Learn a new skill at home 

Monday 4th May 2020

Man reading bookA few weeks ago we took a look at how you can take care of your mental health and wellbeing during this challenging time. We know coronavirus  has changed the way of life for many of us and we really hope our advice helped you find the time to look after and focus on yourself.

One of the tips we shared was learning something new. Learning a new skill or developing an already existing hobby can really help boost your self-esteem, keep you entertained and focus your mind on something else, all of which can positively impact your mental health.

As a current student, you’ll constantly be learning from your course and continuously improving your subject knowledge. But have you considered learning a new skill or hobby whilst at home, something that’s not directly related to your course and which can offer a regular respite?

This week we’ll be taking a look at how you can do just that.

As many of us study and work from home, many organisations and institutes have made their courses and resources freely available online. From arts and crafts to gardening and nature, cooking to languages, we’ve pulled together a list of websites and apps teaching a range of skills.

If you’re not sure what kind of thing you want to learn or where you want to start, why not try simply reading something new or re-discovering an old classic? There are so many websites and online libraries out there that give free access to thousands upon thousands of books and resources – scroll down to the Reading section to view a few. What better way to learn something new!

Arts and crafts

64 Million Artists are hosting a month of daily creative challenges. You can also sign up to receive a free tailored activity pack to keep you and your family entertained.

Website: 64 Million Artists

Now’s the time to take up crocheting! Learn the basics of crocheting, including how to crochet a face mask.

Watch on the Bella Coco YouTube channel.

Learn how to paint by watching your choice of hundreds of calming and therapeutic Bob Ross tutorials.

Watch the episodes on the Bob Ross YouTube channel.

Why not try learning modern calligraphy and put your penmanship into practise by writing a letter to a friend?

Watch on the How to Hand Letter YouTube channel.

All you need is paper and a bit of patience to learn origami! Origami Way has plenty of tutorials to keep you busy, whatever your skill level.

Website: Origami Way

If you want to breathe new life into old clothing, take a look at Sashiko – the Japanese art of mending fabric with beautiful stitches – with Hollywood legend Martha Stewart.

Website: Martha Stewart

If you want to get into arts and crafts but don’t know where to start, The Spruce Crafts can help inspire you. They have lots of different craft ideas in all one place, including origami, knitting and beadwork.

Website: The Spruce Crafts

Breathe new life into your unwanted items by upcycling them. Upcycle That offers creative ways you can make new things from items already in your house such as old clothes, toys and plastic packaging.

Website: Upcycle That

Join thousands learning to knit in quarantine with these simple knitting tutorials.

Website: Wool and the Gang

Computer skills

Have you always wanted to code but don’t know where to start? Codecademy can help you get started.

Website: Codecademy

Learn how to code through fun games and story telling and help solve problems that matter to you.

Website: Raspberry Pi

Scratch teaches you how to program your very own interactive games, stories and animations and share your creations with the world.

Website: Scratch


Learn how to cook from scratch or find a new meal to master with a range of healthy and hearty recipes from around the world.

Website: BBC Good Food

Hundreds of low budget recipes, including many vegan meals, brought to you by chef Jack Monroe.

Website: Cooking on a Bootstrap

If you fancy some comfort food, try cooking your very own authentic, Italian meal. Discover how to cook traditional Italian dishes with classic ingredients and step by step instructions.

Website: La Cucina Italiana

Creative writing

Learn how to write by reading BBC scripts. BBC Writersroom works with writers at every stage of their career and publishes drama, comedy, CBBC, CBeebies and radio scripts for you to read and learn from.

Website: BBC Writersroom

Learn how to be a screen writer by reading a collection of successful screenplays from popular and cult films.

Website: Shore Scripts

Start a blog on WordPress and share your thoughts, tips and interests. You can set up a WordPress account for free and take your writing from from there.

Website: WordPress

Gardening and nature

If you have a garden or any outdoor space, Kent Wildlife Trust provides simple ideas on how you can help look after wildlife, whatever the space you have available.

Website: Kent Wildlife Trust 

Why not try bird watching from your window – RSPB’s guide is the best place to start if you want to take up bird watching.

Website: RSPB

Instead of throwing away your food scraps, did you know that you can re-grow vegetables? Rural Sprout shows you how to grow food from the comfort of your kitchen.

Website: Rural Sprout

General courses

Check out this article from Artsy with 10 free online courses from universities around the world. These courses uncover unique and intriguing subjects, from biohacking the brain to the importance of play.

Website: Artsy

Choose from hundreds of online courses from other universities and specialist organisations, perfect for learning something new, building professional skills and connecting with experts.

Website: FutureLearn

Take part in free mini-courses to develop and demonstrate your digital, enterprise and employability skills. Regardless of your age or stage, iDEA has a course for you.

Website: iDEA

Make the most of studying from home and sign up to LinkedIn Learning’s free one month trial. You’ll find a range of online courses in software, creative and business skills, all taught by experts.

Website: LinkedIn Learning

Thousands of free courses covering all the subjects you can dream of, from universities around the world including Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

Website: Open Culture

Many of you have already heard of the Open University, but did you know that they run a range of free online courses?

Website: Open Learn


Learn a new language with the help of a dialogue trainer, speech recognition and a method called spaced repetition which helps you review and remember what you’ve learnt.

Website: Babbel

Learn a language for free, anywhere. Bite-sized lessons and games allow you to earn points for correct answers, race against the clock and level up.

Website: Duolingo

Free British Sign Language resources, aimed at kids, but perfect if you’re just starting to learn.

Website: School of Sign Language


Sit back, relax and listen to a huge range of books read out loud. Audible books are available in six languages and you can sign up to a one month free trial.

Website: Audible

Fancy reading an old classic? Gutenberg allows you to download 60,000 free e-books from authors such as Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe and Jane Austen.

Website: Gutenberg

Run by the Library of Congress, you can scour this online collection of 19,147 items about 193 countries from 8000 BCE and 2000.

Website: World Digital Library

Writing and performing music

Three months free online guitar, base and ukulele lessons. Learn how to play a new instrument or refresh your skills with bite-sized, professional videos.

Website: Fender Play

Do you miss playing music with your friends? Connect, write and play music with musicians from all over the world with this free, real-time jamming platform.

Website: Jamkazam

Who better to learn how to drum from than world-famous Queen drummer, Roger Taylor? His videos are free and available on Instagram.

Watch videos on his Instagram profile.

Learn how to play the piano without even having access to a piano. Search through thousands of piano tutorials, collect your favourite songs and play on a piano app.

Website: Online Pianist

Sing your heart out from the comfort of your sofa and join hundred of people in an weekly online singing event.

Website: The Sofa Singers