The best online resources for English, history and geography lessons

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From this week, primary schools in England can reopen for pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6, but some local authorities – including Durham and Lancashire – are against students returning from 1 June.

If you’re child is continuing to study from home, we’ve found all the best resources to help.

In April, the BBC launched an extended version of its Bitesize educational website. Students can now access BBC Bitesize Daily, where resources and lessons are helpfully divided up by age groups, and it’s also available on BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button too, where there will be lessons broadcasted from 9am.

The website has had the help of British celebrities to engage children too, from Sir David Attenborough giving lessons on all things geography related, to Spanish lessons from the footballer Sergio Aguero. But it’s not all for children, as there’s also advice for parents and carers on the site on how to homeschool.

For more information and ideas for teaching kids at home, we have read and reviewed the best homeschooling books at IndyBest, where our best buy was I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree, by Fiona Waters.

To help cut through the noise, we’ve picked out the best online resources available, most are free, covering all the subjects your child may be learning, from KS1 to KS4.

Here we start with the subjects English, history and geography.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

English

For KS1 and KS2 students, TTS has free downloadable workbooks created by teachers to keep your child’s curriculum on track while they learn from home. It has literacy tools to help with grammar, writing, spelling, punctuation, guided reading, comprehension, handwriting and English as a second language.

It’s also created this essentials page full of educational resources such as whiteboards, reward stickers, worm words and spelling programmes to kit you out if your child learns better kinetically.

It also has a dedicated section of its site to secondary school students studying at KS3 and KS4 level, particularly pupils who may be struggling. It includes book packs to set reading goals and homework, creative writing, phonics and a guide for teaching children with dyslexia.

For younger children, Fun Phonics has made its digital products free for home learning which includes lettering, flashcards, word searches, objectives, name labels and spelling cards.

It ranges from children who are just developing key speaking words and vocabulary up until kids who can identify words using a digraph – when two letters put together to make a sound such as “ph”.

To encourage children’s storytelling imagination for a creative writing lesson, try The Story Starter which generates the first sentence of a fictional story which children then springboard from to write their own.

It’s accessible across all ages, but if you’re using it for homeschooling, we’d recommend it towards children in KS3 and above as some sentences may be too complex for younger ones.

If you’re looking to brush up your child’s spelling but aren’t sure where to start, Spelling Training is a simple-to-navigate tool to aid you when teaching children in KS1 and KS2.

It creates spelling practice lists, tests and word games from a drop-down menu of subjects such as colours, the human body, musical instruments, irregular verbs and popular songs.

The lessons on across all subjects are usefully planned for the week ahead and organised by year group, from Year 1 to Year 10. They’ve been created with teachers and other educational experts and feature a mix of videos, animations, practice activities, quizzes and games, so kids won’t get bored of the same style of learning.

After choosing the right age, you’ll see the lessons are split up into subjects and days, so kids will get a good range of the subject over the coming weeks.

This week’s English lessons range from spelling to learning verbs and writing sentences for younger ages to learning how poets create meaning for the older years.

History

Although the actual museum has of course temporarily closed its doors, that doesn’t mean we can’t still access its enormous wealth of knowledge. It has created an interactive learning tool to allow you to visually explore history across the five continents through its artefacts; Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania which goes from modern day all the way back to 2000 BC.

In it, you can pick from themes such as art and design, religion and beliefs and trade and conflict to allow kids to learn from all aspects of the artefacts and information currently housed in the museum. It’s suitable for KS2 and above.

Daily lessons on the website include covering subjects such as Mediaeval medicine for Year 8, while the year above can learn how Hitler gained so much power in this week’s lesson.

Although the website launched on Monday, the date and time for the celebrity-led lessons have not been revealed yet. Although we know Eastenders actor, Danny Dyer, is going to be delivering history lessons for five to seven-year-olds about Henry VIII. Each programme is 20 minutes and there are six a day. There will also be other lessons with teachers, too.

Another interactive tool is What Was There, which has photos from different cities across the globe, in different time periods, with dates and a little information on each picture.

While it isn’t as comprehensive as The British Museum, it is a good starting point for a lesson to help kids focus and learn a little about their own surroundings in history, such as what London looked like during the Blitz.

Geography

This has a variety of facts, games, quizzes and activities to set KS1 children, such as finding plastic pollution solutions, how to make paper straws and facts about species of animals.

There’s also a detailed section dedicated to explaining the coronavirus to children and how it can spread across the globe and why travel isn’t permitted, which is a helpful tool in deciphering a strange, complicated time.

National treasure, Sir David Attenborough will be giving lessons on everything from our all-important oceans, animals and mapping the world.

Year 6 students this week can learn about settlements, while those in Year 4 have a lesson planned on maps, including learning how to read them and about compass points and Year 7 can learn about weather and climate.

Developed by geography teacher, Anthony Bennett, Internet Geography is a GCSE-level resource which covers AQA syllabus, such as physical landscapes, natural hazards, population and urban issues.

The site also includes mock AQA exams, quizzes and case studies across ecosystems, coasts, climate change, earthquakes, environmental problems and erosion and weathering.

Each week, there’s a different free homework task, called Geography in The News, that encourages students to engage with news stories that have a geographical element.

This online learning hub was initially created for teachers but it has adapted itsself for homeschooling as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. It has lesson ideas, activities and live videos for KS1 to KS4.

There’s lots of activities to download for free, including worksheets to label countries, flags, states and cities alongside packs of teaching materials, which include powerpoints and visual aids which have specifically been created to accommodate parents at home.

Its KS3/4 resources offer comprehensive tools with weekly themes to debate such as “should animal testing for medicinal research be banned?”. They include research projects for students to polish their debate skills with for and against arguments to finally come to a conclusion and present their ideas.

Read our guide on the best live lessons to help homeschool kids during lockdown

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