If you’re looking for simple ways to help your children with learning at home without stressing yourself out, you’ll love this round-up of amazing (and FREE) resources.
With schools closing all over the nation, many of us are scrambling to figure out what to do with our kids home all day!
Our school district has dismissed school for at least the next two weeks, and we’re not sure what will happen beyond that time.
I’ve been a little nervous about staying sane with my kids home all day (my five- and seven-year-old boys have a tendency to fight like crazy!), but I’m also excited about the opportunity this time presents. Our normally busy schedules have screeched to a halt and we have this amazing gift of TIME.
If you’re like me, you want to make the most of this forced pause in our busy world. Really, it’s a gift and a blessing…if we make it so.
Remember, you don’t have to stress about being like your child’s teacher at school. You don’t need elaborate lesson plans, or a college degree in teaching to create effective opportunities for learning at home.
Instead, let this be an opportunity to give your kids a different kind of education for a few weeks. Ask your kids what they are interested in learning, and help them explore their interests.
I’m keeping things simple and fun at our house, with everything geared toward THREE core goals:
- Read every day
- Develop math skills through real-world learning and games.
- Pursue creative, kid-driven learning that is harder to do in a formal school setting
We live in time when technology enables us to do SO much from home. There are TONS of resources online for learning at home, and in the past few days I’ve seen an explosion of generosity from some amazing people who want to help.
Below, I’m sharing some of the resources I’m using with my kids, and I hope you’ll add your own favorites in the comments below this post. Let’s all help each other out!
Keep in mind, there’s no way you’re going to use ALL these resources; there are just too many (which is a great problem to have, btw)! So, pick what works for your family, and just do a little each day.
We can do this…TOGETHER!
Scholastic books has an extensive library of online materials, and they have used their educator super-powers to create done-for-you daily literary-based lessons and activities! There are five days of lesson plans available now, and there are at least 15 more in the works. And it’s all completely FREE. Note: I had some issues exploring the site on my phone, but on a computer it worked great.
There is nothing better than YOU reading to your child, but if you’re like us, the libraries around you are closed and you’re eventually going to want some new material.
Storyline Online has a huge library of picture books that are read by famous actors and actresses. Not sure where to start? Try these:
There are tons of other great read-alouds on YouTube as well. Search just about any picture book, and you’ll likely find that someone has recorded it. Some readers are better than others, but it’s a great way to get access to books you don’t have.
Get out coloring books, play dough, or a puzzle, and turn on a short story podcast while the kids play. Our favorite right now is Circle Round, which adapts folktales from around the world into engaging radio plays for kids. They’re about 20 minutes long and are really well done.
Other podcasts to check out:
My five-year-old LOVES this online game focuses on letter-sound recognition, blending, segmenting, reading sentences, and more! We actually bought the app awhile ago, but the desktop version is FREE! Check it out HERE.
This is one of our favorite games for learning at home (and one of the most popular posts on my blog). It’s a great way to practice letters or numbers with preschoolers, but can also be used for sight words with older kids. All you need is some popsicle sticks and you are ready to play Kaboom!
Science, Technology, Engineering, Math…these are critical for kids these days. Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to learn and play:
Do Lego challenges
Legos and STEM are a match made in heaven. Challenge your kids to make a Lego zipline, a bridge, or just about anything else! Here is a whole set of Lego STEM challenge cards from My Joy-filled Life to keep you going for at least a month!
Play math games
I’m all about making learning as play-based as possible. Board games and card games are a GREAT way to practice core skills in a fun way. Here are some great learning activities using common games you likely already own:
- Dice Wars: math game for kids
- Simple math card games
- 10 math games to play with dominoes
- Math games using UNO cards
- Creative ways to play with number flashcards
Travel the world from your couch
National Geographic Kids is a fabulous resource for exploring topics of your kids’ choosing. Choose a country, habitat, or animal and dig in! My plan is to have my kids pick a different place to “travel” each week and we’ll explore it virtually. Learn about the geography, culture, language, food, wildlife, and more!
This week we explored Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day and it was so fun! Just 15-20 minutes of clicking around and reading together, but we all learned so much and even took a quiz at the end!
Cooking with kids is a great way to practice math skills in a real world setting. Plus, everyone is happier when you get something yummy to eat at the end of the lesson! Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly recipes to cook together:
- Mini corn dog muffins
- Strawberry cheesecake milkshakes
- No bake granola bites
- Mini blueberry muffins
- Fudge in a bag
Steve Spangler has TONS of kid-friendly science experiments you can do at home as well as some jaw-dropping experiments that you can watch (and NOT do at home) on his YouTube channel: The Spangler Effect.
This site has a huge library of STEM challenges and science experiments you can do with kids at home. Most use basic household supplies you probably already have, and there are ideas to study just about anything your kids are interested in learning at home.
Art & Music Resources
Art and music are often overlooked in mainstream schooling, so let’s take this time at home to cultivate an appreciation for them!
Sarah Jane (of the amazing Lola Dutch series) is offering FREE daily art lessons and printable activities for kids right now. Sign up at Raising Wonder to get the daily emails!
I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to learn to draw from the creator of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and the Elephant & Piggie series? Right now, Mo Willems is doing a daily “lunch doodle” drawing lesson for kids. So fun! Find them HERE.
This YouTube channel has an extensive library of “how to draw…” videos. I love that they have a kid drawing alongside an adult, so kids can feel confident in their own ability to draw.
Make music fun at home
How to make classical music fun for kids: check out these seven play-based ideas for introducing your kids to the creme de la creme of the music world, along with a playlist of 20 kid-friendly classical pieces.
Silly songs your preschooler will love & MORE silly songs your preschool will love: Music is a great way to help kids develop language, motor, and memory skills. This is a great playlist of silly songs that kids are sure to enjoy, and they’re especially great for getting wiggly kids up and moving around.
Thankfully, the weather is warming up, and I’m all for sending the kids outside for “recess” (they love that I still call it that for homeschool), but on rainy days, you might need another option. Here are a few:
This site has lots of fun movement videos for dancing, yoga, and more. My sister (a second grade teacher) loves using these with her students for brain breaks.
I just love how Jamie (with her delightfully British accent) takes kids through all sorts of yoga poses while she tells tales about everything from Betsy the Banana to Norris the Baby Seahorse. There are even Frozen, Harry Potter and Star Wars themed episodes for older kids. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the concept of mindfulness in a fun way, all while moving and stretching.