Resources for Families with Children Learning from Home

As educators, students, and families are adjusting to distance education, the University of Toronto Libraries is here to support families with children learning from home. We can recommend many licensed and free online resources to help.

Questions or additions? Email oise.library@utoronto.ca.

EBooks

TumbleBook Library is an online collection of animated talking picture books for primary and junior level students. 

We recommend: You Are Stardust, a picture book by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim, shares many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world.

Grade level: Primary, Junior
Subject: Language & Literacy

For multilingual learners, the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) includes free children’s e-books in 60+ languages. The goal of the ICDL Foundation is “to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world,” representing every culture and language, “so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children’s literature from the world community.”

Grade level: Primary
Subject: Language & Literacy

Many of the OISE Library’s curriculum resources titles are available online. Limit catalogue searches to ebooks by selecting the “Online” search filter. Don’t hesitate to Ask a Librarian for help locating an ebook on a specific topic.

Mindfulness for StudentsWe recommend: Families looking bring mindfulness practices like breath awareness and focusing on gratitude into their homes should check out Mindfulness for Students: A Curriculum for Grades 3-8 by Wendy Fuchs.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts, Language & Literacy, Physical Education, Social Studies, STEM

On this streaming video website, actors read classic children’s books while music, illustrations and captions help listeners (and readers!) follow along. Each title includes a run time, a suggested grade level, and activity guides for parents, such as suggestions for arts and crafts and physical activities.

We recommend: Mindy Sterling reading Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. Do lions belong in the library? Only if they follow the rules! Or listen to Chris Pine read Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale. In this story, Clark learns how creating rhymes can help his memory. After reading, use the parent activity guide to make your own oven mitt shark puppet, or try making a “fish bowl” jello snack with young bakers.

Grade level: Primary
Subject: Language & Literacy

Torontonians who don't yet have a Toronto Public Library card can now access OverDrive, the TPL’s largest collection of ebooks and audiobooks, with the new Instant Digital Card. This temporary card is available to people age 13 and older with a Toronto cell phone number that can receive texts. Access runs through September 1, 2020.

We recommend: The Marrow Theives by Cherie Dimaline, winner of the Governor General's Award for English-language children's literature, is available as both an ebook and audiobook.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Language & Literacy

Unite for Literacy offers free access to over 400 original picture books for beginning readers. Readers can click through the pages, while audio and large text can be used to help practice reading aloud.

We recommend: Make Your Bed by author Michael McGuffee and illustrator Nina Ollikainen explores creative and silly ways for children to make their bed that might inspire some fun indoor play - who knew a bed could become a jungle, a race car, and a library?

Grade level: Primary
Subject: Language & Literacy

Video

On-CoreOn-Core is a licensed collection of streaming videos connected to Ontario’s K-12 curricula. Search by subject, grade, course and/or strand. On-Core is regularly adding new video content relating to COVD-19.

We recommend: Shore Line, a series of short videos about the impact of rising sea levels on those living near the coast, and possibilities for sustainable living in an era of climate change.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts, Language & Literacy, Physical Education, Social Studies, STEM

Can-Core is a resource for Canadian video content aimed at undergraduate university students, but content can easily be adapted for high schoolers. Temporary free access to Can-Core runs through June 30, 2020.

We recommend: Brandy Y's Indigenous Stories: Canada, a series of eleven Indigenous stories from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Lutselke, Northwest Territories.

Grade level: Senior
Subject: Arts, Language & Literacy, Social Studies, STEM

The streaming video platform Kanopy has temporarily expanded U of T’s collection with additional narrative and documentary films until May 30, 2020. The expansion includes the Great Courses, a series of video lectures covering a variety of topics, from algebra to sustainable living. Kanopy resources are primarily aimed at undergraduate students, so are best for curious high schoolers.

We recommend: The Mask You Live In, a 2015 documentary by the Representation Project that explores boys’ struggles with masculine gender stereotypes.

Grade level: Senior
Subject: Arts, Language & Literacy, Social Studies, STEM

National Film Board of CanadaThe NFB’s website includes many free Canadian feature, documentary, and short films, as well as a collection of films marked “campus” that are available to University of Toronto users. Parents and kids can explore the NFB’s online educational content for free for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

We recommend: The Ocean School 4-week unit plan designed for kids aged 11-15.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts, Social Studies, STEM

Streaming video of live plays and theatre productions. Includes theory, criticism and discussion with actors, writers and directors.

Grade level: Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts

Cosmic KidsA YouTube channel featuring yoga, mindfulness and relaxation videos for kids. Cosmic Kids is a favourite resource of Chelsea Humphries, a Graduate Student Library Assistant and certified yoga instructor.

Grade level: Primary, Junior
Subject: Physical Education

CBC’s streaming platform with thousands of programs, documentaries, audio content and archival material is temporarily free for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts, Social Studies, STEM

Music

Naxos Music LibraryContains over 87,000 tracks including classical, jazz, and world music.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts

Medici.TVIncludes a large streaming video collection of concerts, operas, and ballets, plus music documentaries and master classes.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts

Watch video concerts of the acclaimed Berlin philharmonic orchestra. The digital concert halls allows users to search by composer, epoch, or genre.

We recommend: The Berlin Philharmoniker and their Instruments, a series of short video interviews with members of the orchestra.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts

Websites

Explore First Nations, Metis, and Inuit perspectives through audio and visual resources from OISE Library’s Infusing Indigenous Perspectives in K-12 Teaching guide. The guide includes videos, movies, radio programmes, music and virtual reality projects. Resources and descriptions are geared towards teachers, but are still relevant for at-home use.

We recommend: Biidaaban: First Light is a virtual reality project that shows Toronto through the lens of Indigenous futurism. Created by Anishinaabe artist Lisa Jackson, explore an interactive version of Toronto where nature has reclaimed Nathan Phillips Square.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Arts, Language & Literacy, Social Studies, STEM

Media SmartsIt's crucial for kids to be critical thoughtful and consumers of media at all times, but it takes on particular importance when they are spending more time than ever online, and when false information and rumours about Covid-19 can cause real harm. Media Smarts is Canada’s centre for Digital and Media Literacy, and provides free online lessons, games, and activities to help kids develop the tools to locate trustworthy information. Media Smarts has highlighted their favourite resources for families at home.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate
Subject: Language & Literacy, Social Studies

Hour of Code, created by Code.org, compiles over 500 hour-long coding tutorials. Learn about the foundations of computational thinking through activities on conditionals, encryption, or text compression, or write code for your favourite characters from Frozen, Flappy Bird, Star Wars and more.

We recommend: Code.org’s guide Learning Computer Science When Schools are Closed provides a primer for parents and an overview of beginner tutorials, apps, and computer-less (“unplugged”) activities.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: STEM

Scratch is a visual coding language and platform designed by MIT Media Lab. Users can learn the basics of coding by building original animations, games and stories, or by following one of Scratch’s 25 interactive tutorials. Scratch is designed for kids ages 8-16, while a simplified version Scratch Jr. is suited for ages 5-7.

We recommend: Let your name come to life with the Animate a Name tutorial. Learn the layout of Scratch while coding the letters of your name to spin, shrink, or expand, and add a cool backdrop to make your name stand out.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate
Subject: STEM

Virtual MuseumCreated by Canada’s museums and heritage organizations, Virtual Museum of Canada offers over 100 virtual exhibits in English and French. Exhibits cover a wide range of interests including arts, science and technology, transportation, nature, and history. In addition to the virtual exhibits, users can also explore dozens of community stories and activities.

We recommend: ASTROLab du Mont-Megantic’s Canada Under the Stars exhibit explores Canada’s history in astronomy. Discover the astronomers, observatories, and instruments that make up Canada’s stargazing legacy. Learn about space, time and matter or try your own hand at stargazing using the Star Finder tool.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Social Studies, STEM

Literacy Ideas is an Australian website developed by teachers and writing professional that provides reading and writing activities and resources for a variety of ages. Their writing prompts will give parents lots of ideas and strategies for getting kids using their imaginations while they practice writing at home.

Grade level: Junior, Intermediate
Subject: Language & Literacy

CEMC at Home was developed to support teachers, students and parents during the Covid-19 crisis. Activities and exercises are posted most weekdays for each grade level, and resources include games, problems, videos, and apps.

Grade level: Primary, Junior, Intermediate
Subject: STEM

Podcasts

CBC Podcasts in ClassPodcasts in Class combines CBC-produced podcasts with custom-made lesson plans, slides, handouts, homework and videos. Guides were written and vetted by teachers for classroom teaching, but can be adapted for use at home. Tai Asks Why was produced for grades 6-8, and the Secret Life of Canada for grades 10-12.

We recommend: The Secret Life of the Province of Jamaica explores Caribbean migration and black labour and human rights activism in Canada.

Grade level: Intermediate, Senior
Subject: Social Studies

Brains On!Brains On! is a science podcast for kids and adults. Each episode, kids from around the world submit questions on a particular theme, and interview scientists, producers, and other experts. Episodes are 30-50 minutes long and often combine questions in science and history for a full perspective.

We recommend: The episode Books: How They’re Made and How Your Brain Reads Them tackles the interesting question of what happens in our brains when we read. Learn about the history of the printing press, explore the parts of your brain that recognize shapes, letters, and words, and discover how writers think when they come up with new stories.

Grade level: Primary, Junior
Subject: STEM

Created by the Australian Broadcasting Company, Fierce Girls shares the stories of Australia’s female scientists, explorers, activists and artists. 20-minute episodes focus on individual stories of women past and present, and are narrated by leading Australian women in politics, entertainment and athletics.

We recommend: The episode Bindi Irwin: Learn more about Bindi’s work to save animal species across the world, narrated by Australia’s first female Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce.

Grade level: Primary, Junior
Subject: Arts, Social Studies, STEM

NPR: Wow in the WorldFrom America's National Public Radio, the podcast covers topics on nature, outer space, physics, food and more. In light of school closures, Wow in the World is putting our daily episodes called Two Whats and a Wow, which invite listeners to separate scientific facts from fiction.

We recommend: For animal lovers, the episode Nice-Off! Cats vs. Dogs explores the behaviour of cats and dogs to answer the age-old question: which animal is friendlier?

Grade level: Primary, Junior
Subject: STEM