Looking for educational activities to keep your kids busy during the new social distancing requirements? Try these homeschooling ideas and activities for kids.
If you have suddenly become a homeschool parent because of the outbreak, let me encourage you: you can do this! This list of educational activities for home is obviously not exhaustive, nor is it perfect (every family and kid have different inclinations, clearly), but hopefully it will give you some ideas to help you get started!
One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to look like traditional school, especially for those of you who are simply taking it on temporarily. Experiential learning is not only often more fun, it’s generally more effective. Try these suggestions for incorporating experiential learning into your home.
Note: my kids range from age 2 to 4th grade, so my experience is with elementary school kids, but as a former high-school classroom teacher, I know that many of these resources have junior-high or even high-school options, as well!
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Educational ACTIVITIES and Resources for Kids
Having a variety of fun, educational activities for you to choose from each day doesn’t have to be complicated! I’ve chosen eight categories of ideas to keep your kids learning while at home.
Pro tip: print a list of these eight things out and slip them into a page protector so your kids can check them off each day with a dry erase marker. If they do one activity/lesson from each of these categories every day, they’re hitting so many skills!
- Printable activities
- Role play
- Chalk school
We especially love Brain Quest ones (I’ve linked the kinder book, but if you scroll down you can find many other grades), but there are lots of good options out there. From Kinder through junior high, colorful workbooks can be fun and educational without feeling like schoolwork!
Pro tip: have a routine of a certain number of pages per day or set a timer and work for 20-30 minutes each day, then go outside and play for at least 10 minutes.
TWO: Printable Resources
From color by numbers for your preschooler to science experiments for your high schooler, there are SO MANY online printable resources available. I especially love Teachers Pay Teachers. As a former classroom teacher and current homeschool mom, I know the value of this resource. Search and sort by your child’s grade and then purchase affordable, printable resources from an amazing collection created by teachers for teachers.
Pro tip: keep it simple! Pick one activity per kid per day and let them display their work on the fridge or share it with the family at dinner each evening!
THREE: Role Play
So many school skills are life skills: math, organization, spelling, art, and more. Find ways to incorporate these skills into play or chore-based activities. Try having your kids follow a recipe for dinner. Or let them help you meal plan. Or have them estimate (great math skill) how long it will take to do something and then time themselves and compare.
One of my kids’ favorite activities is to play “store.” They gather toys or things they’ve made and take turns buying and selling. Encourage them to draw signs, make price lists, and then add/subtract/make change, etc. It’s art, math, organizing, and social interaction all in one! If you have a stash of change in your home, consider letting them use real money for it.
Pro tip: limit it all to one room so you can keep it contained and hold them accountable for cleaning it up at the end. 😉
Another really fun way to integrate math, sorting, organization, and art skills all in one is to have your kids create and plan a tournament together. It could be a sports tournament or something totally different (like a chore challenge or skills contest). Tell them they have to have clear rules, point systems, etc. Maybe even offer to contribute the prizes.
READ!!! All the time, any time, encourage your children to be reading. Read aloud to them if you can find the time, but surround them with books either way. Consider creating a reading contest for the family with different categories like the most pages, the most books, the most non-fiction, the most classics, etc.
We also love read alouds and audiobooks. Here are some of our favorites:
Great audiobooks series for kids:
- Chronicles of Narnia
- The Penderwicks
- Series of Unfortunate Events
- Land of Stories
- The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection
- The Little House Series
- Redwall (beware a pretty thick accent… if your kids struggle with the accent, it might make a better read aloud)
- Wayside School Series (just. plain. silly.)
- The Mysterious Benedict Society (a bit old for my kinder and preschool, but great for upper elementary and middle school)
- Flavia De Luce Novels (also better for upper elementary or middle school)
Great audiobooks for kids:
- The Hobbit
- The Phantom Tollbooth
- The Secret Garden
- Anything by Roald Dahl (my boys, especially, love these!)
- Pippi Longstocking
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins
- The Wizard of Oz
- The One and Only Ivan
Spacial skills are definitely academic! And there are so many great building and STEM toys available these days:
- Magnatiles – or off brand to get more for your money 😉
- Mad Matter – make their own blocks and build
- Jixelz – new for us this year, and they all love it!
SIX: Chalk School
Everything is more fun with sidewalk chalk. Get your kids outside and practice spelling, handwriting, and math in multi-colored sidewalk chalk. The fresh air and kinesthetic learning is especially good for elementary-aged children.
SEVEN: Educational Games
Indoor or outdoor, learning can happen through games, too!
I’ve shared all our favorite board games here, but I’d like to highlight several that are particularly educational:
- Mobi – a math operations game
- Math Dice – mental math practice
- Scrabble – the classic spelling game
- Kanoodle – great spacial relations practice
There are also, of course, many online games and apps you can try. My kids have recently enjoyed Operation Math, Moose Math, and Sushi Math, among many others.
EIGHT: Online or Video Learning
I’m hesitant to offer too many screen-oriented learning options (because I think most of us get enough screen time recreationally!), but there are many good resources out there.
- Freeschool – a YouTube channel that describes itself as “a safe and friendly place to expose children to famous art, classical music, children’s literature, and natural science in an age-appropriate and kid-accessible way.” My kids love their videos!
- Khan Academy – free math lessons, quizzes, and tests. They even have a help page specifically for parents whose kids’ schools are closed because of coronavirus.
- Educational Documentaries – whether it’s on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or from your local library, there are so many incredible documentaries out there about our world and how it works. Such a great way to “travel” and “explore” new places even while you’re stuck at home!
As I said, this list is by no means exhaustive, but these educational activities should give you a starting point if you are adjusting to homeschooling for the first time. Find a rhythm of fun yet academic activities for your kids and enjoy this time together!