff. Teachers will learn how to nurture culture, community and student-centered learning in a remote setting. Seats are limited. Sign up to reserve your spot.

PowerMyLearning is offering its Family Playlists program for free for teachers during the pandemic, through the end of the school year. Family Playlists are mobile-friendly, multilingual learning assignments that let students “teach” their families a concept through collaborative activities. Parents send feedback — including photos and videos — to teachers after completing the activity. Call 877-338-1113 or email to get more information.

Symbaloo, a content integration system is providing its PRO version, free, to all educators. The platform has a gallery of 400,000 webmixes and 7,500 Learning Paths that are searchable by grade level and subject. Educators can sign up online.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has created a hub offering a library of free resources to support learning and professional development. Find learning activities, webinars for school leaders, Twitter chats on virtual instruction, free (or almost free!) books and more.

McGraw-Hill is offering remote learning support for K-12 and college students.

Video lesson platform hand2mind just launched the website teach@home: Daily Lessons & Activities for K–5 Students, which offers free daily lessons and activities created and delivered by teachers.

Boclips has made its vetted, curated K-12 video platform freely available to teachers until June 30. Teachers can sign up here. Boclips is also offering a free resource kit called “Remote Learning with Video” to provide tools, ideas, and inspiration for incorporating video into virtual learning.

Curriculum Associates is making a variety of free resources available to families and teachers including printable activity packs and guidance to support learning at home

MindAntix is releasing a weekly set of free brainteasers to help build cognitive creativity. Download the activities from MindAntix’ site.

Fiveable is a free social learning platform for both high school students and teachers specifically focused on Advanced Placement prep. The site offers live streams, trivia battles and Q&A forums where students can connect directly with teachers across 15 different AP subjects within English, STEM, History and Social Sciences.

Promethean’s cloud-based lesson planning and delivery software, ClassFlow, is freely available to schools, teachers and parents to support remote learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Survive learning at home with kids is an online community, from Participate, providing support and resources to families helping their children learn at home. Adults can connect with others during morning coffee chats and afternoon happy hours (while the kids play with Legos!) or on discussion boards. Students can find a full schedule of live external events, such as music workshops, lunchtime art and writing sessions and cooking classes with professional chefs. Plus, tons of ideas for lessons, projects, virtual field trips, establishing new routines and learning spaces and more. 

Share My Lesson, designed by teachers and for teachers, offers collections of lesson plans and activities on different subject areas and topics, including teaching about the coronavirus outbreak. Educators can get free access to classroom activities, learning tools and professional development resources. Also available is an online community about preparing for remote learning — with grade- and subject-specific discussion threads — where you can talk with other educators, school staff and families.

Microsoft gathered a collection of tools designed to support the move to remote instruction and keep students engaged in their learning. Resources include a five-day guide for school leaders, guidance for teachers and students, and parents and families about using Office 365 Education, webinars showcasing best practices for using Microsoft Teams, a Wakelet (curated content) on remote learning, Flipgrid examples Teams in use in K12 and higher education, and professional development resources. Teachers and students who have Office 365 Education accounts can also access Minecraft: Education Edition, at no charge, through June 2020.

For Virtual Graduations

Vidigami is providing the class of 2020 affected by COVID-19 school closures with free access to its digital experience platform to celebrate graduation virtually. Educators can help build a living media portfolio that is unique for every student, visually documenting a student’s journey to graduation.

For Math and Science

Money Experience’s Essentials program is a self-paced financial literacy course designed for students and young adults ages 15-24. The program walks users through different milestones — including education, jobs, retirement and family — and demonstrates how the decisions made at each point can affect their long-term financial health and lifestyle goals. The program is free to high schools and colleges through the end of June.

Open Up Resources and Kiddom are offering free access to Open Up Resources Math 6-8 curriculum  on Kiddom’s platform through August 1. Also available on Kiddom’s site is a No-Nonsense Guide to Digital Learning

Student coders Jalen Smith, Ronail Brown Jr., Alice Tidmarsh and Deiondre Stewart who won EarSketch’s remix competition featuring music by Ciara and Common. Earsketch, a free program developed by Georgia Tech, aims to help students learn coding through music. Earsketch has teamed up with Amazon Future Engineer to offer weekly challenges to students where they can enter to win prizes and make music. Students must register to participate and set up an account on SoundCloud. Teachers can check out curriculum options here.

And that’s not all from Amazon Future Engineer. The program is providing free access to sponsored computer science courses and resources from partners including CoderZ and Edhesive. Students in elementary, middle and high school can learn how to program virtual robots through CoderZ’s platform. Edhesive’s program includes curriculum, professional development and support, among other resources. Sign up online to participate with CoderZ and Edhesive

Filament Games has curated several free learning games in multiple subjects, including life science, media and news literacy, math and women in STEM. Two we thought were especially cool: Rigged, by Bellweather Partners — which teaches about poverty and the impact of decisions — and Beats Empire, from Teachers College at Columbia University, which lets players learn about running a music studio and record label.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has launched 100 Days of Professional Learning, a series of free webinars addressing teachers’ pressing needs and featuring speakers who were scheduled to appear at the NCTM Centennial Annual Meeting. The association is also offering a free, 30-day trial membership, plus a bevy of learning activities including Illuminations Lessons and Figure This! Challenges.

Skype a scientist lets teachers and students meet and talk with scientists from all over the world. Teachers can choose a scientist that fits their lesson needs and get teacher planning resources for the session. Families can also sign up for the service. Sign up here to get started.

The NHL’s Future Goals program is offering two resources designed to help nurture STEM skills and encourage healthy lifestyles. Hockey Scholar, for elementary- and middle-school students, teaches about math and science through the lens of hockey. A Healthier Me, a game-based curriculum for elementary-school students, includes free lessons on nutrition, fitness and making healthy choices.

ST Math from the MIND Research Institute is offering no-cost access for parents, schools, and districts through June 30, 2020. ST Math is a web-based visual instructional program available for grades K through 8. 

KinderLab Robotics has produced a booklet, No KIBO? No Problem!, available for free to educators and parents. The booklet contains STEAM activities tailored to 3- to 7-year olds. 

Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) is offering a one month free subscription to Beast Academy Online, a web-based math curriculum designed to help students ages 8-13 deepen their understanding. For older students, AoPS also has the free Alcumus customized learning program with 13,000+ problems and solutions, and instructional videos for high school math subjects.

Happy Numbers website and app has made its PK-5 math resources free until June 30. The platform personalizes the math learning experience, leading students through a progression of skills and concepts, designed to teach them how to “think math” and reach procedural fluency.

Voyager Sopris is offering its VMath Live, for grades K-8, at no charge. Educators can also find practical help in these blog, podcast and webinar offerings. 

Carolina is providing resources for elementary, middle school and high school with free printables, apps and activities across a myriad of science topics. Also here are links to high quality resources from the Smithsonian Institute.

For Reading and Writing

Reading Eggs is offering several free educational printouts for reading and math, including Alphabet iSpy placemats and a phonics book for kindergarteners. Teachers and parents can also sign up to get a free 30-day trial.

Prompt, a writing support platform, has produced a free guide to help students prepare for their AP English and History exams, plus a list of colleges that are and are not accepting AP credit this year. The guide features a breakdown of what to expect in the new 2020 exams (what they will cover and how they will be scored), with suggestions on how to prepare and examples of historical essays.

Epic is providing free access to its digital library — with more than 40,000 books, audiobooks, videos and quizzes — for students in grades K-5 through June 30, 2020. Teachers can assign books and track students’ progress. Get started here and download the Remote Student Access Toolkit for help with using the service.

Renaissance is offering several free programs including myON, myON News and Freckle. The 2020 What Kids Are Reading report is also available. 

Reading Horizons’ library of virtual webinars and lessons is free for educators. Past webinars will be available on-demand on YouTube, plus upcoming webinars about monitoring student progress in a virtual setting, among other topics.

InferCabulary is providing two months of free access to its online visual vocabulary tool. Designed by two speech and language pathologists, InferCabulary helps learners infer deep meanings of nuanced words for themselves by analyzing and interpreting the common thread among chosen images and provided captions. Sign up for free access.

TumbleBooks online library is free to all school libraries through Aug 31, 2020. There is reading material available to K-5 readers.

Voyager Sopris is providing free access to its Step Up to Writing, for grades K-12. 

For the Arts

Soundtrap for Education, the online recording and editing studio, is extending its free trial for any school that signs up to try it with students this semester. Free access is available to support distance learning initiatives for 120 days and up to 500 seats per school. Educators can create a free school trial account by visiting Soundtrap’s website and selecting “Start as a Teacher.” 

For Social-emotional Learning

Ringbeller wants to help students develop skills like creativity, collaboration and kindness. The company is releasing five episodes of its “edutainment” video content, designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grade on the Ringbeller Youtube channel

For Students with Special Needs

National School Choice Week creates this resource guide to help educators know how to effectively, and legally, continue providing instruction to students with disabilities during COVID-19 closures. The guide includes details on state and federal regulations, plus links to other resources.

For Cultural and Historical Experiences

Teach with Mark and Elyse is offering a three-day mini unit on the Constitution of the United States. This works well as a text analysis for English language arts, history or civics. Students will read the text (included), engage with the vocabulary, collaborate to answer text-dependent questions and complete a writing assessment from a choice board.

Other free resources from Mark and Elyse include a graphic organizer for debates and argumentative writing and a tool for analyzing political cartoons.

The National Constitution Center has created a video series called Scholar Exchanges, featuring conversations with constitutional experts about basic principles of the Constitution. Videos include America’s Founding Documents, Slavery in America from the Constitution to Reconstruction with Eric Foner and The Constitution in Times of Crisis with Ken Burns, among others.

PBS LearningMedia features thousands of videos on a variety of topics, with in-depth looks at history, biographies, culture and more. 

CNN Underscored curated this list of virtual tours of historical sites and museums. The collection includes the Smithsonian museums, the Great Wall of China, performing arts centers around the world and more. 

For Communications

Bloomz is offering the premium version of its parent-communication platform for free through the semester to all schools. 

For Managing Devices and Student Online Safety

HelioCampus has developed a no-cost LMS Explorer Kit to help colleges and universities extract data from their learning management system and create a series of optional data visualizations aimed at helping inform action and decision making around deployment, training, course development and usage. The first version includes code to extract data from Canvas, with Blackboard to follow. Support resources include office hours from 1-2pm Eastern on Wednesdays and an email help desk, as well as a FAQ. 

GoGuardian is making its classroom management, device management, student safety tools and web filtering products available for free to new customers. Current GoGuardian customers can receive free access to additional tools and expanded license counts. 

Impero Software is providing its pro edition free to districts that are not currently using remote monitoring software, through the end of the school year. The platform includes features for device management, student safety and network control.

For Funding

DreamBox Learning has created a free 2020 Grants Guide with a list of more than 50 grants — federal and corporate — and help for walking through the grant-writing process. These grants can fund DreamBox Math and other education resources. The guide also features tips for making your application stand out. Register here to download the guide. 

And More

Education publications have outdone themselves covering this pandemic and curating classroom resources to help you weather the storm. Here are our favorites. 

ISTE and EdSurge have collected a directory of more than 700 free resources, organized into categories including grade levels, subject area, standards and length of free trial. The directory includes a search feature. EdSurge has also created guides for K12 and higher education, with full coverage on the pandemic, plus tips, webinars, podcasts and updates on school closures.

Education Week’s Coronavirus and Schools includes an interactive map of school closures, plus breaking news and stories about school practices, leadership challenges, policy decisions, budget impact and what the future of education may hold. 

THE Journal’s exhaustive list of free tools and apps from edtech vendors and directory of statewide school closures in its COVID-19 coverage.

Hechinger Report’s special report on the coronavirus and education, with stories of how students and educators, in K12 and higher education, are managing through the pandemic. 

Tech & Learning’s list of edtech tools and its Remote Learning Playbook (registration required) written by educator and education technology veteran Kecia Ray. Note: Tech & Learning is owned by Future PLC, the parent company of SmartBrief.


Kanoe Namahoe is the content director for SmartBrief Education.

Katie Parsons is the editor of SmartBrief on EdTech.


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