Winter break is right around the corner and the preparations are underway! How can educators, students and families make the most of the time spent outside of the classroom during wintertime? There are high-quality, free online resources that are perfect for exploring topics students are curious about, or supporting children as they review content from earlier in the school year.
If you are looking for resources to share with families over a winter vacation, or tools to help you prepare for 2018, this list includes a handful of favorites. You might share this list with families and suggest a specific activity connected to your learning goals for the school year. Alternatively, there might be one or two on this list to include in your own newsletter or weekly reminders to families this wintertime!
This website is perfect for curious learners of all ages making it a perfect to share with families over wintertime. Students and families can use the search bar to investigate topics of interest, or click on the “Wonder Jar” for inspiration. Wonderopolis can be used to help students explore questions they have or begin to think about a familiar topic in a totally new way. When sharing this resource with families, you might ask them to chart their wonders over winter break and bring one back to the class for a show and tell or writing activity.
TED-Ed is one of my go-to websites when discussing ways to use videos in the classroom. On this website you’ll find a wide range of topics that help students gain a deeper understanding of an issue, idea, or world view. If you add this website to a list of resources for families, you might decide to handpick a few videos that connect to a topic you’ll explore with students later in the school year. As children and families dive into the resources you’ve selected, they are sure to start their own search for topics they’d like to learn more about.
Educators, students and families can all spend time on Khan Academy over winter break. Teachers may want to review a new topic they are teaching this year while families may want to preview content from a particular unit of study. Khan Academy gives students free and easy access to a wide-range of materials. You might decide to curate a few videos you’d like students to explore or provide a few suggestions for families.
Perfect for creative writing or oral storytelling, Scholastic Story Starters can inspire children of all ages to create funny, silly and scary stories. This website is great for snowy or rainy days at home when children can work independently or gather together with family members to tell their own stories. When users open up this website that can tap or click their screen to access story starters in a variety of genres.
Quiver is a favorite augmented reality tool that lets students and families access coloring pages straight from their website and scan the pages with a free mobile app. This augmented reality experience is a fantastic suggestion for families who are ready to take traditional coloring to the next level. In addition to winter-themed pages, this website gives families the option to print pages related to science and math concepts too.
I had the chance to talk with a team member from Kiddom at the Indiana Connected Educator’s conference earlier this year. For teacher planning over winter break (or anytime of year) Kiddom is definitely worth checking out. They have a free library of standards-aligned resources for the classroom that covers a range of topics.
This year I’ve had the chance to work with the team at Participate to build a handful of online courses for teachers. In addition to the free courses and resources on their website, Participate is a great tool to use if you’re searching for a Twitter chat over winter break. Their website includes and easy-to-navigate Twitter chat calendar so you can find different online events and virtual chats to participate in over winter break.
As you plan for time outside of the classroom, sharing useful resources with families can help them cultivate lifelong learners at home. As you take a look at the resources on this page and share some of your own resources with families, take a moment to think about your goals for the second half of the school year. There might be a fantastic video, learning experience or resource that connects with your learning goals and can inspire students over winter break!
Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher and founder of ClassTechTips.com. Her new book Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom is now available from ASCD.