Creative Homeschooling Ideas for elementary school children.
With the continuing spread of Covid-19, most parents are opting for virtual learning this school year. Educators have worked diligently to provide quality learning experiences for their students, but there is still a need for human interaction and socialization in learning. I recently retired from teaching after forty years in the classroom. I have a bachelor’s degree in education and a masters degree in special education. My experience includes a variety of special education settings and 2nd-6th grades. As a grandmother and former teacher, I have outlined some simple ideas for my children to use with their children to enhance and enrich their virtual learning experience. I hope these ideas will be beneficial to you as well.
-Involve your children in planning and preparing meals. These activities include money skills, fractions, budgeting, estimation, measurement, and many more math concepts.
-Purchase some small beanbags or soft balls. Use them to practice skip counting and math facts by tossing the bag/ball to your children as you count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, etc.
-Have your child shoot a basketball as you give an addition, subtraction, division or multiplication fact. If he/she solves the fact he earns a point. If he solves the fact and makes the basket, he earns 3 points.
– Play Dominoes, Shut the Box, Yahtzee or any other game that utilizes number sense.
– Purchase a large “Judy Clock” to teach time and elapsed time concepts. Give real-life examples like, “Mom puts a roast in the oven at 4:15. It needs to cook for 90 minutes. At what time will Mom need to take out the roast?”
– To practice money skills, give your child an amount to spend on Amazon or another online store. Then, have him/her shop and make decisions about purchases. Play store with empty boxes and containers with fake money. Practice making change and identifying amounts using bills and coins.
– To practice measurement skills, give your child a measuring tape and start measuring furniture in your home. Help them find the area of their room or another room. Measure liquids and dry ingredients to make a fun snack.
-Go on a scavenger hunt in your home to find as many geometric shapes as possible: rectangles, triangles, spheres, and more. Have them create “Geo Art” by combining shapes and drawing them on paper. You can buy an inexpensive set of Tangrams too.
* Science Ideas:
-Make science experiments and investigations a weekly activity. You can order inexpensive kits, google ideas, or go to Teacher’s Pay Teachers or other online sites. There are lots and lots of resources out there. Bill Nye, the Science Guy videos are a great resource too.
If your 2nd or 4th grader is learning about matter, you can do some cool experiments turning water (or other liquids) to solid or gas. Try making jello or ice cream or popsicles and explain the concepts involved. I purchased a great 2nd grade matter experiments guide on TPT to try out with my granddaughter.
-Go on another scavenger hunt to identify living and non-living things and create a chart to record your findings.
-Put together “Mr. Bones” (find pattern on Pinterest) and identify the various bones in the human body. It will make a cool Halloween decoration when you’re done with that unit.
-Make volcanoes and tornados following directions you’ll find on many online sites.
-When studying parts of plants, it’s always fun to plant some bean seeds and watch them grow. For older students, introduce variables and controlled experiences using several plants that you control the variable with: less/more light, less/more water, fertilizer or none, and so many more ideas.
-Learn about Six Simple Machines by yet another scavenger hunt to find them in your home. Experiment with an inclined plane as a ramp for matchbox cars by increasing the slope and marking the end spot with masking tape each time you increase. You can purchase kits to make the simple machines at home.
-Purchase a simple and inexpensive chemistry set to teach your children the concepts involved in this unit of study.
Make Homeschool Fun and Educational
* Social Studies:
-To teach citizenship to the early grades, have them create a poster to tell why they are good citizens. Look up ideas for safe things kids can do for their community. Some of the ideas I’ve seen are taking flowers to an elderly neighbor and ringing the bell before walking away, painting uplifting messages on rocks and leaving them on walking paths and trails, use chalk to make a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, driving by a friend’s house on their birthday and honking, create cheerful cards to mail to senior assisted living facilities, and so many more great ideas.
-To teach kids the concept of location and perspective, have them draw a small circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper. Help them write their address in that circle. Next, draw a larger circle around the first, and in that space, write the city you live in. Then, draw a circle around the previous circle and write county, then the state, another
circle for the country, another circle for the hemisphere, another for the continent, another for the planet, and a last outer circle for the galaxy we live in. This is an amazing eye-opener for kids!
-When your child is studying The Age of Exploration, or Colonization/Revolutionary War, or Westward Expansion, or the Civil War, it’s a great time to combine reading, research, and writing skills. Have them choose a person from that era and write a biographical speech that outlines the person’s life. Have them dress up like the character and read his biography while you videotape it.
-Make crafts or toys from the time period or models of homes, ships, wagons, etc. I used to have my students make “cave paintings” by drawing ancient symbols on brown paper with chalk. We also made totem poles out of t-paper rolls, God’s Eyes with craft sticks and yarn, dream catchers with paper plates, beads and feathers, tipis with cardstock and feathers, and many other Native American crafts.
-Have your child write a speech to deliver to congress (not really) as either a southerner or a northerner during the Civil War era. They can provide arguments for and against slavery.
*Language Arts Ideas:
-Buy your child a journal and ask them to record their feelings about quarantine, the virus, virtual school, and other topics on their mind.
-Require your child to read each night, even if their teacher doesn’t require it. After each book, have your child tell you about the book or better yet, start a family book club and buy several copies of some classic tales.
-Practice all genre of writing at home; narratives, persuasive/argumentative, letters, expository (reports). Tie in social studies and science topics for some wonderful cross-curricular learning.
-Have them write their own math word problems for you to solve. Insist that the problems involve multiple steps to increase the rigor of the activity. They can also write a math story involving lots of great problem solving. Some great examples of these can be found on Superteacher dot com. This is also a fabulous site for at-home resources and costs about $20 yearly. The site’s resources are well-vetted and tied into common core standards.
-Don’t forget about poetry! Read lots and lots of poems together and discuss the craft involved in this genre of writing. Write poems as a family and have fun with it. To add some art, have your children publish their poems in a booklet with colorful illustrations.
-Make sure you are teaching your children correct grammar, punctuation, and other mechanics of writing. Superteacher has lots of fun editing activities for kids to practice these skills.
-Make up a progressive story as a family. A parent starts the story by describing the setting and main characters, then each family member adds details and plot elements until one member brings the story to a close. You’ll have a lot of fun adding twists and turns and surprises in your family progressive story. Have the kids write down the story when it’s done.
-Practice sentence structure by giving your child 3-5 unrelated words. Then, they use all of the words in a meaningful sentence. Example: Fisher, King, sandwich, porch, storm. King Fisher enjoyed eating a sandwich on his porch during the storm.
-Play more games! They involve reading, problem solving, speaking, and social skills. They’re also a super way to bring the family closer together.
We hope you enjoyed our Creative Homeschooling Ideas
Remember that children are very perceptive, and they know that these times are not normal. Be honest, answer their questions, hold family discussions, make them feel safe and loved above all. Most parents aren’t really equipped to become teachers as well. Communicate with your children’s teachers, ask for help when you need it. and let them know you want to support them at home. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a lot of time to work with your children because of your work schedule. Just try to carve out a little quality time to provide some fun and beneficial enrichment activities and your child’s virtual learning experience can and will be successful. Go here for more Homeschool Activities For Kids.