Finding creative ways to engage young children at home while you are also busy managing all you need to do in this ever- changing time is a challenge.
But there are many resources to help.
Babble Dabble has many art and science activities you can do at home using common household items. Visit babbledabbledo.com.
Breaking up the day with fun movement as well as mindfulness activities for children can be enhanced by using GoNoodle. Visit family.gonoodle.com.
Many publishers are making their resources available to families through links such as classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html.
Young children are naturally interested in new challenges. Here are a few ways to get their brains (and feet) going around the house:
“Hide” playing cards — if you don’t have a deck of cards, use index cards, post it notes, or small paper — around the house and see if your child can find the one that has the number that:
• Matches the child’s age.
• Matches how many pets you have.
• Matches how many people are home.
• Matches how many plants are in the house (or the number of plants they can see from a window).
• Matches how many boxes of cereal (crackers, pasta) do we have?
For children more advanced in mathematical thinking, give them a problem to solve where they have to find the card that answers that problem such as:
• How many cookies would you have if I gave you three and then two more?
• How many chairs are in the kitchen and the dining room?
• If I take away two chairs how many would we have then?
• We have five bananas and we are going to eat two for lunch. How many are left?
Every time they make a discovery, you can create another. The kids can join in the fun and be inspired to help to come up with more problems to solve.
An alphabet variation is to post letters around their environment and ask them to find the letter that a word for a familiar object starts with, such as leg, fork, apple, puzzle, can, game, door. It is best to avoid blends at the beginning of words such as “stairs,” because it can be hard to hear the first sound.
Have your child write stories using pictures and as many letters/words as your child knows. This is a great way to build on natural creativity and enhance letter-sound association and spelling. You can provide story starters such as, “What if an air balloon landed in our yard?” Or they can write about their favorite animal, game or activity.
Encourage kindergarten-aged students and older to write phonetically. For example, if they want you to spell “park,” ask them to write the sounds they hear. They may write “pk,” which represents the word at their stage of development. Preschool students typically use only pictures and dictate their stories to you.
Drawing and writing about observations in your yard really helps children to focus on details. How many birds do they see? Are any plants growing flowers? Do they hear any dogs barking? Are any insects moving around?
Clipboards are a big hit! If you don’t have one, use a tablet or book with paper attached with a clip or tape. Children can take “do you like” surveys by asking anyone at home, or available by phone/text/email to answer important yes/no questions such as “Do you like bananas?”
Create a simple survey response by writing the headings “yes” and “no” at the top and a line down the middle. Your child can then record a tally mark for each response. If they know how to spell names, they can write the names instead of tally marks.
You can also have a readymade list of people’s names for them to copy from as they complete their surveys. They can then announce the results of the survey to all participants!
Young children are happy to include stuffed animals and pets as respondents.