There are many free tools to engage and inspire students in a variety of subjects. These interactive tools can be used to encourage self-directed learning or to create fun, dynamic group projects. Here are a few resources that may be helpful in your classroom:

Asymptopia Crossword Builder is a JavaScript education application that runs in any modern internet browser but does not require an internet connection. The simple controls allow teachers or parents to create unlimited math crosswords, or supply their own word. Some suggested uses include: cities, countries, latitudes and longitudes to teach geography and spherical trig, simultaneously; Periodic table word; foreign language learning exercise; and terminology practice with virtually any other subject.

Have students gather images from the Web or snap their own photos on a subject. Then, they can create a unique piece of art using this free collage-making tool.

The visual aspect of Bing makes searching the Internet a more captivating and rewarding experience for students. Bing Maps offer breathtaking, bird’s eye views of the world that can enhance any project.

This helpful tool easily converts what you have written into nearly any language you need. Cut and paste the text into the area indicated, and click Translate.

The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn’t confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All movement in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A ‘point-and-goto’ interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit. Celestia is expandable. Celestia comes with a large catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spacecraft. If that’s not enough, you can download dozens of easy to install add-ons with more objects.

Childsplay is a collection of educational activities for young children and runs on Windows, OSX, and Linux. Childsplay can be used at home, kindergartens and pre-schools. Childsplay is a fun and save way to let young children use the computer and at the same time teach them a little math, letters of the alphabeth, spelling, eye-hand coordination etc. Childsplay is part of the schoolsplay.org project.

Education World is a resource where teachers can gather and share ideas, including lesson plans, practical information for educators, and information on how to integrate technology in the classroom. There are also articles written by education experts, web site reviews, special features and columns, and employment listings.

Check out this site where you can play with online flashcards. It keeps track of what you know and uses that information to determine which card to show you next. It’s memory optimization based on science combined with a fun, flashy look and feel.

GCompris is an educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10. Some of the activities are game orientated, but nonetheless still educational. Categories include: computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gesture; algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror image; science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulation; geography: place the country on the map; games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku; reading: reading practice; other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing, cartoon making

Google Apps for Education is a broad IT solution that schools can use to bring communication and collaboration tools to the entire academic community for free. Google manages all the technology details, so you can focus your time, energy and budgets on teaching your kids.

Immue Attack is a high tech 3D computer game that teaches how the human body and the immune system work. In this game, you program a nanobot to teach all cells in the body how to fight bacterial and viral infections. A great game for high school science students.

The Intel AppUp Centers provides a centralized catalog of thousands of netbook apps in one convenient location. Applications are available for education, social, entertainment, communications, etc. Their “Study Up” category provides apps for back-to-school, helping students study and work more efficiently.

iTALC is a use- and powerful didactical tool for teachers. It lets you view and control other computers in your network in several ways, including seeing what’s going on in computer-labs by using overview mode and make snapshots, remote control computers to support and help other people, show a demo (either in fullscreen or in a window) – the teacher’s screen is shown on all student’s computers in realtime, lock workstations for moving undivided attention to teacher, and much more.

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. The website supplies a free online collection of more than 2,400 micro lectures via video tutorials stored on YouTube teaching mathematics, history, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics and computer science.

LilyPond is an automated engraving system. It formats music beautifully and automatically, and has a friendly syntax for its input files. It is Free Software (open source).

Little Wizard is a development environment for children. It is intended to be used by primary school children to learn about the main elements of real computer languages. Using only the mouse, children can explore programming concepts such as variables, expressions, loops, conditions, and logical blocks. Every element of the language is represented by an intuitive icon, making it easy to learn. Little Wizard works under Linux and Windows 2000/XP.

Easily create your own math worksheets with practice problems to give your students. This tool generates multiple math problems based on a sample and then creates a worksheet that you can distribute.

If you or your child need to remember information for an upcoming test or exam, the free Memory Lifter automated flash card system may be the answer. Memory Lifter is a free flash card program that presents flash cards using various sensory outputs and using a special display technique that enhances a student’s ability to remember.

This free downloadable tool helps students visualize and see mathematical concepts as never before, including step-by-step instructions and easy to understand explanations of fundamental concepts.

Students can explore famous places in the world with cinematic quality using this virtual, visual three-dimensional tour.

Integrate multiple choice, polling and true/false questions into your lessons with this free add-in for PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010 that lets students use mice to answer.

The Ohio Treasure Chest is an online collection of thousands of websites which are high-quality, teacher-reviewed, interactive, and free. Each website is aligned directly to the Ohio Academic Content Standards in math, science, language arts, and social studies, and ready for use in your classroom.

Bring a subject to life with music and pictures. This free, downloadable program has tools to enhance, crop, and rotate your digital photos. Students and teachers can easily create a slide show with just a few clicks.

RekenTest is an arithmetic quiz program that tests your skills in operations such as addition and subtraction, the multiplication tables, decimals, money problems, percentages and fractions.

A very nice, and free, geography teaching package. Covers all parts of the world. Includes quizzes and map exercises. Runs in several different languages. Each exercise has a high score list.

Small Basic is a simplified version of Microsoft’s programming language Visual Basic, suitable for kids and beginners. It includes dozens of lessons and exercises that explain basic programming concepts in detail.

Bring out the musical creativity in your students. Choose a style-from pop to jazz or R&B. Have a student sing into a PC microphone, and Songsmith will generate musical accompaniment to match his or her voice.

Soup Toys takes the concept of physics and transforms it into a software tool that lets children (or children at heart) play around with objects that actually interact with the world around it in a manner that obeys all of the laws of physics.

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

Stick animations are a fun and simple way to create your own stories in pictures. Add people, animals, letters and objects and move and bend them a little in each frame, and with very little effort you have built an entire movie!

Sugar reinvents how computers can be used for education. Sugar promotes sharing, collaborative learning, and reflection. Through Sugar’s clarity of design, children and their teachers have the opportunity to use computation on their own terms; they are free to reshape, reinvent, and reapply both software and content into powerful learning activities. Sugar is a community project; it is based on GNU/Linux, a free and open-source operating system.

Sumo Paint is a full featured photo editing / painting application, which works right in your favorite web browser! The application can be used in Windows, Macintosh or Linux operating systems. sumopaint.com is a thriving online art community of over a 15 million unique users and over 300 000 registered members from over 220 countries. The primary purpose of the community is to create, share, remix, explore, comment, rate and fave the artwork of its members. Sumopaint.com hosts the internet’s most versatile painting / photo manipulation application called the Sumo Paint.

Tipp10 is a simple but effective free typing tutor. It logs and analyzes a whole list of very detailed information that can help you understand where you’re making most of your mistakes and how you can improve.

Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program.

“Tux, of Math Command” (“TuxMath,” for short) is an educational arcade game starring Tux, the Linux mascot! Based on the classic arcade game “Missile Command,” Tux must defend his cities. In this case, though, he must do it by solving math problems.

Make your classroom lessons even more memorable with a movie. Windows Live Movie Maker is the fast, easy way to turn photos and video clips into great-looking movies and slide shows you can share in class or on the Web.

Gain access to 25 gigabytes (GB) of free, online storage. Use it for a student or teacher workgroup to upload and share documents in one central place, rather than trying to track them in e-mails. Store your photos and files, and access them with a password.

WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a free tool brings together imagery from the world’s best ground and space-based telescopes. It not only offers guided tours from interesting places in the sky, but also enables students to explore the night sky by panning and zooming to distant planets and galaxies.

Zoodles.com is a simple, safe, and free web browser for young children, created by a team of educational professionals with your child’s Internet safety in mind. Kids love the Zoodles browser because it offers them a virtual toybox full of educational, entertaining sites that are age- and interest-specific.