7 Free Tools for Managing Remote & At-Home Early Childhood Education

Amy Goodchild photo

October 08, 2020

By Amy Goodchild

Categories: Collections, Kids & Families

This school year is challenging for all parents, especially ones with school-age kids. There are no easy situations, and homeschooling or facilitating e-learning, though safer, can be daunting tasks.

Parents of children in preschool or early grades face an extra challenge because learning is inherently hands-on and social at these ages. Luckily, there are myriad resources available, including many at the library. Here are a few:


1. Scholastic Teachables

scholastic teachables


Scholastic Teachables, our newest database for kids, offers a wealth of resources to assist with either homeschooling or e-learning. In addition to printable resources for grades PreK-8 for all subjects (and not just things like math and reading—there are activities for health & safety, following directions, and foreign language), it has individual worksheets, mini-books, and entire packets based on one topic with multiple activities across subjects (“Apples” is a featured one for fall). Activities are searchable by grade level, subject, type, and theme.

For kids who are currently mostly working on a screen, having activities that involve paper and pencil can be very helpful. And because you can select any grade level, you can find resources from a few grades higher or lower than your child's current grade, depending on if they need extra enrichment or reinforcement of prior skills.

I’m both a library patron and employee and I’ve been using this with my son (1st grade) and daughter (4th grade). My daughter needed some practice with multiplication facts, and there were a number of worksheets that made the skill fun, like puzzles and codes. My son loves doing math puzzles and logic puzzles, so we’ve been doing those for some extra enrichment when he finishes his online work. It’s an incredibly valuable resource.

This database is only accessible for MGPL cardholders. If you need assistance with printing, please contact the Youth Services Department.


2. Tumblebook Library

tumblebook library logo



Tumblebook Library has hundreds of books—picture books, early chapter books, and nonfiction—that are read aloud and, in the case of picture books, slightly animated. The words being read are highlighted and the animation makes it engaging and interesting. It’s a great resource for kids who are learning to read, because seeing the word and hearing it read aloud at the same time helps to make those connections. It also can be a variation on read-alouds for any child. 

This database is only accessible for MGPL cardholders.


3. DIY Storytimes

DIY Storytime


Our DIY Storytimes are a list of storytimes our Youth Services staff have put together that you can navigate on your own by clicking on a series of links. Each one is on a different topic and has a series of books and other activities, just like our in-person or online storytimes. Most use Tumblebook Library and YouTube videos to incorporate songs and action rhymes.


4. Online Storytimes

online storytimes


Every week we have a variety of online storytimes via Facebook Live and Zoom for kids from birth to age 6. These storytimes are an excellent literacy resource to add to your pre-K homeschooling or supplementing e-learning. Librarians read books, lead songs and action rhymes, and other fun activities. Some require registration, so be mindful to register ahead of time if needed.


5. MGPL Youth Services on Pinterest 

pinterest boards youth services


The Youth Services Pinterest page (find us at pinterest.com/mgplys) has several resources to aid in either homeschooling or e-learning, including book lists, links to a wide variety of activities, apps for preschoolers, and more.


6. Early Literacy & STEM Kits

stem kit

The Youth Services department has a number of Early Literacy Kits and STEM Kits available for checkout. Any of these kits are helpful in supplementing at-home learning with hands-on materials. 

Early Literacy Kits come in a vinyl backpack and contain books, activities, and fun materials on a specific topic. Some topics include Farms, Oceans, Dinosaurs, and Outer Space. 

STEM Kits come in a plastic bin and are available for many grade levels. Each bin contains materials and directions for a STEM activity or educational toys. Some of the STEM kits available for Early Childhood ages include the Fairy Tales Problem Solving Kit, Early Math Activity Center, and Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar.


7. STEMonade Stand

stemonade stand

The STEMonade Stand is located outside the front door of the library (on Lincoln Avenue) and is filled with a different STEM-based kit every week. Past kits have included balloon-powered cars, butterfly feeders, and straw rockets. Kits are appropriate for a wide variety of ages and are a perfect resource to add to your science and math curriculum for homeschool or as a hands-on addition to e-learning for science and math. Kits come with a booklet that explains the science behind the activity and contain other extension ideas.

For more information about any of these or other resources, please contact the Youth Services Department at 847-929-5102 or ysinfo@mgpl.org.

Amy Goodchild is a Youth Services Associate at Morton Grove Public Library.