<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=627330131183806&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Digital teaching: the best apps and websites out there

Alex O'Donoghue

Written by Alex O'Donoghue

7 min read

We've rounded up our favourite digital tools and platforms for you to use to connect with your parents and children. 

Teacher working from home at her laptop, looking stressed biting done on a pencil

Whether you're an ed-tech whizz or stumbling through nursery rhymes on selfie setting, lockdown teaching is tough on everyone. 

Pick and choose from the following list to make life (a little) easier this month.

Class Dojo

One of our personal favourites, Class Dojo is a free school communication platform that teachers and children are using daily to share what they are learning at home. Through photos, videos and messages, children are able to connect with their practitioner and their virtual classmates, making education truly without borders. They have a series of useful clips to help educators quickly transition to remote learning.


Another star on the pandemic frontline is FlipGrid. FlipGrid is a free video discussion platform from Microsoft which has been described as social media for learning. In FlipGrid, educators post discussion prompts and parents and their children respond with short videos, whether they are learning in class or at home.

Traditionally developed to help parents to keep in touch with teachers over their child’s learning progress, it is now being used by teachers to keep in touch with children. We found their set-up videos and tutorial one-pagers particularly useful.

Twinkl Resources

This online platform for teachers is offering free interactive resources during lockdown, including games, videos, and audio for early years learning. There are also lesson plans, classroom activities and teaching tools to download and adapt as needed. We love their EYFS activities for children from birth to five years, and their (slightly ambitious) home learning hub plan which can be helpful for parents with mixed-age children.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is one of the top pandemic performers for teachers to share activities with parents for their children to do and then join online to report back on. In essence, anyone can create a classroom, send parents a unique code and join daily for updates and sharing. Not tech savvy? This free resource created by the Teachers Toolkit walks you through its function and set up. It has been created to help schools and teachers and is geared at beginners.

Google Teach is another (temporary) online hub of information and tools to help teachers. While not necessarily geared for the early years, some of its tools are useful transitioning to remote teaching.

Khan Academy Kids is a free educational app with thousands of activities and books for young children ages 2-7. They are still in the process of building remote learning options for teachers and students but many of their existing classes work well during lockdown. We love their new Khan Academy Kids YouTube Channel which is for educators, families and children. The Khan Academy Kids is available as a mobile app on smartphones and tablets. 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a highly respected paid-for platform which is used by businesses - and now schools. More secure than Zoom, they offer video collaboration and a host of other tools. Schools and educators can sign up for Office 365 Education for free during lockdown which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams along with various classroom tools. 

We have deliberately omitted Zoom from this list of recommended sites given its data security issues pertaining to children.


Screencastify is a free screen recorder extension for Chrome. It allows you to capture, edit, share screencasts, animations of presentations and give feedback to students. While probably too advanced for EYFS requirements, it’s still a fantastic tool for peer-to-peer learning.


Screencast-O-Matic is another free and easy-to-use screen recorder. It is easy to capture any area of your computer screen with the option to add narration from your microphone and video from your webcam.


YouTube’s resource, Learn@Home, highlights educational YouTube channels that children can watch at home. We love the preschool 'learn at home' playlist, which teachers can use to share with parents for positive screen time.

BBC Teach

BBC Teach is home to thousands of free EYFS curriculum-mapped videos, arranged by age-group and subject. We love their music class channel for 4-5 year-olds called "Bring the Noise" and their EYFS aligned "exploring feelings and emotions" video clips, which are accessible talking points for educators to send parents. 

Sometimes a simple list of tasks sent via a text or email is the best way to empower a parent and help them to engage with their child effectively - this is in and of itself a huge achievement in a global pandemic. However, we are all finding different ways to reach out to families virtually and keep kids learning. 

Used in the right way, WhatsApp is a smart way to share text, videos, audio files and pictures with families. Use it for broadcasting parent tips/resources and home learning activities for children. Creating WhatsApp groups promotes cross-communication which has a different purpose - and pros and cons! If you want your parents to participate in a group conversation, you should create a group chat.

A broadcast is a little different. Broadcast lists are saved message recipients that you can repeatedly send broadcast messages to without having to select them each time. The benefit of these is that it is quick, and parents can reply to you as if it is a direct communication. They are easy to set up although require you to have a level of comfort with interacting with parents on a (traditionally) social app.

Many of our families struggle financially and don't have a wealth of laptops and smartphones to go around - or the uncapped internet which makes streaming big chunks of learning data so easy. This is where some of our favourite existing phone apps shine, particularly those with a data lite version (which works off any low-end phone). 

Facebook Lite

Facebook Lite takes up very little phone space (2MB) and is fast to install and run. Many practitioners are using this and standard Facebook to send out daily activities and get parents to upload what they've been up to. Facebook was started to promote online community and it's an excellent tool for lockdown relationship building, alongside its communication feature, Facebook Messaging.

Find out what platforms your parents are using and think about the best way to organically grow peer-to-peer support. Parents learn so much from one another and getting them in a visible non-competitive communication pattern does wonders for little students' learning. 

Still stuck?

We sampled a few of the parents and teachers in our network and asked them to share what they and their schools are doing.

👩‍💻 Kim, parent: "When schools closed, we were invited to join a WhatsApp group for each age group with ideas and videos and songs. All brilliant, although I'll say the WhatsApp groups can also be a bit overwhelming with hundreds of messages and pressure to send pics and videos of your kids doing crafts and activities - despite that, there is a lot of great support available." 

💬 Kirsten, parent:

"Leo has had a Google Classroom account set up by the school (Easter holidays now so having a break). They have subjects uploaded daily and challenges. It’s really helpful. The teachers do videos every day and given them homework. Zac's teachers email Montessori activities to do weekly and then on Facebook they upload something daily, even just a story being read out etc. His Playball is also starting live Zoom classes to do with the kids weekly!" 

🙌 Practitioner, UK:

"I work in a poor area where over a third of the kids are pupil premium. There is a lot of assumption in distance learning on what kids can access - and the other massive problem you have is one laptop with many family members trying to access it. Apps you can use on your phone are the best, and so Microsoft Teams works for us because it can go on a phone and laptop. For the lower years we are still going to print and deliver packs."

Teaching tool fatigue?

In this time of change and anxiety and opportunity, we encourage educators to be kind to themselves while they navigate a world with changing rules. And to remember that those who are experts in delivering distance education full-time usually spend months recording videos and preparing digital tutorials. For us new kids on the block, it is normal to feel unprepared when you are given 24-hour notice to deliver distance learning!

Virtual solutions have pros and cons, and the transition to distance learning requires a different level of confidence and skill set. While some digital savvy is helpful, early years practitioners know all too well that the recipe for learning isn't complete when a new app hits the market.

Head over to the new BBC teacher wellness and well-being support hub or join one of the many private Facebook groups bringing practitioners together to share common struggles and celebrations.