Let’s Make Learning Fun!

Photo by Jeremy Alford on Unsplash

Make Learning Fun with We Love to Learn Stations

As parents, we’re sailing in uncharted waters right now, with the social distancing, stay at home requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents are teaching their children academics at home for the first time. All parents are likely getting complaints from their children that they want to play with friends or go do something they aren’t allowed to do because of social distancing. I’m hearing parents say they’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Whether you’re a homeschool family or an emergency distance learning family, having some fresh ideas for making learning fun can help change your children’s attitudes about being stuck at home!

The first idea I want to share will help your children enjoy learning more with the “We Love to Learn Stations”.

We Love to Learn Stations

In the dead of winter here in Minnesota, we often have to stay at home because of the weather, our days get long, and kids can become bored. That’s why I typically added a learning station’s day on Fridays to give us all a change of pace.

 This pandemic with the stay at home requirement is the perfect time for you all to try a Learning station day! It only takes a little time to prepare for it, and your kids will LOVE it!  Basically, you’ll set up learning stations throughout your house, and your children will rotate to the various learning stations doing whatever you’ve set up there. (Teams of two work great, but if you don’t have enough children for teams, you’ll need to participate or set up stations that can be done by one child at a time.) You can even use some of the learning resources that you already have, either from your school teacher or your curriculum.

All you need to do is prepare your learning stations, usually the night before. Then start your We Love To Learn Stations Day with explaining the different stations to your children. Set the timer and begin!  (Approximately 15-20 minutes per station)

Prepare the Learning Stations

1. Language arts station (you can have more than one language arts station if you wish or just choose one of these)

  • Phonics game for the pre-readers or early readers (Memory, Go Fish, puzzles or see options in my recommended page.)
  • Grammar game using Mad Libs
  • Write a short creative story alone or with your partner using some story starter ideas if needed. (share your story with family afterward)
  • Audio books with audible.com for listening comprehension (free books available to children during the pandemic!)
  • Spelling game – Make your own using a manila folder! Game instructions.
https://youtu.be/oz9YsJGUrZ8
Make your own basketball spelling game!

2. Reading station

  • Have a basket with library books or topical encyclopedias (Usborne has some great ones) and at this station, they read or look at pictures for 15-20 minutes.
  • Or you can have your child read from the book they’ve been reading already.

3. Math station

  • Play math games together (see my recommended page for ideas on games) – you can use regular board games or dice.
  • If your child likes speed games, do a few speed math worksheets where they time themselves and see how many they can get done in 10 minutes. They can do this twice and see if they can beat their first try. Drill worksheets available HERE.

4. Science station

5. Geography or History station

  • Have a globe or map out. Give your children each a list of places that they need to find on the map and write the longitude and latitude.   Or have separate maps for each child and they can mark the places you’ve listed.
  • Play “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”?   This is a fun game that teaches geography, world cultures and history for children ages 8-12!
  • Set up a project for your children to work on related to the time period they’re studying in history. (e.g. build a teepee if studying American Indians)

6. Music

  • Set up a CD player or have a link ready for your child to listen to a piece of classical music and provide a link or print up a short biography about the composer for them to read while they listen.
  • Set out musical instruments for your children to play with (if you have older children, they could practice their music lesson for this station).
  • Provide resources for your child to make a drum or a guitar using a box, etc.

7. Art

  • Set up an art project for the children to work on.
  • Have pictures of various artist’s work with information about each piece.
  • Set up paints with information about how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors and let them have fun mixing and painting. Here’s a video to help you teach these concepts!

8. Bible

  • Choose a memory verse for all the children to learn and post it on the wall. Have them say it together three times and then write it on a note card. Then have them use one of the following games to practice:
  •  Write each word of the verse on a separate index card and mix the cards up – have your child unscramble the words to make the verse. (Include the verse address on a card, i.e. ‘Galatians 5:22-23’.)
  • Use a dry erase board and write out the verse. Read the verse through together a few times, then erase one word. Read the verse again saying the right word for the erased word. Take turns erasing words, saying the right words for each erased word as you recite the verse. Eventually you should have nothing on the board and be saying the verse from memory.
  • Play Sword Drill with SALVATION verses. (For children who can read well and know their Bible a bit.  You’ll need to help with this one) Using the list below, have each child hold a closed Bible above his or her head. Dad or Mom calls out the first reference twice and then says, “Swords ready…Go!” and the children try to be the first one to find and read the verse out loud. (If you have an only child, make the clock the thing to beat.) You may challenge your children to figure out what the common theme of all the verses is. You may also give a prize to the winner, if you wish, but everyone gets the benefit of knowing his or her way around the Bible better and of hearing God’s Word. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
  • Key Word: Salvation
  • Exodus 15:2
  • I Samuel 2:1
  • Psalm 27:1
  • Luke 2:30
  • Acts 4:12
  • Romans 1:16
  • Ephesians 1:13
  • Ephesians 6:17
  • Psalm 18:2
  • Isaiah 12:2

*These memory games and the Bible game were taken from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, a wonderful family Bible study guide for children of all ages, available on my store page or on Amazon.

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit A family Bible study guide for children of all ages.

8. Create your own station to help your children learn about something they are currently studying in their school lessons!

I hope you enjoy having your We Love to Learn Station Days!  Please comment below with your ideas or let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

10 Tips for Teaching Your Children through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tips for Teaching Your Children through the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times, with the Coronovirus pandemic throwing our lives into unexpected turmoil and change. To stop the spread of the virus, almost everything is cancelled. Suddenly schools, restaurants, stores, and more are closed for an indefinite amount of time. 

Parents are finding themselves responsible for teaching their children at home for the first time, some while they are still required to work themselves.

If you’re a parent in this situation, I want to encourage you to look at this as a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your children and enjoy learning with them.  Give yourself and your children time to transition, this is a big change for both of you. Talk openly about what’s happening in the world and help your children process their emotions through this.

Realize that you have already been teaching your children so many things! Who taught them to walk, talk, get dressed, and to get along with others, etc.? YOU did!   You’re just adding the academic piece to the picture. You can do this! And there are a lot of resources available to help you!

Here are 10 tips for teaching your children during this time:

1. Focus on developing a learning lifestyle rather than trying to imitate what the public school does. You’re a family, not a classroom of 30 kids, so structured learning times will often be shorter than the eight-hour public school day.  Look for learning opportunities throughout your day and take advantage of them. Listen to your children’s questions and help them find answers – discovery learning like this is one of the best ways for kids to learn. Encourage your children to think of things they want to learn about and then provide the resources for them to do it. Read Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning, it’s relaxed and very effective.

2. Focus on Math and Language arts skills. These are core subjects that your children should continue to work on during the pandemic.  If you plan to have your children return to the public school system once this pandemic ends, teachers are recommending that you follow the Core Standards, especially for these two subjects. 

 If you don’t know your children’s skill level in these two subjects, do an assessment through Let’s Go Learn –  use the family version under retail and do the assessments. This assessment will help you learn what areas your children need extra work in as well as where they have strengths. Focus on helping them retain what they know and continue learning from where they are at. There are many free resources to help you do this (see list below). 

The other subjects are also important, so as you can fit them in, also provide resources for your children to learn science, history, art, music, phy-ed and health. There are resources listed below for these as well.

3. Find ways to make learning fun!  We have a plethora of fun learning opportunities on the web that are free or inexpensive. Use Pinterest or one of the many resources I’ve listed below to help teach your children.

  • Play board games with your children (check out my blog posts on using games and my Recommended page for ideas)
  • Read aloud to your children (Read Aloud Revival is a great resource for book ideas)
  • Do virtual field trips via video or on the web
  • Bake together, do fun projects around the house together
  • Be creative, find fun things to do related to your children’s interests. If they’re fascinated with Legos, find some fun things to build on Pinterest (there are some great creative ideas for things to do with kids on Pinterest!) If they love animals, consider getting a new pet and having them help with training and care. Build learning opportunities around their interests.

4. Teach your children life skills. Do your children know how to clean, wash clothes, make food for themselves, etc.? This is a great time to help them develop these skills.  With them home all the time, you’ll need their help in keeping the house clean, and they need to learn these skills. Set up a chore system to keep things running smoothly so you’re not nagging them. This is a great time to do some organizing and teach your children organizational skills. Teach them basic hygiene, how to avoid catching or sharing germs in a pandemic! (Download a free PDF of age appropriate chores)

5. Set up a daily routine. Children need routine and your children will be looking for structure to their day.  Some children may even benefit from having a schedule posted on the wall showing when you will have structured learning times and when they have free time.  Remember to take breaks between any structured learning times.  Children need physical activity to get refocused, especially younger children. (Download a free PDF of a sample schedule)

6. For the working parent. If you’re working full or part-time you can adjust your schedule so you’re teaching your children when you’re free. For the times that you’re working, provide your children with learning opportunities and resources that they can do on their own. Have an hour quiet time each day and have older children help with younger children as needed. Enlist your children’s help with home chores and meal prep/clean up, it helps them build essential life skills and will ease your stress.

7. Create age appropriate learning stations in your home (art, science, math, reading, geography, etc.). Learning stations can be a bin with materials in it, or a specific area of the home with learning materials.  An Art station would have creative arts and crafts materials with idea books or printed guides from Pinterest or the web.   A Reading station would have great literature for them to read.  A Math station would have math games or an IPad with math learning apps, games. A Science station would have materials for them to do an experiment and information on how to do it. A Geography station would include a map of the U.S. or the world, with books about the world and the different areas, or geography games.   Require your children to spend time doing at least 2-3 learning stations a day as well as independent reading and doing some math exercises.

8. Listen to audio books. Listening to books builds literacy skills, listening skills, focusing skills, imagination, and more. Here’s a free app with audio books or access the public library online through the cloudLibrary app.  http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks. Audible stories are also offering free audio books for kids during the pandemic.

9. Encourage a love for learning. Help your children understand the importance of being lifelong learners – there’s always more to learn and it’s to our benefit to keep learning all through our lives! You can be an example to them by showing them that you are still curious and want to learn new things.

10. Seek advice from friends or experts.  Call friends that are in the same boat to see what they’re doing for teaching their children. On Facebook join the group called “Emergency Homeschooling” – there are lots of great ideas there! There are also many other Facebook homeschool groups, just plug in “Homeschool” and join some. Call a homeschool family you know and ask them for advice. I’m also happy to schedule an online meeting with you to help you figure out a plan for your family. Contact me for a consultation

If you’ve got teens at home, check out this post on the 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Homeschooling your Older Student from Crosswalk.

Most importantly, as a Christian, I encourage you to pray for God’s peace, guidance and help during this time as well. You aren’t alone in this. He is there for you if you reach out to Him and pray.

Do you want to learn more about trusting in God?

God loves you and wants a relationship with you – He wants to help you through this stressful time, I encourage you to turn to Him and trust in Him.

Free or Inexpensive Teaching Resources:

All subjects:

Teachers Pay Teachers:   there’s a plethora of free worksheets and teaching resources for many subjects and all grades, many are free.

Kahn Academy   – sign up to access teaching resources for math, science, arts and humanities, computing, ELA, and more.

Free audio books and courses on many subjects at Open Culture

Audible Stories – free audio books

ETap Full curriculum online – free during this crisis

More free resources: http://www.openculture.com/free_k-12_educational_resources

PBS Learning Media – free resources and videos

Academy Adventure

Phonics:

  • Starfall Learn to Read app
  • Abcmouse.com  – an app for reading, math, science, art & colors
  • Phonics free resources: Sound City
  • All About Learning has both a reading and spelling program that are excellent (there is a cost for these) and there are free resources as well.
  • Sight word lists and learning resources at Sight Words.com

Math:

  • Numbers and Math for Kids app by EDUBUZZKIDS (preK-K)
  • Prodigy Math Game app for 1-8 graders
  • Khan Academy

Preschool/Kindergarten unit study curriculum

Five in a Row – a unit study that uses a short children’s picture book as the basis for studying science, history, art, etc.

Science

Social Studies

Art

Music

Physical Education

Could you use help staying organized during this time?

Check out The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner!

This planner has everything you need to manage your home and school well! It guides you through setting up a chore system, meal planning system, goal setting, and has great record keeping documents for homeschooling. Download the digital version for only $18.00!

Please comment below and share any free resources you’ve found! Or feel free to ask questions…

Free Zoom Meeting to learn more about teaching your children at home on March 25th – SIGN UP TODAY!

Join me for a free 45 minute webinar: Making the Most of this Time with Your Children – where I’ll share more helpful insights on how to use this time of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help your children learn and grow, and stay sane doing it! Wednesday, March 25th 7:00 p.m. Contact me to sign up!