40 sites for students with free time on their hands

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, May 15, 2023

40 sites for students with free time on their hands

When students are done with an assignment or project, how can they spend extra time wisely? These sites give them something academic to chew on.

As a teacher, there’s always been a question that I wanted to have an answer to.

“I’m done. What do I do now?”

Early in my teaching career, my answer was, “If you’re done, you’re done.” That was my veiled answer for, “I don’t know what you should do next.”

If you’re ever stuck without a good answer — like I was at times — it’s nice to have something solid you can pull out of your back pocket, so to speak.

When my students have had free time on their hands, I have always loved to direct them somewhere online that is engaging or interesting as well as academic in some form. In my years as a high school Spanish teacher, I’ve been happy to direct them to places where they’d learn about other things than Spanish with that free time. Just as long as it was academic in nature.

(To be clear, that free time doesn’t have to be spent online. Although the suggestions I’ll make here are, great alternatives can include drawing, creating with Legos or Play-Doh, or more!)

Here are some of my favorite spots to direct students that will encourage and inspire them. I even shared some of these on TikTok in some of my most popular videos. Check them out below  (and follow me on TikTok!)

Scroll down for 40 sites for students who finish early. File them away for a rainy day, and if you need something stimulating for your students, pull them out!

New interactive free time choice board!

We have created an interactive free time choice board for you to use right away with your students. You can try it out below and just share this link with your class to give them access to TONS of activities to try in their free time.

40 sites for students with free time on their hands

Please add to the list! If you have a favorite, please include it in a comment at the end of the post. Thanks!

Free Rice Logo

1. Free Rice

Each time you answer a multiple choice vocabulary question correctly, you generate enough money for the United Nations World Food Programme to buy 10 grains of rice to help reach Zero Hunger. Click here!

BeanBeanBean Logo

2. BeanBeanBean

BeanBeanBean works like Free Rice where you answer questions and each one that is correctly answered earns you virtual beans that are converted to money that is donated to charity. Quiz topics include times tables, ASL alphabet, world capitals, the periodic table and more.   Click here!

GeoGuessr Logo

3. GeoGuessr

GeoGuessr uses Google Maps Street View to place you on the ground somewhere in the world. You must use context clues to guess your location and pin it on a map.  Click here!

City Guesser Logo

4. City Guesser

City Guesser is a global guessing game where students watch videos, collect clues, and then try to guess on a map where they are. The closer they get the better they do!  Click here!

iCivics Logo

5. iCivics

This site puts a flashy twist on civics-related topics, puts a ton of resources in teachers’ hands and lets students play REALLY fun games. Click here!

Quiver Logo

6. Quiver

If coloring sheets are part of your life — with your students or with your own children or grandchildren — you MUST know about Quiver. Print coloring sheets from the Quiver website and color them. The Quiver app (iTunes) (Andriod) uses your camera to scan the coloring sheet and bring its characters to vivid, 3D life!. Click here!

Wonderopolis Logo

7. Wonderopolis

Kids are curious. Wonderopolis is a site that asks and answers interesting questions about almost anything. Click here!

8. GMZ Podcast

GMZ Shows is a valuable resource for teachers looking for high-quality podcasts to incorporate into their classroom instruction. Teachers can browse the podcast library and access resources such as lesson plans and discussion guides

Try one out:

Code.org Logo

9. Code.org

With Code.org, students can find self-guided coding activities and tutorials. They’re leveled for all ages, from elementary school up. Click here! 

MORE: 20+ ways to celebrate Hour of Code in any class

10. Street View Treks

Street View Treks gives a first-person view to some of the most spectacular locations in the world, from Mount Fuji to the Grand Canyon to the Taj Mahal in India. Click here!

Duolingo Logo

11. Duolingo

Duolingo works a lot like Rosetta Stone, guiding students methodically through language lessons. But it’s free! Click here!

5 Clue Challenge

12. 5 Clue Challenge

Students watch these short videos. They get 5 clues to guess the animal, location or person. Click here!

Ted-Ed Logo

13. Ted-Ed

TED-Ed is filled with tons of short video lessons on a variety of topics. Students can watch anything from “How Thor got his hammer” to “Can you solve the vampire hunter riddle?”. The goal of these videos is to spark the curiosity of learners. Each video offers students the opportunity to watch, think, dig deeper, and discuss. Click here!

Crash Course Logo

14. Crash Course

Crash Course is a YouTube channel filled with educational videos for kids ages 12+ and adults. Videos offer content delivered by entertaining teachers combined with animated graphics. Each playlist contains a course focusing on a different content area. Topics include Engineering, Media Literacy, Psychology, World History and more. Click here!

If YouTube is blocked at your site, or if you want to avoid the “suggested videos” you can also view Crash Course videos on pbslearningmedia.org/collection/crash-course

15. Crash Course Kids

Made by the creators of Crash Course (I bet you had already figured that one out for yourself) Crash Course Kids combines the same engaging lecture-style content delivery with animated graphics that focus on grade school science. Topics include Earth Science, Physical Science, Biology, Geography, Engineering, and Astronomy. Click here!

This channel began with 5th-grade science but more videos have been added and all can be great additions to any science curriculum grades 3+.

sci show kids logo

16. SciShow Kids

Another creation by the same producers that bring you the Crash Course series, Sci Show Kids is a compilation of informational science videos for students of any age. These videos are hosted by Jessi and her robot rat “Squeaks” and answer questions that inquiring young minds really want to know. Students can watch playlists of videos dedicated to science on the playground, getting to know your emotions, simple machines, experiments, and many more fun topics. Click here!

pixar in a box logo

17. Pixar in a Box

Pixar has partnered up with Khan Academy to bring your students Pixar in a Box. With video tutorials and interactive lessons, this course gives us a window into the jobs of Pixar animators. Topics include the art of storytelling, animation, rigging, color science and more. This course shows students that the subjects they learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create the movies we love from Pixar. Click here!

18. Imagineering in a Box

 Khan Academy has also teamed up with Disney to create Imagineering in a Box which allows you to explore different aspects of theme park design, from characters to ride development, as you design a theme park of your very own. Click here!

Google Arts and Culture logo

19. Google Arts and Culture

Discover exhibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces. See super high-resolution images of some of the best works of art in the world. Walk world-famous museums. Examine historical happenings in detail. Click here!

Google expeditions

20. Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions are not gone. They just now live in Google Arts and Culture. Take a virtual field trip to hundreds of places around the world and beyond. Search by subject, topic, location and more. Click here!

dollar street logo

21. Dollar Street

Homes are sorted on Dollar Street by monthly income one end showing the poorest, the other the richest and everything in between. Click on any picture to view images and learn more about families around the world. Click here!

Google Quick Draw Logo

22. Google Quick Draw!

Quick, Draw! tells you what to draw. Then, Google’s artificial intelligence tries to guess what you’re drawing. Click here!

Radio Garden

23. Radio Garden

An interactive globe that has radio stations from all over the world. Students can tune in to hear talk radio, songs, or all sorts of other things from around the world. Click here!

Interland Logo

24. Interland- Be Internet Awesome

Interland is an engaging and fun online site that makes digital citizenship and safety lessons into a game. Click here!

art hub for kids logo

25. Art Hub for Kids

With Art Hub for Kids you’ll find all kinds of art lessons designed with kids in mind and for almost all of their lessons all you need is paper, pencil and coloring supplies. Click here!

Storyline Online Logo

26. Storyline Online

Storyline Online give kids a virtual read aloud of fantastic storybooks featuring famous actors. Click here!

Digital Escape Room Choice Board

27. Digital Escape Rooms

Digital escape rooms are fun and give students the opportunity to practice productive struggle as they work through the puzzles and solve the clues. Click here for a Digital Escape Room choice board!

MORE: Learn all about how to create a digital escape room for your students in this post.


28. Shapegrams

Learn and practice Google Drawings skills with interactive tutorials from Tony Vincent. The first 4 shapegrams are FREE to download and use with your students. Thirty-five dollars gets you 365 days of membership privileges, which includes access to all Shapegrams and a license to distribute them to students. Two new Shapegrams are added per month (August through May).
Click here!

29. Carmen Sandiego

Explore the world in Google Earth with the famous super-slueth Carmen Sandiego! Play three different games with Carmen:

30. National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids has tons of games, videos, and puzzles which will teach them while they explore the exciting world we live in. Click here!

31. Smithsonian Institution Online

The Smithsonian is a deep resource full of exhibitions -- in-person and online! Check out their list of online exhibitions (and go down the rabbit hole) or browse all they offer on their main site.

32. Hello Kids

Hello Kids has digital coloring pages (sometimes you just need something to occupy time!), online games, crafts & activities, and more. (FYI: the site does have ads.)

33. How Stuff Works

Have some curious students? This site has tons of curiosity questions ("How far can the human eye see?"), riddles to solve, and more. Click here!

34. NASA Kids' Club

Are there any aspiring astronauts in your class? NASA Kids' Club is a place to play games and learn about NASA. Many of its activities are standards-aligned. Click here!

35. Chrome Music Lab

Chrome Music Lab is a website that makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments to explore music and its connections to science, math, art, and more. Click here!

36. Tinker Ball

Playing around with objects and ideas helps us see that there may be more than one solution. Tinker Ball provides students lots of puzzles to help them develop their thinking skills. Click here!

37. Scratch

Scratch is the world's largest coding community for kids. Create stories, games, and animations -- and share them with people all over the world. No login required. Click here!

38. Typing.com

Typing is still a crucial skill, and sometimes students don't get lots of instruction and practice. Typing.com has games that let students develop their skills. Click here!

39. Pixlr

Pixlr has tons of image editing and creation tools -- some powered by AI. Students can create photosmashes, collages, animations, and more. Click here!

40. PBS Nova Cybersecurity Lab

In this Lab, you’ll defend a company that is the target of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Your task is to strengthen your cyber defenses and thwart the attackers by completing a series of cybersecurity challenges. You’ll crack passwords, craft code, and defeat malicious hackers. Click here!

What are YOUR favorite sites for students with free time on their hands? What OTHER strategies/ideas/activities do you have for students with free time?

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  • freddiegibs says:

    dame tu cosita

  • Francy says:

    This is great! Would you share more ideas for Spanish teachers? 😬 ¡Sería benísimo!

  • Denise Cook says:

    Thank you for sharing so many online resources for my early finishers. I am always looking for ways to keep my early finishers engaged. I can’t wait to try out the math games you suggested. I also want to try out the choice boards. I have used paper and pencil choice boards in the past, and I think my students would enjoy a digital choice board. My school wants us to incorporate computer science standards into the general education classroom. I will have to check out Blocky.

  • Diana Caldwell says:

    I loved the choice board, and so did my students! Unfortunately, I noticed a tiny bit of nudity in one of the puzzles on the Puzzle Party game link and had to remove it from my class assignment list. I’m glad I (hopefully) caught it before one of my 6th graders did!

  • These are fantastic,thank you for these I really wish the E-Books were complimentary.
    I teach middle school ASD students and E-Books are a great resource that helps them with improving reading proficiency.

  • Beth says:

    Toy Theater is one of our favorites 🙂

  • bob says:

    cool math games lol

  • Amanda Herath says:

    Unfortunately, it looks like A Google A Day was discontinued back in 2014. The website will still pull up but you cannot do anything past that point. I am sad because I thought the students would have a great time with this and it would help them with their research skills.

  • Jamie Toivonen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these activities for students that are done early. There are always those students that work so much faster than others. I also like using blockly and scratch for those students that are at the beginning levels of programming. For advanced students Harvard’s CS50 is amazing and it is all found on YouTube.

  • Dev Gaming says:

    Google play ridem 1000 rupees please help

  • Mandi says:

    I love these ideas! Especially Code.org (as an instructional technology coach) and Duolingo (as a former Spanish teacher)! Thank you for sharing!

  • Valuable Information. That was Nice

  • KVS says:

    I will Make a Visit Again for some other thing

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  • Exam Form says:

    I was not Aware of these Sites. Thanks a Lot

  • Litongmeng Kaing says:

    i kinda like dollar street

  • Litongmeng Kaing says:

    I’ve heard of Duolingo i LoVe it

  • siot says:

    This is very innovative and informative also useful Article. Very good article on latest trending topics. It was really good content. This is one of the most incredible blogs I’ve read in a very long time.

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  • Jennifer Sweeney says:

    These sites will definitely come into good use! I have used Wonderopolis with the fun program Flipgrid.

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  • […] When students are done with an assignment or project, how can they spend extra time wisely? These sites give them something academic to chew on.  Click here to view! […]

  • Amy says:

    My students like scratch. It’s another coding site and requires no login

  • […] that needed it for that particular lesson. Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook just released twenty activities for students to complete with time on their hands and I have listed a few below that I loved using in my […]

  • Chris says:

    Do you have an awesome list of websites specifically for middle school math (6th grade). Tired of Cool Math-type sites. Looking for something different, more challenging, engaging, etc. Thanks

  • Max M. says:

    You absolutely have to include http://www.beanbeanbean.com! It’s my go-to.

    Kids love it –– It’s a lot like freerice.com, but much more modern and fun 🙂

  • Sarah Wadsworth says:

    Thanks for this article! I have shown these to my students and have them available to play whenever they have free time. They seem to love them and got really excited when I showed them. I also add code.org (Hour of Code) to my list of free time games.

  • Joy Kirr says:

    I always like freerice.com!! 😀

  • Hi Matt, Thanks for the post!

    I’m just starting out but students can try http://book.giflingua.com 1.000s of gif books with quizzes/flashcards/games for each book – click STUDY. App out soon and will soon allow teachers to assign books and let students write Gif books. There is a Young Learners category. I’m just alpha testing the concept and appreciate the support of teachers.

    The last site I built, a google venture, EnglishCentral – http://www.englishcentral.com is worth mentioning. The best educational videos on the web come with activities and full lesson plan pdf for teachers.

  • Seeing you teach World Languages, this page of my site may be of special interest- http://techweb.apps.sparcc.org/world-language (notice that I have had Duolingo at top and center since creating the page).

    I support all content areas at our Educational Service Center, so I have created Content Area Specific pages for each- http://techweb.apps.sparcc.org/literacies

    I also have a number of resources pages that are not content area specific-
    Teacher Resources- http://techweb.apps.sparcc.org/resources
    Esotechteric- http://techweb.apps.sparcc.org/esotechteric
    News & Current Events- https://sites.google.com/a/apps.sparcc.org/resources/news

    and then there is my “catch-all” page for students or anyone with time on their hands-
    Learn Something New Every Day- http://techweb.apps.sparcc.org/lsne or shortcut tiny.cc/lsned

  • Deb Blaz says:

    freerice.com Learn and practice languages, science, history, etc. AND earn free rice for starving people. Level up as you improve. My students LOVE it.

  • […] Great sites! -> 10 sites for students with free time on their hands #edchat #edtech @jmattmiller ditchthattextbook.com/2016/08/15/10-… […]

  • Robyn Embry says:

    I like http://www.zooniverse.org for citizen science. Volunteers look at photos to help scientists identify and analyze data. Students can identify photos of wild animals from the trail cams at Gorongosa National Park in Africa, identify photos of galaxies taken by the Hubble Space telescope, and lots of other options in science disciplines and humanities.

  • Melanie says:

    free rice.com-vocabualry builder-and you can change the language!

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