Educational activities and materials for young kids. As we go into a few weeks of staying at home, here’s how our family is trying to keep some normalcy and keep our days structured. Affiliate links are included in this post – full disclosure here.
These days are weird. We’re all feeling it. I’m writing this as COVID-19 has us shut in our house for a few weeks at least, and I’m honestly wondering if it will be longer.
My kids (especially my oldest) thrive on structure and routine, so I knew that I couldn’t just go into the next few weeks without a plan.
As a former teacher (K-2 Autistic support) we survived off of block schedules, so this kind of structure is “my thing”! But I know that everyone’s brains (or everyone’s kids) don’t feel the same way, so if it’s not for you, then don’t stress about the structured schedule at all!
Our goal: keep things light, fun and flexible. The goal of these activities is NOT to create pressure or a sense of overwhelm. We have enough of that in our lives right now!
Hopefully having a plan will help parents to feel capable, confident, and prepared to make the best of these times with our families!
Sample Schedule for younger kids:
While these ideas definitely work for this COVID pandemic we’re in the middle of, it’s also a good schedule to use during summer break! This is a schedule we came up with last summer that really helped us structure our days with our littler kids if you want some other ideas.
We have personally found that our kids thrive when there’s some kind of structure and routine in place. However, if my oldest is absorbed in a good book and my younger girls are playing calmly – then we certainly will flex the schedule! It’s all about knowing your kids and being present so you can figure out what’s best for them on a day to day basis.
Here’s the sample schedule we’ll be loosely following for the next month:
(my kids are 6, 4, and 1 for reference)
Show your kids the schedule & get them involved too! I personally found that when we schedule in things like snack and screen time, our kids were asking for them less throughout the day. Personally – the whining of “when can I have snack?” or “can we watch a show” can really send me over the edge! So when I can give them an actual time that those things are allowed, it helps us to cut down on the constant asking.
Ideas for academic time and educational materials:
I know that worksheets aren’t always the most valuable part of the learning experience, but I have one kid who literally ASKS for worksheets. I think they like that they have the ability to start and finish a concrete task, and usually they can do it independently (which really helps if you have kids that are in a few different age ranges).
Teachers Pay Teachers is an amazing resource for lots of quality learning materials.
- We paid for these packets and are getting them printed out at Staples.
When you don’t want to use up a million one-time-use worksheets, you can always laminate them! We have a little household laminator that comes in handy for activities that the kids can practice again and again.
Here’s the laminator we have
But if you don’t want to use a laminator, then consider using these little sleeves to make your worksheets last a little longer.
My friend on Instagram shared some of these with me in a message and I thought it was so valuable! Here’s a list of ideas and free resources for parents and their kids:
- Kahn Academy is a non profit organization that’s mission is to provide free quality education for anyone, anywhere. I signed up and it’s amazing what they have available!
- With Quiet Hands has a free resource – “Turn Quarantine into Quality Time”- a 14 day curriculum for families that is really valuable (and FREE)
- Easy Peasy Homeschool has a free homeschool curriculum you can use
- The Good and the Beautiful has some free downloads for 1-4 grade
- Mystery Science has some amazing free science materials for kids
- HOOPLA and Libby apps are free
- You can use them on your phone, link them to your library card, and use them to check out e-books, audio books, and other electronic resources
- Libraries online
- Many local libraries have free materials online
- Check out sites for LEGO, Crayola, local zoos, etc for free resources online
- Cosmic Kids Yoga has been a favorite of ours for years, and can be used if the weather isn’t nice or just if your kids are acting wild and they need something to center them
Sometimes the idea of having our kids home for a longer amount of time can make people stressed about the increased messes that are coming.
I thankfully have found a schedule that will absolutely still work while we are home-bound during this time. It actually might help to keep the house cleaner since we’re all home! You can watch this short video to see how we structure this cleaning schedule so we stay on top of housework:
You can find our magnetic refrigerator chart here:
Educational activities and games:
We are more minimal when it comes to the toys and games that we keep in our home. We find that when we have more STUFF, our kids tend to just dump it and managing all of it becomes a full time job. So we play a lot in our basement that we finished up for our kids last year (if you haven’t seen it down there yet you can check out post)
We did stock up on some novel games and toys that aren’t too expensive and are more open-ended toys – you can check out this list on my Amazon storefront (it’s a mixture of things we already own and love, as well as some new inexpensive things we bought):
If you’re looking to learn something yourself:
I tell my kids that during quiet time, I’m hands off. I work hard to keep my phone away for the majority of the other times we’re together, and that time is my break too. I try to get some work done or honestly just watch Instagram stories on days that I don’t feel super productive.
If you’re looking at a way to make your time at home a time to learn something new – I am launching “Peace by Design” next week, and we’re starting with a course on the master bedroom. Get access to the launch video here – it will not be a public video so ONLY people with the link will get access to this free video!
Maybe the most important part:
The way you talk about this event to your kids really matters. The way you talk about it to your spouse in front of your kids matters. It’s way more important than educational activities and schedules.
They pick up on our stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. As much as possible, keep the lines of communication open with your kids. Let them feel supported, encouraged, and safe with you.
And try to keep the tone as positive as possible. Instead of looking in your pantry and saying “we ate all the food!”, I encourage you to tell your kids “now’s our time to get creative. Do we have flour and sugar? Let’s find a recipe to test out.”
These are small actions that will make a world of difference for your kids, and it will help to rub off on you as well.