Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 37 TOOLS

Resources for After-School Enrichment Programs and Clubs

Great after-school programs offer students the time and space to learn and experiment on their own terms. Free from curricular pressures, and classroom periods, educators can offer students sustained, deep learning in nontraditional topics like game development, robotics, storytelling, and beyond. These enrichment programs can also provide students with the academic support, test prep, and homework help they need to build skills and confidence. Whether you're running a chess club, a game development program, or a makerspace, or helping students develop their reading and math skills, we've curated some of our favorite digital tools, lesson plans, and curricula. These resources will fit well in after-school contexts, and in many cases they offer students exciting, unique, and interest-driven opportunities that rarely make their way into classrooms.

Continue reading

Top Picks

RELATED

PrintPrint | Save as PDF

STEM and Coding Resources

Scratch

Creative sandbox opens the door to coding in any subject area

Bottom line: Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning.

Gizmos & Gadgets

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

Cozmo

A little robot with big personality brings code to life

Bottom line: From Cozmo's engaging personality to endless programming possibilities, this little robot will capture your heart and spark imagination.

SAM Labs

Kids use block code and wireless blocks to program, design, and create

Bottom line: With some perseverance, it's a great fit for PBL and STEAM, helping students learn programming skills and engineering concepts through invention.

KOOV

Robotics kit makes design possibilities virtually limitless

Bottom line: For schools with healthy budgets, KOOV helps kids design and code interactive robots with blocks, sensors, and imagination.

MAD-learn

Create mobile apps with extensive help from start to finish

Bottom line: Intuitive platform encourages students to engage in design thinking and coding with loads of support.

Google CS First

Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools

Bottom line: If your middle school doesn't have a CS program or club, now you do!

Technovation Families

Family-focused site for learning AI well-suited to classrooms, too

Bottom line: Makes artificial intelligence and machine learning accessible to students of many ages and abilities.

Unity Learn

Complete game creation curriculum gives students real-world experience

Bottom line: For any computer science or game design/development course, Unity Learn is a fun and effective way to get students building games right away, with plenty of room for depth.

Construct 3

Ideal 2D game builder supports students to create, innovate

Bottom line: Limitless game options, reasonable cost, and extensive support make this programming environment perfect for an educational setting.

Arts and Storytelling Resources

Book Creator

Magically easy way to create and publish digital books and multimedia

Bottom line: This is a top-quality creation tool that lets students of many ages and abilities publish their own digital books.

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

Wildly engaging contest turns students into novelists in 30 days

Bottom line: A thoughtful adaptation of the famous and fun grown-up novel writing contest, NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is brimming with advice and encouragement as well as classroom support.

iMovie

Movie editor will satisfy beginner and intermediate creators

Bottom line: Despite some limitations with editing, it’s the perfect tool to get teachers and students started with digital video production.

Photoshop Express Photo Editor

Top-notch photo editor helps perfect pics for creative projects

Bottom line: This is a powerful, free creation tool from the industry leader in photo editing.

Adobe Spark

Super-flexible design tool for crafting fab images, videos, and sites

Bottom line: This free, one-stop shop for creating sleek graphics, web stories, and animated videos is incredibly easy to use and challenges students to think critically about visual presentation.

Nature and Fitness Resources

GoNoodle

Brief bursts of physical exercise add classroom fun, build brainpower

Bottom line: In a genre of its own, GoNoodle is a ready-to-go and classroom-friendly exercise program that challenges students to get moving.

Sworkit Kids

Fun, customizable workout app helps kids get fit

Bottom line: This app will get kids moving, jumping, and bending to increase their overall fitness through exercise.

Coach's Eye - Video Analysis

Robust video analysis for sports, science, fine arts performances

Bottom line: Cool video-analysis tool is great for the sports field and beyond, but prepare for an onslaught of hidden costs to access all features.

Zooniverse

Real research powered by volunteers makes classroom content relevant

Bottom line: Engage in meaningful, relevant research with citizen scientists from around the world.

GooseChase EDU

Digital scavenger hunts provide dynamic, fresh learning experiences

Bottom line: Students and teachers will enjoy the powerful learning of a modern scavenger hunt.

PlantSnap Plant Identification

Snap pics to (maybe) identify flowers and plants

Bottom line: If teachers help students learn how to evaluate the plant matches provided, this could be an excellent nature reference source.

Project Noah

Engaging online community for relevant, hands-on science fieldwork

Bottom line: Project Noah is a free and easy way to take part in biodiversity research with the support of a knowledgeable and global community.

Geocaching

Leave and locate hidden packages in a real-world treasure hunt

Bottom line: Kids learn problem-solving, teamwork, and mapping skills, but the site doesn’t provide instruction or explanations for most of those topics; educators will have to fill in the gaps.

Games and Play Resources

ChessKid

The right combo of learning and play for chess fans at any level

Bottom line: Whether learning, playing, or coaching, ChessKid has it all covered.

Magnus Kingdom of Chess

Gentle chess puzzle game ideal for young newbies

Bottom line: For kids who are new to chess but want to learn how to play, this fun intro to the game provides a well-done tutorial combined with a light overarching storyline.

Discovery Tour by Assassin's Creed: Ancient Egypt

Popular game's education mode offers stunning view of ancient world

Bottom line: This game is an absorbing experience that offers students a unique, living and breathing view of ancient Egyptian art, life, and culture.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

LearnToMod

Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans

Bottom line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Best entry in classic strategy series might not be best for classrooms

Bottom line: As with all games in this series, Civilization VI is a great learning experience with the right support, but older, cheaper versions may be more practical for classrooms.

Roblox

Popular game development platform has classroom potential

Bottom line: Teens who love gaming can learn to be developers, too, with Roblox's tools and hosting service.

Kerbal Space Program

Design and launch a rocket into space in realistic astrophysics sim

Bottom line: This accurate rocket sim encourages trial-and-error learning and makes for great (and often explosive) physics and engineering experiments.

Homework and Test Prep Resources

CK-12

Super STEM resource with highly accessible content

Bottom line: Making STEM content accessible to kids with different learning styles, CK-12 could be the key to mastery for some students.

Khan Academy

Missions boost learning with balance of focus and freedom to explore

Bottom line: A solid resource for math and science instruction as well as foundational knowledge in a number of other high school subjects.

ExploreLearning Gizmos

Vast array of science and math simulations impresses

Bottom line: This powerful and extensive set of math and science tools puts the learning in students' hands.

NoRedInk

Useful supplement for ELA has expanded beyond grammar to writing

Bottom line: The easy assigning and tracking features for teachers -- matched with the interest-based questions and feedback for students -- make this a useful tool to grind through grammar and writing practice.

Albert

Flexible, interactive test-prep practice for high school and beyond

Bottom line: A variety of question types and on-the-spot analytics help teachers individualize test-prep practice.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources