Thursday, 4 June 2020

Students must know their Facts before Practice!

Recently on a social media platform I noticed a post along the lines of:

"I have students in my class who are still doing repeated addition and other approaches to do their tables!  What are some good practice activities both to help these children with their tables?"

The concern I have with this question is that if students do not know their tables giving them practice examples will not help them learn them, they will just keep using the method that they know.

We as teachers need to make sure that students "know" the tables before asking them to practice them.

Imagine a Sports Coach who says, "I know I have not taught you how to pass the ball correctly but just go and practice the correct way anyway. I will call you back in 5"

As a Mathematics Adviser years ago we talked about:
New Learning
New Learning as the label suggests is the new skills, methods, procedures that a student has not previously learnt
Practice is the activities used to  help ensure New Learning is committed to memory etc
Maintenance is the long term practice of previously learnt skills concepts etc.

I can remember being corrected after using the oft quoted phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect". I believe it may have been a Physical Education Adviser who said, "NO! it has to be Correct Practice Makes Perfect"
To me this must be at the back of our minds as we set activities for students to do, 
is it the correct practice they are doing? 

(I used this regularly when working with teachers from the 80's to 20's)

Mastery of a fact is indicated by the students’ ability to: 
•Show it with materials, talk about it and write or draw about it
    This demonstrate, record and explain stage is vital for the initial development of understanding.              This is done by presenting the fact in a meaningful context and having the  student model it with a variety of materials and record in a way appropriate to their level.

•Have instant recall
    Students need to have memorisation routines to achieve instant recall.  This is not rote                 learning, rote learning implies a lack of understanding.
    The goal is for the students to internalise the facts so that the recall is quick and effortless.      
This can only happen once the concepts behind the facts are understood.
    Explore possible strategies for helping to organise information in a 
table to make memorising easier

    • Practice is needed to make the facts automatic “PRACTICE IS ESSENTIAL”
    • Allow time each day/week for it to happen.
    The routines suggested below will have two purposes a) self assessment and by finding a     method         that works for them.
Routines you might choose to use with the students to help them memorise a basic fact.....

1.    Identify the fact to be learned
    Correctly record the fact
    Look at it say it, write it with your finger 5 times
    Look at it say it write with your pencil 5 times
    Cover it, write it, check that it is correct
    Repeat the routine if necessary

2.    Write the fact in big numbers on a piece of paper
    Trace it with your finger saying it out loud
    Close you eyes and say it
    Turn the paper over and see if you can write it
    Check it, give your self a pat on the back if you were correct.

3.    With older students explore how they can best    
    memorise the basic facts, let them try their method
    and test a partner to see if it is successful

Expect/demand that the students learn their facts.  
They are capable of it-just look at the way they memorise moves in computer games

• Use facts when solving problems
    Can be done through a variety of activities such as mental problems, games and quizzes

Knowledge of single digit number facts is essential, mental arithmetic is a 
valuable skill and both enhance “NUMBER SENSE”

•    begin to memorise basic arithmetic facts soon after they have
    demonstrated an understanding of symbolic statements
    students should be able to demonstrate their understanding of the 
mathematical concept with equipment, verbally and in writing.
•    participate in practice activities with intent to memorise
    using fingers, tally marks etc as aids is not practicing memorisation
•    practice during practice sessions
    short and snappy, not time for explaining or teaching.  
Give instant feedback of correct fact.
•    be involved in short practice sessions every day when possible
    5-10 minutes is long enough. Keep students enthusiastic
•    try to memorise only one fact each session
    keep the task realistic and manageable
•    constantly review previously memorised facts
    we all forget!!! especially add/subt once students move on to mult/div

    be praised and reminded of what they already know, by the teacher
    express confidence in the students ability to memorise.  
Capitalise on the pleasure they feel with success

    be involved in verbal practice activities and receive immediate    
    feedback use full class response drills cautiously.  
It is difficult to tell what individual students are saying or    
 whether they are participating.
•    be exposed to a variety of activities
    have a pool of activities and change frequently to maintain interest
•    be praised for good efforts and keep a record of their progress
    be enthusiastic, praise students ability to memorise rather than ‘clever practices’.

DON’T CONFUSE TESTING WITH TEACHINGTimed tests emphasise speed where the emphasis should be on persistence and understanding.  Those students who do well under time pressure get to show off their skills and they are the ones who DON’T need the practice.  The students who have difficulty, work more slowly and run the risk of reinforcing wrong practices under pressure and develop fearful and negative attitudes to math’s learning.
 Prior to ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ (1989) the School Inspectorate noted that they found a great deal of testing of tables and very little teaching of tables.

I leave you with this thought, 
"Is the anguish and energy over Basic Facts Learning and Memorisation 
as important as we think it needs to be?
Should we be helping students to explore processes and thinking?"

It is interesting to note that many Mathematicians, and Leading Math's Educators 
(Jo Boaler included) do not know all of their Basic Facts yet have succeeded mathematical


Inequality here in New Zealand is alive and active as well.

This arrived in my inbox this morning, from YouCubed (Jo Boaler)  I felt that I had to post as we have similar disparity in New Zealand, in Education, in Society.  We all need to look into our hearts and see how we can change to create equality in our own small worlds.

Hello youcubians,

We at youcubed extend our support for educators fighting the structural racism in the US daily. We have all witnessed the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We also have all watched video of how Amy Cooper weaponized the police against a black man. Our hearts grieve for their families and the Black community. We acknowledge that for people of color in our nation, this violence is not new, but ongoing.

At this time, we are strengthening our commitment to fight for a more just society. To us, good teaching that is inclusive of all students, with high expectations for all, is central to an equity-focused teaching approach. Moving forward we commit to our community that we will:
  • Seek out districts and schools with predominant population of black students and other oppressed groups, and faculty to participate in research
  • Highlight the work of black mathematicians and educators throughout the world
  • Develop a webpage for the site that shares activities and teaching practices built on culturally sustaining pedagogies
  • Continue to fight for education legislation that disrupts the systemic oppression of black, brown, and low-income people
All educators have the power to make a tremendous impact in the pursuit of equity, and mathematics educators probably have more than most, as mathematics is such an inequitable subject. Here are some actions moving forward:
  • An important initiative is de-tracking and offering high level content to all students to help end the racial disparities we currently see. 
  • A more specific action that is important for tackling racism in the classroom is teaching students to value each other’s ideas, and to respect each other.
We mention these ideas to remind us all that we can make a difference through our teaching and leading practices. We also want you to know that whatever route you want to take, we are here to help; equity is our first and most important mission.

Viva La Revolution!
The youcubed team

Friday, 24 April 2020

NCETM: Mixed Ability Vs Ability Groups

 Sorry if I am repeating myself, but I know there is still ability grouping happening in some classrooms.  Many of us may have suffered under this structure-if we were not in the "top group" we considered ourselves dum!!! 

In real life we don't group we work cooperatively with all types of people, ethnicities and so called "academic achievements"

We really need to  re-think our classroom organisations to create better learning environments to encourage enjoyment and achievement.  If we reflect on what is happening in homes all around the world at the moment there are all levels of ability, interest, age working together on maths activities and investigations (hopefully all happily!)

'Not working in ability groups has been a revelation'

two pupils in classroom
One of the first things Year 4 teacher Tracey Baruah tried when her school joined the Mastery Readiness Programme was abandoning the practice of putting children in different groups according to their perceived ability.
But Tracey, maths lead at Spring Bank Primary School in Leeds, with over 25 years' teaching behind her, quickly saw the benefits:
Not working in ability groups has been quite a revelation, she enthuses.
Watching Tracey lead a class discussion with Year 4, it is striking that all the children are involved, and that the discussion she’s leading is only possible because the children have all been working on the same, open-ended question.
Question from lesson
Sarah Hawes, the headteacher, notes the high level of engagement from all children:
…and that speaks volumes about how children rise to the challenge. Regardless of what their ability is deemed to be, if you give them an equal opportunity at something, they rise to it. They will have a go.
Sarah explains that they now often use the format of question we have seen in the Year 4 lesson: asking children what they know, and what they can find out. It has really helped pupil confidence because it removes the feeling of ‘I can’t do it’.
Spring Bank Primary School is a one-form entry school in the Headingley area of Leeds. Following an Ofsted judgement of Requires Improvement (RI), the school joined the Mastery Readiness Programme with the West Yorkshire Maths Hub. They took the decision to remove ‘ability’ groups early on, hoping to increase all children’s success in maths.
Pupil confidence is one of the things that has been improved by removing ability-groupings, says Tracey:
Some of my children came into Year 3, last year, thinking ‘That work’s not for me’. And now they would never say that.
Sarah agrees:
Children will still say ‘Yes, I find maths tricky, but I know what to do to help me, I know who I can talk to, I know what I can use’. I think historically, when we did do that three-way, five-way differentiation, we were labelling. I really do feel it labels children. And children aren’t daft – they know when they’re not getting the hard work.
So, how does giving the whole class the same problem help build all children’s confidence? Sarah explains that those children who might previously have been given work for ‘lower ability’ pupils would never get the opportunity to see or hear the most difficult maths being done in the class and to engage with it. She says, ‘Now all children are seeing the best possible (mathematical) outcomes (from the problems set)’. Not only that, Tracey points out, but their contributions are being valued by others in the class:
They are also getting someone saying to them, ‘Oh right, actually that’s a really good way, I’d not thought about doing that,’ or, ‘Show me how you did it, oh right, that’s a really good way to do it’.
teacher with pupils in classroom
Furthermore, Sarah points out that ability-grouping was crude and didn’t allow for times when children found a topic easier or harder than usual:
We’ve also talked about how one size doesn’t fit all. All children have different skills, different areas of expertise, different understanding. You can have a child that really struggles with calculations and problem-solving but is a complete whizz when it comes to time or money. They bring those skills to the table.
And what about those children that might previously have been on the ‘top table’ or doing ‘harder’ work? Tracey says that children can still be challenged, but by deepening their understanding rather than racing on to the next topic with only a procedural understanding of the previous one:
At the other end of the spectrum, the ‘more able’ children, they’re still engaged in what you want them to do. And they’re able to share their expertise. There are lots of very subtle ways that you can extend them. It doesn’t have to be a different activity. It can be through your questioning. When children are busy, there’s lots of scope to go and ask individual questions.
Sarah adds:
It’s not just about ‘they are very good at that, let’s see what’s harder, or more challenging or a bigger number’ – the old style of looking at challenging maths. The staff collectively really do understand that going deeper is about the reasoning, the explanation, the ‘how can you show this?’ I think the children have really embraced that as well – they understand that it’s not just about harder maths and bigger numbers, it’s about truly understanding.
two pupils in classroom
Removing ability-grouping is just one aspect of how things have changed at Spring Bank Primary School. To hear the whole story of how the school has thrived as part of the NCETM Mastery Readiness Programme, supported by West Yorkshire Maths Hub, listen to Tracey and Sarah in this NCETM podcast. It’s an inspiring story.

Another Newsletter from youcubed!! Really worthwhile for all teachers(and parents)

"youcubed" was initiated by Jo Boaler, Stanford University.  She is a leader in new approaches for the teaching and learning of Maths, and this increases maths achievement and attitudes for students.

Hello youcubians,
In our work at youcubed we have found that freedom in mathematics allows students to thrive. Freedom in mathematics can mean many different things- freedom to talk about their ideas and thinking, to approach problems with different methods, freedom to explore and discover, freedom to make mistakes, and freedom to ask questions and be creative. To learn more, you can visit our webpage on mathematical freedom:
Our webpage on mathematical freedom was written with classrooms in mind, but as the learning moves home, we wanted to make sure to highlight mathematical freedom, as we know it is one of the keys for students to feel comfortable with mathematics. A great example of mathematical freedom we have noticed in the past few days has been your own usage of the activities we have shared. We have loved seeing and reading about how you have used the activities as a spring-board to come up with your own adaptations and creative ideas. We are sharing some of your mathematics: what we’ve seen and heard from you.
  • After working on Emoji Graph with her dad, a neighbor, Maesie (Kinder), started a table to track the growth of her newly planted tomatoes. After they collect more data they plan to graph the data.
  • Twitter user @RichelleVPearc1 was inspired by our counting videos. Their ice cream shop focused on counting out amounts, estimating bigger and smaller, and play. She shared these lovely pictures with us
Through #YoucubedAtHome on social media and conversations in our neighborhoods, we’ve been inspired by you. Please keep using the hashtag to share your ideas with our community! Additionally, the activities below will be collected at along with those we’ve shared over the last few weeks. Feel free to share the link and forward the newsletter to anyone you think might enjoy them!

  • Neighborhood Numbers (K-5): As you are walking with your child there are many conversations you can have about the numbers on the houses and apartments around you. You can ask: What is that number? How do you say it? Are the numbers getting bigger or smaller? By how much? What do you think the next number will be? What do you notice about the numbers on the other side of the street? Are there any patterns? Where are the even numbers? Odd? How do they increase? Is there a starting point?
  • Nim Games (3-12): Mathematical games are often simple to play, but hard to master and Nim Games are no exception. You only need a handful of beans or coins to play but with so many variations, Nim Games can bring entertainment for hours. 
  • Finger Painting (K-8): Is there really mathematics in finger painting? Yes, of course there is! From finger discrimination and counting to systems thinking about mixing colors this art activity includes mathematics at every stage.
  • Estimating (K-12): Estimating might sound like an activity from young children, and although it is fantastic for them to estimate how many pieces of candy are in a jar or how many crackers come in a box, older students can also benefit from these and take them to the next level.
  • Emoji Graph (K-12): We shared this great activity a few weeks back and were excited to see Maesie and her family use it and get creative with it. What else can you graph?

Cheers and good health,
Youcubed Content Team
Copyright © 2020 youcubed, All rights reserved.
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Monday, 6 April 2020

We Are All Teachers Now

Resources for parenst at home and teachers for distance learning.

We are all teachers now: resources for parents and kids cooped up at home



Click on the link above.

More than 861 million children are learning from home now, as schools globally shutter to try and slow the spread of Covid-19.
Parents are all teachers now. A Quartz team made up of education reporters, former teachers, and parents have compiled useful resources to help parents navigate this transition. They are neither comprehensive nor meant to replace the learning your kids’ schools are trying to put in place. They are things to use to augment school assignments and help fill the other hours in ways that that you, and hopefully your kids, can feel good about.
We all know there are special challenges to every age, but high schools kids can direct their own learning, and younger kids need socialization and less focus on academics. Much of this guide is focused on elementary (primary) school children, ages five to 12. But there’s a special chapter for 0-3 and some links for older kids too.
Here are the basics: make a schedule—we need to create order when there is none—forgive yourself when you realize you are a terrible teacher (and then send a note to your teacher expressing appreciation), recognize that kids will be on screens way more than anyone wants, and keep an eye on their well-being and yours.
In many cases, the goal is not to make sure they stay exactly on target (or to scramble to catch up if they are behind), but to give them routines, make sure there is variety in the day—outdoors! cook! read! play games! socialize in safe social distancing ways! and provide comforting continuity. There will be days when they binge-watch The Magic School Bus (words you never thought you would see together) or The Great British Bake-Off (again). Older kids will waste time, obsess over friendships and connecting, and discover that they can do a whole day’s work in three hours. Give yourself, and your children, a break.

Table of contents


Kids need structure. Schedules achieve this. Your little learners may resist at first, but they will thrive with order, and so will you. For older kids (five and up), co-create the schedule. Think: orange post-its are required learning (maths, reading, science) and yellow posts-it are fun (TV, iPad). Parent picks two, kid picks two. Exercise, some mindfulness, art, drama, and music can all get time slots too. Where possible, make following a schedule fun—ideally, switching tasks shouldn’t feel like a drill but like an opportunity.
Khan Academy schedule for school closures K-12 schedules to follow, with links to resources. By age. This is cool.
CDC tips for building structure with children The building blocks of creating a structured, scheduled day, with examples for multiple kids of different ages.

Reading and Writing

Primary/elementary school:
Want to keep up with Covid-19? We’ve got an email for that.
Epic Digital library for students 12 and under with books, learning, videos, and quizzes.
Spelling City Build vocabulary for grades 1-6 (reception to Y5). Ad-free, but not free.
OxfordOwl Free e-book library for ages 3-11.
BBC BiteSize British kids use the BBC a lot for learning. There is a National Curriculum, which this follows, but the “bite size” nuggets are easy enough to follow by topic. For example, Key Stage 1 (pre-K to around first grade) has sections on significant people (monarchs and leaders, engineers, nurses) and time periods (Roman Empire), and themes (distinguishing between fact and opinion; place value).
Middle school:
Best Middle School Books, As Chosen by Teachers Exactly what it sounds like: teacher-selected, enriching books (mostly novels).
US common core middle school books Approximately 40 books for middle-school readers, in genres including novels, memoirs, poetry, and historical nonfiction.
For teens:
The New York Times Learning Network has free writing prompts (log-in required) for students 13 and up and guidance for creating meaningful student projects in response to crisis.
A teacher-created list of 100 books high school students should read before graduating mixes some lighter reads in with the classics.
More reading lists:
K-12 reading list by age — a list for each grade level; its UK-based sister site has even more reading material recommendations, including magazines.
121 Books: A Very Subjective Guide to the Best Kids Books of All Time Amazing list curated by Jenny Rosenstrach (author of Dinner, a Love Story, among others) and Andy Ward, book agent extraordinaire.


Primary/elementary school:
Dreambox Has 2,000 math lessons for K-8 (Y1-Y9). It’s an adaptive platform which users would usually have to pay for but you can sign up for 90-day free trial here.
Hit the Button Interactive math games for ages 6-11 with quick-fire questions on everything from number bonds to multiplying and dividing. Kids love the race!
Cool Math 4 Kids Kindergarten to sixth grade (Y1-Y7) math games by topic (addition, fractions, etc.) or by grade.
Marble Math Solve math problems by collecting numbers while moving a marble through a series of mazes. In the Apple store. Very addictive.
Bedtime Math Offers off-screen, fun activities to engage kids in building numeracy in ways that don’t feel like school, aimed at kids aged 3-9. (They also have iOS and Android apps.)

Science Five-minute inquiries used to start the day, take a break, or spark curiosity, with prompts like “Can turtles live outside their shells?” and “Why are rubies red?” Doug is a former elementary school teacher who guides questions, uses visuals, and asks questions. “There are mysteries all around us. Have fun and stay curious.” Bless you, Doug. There’s “discovery” about animals, science, history, and geography, then games with fun quizzes by topic (like dinosaurs, comets and meteors). But a real gem is “Primary Resources” which are learning materials by topic (history, science, geography, math, art and design, and PSHE, or personal social, health and economic education, which is a subject in the UK). Registration is free and you can access topics within each (science: humans, plants, evolution; geography, places, water cycle, history, Aztecs).
Frontiers for Young Minds Innovation at its best. Distinguished scientists write about their cutting-edge discoveries in accessible language for young readers, and then kids—with the help of “science mentors”—provide feedback and help the authors improve the articles before publication. Topics include new cutting-edge research (new discovery) or core concepts, key ideas that are fundamental for understanding a scientific field. Includes astronomy and space science, biodiversity, health, neuroscience.
Skype a Scientist This usually matches scientists with classrooms, but there’s a sign-up for families too. One of our colleagues says her 7-year-old son just learned about fossils from participating in this program.
YouTube channels for science and computing:
  • GEOgraphy Focus Maps, country descriptions, flags, and more.
  • Crash Course Kids Fifth grade science made cool.
  • Free School Short videos about art, classical music, children’s literature, and natural science..
  • SciShow Kids For younger kids (3-7) on everything from coral reefs, why is fire hot to how to say goodbye.
  • TheBrainScoop Emily Grassley, chief curiosity correspondent for the Field Museum in Chicago, shares the work and research of natural history museums with the world.
  • SciShow The secrets to what makes the universe tick.
  • Science Max Science experiments at home.
  • Geek Gurl Diaries Carrie Anne is a self-described geek, and has a collection of video logs about using and making technology, along side interviews with inspirational women in the fields of computing, science, technology, and engineering. Learn about “adventures in Raspberry Pi” or how to program Python.
  • Mike Likes Science Math and science raps (“you have two points on a line; you need an equation but it slipped your mind; slope-intercept is what you need; y=mx+b”). Need we say more?


Duolingo’s motto is “Learn a language forever. Free.”
Babbel is free for students for three months this spring.
Busuu provides free online language classes for kids affected by school closure, taught by expert teachers. Teachers have started offering classes online, such as these instructional YouTube videos in English and Spanish.


One couple is hosting art lessons on YouTube at 2 pm ET for two weeks (starting Mar. 16). Lessons will be archived.
Lunch doodles with Mo Willems The beloved, award-winning children’s book illustrator (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny, etc.) invites kids to draw along with him daily at 1 pm ET on YouTube. This marketing line got me: Imagine if Netflix were educational and YouTube were safe. Yeah, imagine. Until then, this site is packed with creative projects, videos on photography, drawing, animation, and music.


Outschool Connects teachers to kids for small video conference classes. From Shakespearian insults, fashion design through the ages, Harry Potter-themed chemistry, fractions, and the sociology of Disney villains, there’s something for everyone.
List of documentaries for children and families from Common Sense. You know it feels better to watch a documentary than another episode of iCarly. You’ve heard of March of the Penguins, but what about Babies? Or Imba means Sing, two on offer?
Typing Club Fun? Maybe, maybe not. But certainly a useful life skill. Special offer now for Covid-19.
238 activities for kids from the RealPlay Coalition From narrating the world to War (the card game), this is a useful list of the obvious (rock-paper-scissors) and the not-so-obvious (shoe shambles).
Raddish Kids, the kids culinary subscription kit, was giving away 10,000 free cooking kits to families as a way to make the most of their quarantine. Make them give more!
Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking Show/Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course – learn to cook.
Stuck at Home Pineapple Street Studios is inviting kids to make a podcast about their experiences being, as the title says, stuck at home.
Just Dance 2020 Dance while working up a sweat. Tweens love this (hold a dance-off if the sibling rivalry won’t ignite WWIII). Game console needed.
Charity Miles Kids may be understandably feeling sorry for themselves. Help them help themselves by helping others with greater needs. Charity Miles is a free US mileage tracker app that donates money to charities based on the number of miles you walk, run, or bike.
Axios on jokes for kids You know you will be telling them, and retelling them, forEver.
Soul Pancake Kid President Inspirational videos from a kid who is clearly the kind of president we all need now. Will make everyone feel good.
Minecraft Create a family server and get everyone on it for some co-creation.
The Week Junior magazine and podcast: This staple in many UK homes digests and packages the news  news for tweens and just landed in the US. One Quartz’s employee’s 11 year-old reads the magazine cover to cover and loves the games at the end. (At her age she was was reading cereal boxes over breakfast: this is progress.)
But Why: The podcast for curious kids This podcast treats young listeners, and their many, many questions with a deep sense of respect without taking itself too seriously. Produced by Vermont Public Radio and hosted by radio veteran Jane Lindholm, it interviews scientists, historians, and experts of all stripes about some of the most pressing issues of our times. Do animals get married? How are noodles made? Why do we poop and fart? Adults are guaranteed to learn something in each episode, and to actually enjoy listening.


The meditation app Calm included in its free resources for pandemic anxiety three meditations aimed at kids age seven and up.
Cosmic Kids Yoga Banish any assumptions about woo-woo soul searching for the kindergarten set. Hosted by a yogi with an aggressively cheerful Australian accent and a big imagination, this is an indoor workout that’s fun, requires zero equipment (other than wifi and access to YouTube), and will get their wiggles out.

General Learning Resources

Khan Academy Free nonprofit with courses in math at all levels, as well as science, humanities, test prep, and computing. There’s also Khan Academy Kids, an app for kids ages two to seven.
Quizlet Quizlet is an app for making flashcards and diagrams. Kids can design their own or find study sets that already have been created, whether by their own teacher or somebody else’s. It’s free (you can, however, purchase study guides created for specialized exams like AP tests, the MCATs, and the CFA), and kids can seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop versions.
Kahoot Game-based learning platform where your own create quizzes or take theirs (US presidents, the ultimate 2019 challenge). By subject, by grade. One Italian teacher who uses them says the best part of remote learning was muting the Kahoots she was doing online. When she does them in class it’s pandemonium. Online coding classes.
Teachers Pay Teachers lesson plans A lesson plan is a structure for teaching something specific—what needs to be learned, how it’s being taught, and how learning will be measured. Most are designed for a single typical classroom period, but some are extended. These are lessons created and shared by teachers, for teachers. Many, but not all, are free.
For older kids and parents:
Other lists:

Recommendations from Quartz parents of children 0-3

Zero to Three Screen time, aside from video chatting, isn’t advised for children under two by experts who worry it will interfere with critical development. If you’ve exhausted your repertoire of nursery rhymes and your baby has had enough of blowing bubbles, this organization offers a list of play activities for children aimed to stimulate the senses, build language and thinking skills, and encourage activity and quiet time.
Sesame Street Games, videos, coloring pages, and a reassuring Elmo await on Sesame Street’s website.
Vooks A library of ad-free streaming storybooks for kids, grouped under categories like “be kind,” “friendship,” and “biographies.” The service’s premise is that being read to aloud, paired with animation, can help focus children’s attention and encourage them to retain stories. Vooks encourages parents to watch along and discuss the books with children, adding the caveat that “there is no substitute for quality parent-child conversation.”
Tinkergarten Provides outdoor, play-based learning lessons from trained leaders who deliver a curriculum of activities to build social and emotional skills, thinking skills and body skills. Differentiated by age, ranging from 0 to eight.
Toca Boca games Play-based educational apps, including Toca Life, Toca Lab and Toca Blocks provide a digital solution to unstructured play.
29 books to read to your kids if you want them to be kind and brave A list of character-building books tried and tested by this reporter.
—Holly Ojalvo, Jackie Bischof, and Annaliese Griffin contributed to this guide.
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