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Wide Open School

What is it:

Wide Open School is a free, ad-free, very comprehensive set of lesson plans for all ages, gathered from 75 different educational websites such as Khan Academy, TedED, YouTube, Google Arts & Culture and many others.

The lesson plans change every day, including weekends, and are available up to two weeks in advance, and up to a month afterward.

Here is one day’s resources for grades K-2 for Friday, September 18, 2020:

1) Activity: Number Jump
Get your wiggles out and jump from number to number as you count from one to 10.
Source: Fun-a-Day

2) Video: Cultures Around the World
Discover different cultural traditions from around the world and the things we all have in common, too.
Source: Candy Seed

3) Audio: The Imagine Neighborhood
From the Committee for Children, this show encourages kids to use their imaginations to talk about the big feelings we all have.
Source: Committee for Children

4) Screen Break: Make a Mexican Cuff Bracelet
Make a repujado bracelet with some simple materials. Make some for family members, too.
Source: Spanglish Baby

5) Video: School Garden Tour
Check out this narrated photo tour of the Wilshire Crest Elementary School garden, chock-full of all kinds of different plants.
Source: Garden School Foundation

6) Lesson: Hour of Code
Try these engaging, one-hour introductory computer science tutorials, appropriate for all ages. There are hundreds of activities and tutorials in over 45 languages.
Source: code.org

7) Video: The Seven Continents
Sing this catchy song to learn about the continents. Then look at a map or globe and see if you can name them all.
Source: FuntasticTV.com

And there are additonal activities such as exercise recommendations, links to live cooking classes and musical events, and information on issues such as digital citizenship and emotional well-being.

Who is it for:

This website could be for teachers looking for free resources for teaching in the classroom or remotely, for parents who want to give their children additional activities beyond school, for self-directed kids looking for something fun and interesting, and is perhaps best suited for homeschooling families who need to set their kids up with a broad curriculum.

What Kids Like:

The resources are mostly self-directed things such as a video on a particular topic (e.g. grammar) and a set of questions that prompt the child to think about the content of the video. And so the kid can skip ahead if bored or take as much time as needed.

Many of the resources are fun, such as online math games or videos with songs. These are not as fun as playing Mario Bros., for example, but certainly more fun than listening to a teacher lecture and having to wait for other kids.

What Parents Like:

The curricula are very complete. If I wanted to do a week of summer school, or wanted my kids to only do screen time with educational projects, I could just go to this site and have everything I need.

What the Critics Think:

I’ve not seen any reviews of this site other than on its own partner sites. Most of the sites that might have a review are among the list of 75 groups that partner with Wide Open School, which is itself a good endorsement.

Concerns/Flaws:

I don’t have any concerns about the quality of Wide Open School, and haven’t found any flaws. It’s very well thought out. My only warning to a potential user of this site is that it still needs a teacher or parent to guide the child during activities and to transition from one activity to the next. You can’t just sit your kid in front of the screen and come back in 2 hours assuming they got a full dose of learnin’.

Who Made it:

Wide Open School is a project of Common Sense Media which offers high-quality reviews of movies, books, and games for children.

The site was designed and built by Amplify, a Brooklyn-based educational technology company that creates K–8 core and supplemental curriculum, assessment, and intervention programs used on all 50 states.

History:

As stated on Wide Open School’s About page:

Wide Open School began as a way to meet the change in learning needs of students, teachers, and families due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our work represents the collective action of more than 75 content partners and supporters.

The pandemic has highlighted the invaluable role that teachers play in students’ lives. It has also made the connection between schools and families more essential than ever. We’ve continued to improve the site so parents, caregivers, and teachers can find the advice and support they seek about distance and hybrid learning and so students in preschool through grade 12 can easily find engaging learning activities.

All of the resources on Wide Open School have been curated by the editors at Common Sense in what will be a challenging school year, to say the least. Every day students can access free, high-quality activities across subjects, all in one place, in an easy-to-use experience designed and built by Amplify.

Protecting kids’ privacy while they learn and explore online is core to our mission. We have screened sites to only include those that meet or exceed our basic requirements for security and privacy. It is up to individual discretion to review the privacy policies and information-collection practices of any external websites and apps before using them with children.

Where Can I Get it:

Wide Open School is free, ad-free, and available to anyone at https://wideopenschool.org/