Paid-for things they've made FREE – box sets, audiobooks, fitness classes, wellbeing apps and more

Paid-for things they've made FREE – box sets, audiobooks, fitness classes, wellbeing apps and more

To help the millions of people having to stay home, one of the uplifting aspects of the current crisis is a number of companies have made stuff free that you normally pay for, both for kids and grown-ups. Here's a round-up of some of the best freebies we've seen:

1. Listen to 100s of kids' audiobooks, incl Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh (normally £11-£15)

With the majority of schoolchildren across the UK now learning from home, Audible has released a collection of audiobooks for free, which it says will be available 'for as long as schools are closed'.

Books include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Winnie the Pooh and Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter.

If you (or your kids) prefer to read rather than listen, see our 11 cheap Kindle book hacks, including how to get any book from the Harry Potter series for free.

2. Online PE lessons for kids every weekday morning with Joe Wicks

Every weekday at 9am, Joe Wicks (aka 'The Body Coach') is live-streaming a 30-minute PE class on his YouTube channel for free (his normal fitness plans are £97 for 90 days). If you can't tune in then, don't worry – you can watch them back whenever you want.

If your kids are getting restless, this is a great way to get them burning off some energy while they're stuck indoors, and a fun way to start the day if you're home-schooling.

3. Free meditation via the Headspace and Calm apps

These popular meditation apps normally cost £50-£60/year for a subscription, but they've both released free content specifically to help those struggling with anxiety and stress at this time.

4. New classic box sets added to BBC iPlayer

The BBC has added loads of new content to stream on iPlayer, aimed at helping those stuck indoors. These include classic box sets, such as all 10 series of popular spy drama Spooks, plus Wallander, French & Saunders, Waking the Dead and The Missing.

This is all on top of its existing collection of box sets, including Fleabag, Luther and Sherlock. Plus there are some decent films available, eg, Manchester by the Sea, Man Up and The Place Beyond the Pines. So you may find there's no need to shell out £6-£12/month for a Netflix subscription or similar.

While iPlayer is free, you'll need a TV licence to watch it. See our TV tricks guide for more ways to watch for free, and to cut the cost of streaming.

5. Free three-month language course for schoolkids from Rosetta Stone

To help kids who are learning from home, educational software company Rosetta Stone is offering schoolchildren free access to its popular language courses for three months.

This is a decent freebie, as it normally costs £50 to sign up for three months. There are more than 20 languages to choose from, including French, German, Italian and Spanish. Rosetta Stone says that if you have more than one child you can sign up multiple times, you'll just need to use a different email address each time.

6. Free home-schooling resources, including Carol Vorderman's maths school (normally £2/week)

Carol Vorderman has announced that access to her maths school The Maths Factor will be free while schools are closed (normally £2/week). It's aimed at 4 to 11-year-olds and is matched to the national curriculum.

You can also access popular spelling app Sir Linkalot for free until 12 June 2020 (normally £6.99/month). You'll need to sign up to its mailing list and you'll be sent a code for free access.

7. Free workouts for SIX weeks with Chris Hemsworth's fitness programme (normally £23/month)

Actor Chris Hemsworth (you might know him better as Thor from the popular Marvel films) has announced his health and fitness programme Centr will be free for six weeks (normally £23/month). It includes workouts with 'world-class trainers', meal plans and mindfulness exercises.

You can also get a free 30-day membership of Davina's McCall's Own Your Goals fitness programme (normally £9.99/month), which includes a number of different classes such as HIIT (high intensity interval training), boxing and dance. You don't need to enter any payment details to get the free trial.

8. Free ballet and opera broadcasts from the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House might be closed, but it's offering free broadcasts on its Facebook and YouTube channels, including:

  • Peter and the Wolf, The Royal Ballet, 2010 – 7pm on Friday 27 March
  • Acis and Galatea, The Royal Opera, 2009 – 7pm on Friday 3 April
  • Così fan tutte, The Royal Opera, 2010 – 7pm on Friday 10 April
  • The Metamorphosis, The Royal Ballet, 2013 – 7pm on Friday 17 April

After they've been broadcast, these performances will be available on those channels to view 'on demand', so don't worry if you can't tune in at the times above. There's also free content from the Royal Opera House available on BBC iPlayer to watch anytime, including The Royal Ballet: MayerlingPappano's Greatest Arias and Darcey Bussell: Looking for Margot.

9. Free online guitar lessons for three months from Fender (normally £10/month)

If you've more time on your hands (and access to a guitar), now could be a great time to learn a new skill. Instrument manufacturer Fender has made its online guitar courses free for three months – but you'll need to nab a code, and there were only 100,000 available when the offer launched on Friday 20 March, so go quick if you want one.

You can choose from acoustic, bass, electric or ukelele, plus a variety of different music styles (eg, blues, country, pop and rock).