Great Websites for Teachers: Find Free Lesson Plans for Your K-12 Classroom

While most teachers have a solid collection of lessons to teach from — either those they have created or those their district has provided — there comes a time in every teacher’s life where they want to add just a little more. Maybe their students need extra work with the water life cycle or their creative 6th hour would enjoy an extra day writing poetry. Whatever the reason, at some point most teachers find themselves Googling “lesson plans on ______” and crossing their fingers as they hit the search button.

My colleagues and I used to call it “going down the rabbit hole” — we’d spend hours online searching for just the right activity to bring a concept to life for our students. Sometimes, this journey paid off, and other times, we ended our search with a ragged collection of “just okay” ideas and a commitment to look again tomorrow. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of online lesson searches, this blog is for you!

Below is a collection of 5 websites that contain quality, searchable lesson plans for K-12 teachers across a wide variety of subjects. Best of all, access to these lessons is free. When I’ve felt it would be helpful, I’ve included links not only to the main site, but to links within the site that might get you to a useful resource a little faster (links are at the end of the article). I’ve also tried to list a few of the main features of the site, so you know what you’re getting into before you get there. While I can’t promise you will find the lesson of your dreams, I hope I will save at least a few teachers a few precious hours of search time. Good luck and happy hunting!

1. Share My Lesson

The Share My Lesson website is a platform where teachers can collaborate and share standards-aligned resources including lesson plans, classroom resources and professional development webinars — at no cost. Membership to the site is free, and it is easy to sort lessons and resources by topic, grade-level or standard. Share My Lesson also offers Collections: curated teaching resources grouped around 11 popular themes, including family engagement, back-to-school ideas, classroom management, and social and emotional learning. The site has an active community and is frequently updated. For example, Greta Thunberg just gave her speech at the United Nations two days ago, and there is already a lesson plan with embedded video featured on the site. As of 2019, Share My Lesson has 1.5 million members and more than 420,000 preK–Grade 12 resources. The first time I stumbled onto this site, I thought to myself, where have you been all my life? Yes, I was that happy.

2. Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing research-based information for 21st century learning. Their website includes education tech reviews, professional development resources (including free monthly webinars), and family engagement resources. Their “shining star” is a comprehensive Digital Citizenship Curriculum that is seriously one of the best free teaching resources anywhere. Designed and developed in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education — and guided by research with thousands of educators — each lesson takes on real challenges students face today, and gives them the skills they need to succeed as digital learners. The curriculum, which is available for grades K-12, covers six themes in digital citizenship, including Media Balance and Wellness, Privacy, Cyberbullying, and Media Literacy. With lessons like “Finding Credible News Sources” and “Finding Balance in the Digital World,” even if you do not teach the full curriculum, you are sure to find lesson plans.

3. The Learning Network from The New York Times

The New York Times provides teaching resources to complement current events articles and engage students in the writing process through this interactive website. While their target audience is middle school and high school students, many articles can be used with elementary school students, too. The Network publishes approximately 1,000 teaching resources each school year, all based on Times content — articles, images, videos, and podcasts. Most resources are free; however, lesson plans are limited to five per month for non-Times subscribers. While the concept of pairing lessons with news articles is not new, what I like about the Times site is the fact the content is curated, and the Network adds additional content to engage students, including writing contests, a separate writing curriculum, a Daily Current Event Lesson, Weekly News Quizzes and Country-of-the-Week Quizzes, and on-demand webinars for teachers — just to name a few!

4. Read Write Think

ReadWriteThink is an online resource that contains lessons, activities, and printables to help students from pre-K through 12th grade improve their reading and writing skills. While ReadWriteThink is focused primarily on language arts, resources for science, math, health, and history can be found here, too. The site is organized into Classroom Resources, Professional Development, Videos, and Parent & Afterschool Resources. There are hundreds of unit plans, lesson plans, and activities, each sortable by subject, learning objective, and grade level. There are also over 50 “interactives” for students, everything from a "Comic Strip Creator" to a "Profile Creator" where students can “draft mock social networking profiles, yearbook profiles, and newspaper or magazine profiles for themselves, other people (including historical figures), or fictional characters. The tool could also be used for profiles of nonhuman living creatures, inanimate objects or abstract concepts (e.g., profile of an amoeba).” I like that you can search by “printouts” under the Classroom Resources section and see exactly what the student worksheet looks like without having to click into a lesson plan first — they even let you click on a “most popular” tab in each section — perfect for when you’re just browsing for new ideas!

5. TedEd

TED-Ed is a website featuring educational video lessons on a variety of subjects. From the creators of the famous TED Talks, this site taps into some of the same ideas and inspiration TED is famous for. Searches can be conducted by keyword or subject. You can also filter by target age, content type (animation or TED Talk), subtitles, and more. In addition to each video (the Watch section), most lessons include additional learning sections: Think, where students answer questions about the video; Dig Deeper, which is a listing of additional related resources; and Discuss, which includes guided and open-ended discussion questions. Registered teachers and students can take any existing lesson and customize it or create their own video lesson from scratch, based on a video in TED-Ed's library or from a YouTube link. It can be a little hit or miss finding the right video for your lesson or unit, but with such a wide variety of offerings — where else can you find “The Poetry of Pablo Neruda” and “A Brief History of Cannibalism” on the same site? — it is a fun place to look! Hint: if you want to make sure you find lessons based on TED Talks and not the TED animations, make sure you filter content type by “TED Talk Lessons” on the right side of your screen.

Links to Free Lesson Websites Learning ➢ Interactives Link :