Summer School 2.0: Fun Online Classes for Kids

May 22, 2013

playful learning e-course

This post is brought to you by Playful Learning. Amazing Online Classes for Life’s Big Lessons.


By Gabrielle.

I was watching the Alt For Everyone tweets at the end of last week (did any of you attend?), and it reminded me how enjoyable taking a good online course can be. It got me thinking that it would be really fun to sign my kids up for a few internet-based classes this summer. It’s like a new, better version of Summer School. Let’s call it Summer School 2.0!

Just think, you can pick out something different for each child — no chauffering involved. Even better, no having to choose between two different classes because of overlapping schedules. And since location doesn’t matter, we could start a class while living in France, and finish it when we’re back in the States. I’m kind of psyched about the whole idea!

In case you’re feeling as enthusiastic about the idea as I am, here are 8 Online Classes that I think would be great for  kids:

- A Photo Prompt class. I love the simple idea of having a new photo goal to take every day. This one would be an especially good fit for Olive. She’s taken quite a liking to Instagram and seems to really have a knack for taking beautiful photos. This would be a nice way to help her keep developing that talent.

- A Kids Kindness class. This course teaches children about the power of their words and the affects that put-ups and put-downs have on how people feel. No doubt my kids will be getting on each others’ nerves this summer, so this would be a great fit. And it’s a bargain at $17! This course about stress-management for kids looks good too.

- A Programming Class. Your kids can learn to create their own app or video game. Cool, right? Who knows, you may be raising the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. It would be fun to give this a try and find out if your kids have a natural passion for programming.

- A Cooking Class. I gasped when I learned our very own passionate foodie, Raleigh-Elizabeth, learned to cook via video courses! Sign me up, please. You could try the beginner courses here. Or this whole family course. Or, the Spatulatta videos are specifically geared toward kids.

- Have you heard of Khan Academy? It was originally based on math and science concepts explained simply and clearly in online video classes. My kids love these videos when they need help with homework. This would be a great way to help your little science expert advance at their own pace, or to help your soon-to-be-math expert if they’re feeling behind.

- A Knitting Class. I have this post bookmarked because it has tons of helpful sources, videos and links — and a section specifically for kids learning to knit. And it’s not just for girls! Tell your kids that all fishermen know how to knit their nets. : ) It’s another form of knot-tying!

- A Writing Class. Do you have a budding novelist or journalist in your home? How about an online writing course. Tell them if they finish their novel/screenplay by the end of summer vacation, they’ll get double allowance. : ) Maude has a passion for writing, so I’ve earmarked this one for her.

- A Chess Class. Last summer at Cousins Week, Oscar learned how the chess pieces move and playing chess is now one of his very favorite things. I think it would be neat to have him follow along with a course and learn some strategy. Chess is one of those activities that can provide life-long fulfillment.

How about you? Have you or your kids ever taken an online course? Will they be taking any classes this summer? Yay for Summer School 2.0!

P.S. — I think it would be especially cool if the kids signed up for online courses with a friend (or maybe several friends!) so that they have a buddy to discuss the class content with. And they could work on assignments together, too. Summer School 2.0 could be like a new form of book club. I love that sort of thing!

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mia May 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

I love this idea for adults! I’d love to pick up a new skill at my own pace. Does anyone have any good recommendations?


2 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

I have lots of good classes bookmarked! Do you have any particular subject in mind? Photography? Goal-making?


3 Mia May 23, 2013 at 7:29 am

I’d be really interested in hand lettering — I’d love to create art like the Olive Us title illustrations. Photography and cooking would be neat, too. Another commenter shared Skillshare, which I’d never heard of — very cool!


4 Rachel Kaylynn May 22, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thanks for sharing so many great links. I had never heard of a lot of these programs/sites – we will definitely be giving a few of them a try.


5 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

Yay! I’m glad this post was helpful.


6 Lisa May 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

Wonderful links. Thank you!


7 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 10:01 am

You’re welcome, Lisa!


8 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity May 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

Great courses and what a fun way to learn something new. My son discovered the Khan Academy and loved working through the videos. He’s a bit of a Renaissance man and he also loved the videos put out by John and Hank Green. They are all funny, but also teach you everything from world history to biology to a modern-day spin on Pride and Prejudice.


9 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thanks for mentioning John & Hank Green, Grace. Excellent videos!


10 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay May 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Khan is fab, by the way!


11 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 10:01 am

You’re sure welcome, Pamela! Glad you like it.


12 Kathryn May 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

This is a wonderful list (and idea). Thank you!


13 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

I’m kind of giddy about this idea! There are just so many great resources out there.


14 Prêt à Voyager / Anne May 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

Kids are more than welcome in the MAP MAKING class I’m teaching on Skillshare. It’s officially kicking off on the 28th of May (for the 2nd time), and then will be ongoing. You can take it at your own pace, and once you’re in you have lifetime access to the classroom. Hint: The first project is hand drawn maps :)


15 Carter Higgins May 22, 2013 at 11:13 am

Oh, fun! I just found out about Skillshare this week!


16 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

How fun, Anne! I had no idea you were teaching a 2nd class. Cool!


17 Carter Higgins May 22, 2013 at 11:13 am

This is crazy awesome. I missed Alt for Everyone, and hope you will do it again, yes?!! But I’m looking forward to some Skillshare classes this summer, perfect for antsy adults like me!


18 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Nothing official yet, but it looks like Alt For Everyone might make another appearance in August. Woot!


19 Kristen May 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm

What a great list!! Thank you so much for sharing. I about pull my hair out trying to find stuff for the kiddos to do while school is out.

I just wanted to share an additional one – Candice Stringham’s Photography Camp for Kids . It’s an online 3 week class, and I can’t WAIT for it to start! I think my daughter is going to love it.


20 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

What? I had no idea Candice Sringham offered a kids photography camp. She’s fantastic. Did you know she took our Central Park Family Photos way back when:


21 Kristen May 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Oh my word yes – I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone back to that post as inspiration for family shoots!! Awesomeness.


22 sofija May 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I recently started to brush up on my foreign language skills through Livemocha. It’s a free language learning site, a lot like Rosetta Stone. What I like about it that it features languages that other programs don’t offer (I’m doing Croatian), and that you get feedback from native speakers. I talked my nephew into doing it as well, as he is spending two months in Switzerland this summer.
Thank you for all these great ideas.


23 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Ben Blair likes Live Mocha too. And Lingq for language learning as well!


24 LP May 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Brilliant! Thanks for the round-up and the idea. I never thought about children’s courses online. Ultra rad!


25 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Yay! Glad you like the idea, LP.


26 Jess. May 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

My kids will be learning to type this summer, through an on-line course. Even the really little ones use computers for school work so much now, and seeing them hunt and peck drives me mad. I’m also going to teach them to cook a few basic things, as well as how to use chop sticks properly. Great post!


27 Design Mom May 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Would you mind sharing the link, Jess? My kids could use a keyboarding class.


28 Jess. May 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This is the one I think we’ll be using:

But there’s a whole page to choose from here:

Thank you, Pinterest!


29 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:34 am

Thanks, Jess!


30 Megan May 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm

This is great! School is out tomorrow for my three so tonight I’ll be looking in to every one of these. Thank you!


31 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:40 am

Oh goody! I hope you found one (or two!) you like, Megan.


32 Tjppnw May 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

This is perfect timing, I was literally thinking about this yesterday. There are so many online classes for adults and university, there must be some for younger and mid age kids! I would love to find some science ones in areas of interest like marine biology, where it would be fun, interesting and areas they don’t get to dive into in school. Or that they are passionate about.

Makes you wonder about where or how “schooling” will occurr in the future?


33 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:40 am

Oh. We talk about that a lot at our house! I sometimes wonder if my children will have a high school or university experience that resembles my own at all.

There is so much learning available online, and more added every day. I can imagine it won’t be long until a school pieces together a fully accredited university-level degree made up of youtube videos and e-classes.


34 rachel May 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Great list! I think many moms are wondering what they’re going to do this summer. It’s great to keep the kids outside, enjoying the weather … But, at home? That can be tricky!


35 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

I know what you mean. Sometimes summer means hanging out in the house. And since my kids are going to drawn to screentime anyway, we might as well make a learning time that they’ll look forward to.


36 Abfab May 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Great links to online classes! Thank you so much!


37 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:36 am

You’re welcome. Glad to help!


38 Courtney K May 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm

If you haven’t checked out Creatively Made yet, definitely take a peek! There are amazing classes (for only $10!) offered this summer that are great for adults and kids.

(I’m teaching the watercolor class and can’t wait to paint with everyone!)


39 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

You’re a fantastic watercolor teacher, Courtney! I”m sure your class is wonderful.


40 Courtney K May 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm

That’s so sweet of you to say! Completely made my night :) Thanks Gabby.


41 Claire P May 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I love the idea of doing classes over the summer period (too bad that’s still half a year away for me!) especially the photo prompt one. It sounds similar to Fat Mum Slim’s ( Photo a Day Challenge – she makes lists of certain things that you have to try to take a photo of each day of the month. It can be challenging but lots of fun!


42 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:41 am

Thanks for the heads up about Fat Mum Slim. She’s a new-to-me blog!


43 sarah ahearn bellemare May 22, 2013 at 10:11 pm

so fun to see the classes for kids! thanks for this post!
i teach my online class, {painted pages workshop} , in july so that parents and kiddos can do it together! it’s also good timing for teachers who are off for the summer and want to do something creative on the break.
registration just opened :)

yay for summertime fun!


44 Design Mom May 23, 2013 at 7:34 am

Sounds like fun, Sarah!


45 Stephanie May 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Wow, thanks for all these suggestions! I already use the Khan Academy with my 9 year old – it’s really great. But he’s been wanting to to learn chess and I think that link you posted will be perfect! And cooking classes for my little girl who loves watching the cooking channel, lol, definitely will try it as well.


46 Liz May 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

This post came right on time! My 9 year old son has been talking making a video game for months now. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where to start but I really wanted to support him, thank goodness for this! :)

I earned my masters online, I’ve also taken several classes online, ranging from knitting, French, Spanish, guitar lessons, song writing… The list goes on! I love the flexibility of online learning. Thanks again!


47 Kimberly May 24, 2013 at 8:39 am

I’m a few days from finishing up a Coursera class called Statistics: Making Sense of Data. Can I tell you that I worked so much harder on that class than I thought I would have? I have a second Coursera class lined up for September (on metadata, can you tell what an exciting person I am?) but maybe I’ll hit up a more creative class this summer.


48 Scott Harmon June 5, 2013 at 4:21 am

I have been looking for an online course for my kids this summer. We have used on-line courses with great affect during the school year but we wanted a different flavor this summer. Has anyone tried these or others that they would recommend?


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