Resources to support home learning

7 January, 2021

It may be a New Year, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a fresh start! With schools closed for the foreseeable future, here is a round-up of some of the resources available to help you deliver the literacy curriculum remotely.

Writing inspiration:

Encouraging children to write can be a struggle at the best of times but here are a few websites that could help to provide the spark that will inspire them.

Authorfy Classroom provides free video masterclasses with best-selling and award-winning authors. You don’t need to have read or to have access to the book to take part and there are also cross-curricular schemes of work to download. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Literacy Shed provides free access to a wide range of high-quality films and animations that can be used in the primary classroom. Many of the films come with teaching or writing prompts, but you can also access fully resourced unit plans by subscribing to Literacy Shed +. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Pobble 365: Every day Pobble 365 posts a single image with five related writing activities. Access is free with a Forever Free account that also allows teachers to save an image to use later and to access the Pobble Writing Bank, the world’s largest bank of children’s own work. The Forever Free account also provides a 14-day free trial of the My Class subscription package, which includes lesson plans that you can share with pupils at home and an upload feature for your pupils’ own work. (Suitable for KS1 and KS2.)

Talk for Writing produced 40 English units for remote learning that cover Reception to Year 7 for the last lockdown. They are still available to download for free and there will be more added over the coming weeks. You can also get creative ideas to inspire writing from Talk for Writing educational consultant Jamie Thomas’ blog. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Young Writers run writing competitions throughout the year for nurseries, primary and secondary schools. Registering for a free account will also allow you to download resources and upload pupils’ entries via their Writing Portal. KS1 and KS2 poetry competitions are running now with a closing date of Friday 12th Feb – a great lockdown project! (Suitable for KS1 – KS4.)

Access to books and stories:

Audible: During the first lockdown last spring, Audible made hundreds of children’s audiobooks available without a membership and the offer is still available. There is also a 30-day free trial on the main site, which could be worth passing on to parents.

The Book of Hopes is a collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures contributed by more than 100 children’s writers and illustrators. The book has been made available to read online for free on the National Literacy Trust website, where you can also find accompanying teaching resources for primary schools and Year 7. The resources were developed to help children with the return to school in September but could be adapted for the current home learning environment. You will need to sign up as a member of the NLT to access some of the resources, but they are available on the free basic membership. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Books for Topics has put together Storytime Online, a list of videos of authors and illustrators reading their stories on YouTube. (Suitable for KS1 and KS2.)

The British Library has a free online resource called Discovering Children’s Books that, as well as exploring the history of children’s literature, includes masterclasses with illustrators, author interviews and activities to spark children’s own stories, poems and illustrations. The site is designed to be used in the classroom but check the usage terms for each item to make sure that material is available for reuse. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Festivals: You can still watch the author events and interviews from two of last year’s big children’s literature festivals online for free. Barnes Children’s Literature Festival at Home featured Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell, Jeremy Strong and many more. You can also head over to the Hay Festival’s Education site for access to last year’s digital schools programme, which also comes with a selection of teaching materials. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Harper Collins’ Fun and Learning Hub provides a number of free teaching resource packs based on books by popular authors such as Michael Morpurgo, David Walliams and Ross Welford. (Suitable for KS2 – KS3.)

The National Literacy Trust’s Virtual School Library provides free access to one book, either as an ebook or audio book, over the course of each week, alongside a short video by the author and their recommended top three children’s books. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Oxford Owl: Sign up to the Oxford Owl website for teachers for free access to storytelling videos that include traditional tales, myths and legends and some of the Biff, Chip and Kipper stories. All the stories are retold by professional storytellers and most come with a set of teaching notes that provide comprehension and other grammar, writing and cross-curricular activities.

As a member you will also have access to 130 free ebooks that you can share with pupils. You can also subscribe to the ebook library to access the full collection of over 500 titles. (Suitable for KS1 and KS2.)

The Puffin Schools website has a range of resources to support teachers. The Story Makers Show videos include masterclasses with illustrators, and interviews with authors. There are also teaching resource packs for a selection of picture books and popular titles such as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Wonder, and the Percy Jackson series.  (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

Room to Read is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa. It is providing free access to its library of picture books from around the world via its online platform Literacy Cloud. (Suitable for KS1).

Storynory provides free audio stories for children. The Sunday Times described it as “Jackanory, but on iTunes instead of television.” All the stories are read by professional actors and include myths, fairy stories, poetry, children’s classics, as well as original stories. (Suitable for KS1 – KS3.)

The World Book Day website has a host of resources for book and reading-related activities. For younger children, the Share a Story Corner has nearly 20 story videos that children can watch, while older children can still access the workshops and masterclasses from last year’s World Book Day, with new videos for 2021 being added later this month. All of the videos come with free resources to download. (Suitable for EYFS – KS3.)

Lesson plans, teaching resources and online lessons:

BBC Bitesize Learning at Home website has a range of resources and curriculum-mapped live lessons to support all areas of the National Curriculum for primary and secondary schools. The BBC is also increasing its educational programming over the coming weeks. (Suitable for KS1 – KS4.)

Classroom Secrets provides a series of gov.uk recommended free home learning packs for primary pupils. Access to the full selection of over 5300 resources starts from £4.83/month. (Suitable for KS1 – KS2.)

The English and Media Centre has over 30 free resources available to support home learning, including units of work for Years 7-11, and revision packs and reading guides for Years 10-11. They are also running an online course on Monday 18th January with practical ideas and strategies to help teachers structure effective online teaching for English. Cost £10. (Resources suitable for KS3 – KS5.)

Jane Considine will be teaching English #LiveLessons every weekday between Monday 11th January and Friday 12th February, beginning at 9.45am and finishing at 10.45 am (GMT). The lessons will cover three units of work selected from Jane Considine’s English Unit Plans and will be available on YouTube and Facebook. For full details click here. (Suitable for KS1 and KS2.)

The Literacy Company is the home of the Pathways Literacy programmes. These include the home learning support package Pathways to Home Learning, which provides fully planned and resourced literacy units linked to national expectations for each year group. Available to purchase from The Literacy Company website. (Suitable for EYFS – KS2.)

Oak National Academy is an online classroom that was created in response to the first lockdown. It supplies free, high-quality video lessons and resources across the curriculum from EYFS to KS4. There are already nearly 10,000 lessons available with new lessons being added all the time. The new Teacher Hub allows you to browse and save lessons and resources to help with planning, as well as offering the ability to edit and customise a lesson to suit your needs. (Suitable for EYFS – KS5.)

Teachers’ Pet have launched a new Home Learning Hub containing weekly timetables of activities and resource packs for primary pupils. Access to the Hub is free using their ‘Starter’ membership. (Suitable for KS1 – KS2.)

Teachit English has pulled together a selection of resources to support home learning for KS3, GCSE and A-level, some of which are available with their free membership. Individual and department subscriptions are required to gain access to all the Teachit English resources. (Suitable for KS3 – KS5.)

Twinkl have made access to Twinkl Go! – their collection of interactive digital learning resources – free throughout school closures. The collection contains games, videos, audiobooks and activities covering all subjects of the primary and secondary curriculum. For more information about how Twinkl can support online learning, you can also read their blog. (Suitable for EYFS – KS4.)

We hope that this list is helpful. It is a work in progress so if you have found a resource that is helping you through these unprecedented times, please let us know: [email protected].

You can find more general resources to help you meet the demands of the literacy curriculum on the Literacy Hive website. Start your search here.

Open computer sitting on table