Are your kids always eager to explore something new? If so, these are the independent learning resources they need! Many are free, though some charge a subscription fee. All of them are quality resources that help kids explore a wide variety of topics on their own, whether they want to speak a new language, learn how to cook, or explore the universe. There’s something here for everyone!
Want to encourage more independence overall in your kids? Check out the free Let Grow Independence Kit. Kids choose a project and complete it on their own, using tools and resources to help keep them on track. This kit is already beloved by teachers and parents everywhere; learn why and give it a try yourself here.
Independent Learning Resources for Kids
- Cooking and Baking
- Budgeting and Finance
- Health and Self-Care
- Arts and Creativity
- History and Citizenship
- Foreign Languages and Travel
- Science and Nature
Cooking and Baking
This subscription box is ideal for younger kids who are new to the kitchen. Each box comes with premeasured ingredients, detailed instruction cards, and fun activities to do while treats are baking. Subscriptions start at about $26 a month.
This free cooking club teaches kids to master important kitchen skills by sending “challenge” recipes one at a time. As they complete each recipe, kids earn a badge and are sent a new challenge to conquer.
A well-known chef and the founder of Milk Bar, Tosi offers free full-length baking videos for kids on her Instagram account. Learn to make jams, candy, cookies, and much more.
The free videos on this site offer information on ingredients, gardening, nutrition, and kitchen skills. Kids will also find a wide variety of recipes with a focus on healthy eating.
Cooking With Kids is a New Mexico schools program, with plenty of free recipes and how-to videos available. You can also purchase detailed cooking lessons with shopping lists, lessons plans, and more.
This nonprofit organization works with low-income families to help them make healthy food choices. They add new free kid-friendly videos to their YouTube channel regularly.
This free site includes recipes that kids will love to cook, many with videos showing you how it’s done. Parents will find helpful guidelines on what they can expect kids of various ages to be able to do safely in the kitchen, making it easier to decide when to let kids strike out on their own.
A subscription box that bills itself as a “junk-free bakery,” Foodstirs provides lower-sugar, sustainably-sourced ingredients every other month along with the tools kids need to create a fun new treat. Subscriptions start at about $26 a month.
This paid site offers 32 video cooking lessons that start with basic kitchen skills and become more challenging. A 14-day trial allows you to give it a try before committing. As of spring 2020, they’re offering a special deal: two months for $19.
Kids can build a recipe book and supply of quality kitchen tools with these monthly subscription boxes. Each includes three recipe projects, cooking tools, and activities; parents receive an email shopping list in advance. Subscriptions start at $19.99 a month.
Outschool offers a wide variety of independent learning resources for kids of all ages, including cooking, baking, and kitchen skills. Courses are constantly updated and added; examples include Instant Pot Cooking for Kids, Meet Me for Breakfast, and Fun Japanese Cooking. Classes range from a single session to multiple weeks and may be prerecorded or live. Course costs vary and start at $5 per class.
Each month Raddish sends a new kitchen kit to help kids learn to cook new dishes for their family. Each kit includes several kid-friendly recipes, a shopping list, a new culinary tool with instructions on how to use it, skill lessons, and other fun kitchen activities. Subscriptions start at $20 per month.
One of the best things about this free site is the wide array of school lunches for kids to pack for themselves. There are plenty of other recipes, though, with lots of videos to walk you through the steps.
Money and Budgeting
This free online game gives kids experience recognizing and counting money. The concept is simple, but it helps pre-K and early elementary students master the values of coins and paper bills, and how to use them to make specified amounts.
As soon as kids have money of their own to handle, they can use this free virtual bank to budget their savings and spending. It’s a great way for them to keep track of their allowance or save for big purchases.
Based on the popular TV series and best-selling book Biz Kid$, this online course teaches kids in-depth financial skills, from getting a job and budgeting to saving money, investing, and even starting a business. The basic course costs $29, while premium is $49 and includes additional tools, videos, and resources.
Kids who think they might like to work in finance someday can try it out in this free online game, where the goal is to manage a simulated economy to create zero unemployment and low inflation.
Older students can use these comprehensive independent learning resources to explore macroeconomics, microeconomics, and various financial topics. All courses are free.
This combination of videos, interactive lessons, podcasts, and other activities will interest students who want to learn more about how the economy works. The personal finance section covers budgeting, saving, insurance, and more.
This adorable free game is perfect for younger kids. First, they earn money by playing simple games to identify and count coins. Then, they get to save some and spend some creating a fun scene for their pig.
Kids age 7 and up will enjoy this app that helps them learn how daily lifestyle choices can add up to big spending very quickly and how to make smart savings choices instead. Available for iOS only for a one-time cost of $5.99.
There’s a lot to learn about saving, budgeting, borrowing, and other responsible and practical ways to use money. Fortunately, this free site has you covered with online learning resources and tools like budget planners, loan calculators, and even career advice. It’s perfect for older elementary through high school students.
Health and Self-Care
Beloved character Arthur helps kids learn about health and wellness issues, including asthma, allergies, nutrition, and fitness. All the games, videos, and activities are free.
This free site covers a very wide variety of topics relating to health for teen girls. The frank information and honest answers to questions make this a good resource for girls who looking to learn more about puberty, adolescence, and growing up.
The free videos from Cosmic Kids Yoga are designed for children as young as 3. They can follow along with the stretching and meditation exercises led by engaging instructor Jamie, plus enjoy fun songs and brain breaks.
Sponsored by the CDC, this free printable coloring and activity book introduces younger kids to “healthy heroes” and the good nutrition and fitness it takes to be one. It’s available in both English and Spanish.
Headspace is a subscription-based app that teaches the power of meditation and mindfulness. Their kid-specific app uses meditation and other activities to explore five themes, calm, focus, kindness, sleep, and wake up, and is customizable for ages 5 and under, 6–8, and 9–12. (Teens can explore the original Headspace app.) Subscriptions start at around $6 a week.
With more than 600 free guided meditations designed just for children, this site is an amazing independent learning resource. If you’re interested in more in-depth exploration, the member plus subscription ($60/year) includes courses, playlists, and more.
The CDC sponsors this free site, which aims to teach kids more about disabilities. It’s great for kids who have disabilities or for those who have friends or family members who do.
Whether they want to learn how the body works, how to eat and stay healthy, or how to get along with friends and teachers, this free site has independent learning resources for kids on physical, mental, and social health. A separate section for teens tackles more complex issues, like sexual health, drug use, and more.
Created for teens by teens, this free site offers frank, in-depth information on sex, puberty, and other related topics. This is a safe place for teens to get answers to questions they might be too embarrassed to ask their parents.
Arts and Creativity
For kids who always want to learn how to do something new, Doodle Crate is a subscription box that provides a new hands-on project each month. Children ages 9–16 learn art and craft techniques, like making soap or working with leather. Subscriptions start at around $17 a month.
This site offers lots of free crafts, coloring pages, and drawing tutorials for kids. If you’re looking for more, you can sign up for a membership (starting around $3/month) for complete access to all their materials.
This site has plenty of free craft projects that kids can do on their own. The easy-to-follow instructions are accompanied by pictures, and most of the crafts use supplies you probably already have on hand.
This is the companion website for the popular public television show. Watch free episodes and learn how to make the crafts featured on each one.
For kids who are still waiting for their Hogwarts acceptance letters, the chance to form their own book club might be the next best thing. This site is full of free resources for holding in-person or virtual meetings, from a starter kit to activity ideas and a pronunciation guide.
This free roundup of children’s crafts makes it easy for kids to follow the instructions with lots of pictures showing each step in detail. Most of the projects are paper based, using supplies you’re likely to have on hand already.
These free printable pages are full of prompts to get kids thinking and writing. They’re ideal for kids who know they want to write but just aren’t sure where to start.
These free videos are probably best suited for slightly older students, who will find an incredible amount of detailed instruction here. From basic skills to advanced techniques, there’s a lot to learn.
The goal of this free crafting site is to provide ideas for projects kids will actually want to display or play with. The photo-filled tutorials are ideal for kids to tackle on their own.
Many of the free craft tutorials on this site include videos, so kids will find plenty of instructions to help them along the way. There are hundreds and hundreds of fun and unique ideas here to explore.
Middle and high school kids learn new skills each month with this subscription box. They get all the tools and materials they need to design and create a new project, discovering new hobbies as they go. Subscriptions start around $25 a month.
Avid readers will be thrilled to get new reads in the mail each month. The original Owl Crate is for teens and includes one brand-new hardcover young adult novel each month along with fun keepsakes and activities. Owl Crate, Jr. is geared toward middle grade readers. Subscriptions start at $30 a month.
Scribblitt offers kids guidance on writing and publishing their story, comic, or graphic novel. There are also games to play, competitions to enter, and a place to share their writing. The site is free to use; pay only if you want to receive a hardcover copy of your book.
Kids can use Story Jumper to create their own storybooks, with customizable illustrations and even the ability to add audio. Collaborate with others and work on your book online together. Books are entirely free to create online; you can pay for published e-books or physical copies if you like.
Give kids a chance to try digital storytelling via storyboards. Use them as comics or as plans for a play or movie. The basic version allows you to create two storyboards each week. Subscribe for more access, starting at $10 a month.
Art-loving kids will love digging into all the free independent learning resources found here, from learning about styles and practices, like Impressionism, to giving their own artistic skills an outlet with the cool crafts and projects. All sorts of arts and crafts are covered here, from painting and sculpture to performance art.
These monthly craft boxes are perfect for pre-K and elementary kids. Each shipment includes three or more crafts and has enough materials for two kids. Subscriptions start at $25 per month.
History and Citizenship
A cute free site geared toward younger kids, this independent learning resource features short pieces to read, with follow-up questions and vocabulary words. A section on the indigenous people of the US is welcome, but could be more robust.
This subscription box for elementary kids explores a new country each month. Learn about a country’s culture(s), try out games and activities, and collect cards to build an adventure book. Subscriptions start at about $17 a month.
An offshoot of the History Channel, this free website has articles, videos, study guides, and podcasts. The “This Day in History” section is bound to be popular with kids.
This free site has kid-friendly history lessons on subjects ranging from Ancient Greece to the American Civil Rights Movement and plenty of topics in between. In addition to reading about each subject, kids will find worksheets, coloring sheets, and quizzes in each section.
These free, fun independent learning resources teach kids about everything it takes to be a good citizen. Kids play fun and engaging games to run a presidential campaign, guide a newcomer through the path to citizenship, argue real Supreme Court cases, and much more.
These subscription-based independent learning resources are available as printed guides, DVDs, or to stream online. The focus is on American history for elementary-age kids. Subscriptions start around $10 a month.
Explore history, geography, and more with this free site from world-renowned National Geographic. Watch videos, play games, and join the Kids Club for cool content written by kids for kids.
The UK National Trust maintains a wide variety of historical sites. Their free website offers lots of visuals and information about their locations, letting you visit from a distance.
Kids looking to learn more about American history or geography will find a vast selection of free independent learning resources here. It’s a bit academic, with lots of reading and quizzes, but there are games and fun activities too.
These free independent learning resources cover the US political system, political science, international relations, and more. Watch videos, read articles, and explore interactive lessons.
Free videos and articles are just the start for kids interested in learning more about all periods of history. Interactive learning modules and extensive image galleries provide an incredible amount to explore.
Foreign Languages and Travel
Learn a new language in quick lessons that build one on the next to develop fast fluency. There are currently 13 languages available. This app is good for upper elementary and older kids, with subscriptions starting around $7 a month.
With more than 50 languages available, including Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew, this site is designed for kids ages 2–12. Children learn by watching expertly designed videos with friendly animated characters. Plans start at $19 per month.
Take free in-depth field trips on this site. They vary in location and purpose, and kids can participate live or watch them streaming afterward.
Duolingo is a well-known, free foreign language app that teaches conversational language skills in bite-size daily pieces. The app is appropriate for most teens and tweens, and offers dozens of languages, like Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi.
The most fantastic interactive (free!) globe ever invented, Google Earth provides endless opportunities to explore practically every corner of the world. Use Google Earth Voyager to take guided tours of amazing places, like the Amazon Rainforest or America’s National Parks. Or play a round of Where on Google Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, the updated classic parents will remember.
Explore every country in the world with this basic but free site. Learn about how things like pollution, natural disasters, and human conflict can have an effect on the world, too.
This subscription box service is aimed at elementary and middle school students. Choose from the World Edition or USA Edition and receive a new box each month that explores a different country or state. Subscriptions start around $13 a month.
Little Pim is a subscription service that offers 12 different languages for kids under the age of 6. The panda guide, Little Pim, teaches kids words and phrases in fun entertaining videos. All languages are included in your subscription, starting at about $5 a month.
Using the “see and listen, say and learn” immersion process, this video series teaches kids one of seven different languages. Kids as young as preschool can benefit from this program. Subscriptions start around $6 a month.
This free tool allows users to make their own maps. Choose a region and highlight important physical features, tourist sites, ecosystems, and much more. It’s best for middle and high school students, since there’s a bit of a learning curve.
Kids can take live classes with teachers from around the world. New classes start regularly, varying from one session to ten weeks. Cost per class starts as low as $5.
The 42 videos in this free series from PBS teach Spanish to kids in grades K–3. Each video features kids and puppets telling fun stories, singing engaging songs, and teaching kids more about the culture along with the language.
These free lessons and games are simple, but kids can learn all about world geography. Kids fascinated by globes and maps will find a lot to explore here.
Language immersion is one of the best ways to learn, and this course uses it to teach Spanish to little ones in a fun and friendly way. The independent learning resources are available online as a subscription program (starting at $10 per month per student) or as offline videos you can purchase.
This free site is designed to help you find fun things to do with kids when you travel the world, but it’s also great for exploring from home. We especially love the book recommendations to go along with each country and city.
Zoom in on each of the continents and countries on this free map to learn more about them. Each map features the animals that live in the region too.
Science and Nature
Elementary-age kids can learn to code with different activities each month. Each subscription box contains code that kids can customize to create their own apps for the phone, tablet, or computer. Subscriptions start at about $17 per month.
This Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen science project focuses on birds in local settings, including cities. It’s great for kids because it focuses on a small area and a short period of time. This is ideal for kids with a limited attention span. Kids will also find plenty of resources to learn more about the birds they’re seeing.
Older kids interested in all things tech will enjoy this monthly subscription box. Each shipment contains components they’ll use along with an online electronics course to build a new project. Subscriptions start at $30 a month.
FrogWatch is one of the most popular citizen science projects, and nature-loving kids will enjoy exploring and reporting their findings. Chapters meet regularly, allowing kids to meet others who share their interests.
Distinguished scientists are invited to write about their work in accessible language. Kids and teens review them and provide feedback to make these free articles the ideal independent learning resources for kids.
These subscription boxes provide a collection of new STEM-inspired projects monthly. They offer two version of their Discovery box, one with extra supplies for families with multiple kids. They also offer a Junior box for kids aged 2–4. Subscriptions start around $18 a month.
Spend an hour learning computer code with any of these dozens of free activities, each of which take an hour or less. There are options for all skill and age levels, from pre-K to high school.
Best known for following the migration of monarch butterflies, JourneyNorth also tracks hummingbirds, robins, tulips, and more. Report your findings and get lots of free information about the subjects of their various projects.
The two to three chemistry experiments in each of these monthly subscription boxes are safe to do at home for kids ages 10 and up. Detailed explanations make the learning more meaningful. Subscriptions start around $35 a month.
“Drive” the Mars Rover, check out what’s happening on the International Space Station, and more. This free site is geared toward kids from pre-K to fourth grade.
This NASA site has tons of free independent learning resources covering all things space. Play games, do experiments, and learn anything you want to know about Earth, the solar system, and the universe.
Based on the popular TV series, this site offers videos and games aimed toward girls interested in science, but it’s appropriate for any kid who enjoys STEAM. You can also learn more about the real middle school girls featured on the series.
Whatever aspect of biology kids are into, Project Noah wants their photos and sightings. This citizen science project’s goal is to create a database of every living thing on Earth. Submit your own spottings and help to identify others, too.
The beloved kids’ nature magazine also has a robust website full of games, activities, and digital articles. Currently access is free (through June 2020); normally subscriptions cost $15 per year.
Find experiments, science fair ideas, and Q&As on this free site from well-known science presenter Science Bob. Watch videos of his appearances demonstrating the wonder of science on various talk shows, too.
Need a science fair project idea or just want to try some cool science at home? This free site has hundreds of project ideas, with details about supplies, procedures, and more. You can search by age level, topic, and more.
The Kid Zone on this free site is full of dozens of easy science experiments kids can do on their own, with supplies you likely already have around the house. They’ll also find jokes and trivia to keep themselves entertained.
Any kid fascinated by science will love these independent learning resources. This free site takes peer-reviewed science research articles and adapts them for kids and teens, with colorful presentation and engaging visuals.
Stay up to date on all the latest scientific developments with this free site. The articles are written at a level that’s easy for kids to understand, with a list of “power words” defined at the end.
There are hundreds of citizen science projects out there, and this database makes it easy to find one or more to get involved in. You can narrow your search by age, subject, location, or the type of activity involved.
Kids love hands-on science, and they’ll find a whole lot of it here. The free experiments are all spelled out in detail, with videos and explanations. Steve Spangler also offers a STEMLab club; kids receive a new science experiment kit each month. Subscriptions start at $19.99 a month.
Tinker Crate projects tend to focus on engineering and building, with projects designed to be accessible to a wide variety of ages. This subscription box service starts around $17 a month.
This coding site for kids has independent learning resources for ages 5 and up. Kids complete the courses and learn at their own pace. Membership starts at $10 a month.