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Tips for Helping Kids Learn at Home

Schools have been out for several weeks now, and if you have kids at home, they may be getting a bit antsy or bored or driving you a little crazy by now! We’ve been homeschooling for the past 7 years, but our kids aren’t used to staying home all the time either! Here are some ideas for keeping kids busy and teaming and having fun during this time:

Preschool and kindergarten

Make patterns with counting bears or any small toys. Have Hatchimals? Those work great, too! Ask your little ones to line them up in a pattern of yellow, blue, yellow, blue, etc. You can also ask your young kids to group these toys into sets of three or four or five and then take it a step further and combine those groups and count them up; now they are adding!

Group Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, chocolate chips, marshmallows, or another small snack into piles of three or four or five and then combine them into new groups to practice adding. Eat them to practice subtracting!

Draw shapes, numbers, or letters with a stick in the dirt or sand. Or spread a bag of rice out on a cookie sheet and have them draw in the rice with their fingers. Buy washable window markers (we ordered ours from Amazon) and let them write/draw on mirrors or windows. Get a whiteboard and dry erase markers. Writing is SO much more fun on a whiteboard! Pick a letter sound and go back and forth, each coming up with words that start with that sound – the sillier, the better!

Make sensory bins with rice and beans or different types of pasta or cotton balls and colored pompoms and let them use different measuring cups and measuring spoons and funnels to pour and transfer items from one bin/Tupperware/pie tin/muffin tin, etc. to another. You can let them use tweezers to pick these items up, too! And you can add small toys to the bins as well. Some people even go all out and make themed sensory bins. The possibilities are endless and are great at keeping young kids busy!

Use colored tape to make roads on the floor and build a city for your kids to play with their cars and little people/figurines.

Add a little bit of washable paint to bubble juice so they can blow colored bubbles! Let them blow bubbles through straws for some extra fun!

Go on a nature walk and collect leaves and flowers and seed pods. Take a magnifying glass if you have one and look at bugs up close and talk about what they are doing. Watch and listen for different types of birds. Talk about the clouds you see. You can even do this in your own backyard! Go home and read a book about nature if you have one.

Coat their hands with coconut oil and then sprinkle on some glitter to represent germs. Have them wash their hands quickly with cold water to see how little of the glitter washes away. Now have them wash with warm water and soap for longer so they can see how much easier the glitter washes away. Lastly, point out that the glitter is now all over the sink, just like germs are still in the sink after they wash their hands, and remind them not to put their clean hands back into the sink after washing!

Elementary age

One of my favorite ways of learning for this age group involves taking a children’s book and pulling science and social studies and language arts themes and topics out of the book. This is so much fun!

For example, with the classic bookmaker Way for Ducklings, we learned about the life cycle of a duck, watched videos of ducks hatching and learning how to swim on Youtube, did a science experiment about how and why oil and water don’t mix and how ducks stay dry in the water, looked up information about mallard ducks and wrote down fun facts we had learned, did a project about duck parenting, learned about Boston and Massachusetts and colored the Massachusetts flag, fed some ducks at a nearby lake, learned to draw ducks, teamed about the art style of lithographs, and identified the different elements of story the author used.

We do this with all kinds of books, and the projects can be scaled up or down, depending on the age and interest of your kids and how much extra time you and they have. If the story takes place in a different country, we study that country and try cooking a favorite dish from that culture. If it takes place during World War 2 or the Great Depression or the pioneer times, we learn a little about that time period and do some cooking or crafts related to that period in history. Sometimes we practice writing our own story or poem in the author’s writing style or using some literary element he or she used a lot of or even just using a similar theme or topic or time period. Again, the possibilities are endless!

We also love to learn through board games or card games. Sleeping Queens is super fun for younger kids who are learning to add. Yahtzee! is also great for math. Ticket to Ride is fun for geography. Apples to Apples Jr. helps with learning to identify and use nouns and adjectives properly. Madibs are also super fun for learning to use different parts of speech. Scrabble is great for vocabulary and spelling. Masterpiece is a great way to learn about famous artists and their paintings.

Lastly, cooking and baking are educational and fun and also help boost kids’ confidence. They can practice their fractions when measuring, conduct a science experiment when they watch yeast begin to bubble and then cause the dough to rise, and team how to chop and slice and blend different spices. They can also team how to make a nutritionally balanced meal. As they grow in their skills and confidence, they can even learn to modify recipes and add their own special touches. As a bonus, kids are more likely to eat meals they help make, and you may eventually get regular nights off from cooking!

Want more fun and educational ideas of things to do with your kids during these long days at home? Email Hannah at hannah(at)hansonhomes(dotted)net!

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