We’ve all been seeing our social feeds fill up with amazing “OMG THIS IS FREE RIGHT NOW!” posts from friends, and it’s hard to keep track of it all! Between the online story time for kids, the Club Quarantine virtual dance parties, the museum tours, and the weekly Debbie Allen dance classes that are giving me life…there’s a lot.
So here’s a list that we’re going to keep updating, featuring what we think are the best of the free online classes and memberships right now, while we’re all stuck at home.
This post last updated 3/26/2020
Presented with heaps of gratitude to these companies and organizations for doing the right thing. We will remember you all fondly when #AllThis is all over — and probably even keep some of our paid memberships going.
Related: 8 of our favorite online educational resources for at-home learning
Peloton Workout App: 3 free months of fitness classes
Who knew you didn’t even need a Peloton bike to use their app! (Well maybe you knew, but I didn’t.) Well considering the delays in at-home shipments of the bikes due to high demand from quarantined America, now you can sign up for a free 3-month trial on the Peloton app, normally just 30 days. It gives you access to their on-demand classes in yoga, strength training — or hey, just stretching if that’s more your speed to start, and we all know how any exercise at home can help keep you sane.
They also have support for runners, if you’re able to go out and run safely. What a great excuse to keep up with your fitness routine or get into one. It doesn’t have to change YOUR ENTIRE LIFE like it did for the 115 lb. woman in Peleton’s infamous holiday ad, but it might make the next few months a whole lot better.
I also want to refer you to this excellent article by Stefani Sassos at Good Housekeeping on 25+ fitness studios and gyms offering free live streaming classes. Most are offering 30 days free, versus the 90 from Peloton, but it also includes a few Instagram workouts and even some celebrity training classes. I like seeing that CorePower Yoga is offering about 20 different free online classes and meditations for non-members.
PS If they’re not already closed in your city, stop going to the gym. This has been a public service announcement.
Don’t miss: 7 at-home gym alternatives to keep you sane and fit during the quarantine
Fender Play: Free 3 month subscription to learn an instrument
Ever wanted to learn to play guitar? Bass? Ukulele? The pros at Fender (yes, that Fender!) are now offering three free months of lessons through their online learning app. You’ll get instructor-guided videos that will have you rocking’ out to Led Zeppelin, Green Day, The Ramones, Rachel Platten, or Emmylou Harris in no time. (Or you know, Radiohead on Ukelele. That works too.) And if you need to purchase an instrument, they’re currently offering 10% off on that. Sign up, follow the instructions for redeeming your code, then use your desktop or the Android or iOS app.
Audible Stories: Free audiobooks for kids and families
We recently featured Audible in our roundup of our 5 favorite audiobook apps and no sooner did we publish it, that they announced that through Audible Stories, you’ll have access to free audiobooks for kids as long as school is out. It’s not like the entire Audible library, but I’m impressed by the free collection which includes books in six languages for kids of all ages.
There are plenty of Audible originals and exclusives; poetry; plays; books for little listeners from Beatrix Potter and Rudyard Kipling; modern books like Mac Barnett’s The Terrible Two and Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine series; nonfiction from Neil deGrasse Tyson; short stories from H.P. Lovecraft; biographies like Kate Schatz’s Rad Women A to Z; and classics for all ages. I would be totally down for family audiobook time featuring Thandie Newton narrating Jane Eyre.
Then again, Michael York reading Brave New World seems pretty appropriate these days. Good thing we’ll have plenty of time!
Related: The best homeschooling resources right now for newbies: ELA, science, math, and social studies home learning.
Ivy League Universities: 495 free online courses
By now, you’ve surely seen the list floating around of free or audited Ivy League online courses al. And lost it. (Just me?) Well here it is again so you can bookmark it. I finally clicked over and found some really interesting stuff: the history and business of Hollywood from UPenn; Michael Sandel’s Justice course from Harvard; an intro to classic music from Yale or German opera from Dartmouth; or Harvard’s chef-taught course in the science of cooking. Should you be wildly curious about molecular gastronomy.
You access courses through platforms like edX and Coursera, and each course specifies how much weekly work will be expected of you, the duration of the course, and whether you can earn any kind of certification for it. Pretty cool.
Rosetta Stone: 3 free months of language lessons for K-12 students
We’ve had quite a few parents in our Out Tech Your Kids Facebook Group asking for good foreign language apps for at-home learning for their kids. Or even for themselves. Rosetta Stone is offering free language immersion lessons in 24 languages right now, giving kids a virtual way to really practice a foreign language or pick up a new one. It includes instant feedback on pronunciation, plus progress data and printable reports for you. Just check the fine print — the offer is good for new users, or you’re already a Homeschool subscriber, an additional 3 free months for you.
They even joke that they won’t be checking IDs, in case you want to take up a new language yourself. (Technically, that means a 3-day trial but I’ll leave it at that.) I wouldn’t mind brushing up on my French so that I can plan for a long-awaited return to Paris with all-you-can-eat street crepes when #AllThis is over.
The Aura Meditation App: 3 free months
We recently shared a terrific list of 7 meditation apps to help with the anxiety a lot of us are feeling right now. One of them, Aura, is currently offering 3 free months (normally a 30-day trial) so that more people have access to their helpful features usually limited to subscribers. You set your goals and preferences, and they’ll tailor a plan of short, guided meditations based on your needs, whether you want to sleep better, stay more calm, or manage your emotions. Just use code FINDPEACE2020.
The Metropolitan Opera: Free nightly concerts
Tne company of La Boheme. Tell your kids it’s Les Mis — they’ll want to watch.
Ready for a little high culture each night? There are soooo many symphonies, dance companies, and theater companies offering free online shows and that includes my incredible hometown opera, the Met.
Since cancelling their season, the Met is streaming a different encore presentation each night at 7:30, pulled from 14 years of the company’s Live in HD series. It will be available free to watch for 23 hours, and then you can move onto the next one. You can find it through their website or download the Met Opera on Demand app for Apple, Amazon, and Roku Devices, as well as smart TVs. (They note that you can access without logging in by clicking “browse and preview” in your Smart TV, or “Explore the App” on your phone or tablet.)
This is Wagner week (I personally have mixed feelings there), but I expect a lot of variety; last week included performances of Carmen, La Boheme. and La Traviata.
I will just add that the Met, along with so many arts organizations are really struggling right now. While this is free, I highly recommend you make a tax-deductible donation if you’re able, to keep the music coming.
Related: Stream these 15 terrific, kid-friendly educational documentaries that aren’t necessarily made for kids.
TIME for Kids: Free digital library
(Updated for clarity) Through the end of the 2020 school year, TIME for Kids is offering a digital library free, of all published 2020 issues. It also includes four different grade-specific editions from Kindergarten through 6th grade, plus teachers’ guides, quizzes and other tools through TIME for Kids. Oh, and today kicks off with a special issue about COVID-19 which will probably help us adults, too. Terrific resource for those of us trying to help our kids with the online learning they’re doing at home.
Related: A homeschool mom’s tips on homeschooling your kids during school closures. You can do this!
Amazon Video: 40 free kids + family series plus select movies
If you/ve got younger kids at home and you’re not yet a Prime member, you’re in luck: Amazon has just made 40 kids’ series free to anyone who signs in. You’ll get access to original series based on beloved books like Pete the Cat and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Lost In Oz, along with other PBS shows including Arthur and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. There are also options for kids 6-11 like Wild Kratts and Cyberchase, plus Amazon original series including The Dangerous Book for Boys, Just Add Magic, and Niko and the Sword of Light.
For family movie night, Amazon is offering a selection of free IMDb TV kid-friendly movies as well. It’s no Disney Plus, but highlights that caught my eye include The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Scooby-Doo Movie, The Smurfs movie, Megamind, The Nut Job, Stuart Little, and Fly Away Home. It’s especially great news for those of you cord-cutters who only have access to streaming content and not cable.
Note that not every season of every series is available — you’ll get one season of Arthur for example, three seasons of Odd Squad, and a single season of Caillou. Though feel free not to let your kids know about that one.
(CMP is an Amazon affiliate, but like, the shows are free anyway.)
Zoom Pro: Free unlimited video conferencing for K-12 staff and students
It’s definitely worth reading our post on 8 creative ways to practice safe socializing using tech, and one of them is Zoom. If you haven’t yet heard, Zoom’s free Pro account conferencing offer for schools was one of the first, thus making them the preferred videoconferencing app of choice for millions right now. It’s not just teachers running lectures — the free basic account means anyone can participate in 40 minute max group chats via videoconferencing, whether you’re hosting remote coworking meetings, having friends meeting up for a virtual happy hour (I did this last week!), or just to have group family chats for multiple households missing each there right now. My own kid’s summer camp held a call for campers this past weekend and it really gave my daughter so much joy to see her camp friends right now.
If you’re a teacher or student, make sure your school is signed up, then anyone with your school’s email address domain will have access to Pro benefits, eliminating the 40-minute time limit.
Pro tip: Try and keep your kids from playing with the virtual backgrounds if you want them to focus on seeing their friends and family; or better yet, don’t tell them they even exist. Shhhh.
Pro tip 2: If you’re on a public conference of any kind or if you’re a teacher wrangling some boundary-pushing kids, watch out for ZoomBombing, in which trolls screenshare inappropriate content.
Daily Burn: 2000 free streaming workouts for 60 days
If you want more variety than Peleton has, Daily Burn has a ton of workouts in so many categories. Sign up for your 2-month trial, and from what I can tell, you get access to the whole shebang. They give you a new 30-minute full-body workout each day, along with classes in yoga fundamentals, Barre workouts (that’s for you, Kristen!), kickboxing, beginner pilates, dance, and all kinds of strength training and cardio. I really like seeing that they have pregnancy and post-natal workouts too, if your doc says it’s okay.
You can stream their free classes for 60 days through your laptop, tablet, or their TV app for Apple TV, Roku, FireTV and more.
Another option worth mentioning: The Gold’s Gym Amp app has a 60-ish day free offer with 600 different audio and video workouts for both indoor and outdoor (with safe distancing!) fitness. Use the promo code FIT60 by 4/30/2020 if you’re a new member, and you can workout free through the end of May. You can also provide parental consent for your teens to use their own app, if you’ve got restless kids at home.