My kids are home from school—Help!!
Are your kids off from school and you’re looking for things to do with them? Here’s a list of things to both keep them occupied and learning!!
While the reason why I even created this article was the fact that LAUSD teachers were looking to go on strike, I realized that this resource could be super helpful for so many other moms/families around the country with kids home for any reason at all (snow/inclement weather/or even just sick).
We had just gotten off of a 3 week break in December and been only back in school for 1 week! I am really aware of the very real issue of Learning Loss (how extended time off causes kids to lose the knowledge they’ve already learned) and knew that I had to do something to keep their brains active and learning that didn’t fully depend on my skills as a teacher because, honestly, they’re laughable.
So before I jump in, I’ve tried to separate the different types of things you can do in groups to make it easier.
Traditional Educational Tools:
These are the online tools that LAUSD and Carpenter have offered our kids – you probably already know about these but just in case you’ve forgotten.
1. Prodigy – This is a FREE math game that most schools across the US use to help kids make a game of learning math. The most recent research has proven that if it’s made into a game, then the kids will learn easier without knowing that they’re doing so.
Here’s a link to this site: Prodigy Game
2. Accelerated Ready (AR) — This is a reading program most elementary schools use to get children to want to read and get extra points for taking the comprehension tests. As a parent you’ll also find this site useful to make sure that your child is reading at the correct level or even if they are doing better than expected.
Click here to go to their site: Accelerated Reader Bookfind
3. Renaissance Home Connect - I’m going to be flat out honest here, I’m not 100% sure what this does but I can see that it is attached to Accelerated Reader and my daughter was given a username and password by her teacher this year. I will have plenty of time to figure out what it is beyond the fact that it states it helps with various forms of literacy. This is what it says on Google, “Renaissance Home Connect provides real-time access in English or Spanish. Parents can stay actively involved and up to date in the learning process.”
Here’s a link to check it out: Renaissance Home Connect
New/different Educational Tools:
While some of these are new to many, there are many parents who’ve never heard of them and best of all, they might feel more like a game to our kids and less like education which, hopefully, will make them want to play more.
1. KhanAcademy.Org — This amazing FREE website offers online courses, lessons and practice. One amazing subject they offer help with is math. They break it down by grade for every child and if you need more they also offer science, engineering and even history and arts. This is a great resource for any child to know is there to help them should they feel like their not understanding what’s being taught. (It was created by an uncle who lived across country trying to help his niece understand her math homework and just grew like crazy into a full educational site.)
Click here to see what kinds of things they offer: KhanAcademy.org
2. Duolingo.com— In my kids’ school they don’t teach a 2nd language so why not choose from the 30+ languages offered on this app to let them learn a new language. They also have created a way to ‘gamify’ learning a new language so that it feels ‘fun’ instead of work. This website & app is free but only lets you get so far and then you have to earn more points (by practicing!) to be able to continue before 24 hours. The paid version costs $6.99 per month but so far we’ve only used the free one ourselves.
Click here to see more: Duolingo
3. Scribd – The importance of reading daily is always underscored in every bit of research done out there. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked my kids’ friends if they are reading a book they love and they tell me, “no”. So why not take this time to find new authors and books that really light them up. The easiest way to have access to so many books without having to go to the library or bookstore and spend hours and $ is to download the app Scribd. It is a pay service but the first 30 days are free and it only costs $9 per month and you get an unlimited number of titles per month of both written as well as audio books.
**Tip: If your kids don’t love reading, then find a book they want to read, get it in print and then have them listen to the audio book while reading along with the voice. It’s a great way to help them get into a book, increase their reading speed and vocab as well as spelling too!
Click here to see more: Scribd
4. Card Game for Multiplication & Addition – This is an easy way to gamify learning both addition and multiplication math facts. It’s super simple but if your child is at all competitive it will give them the desire to know them all.
The way it works is to divide up a normal deck of playing cards like you’re playing a game of war. Then each player flips over the top card. Whoever gets the correct answer of multiplying or adding the 2 numbers together then gets a point (this is where having someone else there helps as it moves super-fast!). Whoever gets the most points wins.
**Tip: Make it a whole class or whole grade competition and watch how much easier they learn their math facts!!
5. Create your own Art Class — Go onto YouTube and find someone who not only does a drawing or painting project and explains it step by step using terms like shading, depth of perception, perspective and so much more. So many schools have eliminated their art classes but that doesn’t mean that our kids don’t need to learn how to create. (I actually plan on doing it with them because they love it when I do and also because they’re so much better at it than I am!)
Not sure where to start, take a look at the number of drawing basic videos out there: Click here
6. Practice/learn an instrument: While my kids are learning how to play instruments outside of school, I know that many schools teach kids how to use recorders and actually give them one to take home. Why not take the time to find a video online that helps them to work on their skills and show them how practice really does help make a difference with how well they play.
Here’s a few beginning recorder videos: Click here
(And here’s a link to earplugs sold on Amazon for while they practice!)
Life Skills/Teachable Moments:
It’s so funny because there have been so many things I’ve wanted to teach my kids, small essential skills that for some reason always get put on the back burner. It just seems like I’m waiting for the perfect time and now seems as good as any!
1. How to sew on a button — There’s no time like the present to learn this one because we all know there will be a moment in time that this one will be needed. (Heck I might have to wait until my husband gets home from work to teach this one!)
2. How to make a bed — Sure it seems self-explanatory but there are little details behind the difference between making a summer bed vs. winter bed. Explaining about when is the time to change your pillows and flipping a mattress.
3. How to (really) do laundry — Yes it really seems super easy to figure out until you realize that there’s so much more to it than just putting clothes in a machine and adding soap. Of course there’s separating colors but what about different temperatures, when to use bleach or OxyClean, the difference between a dirty stain and an oily one and how to wash sheets and towels instead of clothes.
(If you iron and your kids are old enough to use one, then why not throw that in for good measure?!?!)
4. How to plan a meal — I said this to my 11 year old and she replied that she already knew how to plan a meal because she makes toast and eggs for breakfast. Sure that’s a meal but what about when you’re cooking for 4 or even 8 people? How do you make sure there’s enough food for each only? What are the different food groups you want to cover? What’s your protein, starch, vegetable, salad or dessert? How do you look at a recipe that is for 4 servings and make enough for 10?
5. How to set a regular table and a formal one — The first time I had my kids set a table I was shocked that they didn’t know where the fork went until I realized that I had never taught them. I just thought that they would’ve seen it enough times to have figured it out. Nope. Sure they know how to set up a regular dinner table but what if it’s for a special occasion? Where does the salad fork go as well as the soup spoon? Sure this may feel a bit antiquated but its valuable info to teach them.
Need some help figuring out what to teach them: Click here
6. How to make bread from scratch — Alright, this is one that I’ve been thinking about for so long but haven’t taken action on. I love the idea of showing my kids that they can create something even better, from scratch, than what’s been premade for us at the grocery store. There’s also a book out there with a recipe to allow you to prepare the dough once every 2 weeks, keep it in the fridge and pull off a piece, let it sit for 15 minutes and bake to have fresh bread every day. Yum!!!
Here’s the link to the book I mentioned above: The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!
7. How to tidy up — Yes, I did mean tidy. I’m not saying teach them how to clean toilet bowls (but that would be a good idea, too). Nope, it’s all around the ideas of purging out the old, unused items in your home and keeping the things that make you happy. If you’ve ever ready the book called The Japanese Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (click for the book) you know what I’m talking about.
The best part is you don’t have to even read the book!! Netflix recently created a TV show called The Art of Tidying up with the book’s author as the star. All you have to do is plunk your kids in front of the TV (sit there with them and watch along as well), watch a few episodes and you’ll all be chomping at the bit to go through your closets and get rid of anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’. It will be the easiest time you’ve ever had at getting your kids to clean up their closets and rooms!!
Click here to see a preview of the show: The Art of Tidying Up
8. How to Get Home — Do your kids really pay attention to where you go and how to get places? I thought mine did until one day when I asked them to direct me home from a class we go to every week. Boy was I shocked at how they had never paid full attention to where we were going nor the names of the streets.
Get in the car to do an errand and ask them to tell you where to turn to get home. Whatever you do, let them get you lost. It will be a phenomenal lesson that they need to pay better attention to their surroundings and that you’re not just their chauffeur.
Yes, this is essential for when they start to drive, but they will use it even sooner should you have grandparents watch them! My mom still cracks up when my 11 year old can tell her where to turn and she doesn’t remember.
9. Plan your very own veggie garden — Yes, I did say plan a veggie garden. Here’s few reasons why it’s an amazing family project.
First, your kids will have a say in the veggies you grow and will look forward to eating them when they start growing.
Second, it’s super important to realize that they can create their own food on their front or back lawns.
Third, there’s nothing like watching your child proudly tell people that walk by, ‘yes, that’s a pumpkin growing on my lawn. And we also have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli and kale!’ They love being responsible for it and being able to share their crop with friends and family as well.
Here’s a few videos on how to get started: Click here
10. Talk about ways to de-stress — There are so many more things that our kids are facing than we ever did in school and we are all seeing the stress it’s putting on them so why not help them find the tools that work for them to not let it affect them too much.
Go onto YouTube and find videos that teach meditation or those that teach something called tapping or EFT. Explain that life can feel stressful at times and there are so many ways to change the way they feel. Also let them know that sometimes going and getting some really great exercise can help as well, like going for a run or swim.
Here’s my favorite person on YouTube for Tapping: Click here to see Brad Yates
Fun Specialized Skills:
(that will translate into success in their future)
1. Build a Website — This may seem a bit advanced but it’s probably not too much for a 5th grader on up. Yes it will require time, focus and attention but why not.
There’s a company that I love that not only will host the website for them but also teach them how to build it, write it and even how to make money with the content in it. It’s called SBI and I personally have built several websites through them and love their systems &content. (Just know that there is absolutely no way you’ll ever get through their ’10 Day Course’ in 10 days!!) Once you go through this course you will never look at websites the same way again!
Here’s a link to see more about this program: Solo Build It!
2. Canva — So many of our kids want to move into a very artistic future but also want to create media online that is pretty. Canva.com is a fantastic FREE site that has a very user easy interface to allow you to create any kind (and size) image you desire.
Best of all they have a free Design School built into the interface that feels like you’re playing a game when instead your actually learning how to create some amazing artwork to put up on websites, social media or even into school reports. Your kids will love it and use it for so many more things than you could ever imagine.
Click here to learn more: Canva.com
Between all of the suggestions above I’m certain that your kids won’t be able to tell you they’re bored this break, no matter how long it’s for. The best part of each and every one of these suggestions is the fact that they all are based in the idea that they can use the knowledge around them to create the world that they desire whether it’s to be able to better understand their homework, take care of their meals or home or even to create something entire new or different online.
Hope this helps! And remember to have fun!!
(If you have any questions, then just contact me. I’m here to help.)