Elementary School at Home
COVID-19 has a lot people trying to figure out what to do with their kids all day. Having homeschooled for 11 years now, I felt like I had a few ideas to share. I even asked my kids what were some of the most memorable activities we did at home – basically their favorites.
There are the obvious suggestions such as: art, bike-riding, music practice, exercise, etc. Your kids have plenty of toys and devices with which to hold their attention, but what can we do to have fun and educate them at the same time? Here are a few suggestions in several subject areas.
My family read this book about Louis Braille.
After we read the book, we wrote our names, or a secret word, in braille so siblings could try to figure out what it said. Use the alphabet below and glue like Teacher’s Cauldron suggests.
Another idea is to find a book that you would like your children to read. Ask them to read it and make a test for you. Take their test, and see how much you know about their subject. This kept my kids reading and looking for hard for information. I often failed these tests, but it proved that knowledge is power, and very often knowledge is gained by reading.
Yes, you can do math at home. Don’t worry if you don’t know Common Core Math. Read books about math. Ask your kids to add up your grocery items, to calculate the final price on a sale item, or to count which family member has the most socks in the laundry. (Then, ask that person why they are wearing so many socks.) (smile) Ask them to figure out how much one piece of bread should cost out of a loaf, or one cracker out of a box. Thirdspacelearning.com is a great website to get many more ideas.
When my oldest daughter was in 5th grade, she fussed and fussed about having to memorize a list of measurements in math. We were working on teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. So the next morning, when she came into the kitchen, I had a bath towel laid on the counter next to the sink. On the towel, I had just about every measuring container I owned sitting out for her. There were teaspoons and tablespoons, measuring cups, bowls of different sizes, and pitchers that had measurements on the side. On the opposite side of the sink was a clipboard, with paper and pencil. I explained that I wanted her to make her own measurement chart. I told her, “Here are all the containers, and there is the sink with water. Fill them up and figure out how many of the smaller containers equal the larger containers.” For two days, she played with the water and containers and made her own chart. And she never fussed about having to learn her own chart. One point for mom.
Later that same day, we took inexpensive ingredients like water and flour and looked at the different consistency of just those two ingredients in different amounts. We took one half-cup of each and mixed them up. We split that mixture in half. We looked at what happened to half of the mixture when we added water. And what happened to the other half of the mixture when we added more flour. Any question she asked, we altered the mixture to see how it changed.
Then, with all of her new found knowledge, she helped me cook dinner.
There are plenty of websites available for science experiments that can be done at home with everyday items. Here are some more science ideas.
My children and I simply wrote cards to friends and family. The dollar store usually has some really cute cards. Or, you can have your kids make cards out of construction paper or cardstock. We wrote in print to begin with, and then, once my kids learned cursive, we practiced that skill as well. All correspondence had to be read by Mom before it could be mailed or hand delivered. This was to look at basic grammar. Are we beginning sentence with capital letters, etc. Another suggestion would be to begin writing with a (parent-approved) pen pal in another country. Now, all of sudden you are combining social studies, writing, and reading, as well as grammar.
Kids love riding bikes and playing outside. With the weather changing for the better, this should be easy. There will still be rainy days or days where kids can’t go outside. When my kids were little, we did not have a fence in our backyard. If they went out to play, I had to go outside with them. If I had a deadline, I could not go outside with them, and it didn’t matter what the weather was like. (I didn’t have a laptop at that time. We had one home computer.) In those times I would get creative. One day, my girls spent two hours choreographing a dance routine to a song from a Barbie movie, while their 2-year-old brother was taking a nap. Work time for Mom, oh yeah!
When friends visited one day, the kids collected boxes from the garage and from neighbors and made a very large dog. I have looked for a picture of this that I thought we took, but I cannot find it anywhere. It was kinda like a Chinese dragon, each kid wore a different box which was a different part of the dog. They colored, cut, and shaped those boxes for almost half a day. (I have not given up on finding that picture.)
These ideas are nothing more than a drop in the bucket compared to the ones you can find at your fingertips. You can do this. Love this time with your children and have fun, but most of all learn… with your kids.