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Homeschooling during lockdown: The best online resources for maths, science and computing

Louise Whitbread
This week, the BBC launched an extended version of its Bitesize educational website. We've reviewed what it has to offer, along with other handy resources: iStock

Primary schools in England are now open for pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 in smaller class sizes, as well as all children of critical workers and vulnerable children, thanks to the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

From 15 June, teachers from secondary schools and further education colleges have been providing face to face support for year 10 and 12 students too, who are preparing for exams next year, however, only a quarter of these pupils will be in school at any one time.

If you’re child is continuing to study from home, we’ve found all the best resources to help.

Resources for all subjects are plentiful and we’ve narrowed down the best in order to help you stay on top of your child’s curriculum.

In April, the BBC launched an extended version of its Bitesize educational website. Students can now access BBC Bitesize Daily, where resources and lessons are helpfully divided up by age group, and it's also available on BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button, where lessons will be broadcasted from 9am.

The website has enlisted the help of British celebrities to engage children too, from Sir David Attenborough giving lessons on all things geography related, to Spanish lessons from the footballer Sergio Aguero. But it's not all for children, as the site also offers homeschooling advice for parents and carers.

For more information and ideas for teaching kids at home, check out our review of the best homeschooling books at IndyBest, where our best buy was I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree, by Fiona Waters. There are also plenty of educational activities for your children to crack on with in our roundup of the best live lessons during lockdown.

Up ahead we have the best resources for maths, science and computing subjects.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Maths

Bedtime Math

If you want to keep their minds active with mathematical topics such as spatial reasoning, measurements, volumes, ratios and fractions while reducing screen time, Bedtime Maths is a great option. It provides 10-30 minute exercises that you can do without using a phone or tablet.

Instead of relying on technology, it details a maths-based game and how many children can play using household items, food, drawings and treasure maps that you can print off.

Math Playground

This hosts colourful games to entertain young children working at a KS1 and KS2 level. It covers sums, shapes, graphs, geometry and logic. We would recommend muting the page however, as the songs on the website are loud and could distract your other children, and you, from working.

It also has videos to teach more complex terms such as perimeters, fractions, division and line plots if your child learns better with visual aids, and it will encourage independent learning while you get some of your own work done.

BBC Bitesize Daily

The lessons here are usefully planned for the week ahead and organised by year group, from Year 1 to Year 10. They've been created with teachers and other educational experts and feature a mix of videos, animations, practice activities, quizzes and games, so kids won't get bored of the same style of learning.

After choosing the right age, you'll see the lessons are split up into subjects and days, so kids will get a good range of the lessons over the coming weeks.

This week, its maths lessons cover using standard index form and types of numbers. The former shadow chancellor and economics expert, Ed Balls, will be delivering maths classes this week too, for 11-14-year-olds.

Science

Ask Dr Universe

Does your child ever ask questions that you don’t know the answer to? Such as why are carrots orange or why do flowers smell nice? Next time, point them to Ask Dr Universe, which answers all of those tricky questions.

They can input their own questions about the world, plus access a bank of answered ones across every topic imaginable. The service is for children at all learning levels.

Maddie Moate

Suitable for KS1 and KS2 children, Maddie Moate is a television presenter who demonstrates daily science experiments you can try at home.

From dissecting daffodils, soap-making tutorials or discovering how snowflakes are made, it’s fun, easy-to-follow and will ensure primary school children stay entertained.

The videos range between three to 30 minutes long so you can fit them into a homemade timetable easily.

Access Mars

For students currently studying planets and the solar system, Access Mars is an interactive tool that allows you to explore the surface of a 3D replica Mars. It’s built upon images of the planet and was created by NASA JPL scientists.

It allows you to map the terrain and learn about its geology through the eyes of the NASA Curiosity Rover which was sent to Mars in 2011.

BBC Bitesize Daily

This week’s biology lessons are teaching children about the structure of a leaf and atoms, with lessons on elements and compounds for Year 8 students, an introduction to light and dark for Year 3 and cell diffusion and osmosis for Year 10 students.

Computing and Coding

Dance Mat Typing

To improve your child’s skills with a keyboard, Dance Mat Typing is a free online programme that uses animated animal characters, graphics and sounds to develop typing abilities.

There are three stages to complete in each of the four levels, and the animal cartoon teachers narrate where to put your hands on the keyboards and which fingers to type with.

The child-friendly interface will allow you to leave kids unattended while they work their way through each level.

Scratch

This is an online coding tool that encourages kids to create stories, games and animations from scratch. It’s designed for children aged between eight and 16, but it also has a simplified version for five to seven-year-olds.

It also has a community where it encourages children and parents or carers to share work, collaborate on building things through coding and get feedback on creations. You can also download the Scratch app from its website here and it’s compatible with Android, Mac, Windows and Chrome OS.

Code

For budding Star Wars fans, Code was created to expand access to computer science in schools, particularly to encourage girls, young women and underrepresented minorities to get involved.

You can start projects and play games and quizzes, and it even has a Star Wars project in which you build a galaxy using javascript – a programming tool that allows you to build code to perform specific tasks.

It also teaches kids how to use drag and drop blocks, which is a simplified way of creating instruction blocks to build games, apps and characters for younger children.

Additionally, it has Code Breaks, which are live interactive classes led by special guest speakers who set activities and challenges each week. They are held every Wednesday at 10am PST (that’s 5pm in the UK). This week's special guest is Bill Gates.

Read our guide on the best live lessons to help homeschool kids during lockdown

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