The best digital resources for kindergarten and early elementary classrooms!
Whether you’re teaching virtually or in the classroom, digital resources can boost learning for students and make your job a lot easier. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite tried-and-true learning websites and apps. Some are free, some come with a low price tag, and a few might be perfect for your next Donors Choose campaign.
I know there a bunch more digital resources out there that teachers use regularly, but I don’t want to just make a huge list of every possible resource teachers might use…I’m sticking to the ones that I’ve found most valuable because they provide quality content AND they’re engaging for little learners.
ABCYa is my number one go to website for fun learning games. I love it because:
- You can search for the perfect game by grade level and Common Core State Standard
- Students can easily navigate the website: it’s color-coded by subject and easy to get back to the main page
- Differentiation is a breeze: you can choose the difficulty on many games and a report pops up at the end so you can see how the student did & what they need to work on
- It’s free!
The one con is that every page has ads that students can easily click. But with a little training, students can learn not to click on them. For awhile, our school was able to block them, but I’m not sure if that’s still possible.
You can also pay for a subscription to get ad-free content and a few other features, but at $25 a month for one class, it’s definitely an investment.
How to use ABCYa for distance learning:
Choose a game for your students based on the skill you want them to work on and assign it. If you need proof that they played the game, you could have them take a screenshot of the reports page at the end.
I’ve also heard of GoGuardian, which is an app that helps teachers see what students are doing on their school-issued devices, and you can get reports about where they’re spending their time. Honestly, I’m a little on the fence about this idea, but I’ve heard positive things from people who have seen it in action. So that would be another way that you could verify whether students are doing their work.
Here’s a little video I made that highlights some of these awesome features:
#2. PBS Kids – Games
My other go-to digital resource has been the games section on the PBS Kids website. It’s not as user-friendly for students and as far as I know, you can’t search for a game based on CCSS skill.
But there are sections for math games, letter games, reading games, etc. so you can find what you’re looking for that way. There are even categories for social-emotional growth and teamwork, so that’s pretty cool.
The games are fun and feature some of kids’ favorite tv characters, so they’re definitely engaging. My absolute favorite game on PBS Kids is Odd Squad’s Code Breaker.
The goal is to get across the board by following the pattern at the top and collecting juice boxes on the way. It gets increasingly more difficult – both in terms of the pattern and the obstacles on the board. It’s such a fun and challenging game! Here’s a screenshot of level 1:
How to use PBS Kids Games for distance learning:
Just like with ABCYa, you could assign a game for students to play at home that focuses on a certain skill. Unfortunately PBS Kids doesn’t have the reports like ABCYa does, so you probably couldn’t use the screenshot idea as proof.
#3. Epic Books
There are lots of options for digital books out there, but out of all the ones I’ve tried, Epic Books is my favorite. When I used it for distance learning last year, I was able to assign books to individual students or groups at their reading level…and they have a HUGE library of high-interest and leveled books to choose from.
Not only that, but I was able to get a report that told me how long students were spending on the book, how many times they read it (or what page they stopped on if they didn’t read it all), and what other books they looked at.
Some books even have a feature where students can click on a word they don’t know and it will tell them what it says.
Here’s a video that Alison from Learning at the Primary Pond put together. It gives a really nice overview of how teachers can use Epic Books in their classrooms.
Epic is always free for classroom use between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., whether you’re teaching in person or virtually, which is awesome! On top of that, there’s a version called Epic Free, which allows students use the app at home for up to 2 hours a week outside of the school day, but the library is limited.
If parents want to subscribe to Epic at home, it’s $7.99 a month for up to 4 kids…which is less than the cost of most print books, so that’s not a bad price!
How to use Epic Books for distance learning:
It’s so easy! All you have to do is create your class and send students their login info. Next, assign books to individual students or groups based on their reading level. That’s it!
While I was teaching virtually, I would always assign books to my students on Tuesdays & Thursdays, and over the weekend I would ask them to read 3 books on their own.
If you’ve read any of my blog posts or been to my TpT store at all, then you know I’m a HUGE fan of Seesaw! It’s the perfect digital resource for little learners because:
- It’s easy to use on any device (I even had a student or two use it on a cell phone)
- There are tons of fun, developmentally appropriate activities that have already been created
- You can add voice instructions & videos so your students can work independently
- Differentiation is super easy – assign activities to your whole class or individual students
- Links to other websites can be inserted into your activities
- You can give written or audio feedback on submitted assignments
- And the list goes on!
There are 3 levels of Seesaw and each has different features: Seesaw Free, Seesaw Plus ($120 per year), and Seesaw for Schools (gotta get a quote for that one!). You can read more about each level by clicking here.
And here’s quick little video that explains what makes it so awesome for parents, teachers, and students:
#5. Boom Learning
This is another incredible learning platform that became really popular during distance learning. According to the website, “Boom Cards are self-grading exercises that are gamified and provide the data teachers want.”
Basically, students go through a series of “cards” and complete the activities. They get instant feedback – it tells them if the answer is right or wrong so they can learn from their errors. And there are some great reports so teachers can see how students are performing.
You can use it for free, but there are several membership levels ranging from $15-$35 per year, which is such a reasonable price for the great features you get access to!
Full disclosure: I only experimented with Boom Cards a little bit during distance learning because I felt like families already had a lot on their plates without adding another platform to the mix. So I don’t know all there is to know about it…but I was very impressed with them! I would have definitely incorporated them into my teaching had I stayed in the classroom this year.
Here’s a video overview from Della Larson (the QUEEN of Boom Cards!):
How to use Boom Cards for distance learning:
Honestly, it’s almost as though Boom Cards were made for distance learning! Whether you’re teaching in the classroom or virtually, students need to have an account in order to complete the Boom Decks. That means all you have to do is assign decks to your students and they can complete them wherever they are.
This is one of those resources that would be a great candidate for a Donors Choose campaign because it’s a little spendy, but it’s such a great resource!
Scholastic Let’s Find Out is a weekly magazine made just for kindergarten. It covers all sorts of science and social studies topics in an age-appropriate way that encourages literacy development. 3 of the 4 issues are standard magazine style, and one issue is a rebus reader with repetitive text so students can read them.
Each issue comes with lots of awesome print and digital resources, like:
- Both print and digital copies
- A teacher’s guide and jumbo teacher copy
- Short videos that give an intro to the topic, plus fun little videos to extend learning
- A digital game that fits the topic and addresses an academic skill
- A themed brain break video
- 2-4 printables to extend the learning
Here’s an overview:
I was fortunate enough to have access to Scholastic Let’s Find Out magazines every year I was teaching…without them, I honestly don’t know how I would have incorporated as much science and social studies as I did.
How to Use Scholastic Let’s Find Out for distance learning:
Students can access the digital materials from home! You can assign the magazine, the videos, the games, whatever you’d like and they can just log in and get to work. You can also send home the print magazines and printable activities if you want them to have a physical copy.
What would YOU add to this list?
Do you have other go-to digital resources that you can’t live without? If so, tell me about them in the comments below!