We love how the Internet can help us when it comes to raising a generation of more curious kids. There are just so many remarkable free educational online tools and resources that help support a child’s natural curiosity, and even help push them a little (or a lot) when it comes to learning about all kinds of subjects and sparking their passion about the world around them.
That’s exactly what our newest sponsor, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (or CTY, as it’s been fondly known for more than 30 years), does for bright kids and their families. And if you don’t know about them, we are excited to introduce them to you.
CTY is a non-profit organization that knows all kids need to be challenged, inspired, engaged, and nurtured so that they can reach their full potential. And they offer incredibly popular online, family, and summer programs, along with tons of need-based scholarships, for kids K–12 to do just that.
So to help you find more resources like them, we’ve pulled together some of the very best free educational online resources for our curious kids.
They’d all be great, even if they weren’t free. But they are!
Whether you need a little help answering the hundreds of whys, hows, and what-ifs being flung your way, you’re looking to help support and expand upon your child’s current curriculum, or you’re a homeschooler who’s always seeking out engaging educational resources, we think you’ll want to bookmark all of these terrific websites.
The rad video collection on The Kids Should See This is a strong favorite among the parents on our staff because it’s no run-of-the-mill YouTube fare. We’re talking a well-curated collection of off-the-grid, quirky, super interesting videos covering art, science, technology, music, storytelling, animals, space and plenty more. The site, curated by a mom and her two kids, has grown leaps and bounds since we first featured it a couple of years ago, now with more than 2,600 super cool videos we bet your kids will love — like this one about the insanely cool human towers of Catalonia by Great Big Story.
2. K12 Videos
Another great video series we highly recommend is this one from MIT (yes, that MIT). It focuses on STEM topics aimed at kids in grades K-12 — as you might have guessed from the name — and stars real MIT students. While we love the authenticity, keep in mind that a few of the students don’t come across as enthusiastic or as comfortable on camera as your kids might be accustomed to if they’ve grown up watching popular YouTubers. But the graphics and video production are awesome, and the topics are fantastic for those of you with kids who are curious to learn more about science and technology, making it worth a mention on our list of the best free educational online resources for kids.
If you have not yet discovered the wonderful New York Times Learning section, bookmark it, stat. While it’s often used by teachers, it’s a rich resource for parents as well. You’ll have access to writing prompts, fun educational activities like crosswords and games, links to current event articles about teens, even contests (film reviews, how cool!) to help encourage your curious kid to keep exploring. While we do recommend subscribing to the Times to help support professional journalism, anyone can access 10 free articles a month.
Aimed at older kids as well as adults, this website gives you the 411 on pretty much every burning question you might have, including current events and trending topics. You’ll find a vast range of subjects from money and food, to animals, health and lots more. Come on — what curious kid wouldn’t be enthralled with articles like Does A New Two-Headed Shark Discovery Mean It’s Time to Freak Out? Or a deep dive into The History of Cola. And if your kid is competitive too, they’ll love the quizzes to test their knowledge on movie musicals, Antartica, or NFL winning and losing streaks. Admit it — you’re dying to click over yourself right now, aren’t you?
We’ve loved BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr for years now, as our long-time readers know, and we couldn’t put together a list of our favorite free educational online resources for kids without them. Their wonderfully produced animated videos and other engaging content really nails a tone that connects with kids about any subject at all, without getting heady or talking down to them. Our own kids can’t get enough of them, and in fact, they’re such a well-respected, comprehensive educational resource for curious kids that tens of thousands of schools around the country have subscriptions to grant all their students free access to the content at home. So while you can watch a few videos a week for free, as well as access some activities, articles, and games in the “free stuff” section, you should check with your classroom teacher or school parent coordinator to see if they have a code for families to access even more. If not, we strongly suggest recommending it to your school so even more kids can benefit.
From our sponsor
Looking for another resource for your bright, curious kid? The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) knows exactly what kids need to keep their minds sharp. Their K–12 programs, which range from online courses available year-round to summer programs in the U.S. and Hong Kong, are designed to provide intellectual challenge plus the sense of belonging that’s essential for a child’s social growth and happiness.
Classes are offered in a myriad of subjects and interest areas, all taught by expert instructors. And because CTY knows that providing your kids with the extra support and education they want or need can be an investment, they are vigorously committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of all students who qualify. In fact, they award nearly $6 million in need-based scholarship funding to families annually.
To learn more about the CTY Talent Search, scholarship opportunities, and their online and summer programs, sign up for the CTY email list. Your child could join the nearly 150,000 CTY alumni worldwide — including Mark Zuckerberg.
You recognize that name, right?
There are no shortage of amazing YouTube channels with content for curious kids, from Vi Hart to C. G. P. Gray and so many others we’ve featured on Cool Mom Tech over the years. But if we had to pick one all-time favorite that provides tons of fun, engaging educational content for all kinds of curious kids, our unanimous vote goes to CrashCourse — and with 200 million views and growing, clearly we’re not alone here! Brothers John and Hank Green really nail the balance of informative and entertaining in their 10–15 minute videos, whether they’re enlightening kids on philosophy, politics, astronomy, Jane Eyre or video games. But a standout for our own kids is definitely CrashCourse History, which started it all. If you’ve got curious younger children at home, be sure to check out Crash Course Kids too.
And while the videos are free, of course, an optional donation really helps them pay their researchers, writers, animators, musicians and production staff so they can continue their outstanding mission to keep all the content free to school districts. (Did we mention how much we love John and Hank Green?)
7. Khan Academy
Is there any subject that Khan Academy doesn’t cover? For over 10 years now, creator Sal Khan has been sharing free videos that started with math and science, and now includes tech, engineering, economics, arts and humanities. Now, Khan Academy website is going beyond videos with online practice quizzes to help with various subjects. You’ll even find test prep for the SATs, plus there’s a new partnership with one of our favorite app developers, Duck Duck Moose, that gets preschoolers into the mix. While Khan’s lecture/invisible teacher-at-the-chalkboard style of presentation isn’t for everyone, the careful breakdown and explanation of often challenging school-related subjects might just be what your kids need for an extra boost. Plus, it helps us parents, who may not quite be up on the “new new math” method worksheets our kids are bringing home from school.
8. TED Ed
TED Talk fans, this one’s for you! What’s so fantastic about the TED Ed website is that it gives you the ability to build a lesson around any TED Ed original, TED Talk, or YouTube video. While it’s definitely aimed at teachers, we love using the questions presented here to strike up conversations with our kids at dinner or on long car rides. If you know your children are interested in a specific content area, you can poke around a find questions of your own to bug them with…er, ask them. And, of course, the site gives your kids access to the seemingly endless collection of educational TED content.
The Code.org website is filled with fantastic educational content for kids as young as 4 years old, all centered around STEM. Some of it is original content, while some of it connects you with other sites like Khan Academy. Look around the entire site to see what’s most valuable for your curious kids; ours love trying the Hour of Code activities, but we’re also big fans of the lesser known unplugged section. Here you’ll find screen-free activities to help engage kids around STEM, like planting seeds, making paper planes, or arranging paper tangrams as a way to grasp the concept of real life algorithms.
There’s plenty for kids grades K–12 to read and watch on the NASA For Students website. The main page has lots of information for teachers and parents too, so if you have younger kids, we suggest heading over to the Space Place section, which is where you’ll find tons of games, activities, crafts and more on all sorts of science-related topics.
Thanks to our sponsor Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for helping to make it easier for parents like us to provide support and learning opportunities for our curious kids. Visit their site to learn more about their much-lauded online, family, and summer programs for kids K–12.