Heidi Reina, M.S., Ed, is an educational technology integrator and teacher, reviewing free educational websites and apps.
Free Websites for Lesson Planning, Activities and Projects for Teachers
These 12 websites offer an incredible array of free lesson plans, unit plans and guided, project-based learning plans for elementary, middle and high school students. Be sure to take advantage of these well-organized lesson resources for both classroom teachers and homeschooling parents in all subjects!
You'll find much more here than planning ideas. Many of these sites are rich in primary sources, online interactives, graphic organizers, worksheets and assessments.
HotChalk Lesson Plans
HotChalk's Lesson Plan page has an excellent search feature to help you zero in on the topic you're teaching. The results display a list of lessons, with their target grade levels and reviews from teachers who've used the plans. These features alone make HotChalk an excellent starting point.
As of this writing, their database has about 4,000 lessons. Many of the lessons are cross-curricular and include common core standards.
In addition, there are hundreds of helpful articles and advice from experts on topics such as dealing with confrontational parents and helping students create their own lesson plans.
Strength: Inspirational examples of how innovative lesson approaches are making a difference
Edutopia takes a different approach to lesson planning and design. Here you'll have the opportunity to see a variety of different lesson styles in action - to see what works in public education. The emphasis is on integrated studies, cooperative learning, and comprehensive assessment. Edutopia also has an extensive collection of resources on project-based learning, including videos illustrating lessons from across the country in action.
Integral to their approach is an intense awareness of individual learning styles and the multiple intelligences of the students, as well as the teacher's professional development.
Listen to George Lucas talk about the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the goals of Edutopia. I hope their articles, videos and resources can inspire you as they have me.
Strength: Collaborative lesson plans and units that incorporate technology
Another approach to lesson planning combines the lesson format with technology and collaboration in Curriki, a curriculum-centered wiki. The focus is on lessons in math, science, social studies, and English & language arts, but a broad range of subject areas is available.
The resources range from individual lesson plans to units and even open source textbooks, activities and videos. Browse the database of more than 20,000 resources. By using the advanced search feature, you can select top-rated sources by Curriki members and reviewers, media type and instruction type, as well as the more traditional subject and grade level search.
Curriki has many resource partners. Among them are Nortel LearniT TeachiT, EDC for global education, health and economics, Cool School for conflict resolution, Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) for science and math materials, as well as video content from Meet Me at the Corner, Next Vista for Learning, NewsHour Extra and the.News with Jim Lehrer, and several more.
With free registration, you can make your own contributions, collaborate on projects, review resources, and save your own collection of favorite resources from the site. Learn more about the full capabilities registered users have for collaboration on the Curriki Video Tutorial.
ALEX - Alabama Learning Exchange
Strength: Award-winning unique sample lesson planning resources
Most states have their own databases of lesson plans aligned with their state's standards. One that I particularly like for its ease of use and unique contents is ALEX, from the Alabama Department of Education.
The Alabama Learning Exchange has a database of lesson plans with a customizable search feature by any combination of grade and subject, as well as content areas in information literacy, character education, and counseling and guidance.
Beyond lesson plans, ALEX provides links for teachers and students to other Internet resources in the subject areas. And they provide a podcast treasure of short videos, most created in Alabama, in several subjects.
These features, as well as additional resources available to Alabama teachers, earned ALEX the 2009 Digital Education Achievement Award.
UEN - Utah Educational Network
Strength: Sample lesson plans in PE, career and technical education
Another state website of lessons that has caught my eye is the Utah Educational Network, UEN, from the Utah State Office of Education and Utah System of Higher Education. Like ALEX, UEN provides an extensive database of lesson plans aligned with state standards.
Also like ALEX, the subject areas go beyond academic. UEN has a strong database of lessons in physical education, engineering, technology, life skills, career, critical workplace skills, and business.
Their lessons also take advantage of the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, one of my favorite sets of interactives to help learn math skills. NLVM was designed and is hosted at Utah State University.
Buck Education Institute - BIE
Leading Project Based Learning Resource
Project-based learning (PBL) is a lesson planning approach advocated by a small but growing number of educators. It emphasizes learning in the context of real-world products and problem-solving. BIE is a leader in this area. It offers a plethora of tools and guidance to help you design your project, as well as a database of hundreds of projects you can use as-is, or that you can adapt to your needs and goals.
BIE also offers several FreeBIEs - tools and templates to help you construct and manage your own classroom projects.
Projects typically last several weeks or semester-long and encompass several content areas and presentation skills. Some projects call for students to conduct research and design a project that will be displayed in the community, or presented to students in younger grades. Many are engineering projects - students design a ramp, catapult, building or robot. Students may also present their projects to the school board or experts in their field of study for review, questioning and critique.
More PBL Resources
To learn more about project/problem-based learning, read my PBL Ideas & Resources article, I elaborate on project-based learning and provide links to hundreds of projects organized by subject and grade level, taken from dozens of sources.
Strengths: Large cataloged collection of kid-friendly educational videos
For video shorts, I love NeoK12 Educational Videos for Kids. The insightful teachers at NeoK12 have cataloged some of the best educational videos available on YouTube, MetaCafe, Flickr and other video sites. They've extracted the (sometimes inappropriate) comments and other "noise" to bring you videos in math, science, social studies and language arts for all grade levels.
These videos are conveniently categorized by subject area and topics such as gravitation, the civil rights movement, history and trigonometry. There are more than 2,600 videos in 140 topic area. All of the videos have been reviewed by K-12 teachers and are safe for kids.
With free registration, you can create a dashboard of your favorite videos. You can also take advantage of a new feature of the site - presentations. NeoK12 has a collection of creative common pictures in each topic area. Use the NeoK12 presentation tool and the pictures to create a presentation and save it to your dashboard. Some of the topics even include assessments.
Given what it has to offer, there's no wonder that NeoK12 was selected as one of the American Library Association's 2009 Great Websites for Kids.
Strength: Premier collection of WebQuest lessons
A popular lesson-planning tool in recent years is WebQuests. A WebQuest is designed to guide students through using online resources, as well as those available at school or home, to analyze and evaluate a topic being studied. Webquest.org by the designer of the WebQuest concept, Bernie Dodge of San Diego State University, has the largest collection of more than 2,500 WebQuests.
The site also offer valuable guidance and links to online tools you can use to build your own WebQuests.
Many WebQuests can turn into little more than a scavenger hunt for students to find and record information from the Internet. The best quests, though, provoke students to synthesize what they've learned into a new understanding of the topic.
Zunal WebQuest Maker and Lesson Directory
Easy Webquest making tool with extensive database of WebQuests
Another valuable WebQuest resources is Zunal WebQuest Maker, a fast and super simple tool to use for creating WebQuests.
In addition to the outstanding quest-making tool, Zunal has a directory of more than 80,000 WebQuests categorized by subject area and identifying targeted grade levels and cross-curriculum connections. You can also view most reviewed and latest published.
NY Times Learning Network
Strength: Cross-curricular lessons plans on current events
Current events are a wonderful source of material to make learning relevant for your kids. The New York Times is a tremendous help here with their Daily Lesson Plan Archive. The NYT has partnered with Bank Street College of Education to produce the lesson plans.
The site has more than a database of more than 2,000 mostly cross-curricular lessons related to current events. Find lessons by subject area and grade level, targeted mainly to students in grades 6-12.
In addition to the search feature, the lessons are accessible from their Issues in Depth on topics such as "Hurricane Katrina: Storm and Crisis" and "Looking Back: September 11". These in-depth themes include relevant NYT articles and blogs and links to other resources.
Strength: Lesson plans that incorporate technology
Teachers are always looking for ways to incorporate technology into lessons. TeachersFirst by The Source for Learning, Inc, is a great place to go to for these types of lessons.
The materials in TeachersFirst are written by experienced, professional educators. They've created lessons and units that incorporate interactive learning with Internet resources. In addition, there are brain twisters for elementary and middle school students, and puzzles for all grade levels.
The interactive resources listed on TeachersFirst have comments from educators with suggestions for how to use them the in the classroom. The appropriate grade range is listed with each resource.
A terrific feature are the ready-to-go classroom activities and presentations for projection or whiteboards.
Another useful section of the site is the Professional Resources area, chock full of ideas for teachers "In the Trenches." These include bulletin board hang ups, first day activities, rubrics, handouts, ideas for substitutes, and technology tips and ideas for differentiating instruction.
Strength: Social Studies Lesson Plans, Presentations and Interactives
I'll close with one of my favorites for lessons, presentations, clipart, video resources, and activities - MrDonn.org by Don and Linn Donn.
As an elementary school teacher, I've greatly appreciated the readability and clarity of the Donns' resources in history, government and geography. On the Internet, their materials are the easiest I've found to help kids to understand these often complex topics.
While the strength of the site lies in their social studies lesson plan materials, MrDonn.org has material and links to resources in virtually every subject area. Most, but not all, is focused on kids in grades K-8. But I have talked to teachers who have used their material with high school students, especially for review.
Finally, the Donns have partnered with Phillip Martin, who has created a fantastic collection of clipart in all subjects. Martin's Clipart Collection is free for teachers, kids and non-profits to use.
Dozens more free lesson plan resources
More than 50 free lesson plan websites are listed and reviewed for you in the LearningReviews.com directory. Many of these sites specialize in providing lesson plans in particular subjects, such as math, science, language arts, and PE.
Looking for templates or forms?
Check out a wide variety of free printable and online lesson plan templates. They range from simple fill-in-the-blank forms to more sophisticated Web 2.0 lesson templates with interactive help, state and national standards alignment, collaboration and planning calendars.
More Lesson Planning Websites
Theme lessons, printable worksheets, everyday edits, games and more.
The Standards Toolbox provides one-click state standards alignment, curriculum mapping, materials storage and sharing, lesson planning, individualized instruction, teacher websites, and an educator community -- all from a single platform!
7 thoroughly documented PBL projects from High Tech High School in San Diego, CA.
eGFI provides science and math lessons and activities to help students learn about engineering.
The jigsaw technique is a cooperative learning approach that reduces conflict among school children, promotes better learning, improves student motivation, and increases enjoyment of the learning experience.
Tools allowing users to search for over 120,000 original lesson plans found on hundreds of different sites throughout the web.
Lesson plans for all ages and subjects gathered from education departments at museums that have hosted Keith Haring exhibitions.
Biology and Chemistry lesson resources for middle and high school science teachers, including worksheets, labs and test reviews.
Teaching That Makes Sense offers tools, training, and technology support for K-12 schools in reading, writing, math, test preparation, and assessment.
This iBooks 2 textbook helps teachers explore various technologies that are currently used in K-12 and higher education. The chapters in this textbook are rich with photos, video, as well as researched information that pertains to the modern educator. It was created by nine graduate students at Georgia College.
Your Lesson Plan Library
Do you use online lesson plans?
Ernest Festus Awudey from Ho, Ghana. on July 29, 2020:
I can prepare a complete lesson note by just depending on this article. Great job done. Thanks for sharing Miss Reina
Heidi Reina (author) from USA on August 31, 2019:
Glad you found them helpful. I still use them frequently.
Joseph Thomas on August 30, 2019:
An amazing list of resources - thanks for putting it together!! Can't wait to check them out.
Jacob on February 17, 2015:
Things today has taught me:1/ Anything worth hainvg has to be earned. Today I must decide how badly I really want it, and then its up to me to go get it.2/ My children remind me on a daily basis what is truly important. Being a parent really helps me to keep things in perspective.3/ Take time to enjoy the good in your life, and make sure you enjoy it at 100%. Life gives you enough challenges without even trying, but its the good stuff that makes all the rest worth while. So take the time to enjoy it.Today has been one of the toughest days I can remember and there is no guarrentee tomorrow will be better. But today has given me these lessons to ensure I keep up the fight with a smile on my face. They can take everything else but they will never get my smile. Take careWarrick
Genesis Davies from Guatemala on February 16, 2014:
I currently use Time4Learning with my 3rd Grader and assorted lessons for my 2nd Grader. Great resources! I'm going to feature this lens on my Happy Homeschooler Facebook page. :)
Normyo Yonormyo on July 20, 2013:
What a great resource lens for educational resources.
Teddi14 LM on July 12, 2013:
I am interviewing for a job in a New Tech high school and this will be a great resource for me if I get the job. Thanks!!!
jayavi on March 18, 2013:
Like this lens. Thanks for the information.
RetireAt57 on March 11, 2013:
Thanks for the great info.
Aunt-Mollie on January 28, 2013:
What a wonderful resource!
Katy Hall from UK on November 29, 2012:
Yes, and I've found a great resource from this fabulous lens!
Jogalog on November 28, 2012:
I do. Some really useful sites here. Thank you.
jimconrad2 on November 24, 2012:
My principal really likes the Jigsaw method.
anonymous on November 09, 2012:
Please check my 21st century classroom out! http://www.squidoo.com/creating-the-most-effective...
anonymous on October 29, 2012:
Loving the information on this lens :)
ConnieGreen LM on October 11, 2012:
Great resources here - I'm a former K-12 teacher and I'll be sure to share this lens with everyone I know
ismeedee on September 11, 2012:
Great lens! A plethora of resources!
anonymous on September 03, 2012:
I was here a little over a year ago and returning with a little angel dust for this excellence!
craftycollector on August 30, 2012:
I never used online lesson plans myself - but I used to write them. It is really interesting to see how different things are in the US from the way they are done in the UK. Thanks for the insight
MatijaB LM on August 10, 2012:
Great job. Thank for sharing info.
dellgirl on July 27, 2012:
This is an excellent lens with an lots of helpful information, thank you for sharing.
Iâm pinning this on Pinterest, facebooking and, tweeting it so I can find it again and to share it with others. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**
GregKuhn on July 06, 2012:
Hello Ira, thank you for this amazing resource which I will share with my teachers. Online lesson plans are a great way to share and learn (building community among teachers). I also have a lens for teachers - about learning great classroom management skills. I'd love it if you gave it a read and let me know what you think about it. Either way, thank you again for this cool lens!
lucia1990 on July 05, 2012:
Very Informative lens .......... Great job
lucia1990 on July 05, 2012:
Very Informative lens .......... Great job
anonymous on May 12, 2012:
My mom was a public school teacher. How I wish there were online facilities such as in this lens during her time. She wrote lesson plans by hand and used lots of reference books to make them.
jenniferteacher1 on April 16, 2012:
I haven't before, but I will see what I can find! Thanks for such a useful resource!
glowchick on March 14, 2012:
Lots of great resources~ thanks for sharing!
anonymous on March 09, 2012:
It is good information!And I used this plans!
anonymous on February 08, 2012:
enjoyed my visit on your article today.
jimmyworldstar on February 04, 2012:
If I was a teacher I'd make good use of these. With the introduction of more and more technology into the classroom, it's not a bad idea.
Shannon from Florida on January 31, 2012:
Definitely! What a great resource! I love using many of the websites you mentioned. Blessed and liked.
earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2012:
Great resources. Thanks for taking the time to compile the information.
Buchamar on December 14, 2011:
No I feature educational app
castellucci lm on December 03, 2011:
Superb lens! I featured it on my lens for substitute teachers.
AngelDey on November 26, 2011:
I take ideas from online lesson plans often. Great lens; very helpful. Thanks.
crstnblue on November 07, 2011:
First of all - answering to the question - No, but I enjoy reading and learning different things to break the routine.
Secondly - good lens!
Lee Nitus on November 04, 2011:
Wow, you really did your homework. Excellent job on delivering such a fantastic resource for teachers. I'll certainly be sending my teacher visitors your way. Thanks!
gosmart on October 30, 2011:
Very useful. Thanks!
anonymous on October 26, 2011:
Thanks for sharing this fantastic lens. Kudos! Squid-liked it.
gosmart on October 24, 2011:
gosmart on October 24, 2011:
anilsaini on September 13, 2011:
Catsinger on August 19, 2011:
What a wonderful resource
profilesincolor on August 08, 2011:
Wow, Wonderful Resource! :-)
anonymous on August 04, 2011:
I love that you don't only provide great sites for lesson plans but also provide a personal review of each one.
JackNimble on July 17, 2011:
I am always open to others ideas. Thanks for sharing!
Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on May 22, 2011:
Great lists! This goes to my favourites:)
lasertek lm on May 16, 2011:
Your lens have a lot of useful information and lesson plan for homeschooling. Kudos!
tandemonimom lm on March 06, 2011:
Nice job and great resource! ** BLESSED ** and featured on Blessed by Tandemonimom!
Jhangora LM on January 10, 2011:
I don't but the information you've provided on the Lens is really useful for school going kids. Good job!
SofiaMann on November 25, 2010:
Great list of resources. Thanks for sharing.
projectcreate on April 23, 2010:
Wonderful lens added here.It is a really good information. I love to use websites lesson plan.
Thanks for sharing.
demandproj on April 17, 2010:
Wow!!! What nice plan you have supplied to the lens. I like to use online lesson plan.
Really great information. Thank you very much.
anonymous on December 09, 2009:
Great list! Have you tried:
Daily WakeUP activities, journal prompts, Web treks, and newsletters.
Currently featuring advent calendar resources.
SpellOutloud on September 15, 2009:
Nice collection---many sites I've never been to. I'll have to check them out.
Vladimir from Australia on September 15, 2009:
Nice lens. Good work :)