The Best Resources For Teaching Online During A COVID-19 School Closure (Early Childhood Edition)

Distance Learning Early Childhood

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, teachers from all grade levels across the globe are looking for resources to help them engage their students in reading and writing from their homes. At reThink ELA, we are primarily focused on curating and creating resources for teaching during the pandemic-related school closures for the secondary level, but teachers have asked me for resources for both elementary and early childhood students and teachers, as well.

k-2 COVID Resources
Comment requesting help for K-2 teachers from our secondary COVID-19 distance learning resources post.

So I reached out to some of my colleagues who know much more about both technology and teaching younger students than I do. Jennifer Williams, an educational technology integration specialist at the University of Oklahoma, a former high school English teacher, and an RTE partner; and Anne Beck, digital governance specialist with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) and co-founder of the #OklaEd chat, both contributed significantly to this list.

Reading Resources

Epic! Kids’ Books and Videos
Epic! provides a digital library of books and videos on a variety of topics for free. Works on any device.

News-O-Matic is a daily newspaper for kids. While it’s more suited to the older end of early childhood education, it provides a nonfiction online reading experience for students on topics ranging from space science to fashion. Works on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Android devices, and Kindle Fire.

Youngzine is a kid-friendly online magazine featuring current stories about technology, science, society, art, culture, and world news. Works with any device.

Creation Resources

Book Creator
Book Creator can be used with 2nd, maybe 1st, graders. It works on any device (laptop might be easier). The free version gives people one book and a free teacher account allows 40 books. They also have some wonderful webinars. Downloadable iPad app only works on the iPad, but online version works on most devices that can run the Chrome or Safari browsers.

QuiverVision is a 3D Augmented Reality coloring app in which students can color pages that an adult has printed from the website, then use the apps to bring their creations to “life.”

Wonderscope is another augmented reality app that younger students can use to create books. The books cost money, but they have a free book teachers can demo. Works with iPhone and iPad.

Narrator AR
Narrator AR is an augmented reality app designed to help young students learn handwriting. Parents or teachers download and print a template with a dotted outline for students to trace, then use the app to see their work in AR. Jennifer says it takes a little moving to see it right, but it’s fun for little kids. Works with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices.

Swift Playgrounds
Swift Playgrounds can help young students learn basic coding by solving puzzles using the Swift programming language created by Apple. Works on Mac and iPad.

Visual Assessment

Flipgrid enables students to share their learning with video. I’ve used this with my 8th graders, but it’s technology that 1st and 2nd graders can use, too. Pre-K to Kindergartners could use the app with adult help. Works with any device.

Jennifer mentioned that Sesame has been recommended to her. Students use the app to create “snaps” using photos, videos, audios, Google Docs, links or PDFs to show evidence of learning. Works with with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Clips enables students to create videos with Memoji, Animoji, animated titles, stickers, and more. Jennifer has used it with 2nd graders with minimal instructions. Works with iPhone and iPad.

SeeSaw enables students to create digital portfolios with video, drawing, and annotation tools. The program also enables families to see student work online. Works with a smartphone, iPad, or laptop.

Additional Learning Resources

PBS Apps & More
PBS Kids includes several apps, ebooks, and albums for younger students. Works with any device.

Nearpod provides an online platform for teachers to import existing lessons or select the site’s activities and add collaborative features such as virtual field trips, quizzes, collaborate boards, polls, etc. Works with any device.

Funbrain is a website that includes a ton of reading and math games my middle school students love and they include games for younger students, too. Works with any device.

Fuel the Brain
Fuel the Brain provides math, science, and language arts educational games and printables for young students. Works with any device.

More Curated Resources

101 Websites for Elementary Teachers
Best Teacher Resources Blog has a comprehensive list of websites with resources for younger students. Note that this list is from 2013, but the sites that I spot checked still seem to be working. Check the site you want to use ahead of time.

10 Best ELA Tools for Elementary Schoolers
Common Sense Education has provided a list of resources for students to improve their English Language Arts skills. These resources include both apps and websites.

19 Great Science Podcasts You Can Listen To With Kids
This article lists science-based podcasts for younger students. These podcasts can help students who are interested in science build their listening and comprehending skills. Parents or teachers can listen with them and discuss what they learn. Works with iTunes.

OKLDR Pre-K through 5th Grade Resources
Oklahoma State School Boards Association provides a list of online resources across subjects for younger students.

Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning
The K20 Center at the University of Oklahoma has created a library of LEARN lessons built on the 5E learning cycle model (engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate).

Learning Keeps Going
ISTE and EdSurge partnered to create this site featuring a curated list of free tools, resources, and support for educators teaching in an online learning environment.

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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