While we are all spending extra time at home, let’s help each other by sharing our gifts even when we can’t share spaces. As a former classroom teacher turned homeschooling mama of three, my kids and I are used to being together and home. Obviously, we like to get out too, but being together is usually our norm. I know it can sound overwhelming with kids out of school if that isn’t how you typically spend your days! So, I wanted to share some of the ways we incorporate learning at home, fun, and time together in fairly simple ways.
First of all, don’t feel like you have to fill your ENTIRE day with “school activities” just because your kids would normally be at school. We get most of our learning at home done in the morning (depends on the age of your kids), but so much of our time learning throughout the day doesn’t always look like “learning.” Reading, cooking, playing, building, being outside, singing, etc. all involve learning at home but are just fun! If you want to follow one of the many daily schedules floating around, that’s great. If you don’t, don’t feel like you need one! Fill your days with time together and enjoy the fact that you likely won’t be given the gift of time like this ever again.
Give yourself some grace and see that your kids are exactly where they need to be right now.
Pick a few of these ideas for learning at home to incorporate each day…
–READ!!! Read to each other, read to a stuffed animal, watch someone read a book for you online, read a magazine, read recipes, read Lego instructions, etc. Reading is an easy activity since everyone has books, and snuggling up while doing so makes it even better! If you are worried about your child missing school, make reading a priority while they are home!
–FaceTime a grandparent, friend, neighbor. They’ll love the interaction. To add a little learning, maybe your kids want to read to whoever they are talking to or that person may want to read to them (I’m sure family members would love to do so)! They could even play a game over FaceTime, depending on the game.
–Write and mail a note, birthday card, or drawing to spread some love outside of your home.
-Keep the excitement of an “egg hunt” going any time of year using some of the ideas from this post I wrote! Everyone loves to hunt around the house for things that aren’t their other shoe, car keys, etc.
-Start a chapter book to read together. Younger kids will enjoy listening, and older kids can do the reading. One or two chapters before bedtime will likely get you through a book in a week or so.
–Play games – board games, dice games, card games, etc are a great way to incorporate learning at home. We love Tenzi, Spot It, Hedbanz, Ticket to Ride, and have you ever realized how much learning is in the card game War?!?
–Cook or bake together. You’ll have to read recipes, measure ingredients, follow directions, and get practical experience. It will be (hopefully) fun to be in the kitchen together and then you can enjoy what you make together too!
-Get out any random craft supplies you have, and get creative! Some of the best crafts and projects are the ones that don’t have a specific goal at the end. Process over product!
-Kids love taking a bath so make a sensory bin with water (and maybe let them take a few extra baths while home too). The water can become a car/truck wash with a little soap and some sponges, filled with some containers/cups/scoops/measuring cups found around the house to pour between them, or you can add water beads (or instead of water add dry ingredients like dry noodles, rice, sand, etc). My kids love to wash their toys this way and “make food and drinks” like this to serve each other.
-Cut out pictures or letters from old magazines. You can make new pictures, spell words, write sentences, etc. My kids recently made cards for their grandparents finding and cutting out the letters to spell Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday! You could also look through the magazines using a highlighter to find particular letters, words, parts of the text, etc. It’s a simple and fun way to incorporate learning at home!!
–Book Club! I know I already mentioned reading, but since it’s so important, let’s include the whole family! I love reading children’s books, but let’s face it, I also want to read my own books too. Have everyone in the family grab a book, join each other in the same area, and get reading! If you have little ones, maybe set a timer so they know they should be reading/looking at books until the timer goes off (for really little ones, playing with books and toys nearby is great too). Not only will everyone get reading time, but your kids will see you modeling being a reader too!
-Simply play. Play is amazing all on its own, and kids often don’t get enough time to just play at school so give them the opportunity to do so at home! Playing is fun, and kids’ brains are going like crazy while they do so.
-You can also add even more learning at home to their play. When getting out the Legos or blocks, ask your child to build something that is only made with red blocks, for example, or have them count out 10 groups of 10 Legos to make a tower 100 Legos tall. You can also have them grab two blocks in each hand, and ask how many they have together (2+2=4) and have them build something with those 4 Legos. They could even try to build the number 4. Give them tasks like design a hospital, build a stage or snowman, create your bedroom, etc. Obviously, the complexity will be determined by the ages of your children. They could also have them compare the numbers/structures they built, count their towers, etc. Endless possibilities.
-Get out the paper bags! It’s likely that you have some paper grocery bags just sitting at your house (at least we do at ours). Let your kids use to them to have something different to color on (cutting the bottom off makes an extra-long canvas), make costumes out of, etc. If they don’t get creative, you can always ask them instead to fill the bag with clothes or toys they want to donate! We’ll see which option they choose… Either way, win for you!
-Grab a shipping box, cereal box, shoebox, or any boxes you have around the house. Let your kids get creative with them. Sometimes things that aren’t actually “toys” make the best toys, especially for learning at home, and get imaginations flowing!
–Build a fort. The possibilities are endless. Yes, there will be a mess, but it will be a fun one!
-Have a dance party! Your kids will love this, and you likely will too. Such a fun way to enjoy being together, let loose, and get some movement in your life! We like to take turns choosing the songs we dance to. Your kids will love seeing you act like a kid!
-Since we homeschool, we have a whiteboard near our kitchen table. Since your decor may be a little more stylish, just grab a notebook or piece of paper instead. I write my kids a message in the form of a letter each morning for them to read. Sometimes it’s just for fun, but it often has words or concepts we are learning about mixed in or is about what we have going on that day. It’s an easy way to get reading and other learning in daily. They especially love it when Dad writes a message too!
–Leave your kids notes around the house. Grab some post-its and write special messages to your kids. Put some in obvious places, but hide them mostly in places they will find only if they get dressed, grab some snacks in the pantry, do the laundry (haha), play with toys in a certain bucket, etc. It’s a simple idea to spread a little love.
-Make an obstacle course. Another time for imaginations to run wild while getting some movement too.
–Doodle Loops. On a blank piece of paper, draw any sort of doodle (line, shape, curves, letter, number, etc.) and let your kids add to it to create a picture. SOO easy and can get so creative. It’s fun to see what each kid decides to turn the same starting doodle into! Kids can make them for each other too.
–Puzzles! Puzzles are great for just about any age, and you likely already have them. Even if they are collecting dust at your house, now’s the perfect time to get them out. Whether it’s your kids doing puzzles independently or something you do together, it’s a fun way to pass the time and work on fine motor skills.
-Everyone loves stickers, right? Just putting stickers on paper can be fun, but you can also add learning. Divide a paper into sections. For younger kids, label each square with a number and have them put that many stickers in that section. For older kids, come up with a fraction and have them cut their sticker based on that (cut it in thirds, for example). Use them to solve number sentences (two stickers + two stickers = four stickers). Lots of options here.
–Rainbow writing. Choose meaningful words like your child’s first, middle, and/or last name, sight words, spelling words, word families, rhyming words, etc. – really any word. Right it on paper in either pencil or highlighter. Have your kids trace the word(s) with colored pencils/crayons/markers and continue to go over them again and again with different colors. A “rainbow” of colors will appear, as your child practices letter formation and spelling.
-Get out the scissors. My kids love cutting anything! It’s a great skill to practice cutting on the lines to cut things out so practice there or let your child cut paper freely into little scraps. It’s also fun (and great fine motor practice) to cut other things like straws, yarn, foam, and Play-doh.
–Get kids involved in what you are doing. Folding laundry? Ask your kids to see how many pairs of socks they can match together, ask them to put away their socks in their drawers, or have them put their shirts on hangers. Emptying the dishwasher? Have your kids wash their hands and put away the clean dishes too. My kids usually love the responsibility of getting to do jobs I would normally do, and I appreciate the help!
–Start a back and forth notebook. Write a letter/note/drawing to your child, and have them write or draw back to you. Depending on your child’s age, this is a great writing activity and also a fun way to connect! If you keep the writing going, it’s also an activity you can keep doing over time.
If you are looking for more specific ideas, online resources, etc, there are SO many ideas going around the internet right now. A quick Google search will get you access to those. This list is simply things we do for our learning at home on a regular basis that I hope you can easily incorporate too.
Let us know if you try any of these or share your favorite activities to do at home. The more ideas, the better!
Remember, you know your child/ren the best. Do what works best for your family!
I like to remind myself of the quote – Your kids don’t need a perfect Mom, they need a happy one! Try to find joy amidst the chaos. You don’t have to do it all. Just fill your home with love. You got this Mama (and Dad)!