Best Online Learning Platforms For Elementary Students

Fun K-12 Online Learning Platforms

Online learning has changed education. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the very best K-12 online learning platforms that provide resources for students and teachers alike, everything from full curriculum solutions to fun and engaging supplemental material.

Best digital learning platforms

An online learning platform can mean a few different things. Some offer full K-12 instruction mirroring a standard school curriculum, while other platforms focus on supplementing a general school curriculum with more niche and in-depth topics. These can be free, or based on a paid subscription or paid courses, and one option isn’t necessarily better than the other. Regardless of what type of platform it is, here are some things to keep in mind when selecting the best online classes for your needs:

  • The content is developed by (or endorsed by) qualified institutions or teachers
  • The platform provides actual activities or quizzes for students to engage with
  • The material supports both advanced learners and students who need extra help
  • The content is either free or a free trial is offered

Discover fun K-12 online learning platforms

Here are some specific learning platforms we recommend, broken up into what’s best for elementary students, middle school students, and high school students. Some of these options could technically fit into all three categories, but might be more suitable for certain ages.

Best online learning platforms for elementary students

Learning platforms for elementary students should have an engaging design, and focus on being fun as well as educational. Many even offer free online classes for kids.

1. Create & Learn

Create & Learn is dedicated to taking kids from no coding experience to building advanced projects all while playing and building to learn! Classes are taught in the form of live, online sessions with experienced coding instructors. We have a wide selection of topics to choose from, all in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Create & Learn is a great supplement to a general curriculum; we recognize that many skills necessary for propelling a student through our modern age simply aren’t getting the attention they deserve in a traditional school setting.

  • Pros: Live instructors provide a hands-on and personalized education experience
  • Cons: Classes can only be taken in scheduled time slots
  • Best For: Extra curricular activity or educational camp during break

2. ABCmouse

ABCmouse is a subscription based learning platform for kids ages two through eight. Kids learn by engaging with fun mini games or activities in a structured curriculum meant to mimic a standard school curriculum. And while ABCmouse provides curated learning paths, there is nothing stopping you from jumping around and taking lessons ‘à la carte’. They offer hundreds of hours of content and an engaging user interface, though you’ll need internet access to connect. This website could provide a solid backbone to any homeschooling curriculum, or serve as supplemental material for a child already in school or daycare.

  • Pros: Very organized structure
  • Cons: Activities can become repetitive after a while
  • Best For: Homeschooling

3. PBS Kids

PBS kids provides an endless stream of educational games and videos on a plethora of different topics, all very well-made and entertaining. You can choose to stream PBS Kids Live TV right from their website, or select specific shows you’re interested in. Every TV show seems to come with associated games and even activities you can print as PDFs. It’s all of course totally free, and while it’s not specifically geared towards ‘school learning,’ children will still discover a bunch of valuable lessons covering a diverse range of topics.

  • Pros: Free with great production value
  • Cons: Can seem more of an entertainment platform than an educational one at times
  • Best For: Enriching leisure time

4. CodeSpark Academy

Perfect for kids age 5 to 9, CodeSpark Academy is an educational mobile app with numerous awards and certifications. Kids will learn coding principles and logic by playing, as they’re immersed in a cartoon world of games and puzzles. Most solutions involve dragging picture blocks into place, which is great for kids still struggling with their reading skills. With monthly or annual subscriptions, you can expect a steady stream of new content to keep them interested and engaged. Even after going through all the levels, there is an option to create your own games or animations!

  • Pros: Really fun for kids
  • Cons: Not a lot in in-app support if kids get stuck on a puzzle
  • Best For: Young children new to coding

5. Everyday Mathematics

Everyday Mathematics is a math curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. Their lessons are informed by field-tested research that aims at developing a child’s lifelong proficiency in mathematics. The website itself is not interactive, but it does provide parents and educators a bank of resources that they can easily take and introduce into a classroom environment, be it a home or at school. This is a great option for homeschooling parents looking to supplement, or even completely outsource their math lessons, while keeping their kid away from a computer with printable worksheets and PDF’s.

  • Pros: Supports learning away from the computer
  • Cons: Not great for kids learning on their own
  • Best For: Homeschooling

Best online learning platforms for middle school students

Learning platforms for middle school students should have a stronger emphasis on educational material, but still seem ‘cool & fun’ to keep kids engaged.

1. Create & Learn

Create & Learn is an award-winning STEM program with the mission of providing top quality Computer Science education to students in K-12. All of the classes are held live online and are taught by experienced teachers. There are about 30 different courses to choose from that cover a wide range of topics such as coding, robotics, AI, game development, smart devices, and more. All the curricula were developed jointly by tech experts and experienced educators, with a strong focus on developing students’ creativity and critical thinking skills using project and inquiry based learning. It’s by far the largest 5-star-rated kids coding program based on parents’ reviews, and the classes have been recognized by Minecraft Education, Facebook, HulaFrog, ActivityHero, and more.

  • Pros: Live instructors provide a hands-on and personalized education experience
  • Cons: Classes can only be taken in scheduled time slots
  • Best For: Extra curricular activity or educational camp during break

2. Code.org

Famous for their numerous “Hour of Code” activities, Code.org is a great place for students to give coding a shot without any serious commitment. Their website doubles as a coding platform, so if you’ve already got internet access, you have everything you need to start coding! Code.org is all about building and sharing games. They offer coding tutorials which are often based on already popular games that kids recognize, like Flappy Bird or Minecraft, so this is a great way to spark an interest. Everything on code.org is freely available, and you can even browse the over 183 million projects from users around the world and see how each project was built. Pretty cool!

  • Pros: Free and fun
  • Cons: Interface can be clunky at times
  • Best For: Students interested in coding without prior experience

3. Study Jams

Study Jams is a fun website full of lessons on math and science. Lessons feature resources such as educational cartoon shorts, quizzes to test comprehension, informative slideshows, and best of all, original songs about the lesson that kids can sing karaoke to. Despite the laid back vibe, lessons are succinct and packed full of good information, but without feeling too ‘school-like’. There is no learning path with Study Jams; lessons stand alone and are sorted by category, like ‘Probability’, or ‘Solar System’, so kids can quickly find exactly what they’re looking for.

  • Pros: Quick and effective lessons to reinforce common concepts
  • Cons: Website is difficult to navigate and many lessons do not have songs associated with them
  • Best For: Reinforcing homework or supplementing class material

4. IXL

IXL is a resource for teachers both in the classroom and at home. There are countless lessons and exercises to browse though either by searching subject and grade, or even by specific textbook! While they do offer subscription plans, many resources and lessons can be accessed for free on their website. A subscription however will also gain you access to their comprehensive diagnostics, which are quite detailed and offer suggestions to formulate the best lesson plan for any given individual student. While IXL does offer k-12 content, younger students might need assistance or not find lessons as engaging because of the complex and studious user interface.

  • Pros: Lessons on any topic you can think of plus student diagnostics
  • Cons: Daunting amount of content to sort through
  • Best For: Comprehensive homeschool or lesson plan solution

5. Cool Math Games

This is definitely just a website full of online games, but it’s a curated selection with a focus on games that develop both mathematical and logic skills. This is a great option to redirect a child’s leisure time to something just as entertaining, but perhaps a little more productive. The website has a bit of an outdated UI, and it features some unrelated ads unless you sign up with a subscription. All of the content is free however, and with the wide variety of games to choose from, kids might discover a new skill or interest without really realizing that they’re learning.

  • Pros: Learn while playing
  • Cons: Some games seem more just addicting games than they seem educational
  • Best For: Keeping leisure time educational

6. Time4Learning

Time4Learning is an online curriculum developed to solve homeschooling needs, either as core material or supplemental material. While homeschool is the focus, Time4Learning also boasts its effectiveness as simply an after school enrichment program, or something kids can use during school breaks. Time4Learning keeps its curriculum dynamic and modular, and provides parents with helpful data that they can use to inform how they want to structure learning for their child. This is great for parents who are actively invested in their child’s schooling, and want control over the greater lesson plan.

  • Pros: Data-driven lesson plan recommendations
  • Cons: Limited support for tablets, and no support for smartphones
  • Best For: Active homeschool parents looking for resources and guidance

Best online learning platforms for high school students

Learning platforms for high school students should focus on providing an information-rich environment that introduces primary sources, specialized areas of study, and activities that help further develop research skills.

1. Create & Learn

Create & Learn is the largest 5-star-rated kids coding program based on parents’ reviews, and the classes have been recognized by Minecraft Education, Facebook, HulaFrog, ActivityHero, and more. All of the live online courses teach the real stuff pros use, including the best platforms in the industry. So teens build cutting-edge, real-world skills. There are even AP level courses that prepare you for exams!

  • Pros: Live instructors provide a hands-on and personalized education experience
  • Cons: Classes can only be taken in scheduled time slots
  • Best For: Guided afterschool learning throughout the year and during the summer

2. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a massive nonprofit educational tool covering subjects from math and science to history, even language arts! They provide self-contained lessons that you can interact with right on their website. When learning how to code for example, you will write and test the code all on Khan Academy’s website. Khan Academy started out as a YouTube channel, so there are a lot of instructional videos that come along with the lessons, which provides a nice variety of learning mediums. This is a great resource for students of all ages, but definitely designed for serious learners.

  • Pros: Huge variety of courses covering all levels and a wealth of subjects
  • Cons: Complex user interface can seem a bit intimidating at first
  • Best For: Supplemental learning and test prep.

3. Code Academy

Code Academy is a website that provides free lessons, resources, and challenges for those looking not only to learn coding for the first time, but also professionals looking to sharpen their coding skills. Code Academy is neat because they offer courses based on either a specific programming  language, or a specific subject or career path. This is great for students who know what they’re interested in, say Web Development, but maybe aren’t sure about what exactly they need to study to become a professional web developer. Unfortunately, a lot of the more advanced lessons are locked behind a Pro subscription, but they do offer a free trial, and discounts for students.

  • Pros: Pointed lessons with real-world relevance
  • Cons: Content can become very advanced quickly
  • Best For: Students interested in a coding career

4. EdX

EdX is a great resource for students with specific interests looking for instruction beyond the High School level. They provide access to numerous college level courses (from real universities) across a variety of different topics. Courses range from introductory level to advanced. Students can select individual courses, or programs which group related courses together. Students can go at their own pace, but most courses are supposed to last a few weeks, and require 3-6 hours a week. These are often offered for free, but with the option to gain paid access to graded assignments and extra resources.

  • Pros: High quality education with free options
  • Cons: Not helpful for the basic high school curriculum
  • Best For: Advanced students looking to excel in a particular topic

5. Docs Teach

Docs Teach is not only an online repository of primary sources, but also a helpful resource on how to engage with primary sources. Students can search for primary sources by topic, or find activities related to specific sources that put the source into historical context and test a student’s ability to analyze it. These activities are a perfect way to study for a History test, or gather ideas for a school paper. Everything is free and sponsored by the National Archives.

  • Pros: Extremely detailed information on specific topics
  • Cons: Not particularly engaging unless you have a specific topic in mind
  • Best For: Research projects

6. Digital Civics Toolkit

Digital Civic Toolkit aims to accomplish the ambitious goal of getting (and keeping) the youth of today more involved in civic issues. In a world fraught with political division and factually questionable news around every corner, this sort of education is certainly welcome. Many activities on the website focus on emphasizing the importance of quality dialogue, and how to engage in it. There are also a plethora of scholarly resources covering topics related to fake news, and good research practices. While the website is mostly addressed to teachers and lesson planners, all of the material is free, and students can certainly find these activities engaging or relevant to a project they may already be working on.

  • Pros: Contemporary lessons addressing today’s issues
  • Cons: Mostly designed for teachers
  • Best For: Students interested in civics and activism

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