Best literacy home schooling resources

Best literacy home schooling resources
Whether your child is just learning to read and print letters or looking for ways to put their creative writing skills to the test, we've rounded up some fantastic home learning resources to help them practise phonics, grammar, story-writing and comic-creating. Plus there are loads of different ways to connect with authors and listen to stories – the perfect end to a day of home schooling, we reckon.
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Best for literacy event listings

Throughout the lockdown period children's authors and illustrators have been amazingly generous with their time, offering draw-a-longs, reading their work online, launching creative challenges and running bookish chats.

It's incredibly difficult to keep track of what's happening when, so Toppsta's daily bookish ideas schedule is a godsend. Check what's scheduled, find out what your child's favourite authors are organising and get book recommendations at the same time – and it's all free!

Best for free eBooks

Primary school reading scheme books are very useful when your child is learning to read, offering a story to follow and pictures to look at as well as a carefully selected mixture of words that your child will be able to decode easily, whatever reading stage they've reached.

Continue using readers at home with free access to Oxford Owl's extensive free eBooks collection, developed for children aged 3–11 years old. You'll find well-known characters like Biff, Chip and Kipper, as well as Project X Alien Adventures, Oxford Reading Tree and Read Write Inc. titles.

Best for Harry Potter lovers

 
Cast a Banishing Charm on boredom with Harry Potter at Home, a hub for magical videos (learn to draw a Niffler!), Hogwarts information, Potter-verse quizzes and puzzles and wonderful read-alongs from actors associated with the wizarding world. Discover your house with an interactive Sorting Hat experience, complete Chapter Challenges to earn house points and enchant everyday games – there's no website more spell-binding for J. K. Rowling fans (though have you started reading her brand new serialised story, The Ickabog?).

Best for reading and writing activities for every age group

Reading with an early years child, or an early teen (or an early years and an early teen?)? Access book lists, videos, audiobooks, apps, competitions and tips (about enjoying audiobooks as a family, building a reading den at home and more) on the Literacy Trust's Family Zone. There are learning activities and sheets aimed at children aged 0-4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13+.

Best for celebrity story-time

In partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, Save with Stories are offering celebrity storytime on Instagram and Facebook to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Listen and watch as Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, Margot Robbie, Pierce Brosnan, Kate Winslet, David Tennant, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and lots more well-known celebrities read their favourite picture books. Any donation you can afford to make will help to meet the health, education and nutrition needs of children impacted by coronavirus. 

Best for celebrating children's literature

Explore centuries of stories, poems and illustrations for kids with Discovering Children's Books, an online resource from the British Library and Seven Stories. Book-lovers of all ages will enjoy the fiction-inspired activities (why not learn how to draw a Gruffalo from Axel Scheffler himself, make a miniature tome of your own, prepare a story soundtrack or star in a fairy tale?). There are loads of themes to explore, from magic and fantasy to pop-up and moveable books – a treasure trove of literary worlds and characters.

Best for phonics video lessons for Reception and Year 1

 
Keep your child's phonics learning on track with Letters and Sounds for home and school, a 12-week summer term programme which delivers daily phonics learning for children (and parents!) in bite-sized chunks. The introductory video is from CBBC TV presenter and parent, Ed Petrie, and the lessons have been devised and are delivered by EYFS and KS1 teachers.

The Learning to Blend lessons for children who need more practice sounding out, blending and reading words are particularly useful.

Best for learning about Shakespeare

Learning about Shakespeare? The Royal Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare Learning Zone offers key facts about each of Shakespeare's plays, explains important scenes, highlights videos of actors and directors working on and performing the plays and explains everything you need to know about all the main characters and how they relate to each other.

Choose a play and enjoy the language, the story and the productions!

Best for whole-family, collaborative story challenges

Your child's mission, should they choose to accept it, is to track down trolls... save a magic forest... unearth the secrets of a lost city... solve a castle mystery and lots more! Explore More use adventure texts to turn children into problem-solvers: the story provides the purpose for the learning and activities are required to help to solve challenges.

It's easy for children of different ages to work alongside each other at their own pace, and you won't need to supervise them constantly either (though you may find yourself drawn into the story!). To see if Explore More is right for you, try three free chapters of Troll Hunter; if your child enjoys it, access to all the Explore More materials is £10 a month.

Best for Dahl-inspired creative writing

 
Would you love to be read a brilliant bedtime story? Join Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi as he reads James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, in full across 10 episodes, to raise money for @Partners In Health – with a little help from friends including Meryl Streep, Eddie Redmayne, Cate Blanchett, Liam and Chris Hemsworth and other very familiar faces!

Feeling inspired by Dahl's brilliant plot twists and crazy characters? Complete a few buckswashlingly brilliant creative writing challenges from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre to bring out your child's inner storyteller! Budding authors aged 5 to 12 will learn lots of new story-making skills to help them turn their ideas into writing gold.

Best for banishing boredom with creativity

Home Time, BookTrust’s new digital hub to keep children entertained, reading and inspired from home, is packed with free books, videos, games, recipes, competitions and quizzes created by leading authors and illustrators including Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell. Every day, Cressida reads a chapter of her best-seller How to Train Your Dragon from her writing shed at the bottom of her garden.

'I began writing about Vikings and dragons when I was nine years old, feeling bored on my summer holiday with seemingly nothing to do,' says Cressida. 'Every child out there will have fantastic ideas which could one day be the next How to Train Your Dragon. There is a world of creativity and imagination to discover from home that will bring inspiration over the coming weeks. Books, reading and creativity are magic, and we need magic more than ever during this unsettling time.'

Best for author masterclasses

Authorfy is bursting with free literary inspiration: watch videos of hugely popular children's authors (like Anthony Horowitz, Michael Rosen, Katherine Rundell, Maz Evans, Michael Morpurgo, Andy Griffiths and lots more), read the extracts from their books and download resources based on their texts. Once you've signed up for a free account you'll have complete access and also be able to download literacy activity packs ranging from arts and crafts pages to book club questions and games, all aimed at boosting reading and writing for pleasure.

Best for grammar lessons with a rap twist

 
Last year, primary school teacher Jacob Mitchell rose to fame after he was filmed rapping The Gruffalo to his daughter. Now his MC GRAMMAR YouTube channel offers live grammar / rap lessons to get kids (and parents) rhyming as they learn about English grammar in an innovative way. 

Determiners, adverbs, co-ordinating conjunctions, antonyms, similes and more – why not learn the rap music way?

Best for creating comics

Create your own comic strips online for free with Make Belief Comix. There are Comic Starters to provide inspiration and it's easy to add characters, speech and thought balloons, backgrounds, objects and more.

You can print or email your strips, too – so why not chronicle your life in comic form or invent your own superhero world to describe?

Best for story starters

Every day, Pobble 365 offers teachers (and, at the moment, parents) a weird, wonderful and interesting image. Can you have a discussion about what the image makes your child think about? What stories might be sparked by the picture? What will it inspire them to write? Every day there's a new image to talk about, with questions to answer and a suggested story starter to respond to.

Best for age-by-age online storytime

Wishing someone else could take over story-telling duties for a day? Consult the Books for Topics online Storytime listings for details of stories for every age group. QR codes and links take you directly to story readings on YouTube, and the book and extracts are all read aloud by their authors and illustrators. There are four selections to choose from: 3-5 years, 5-7 years, 7-9 years, 9-11 years.

Best for football fans

 
We love the National Literacy Trust's focus on sport and literacy, with lots of programmes that use kids' enthusiasm and passion for sport to inspire them to improve their literacy skills. If your child loves football, why not download free Football Writing Kit materials written by best-selling author Tom Palmer?

Plus, the Literacy Trust is teaming up with the Premier League and Dan Freedman, author of the hugely popular series of Jamie Johnson football novels, to offer free football-themed activities, resources and challenges. There's also a free ebook download of The Kick Off (Scholastic UK) for children to enjoy.