Fun and Educational Activities to Get Your Family Through the Quarantine!

As schools around the country close in response to COVID-19 every family in America is attempting to  home school. Along with wonderful suggestions from my daughter’s school, this Noteworthy Mommy is putting on her kindergarten teacher hat and planning a day full of fun and educational activities for my pre-school aged daughter. In this article I will outline some of the activities I am planning. Check back often as I will continue to share activities with you.

DISCLAIMER– Our first day did not go exactly as planned when I offered to care for the son of a church friend who was suddenly without childcare. I quickly made lesson plans for a preschooler and a first grader but we didn’t come close to following the schedule! We did celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day by decorating some shamrocks for our front door, discovering some real clover in the yard and writing about what we would like to find at the end of the rainbow. The kids were full of excitement when we created all of the colors of the rainbows by mixing colors. We filled one container with water and red food coloring, another with water and blue food coloring and the last with water and yellow food coloring. Then they used pipettes and mixed the colors in an ice cube tray. We predicted what color we would get when we mixed red and blue, yellow and green and so on.Each child read some leveled texts appropriate for their age and reading level and the first grader drew a diagram of a flower after reading a book about plants. We reviewed math facts with colored chalk on the driveway and played on the play set in the backyard.

After lunch we did our Lenten devotional and during snack I snuck in some rhyming and had the first grader work on some phonics. We had a dance party and I surprised both of them when I got out the Star Wars figures I played with as a child (now vintage of course).

But their favorite part of our day was creating super heroes and villains out of pipe cleaners, play dough and cotton balls; an activity they self initiated by pulling supplies out of the art cabinet. This was unplanned but it occupied their creative imaginations for part of the afternoon. As they worked I overheard them giving each other compliments and quickly offer suggestions. Hearing the first grade boy say “Hey, your super hero is cool,” when he saw the preschooler’s creation warmed my heart. And in turn seeing my preschool girl watch her companion with great concentration and then make improvements to her own creation reminded me how much children learn from each other. They created names and backstories for their figures and made a book together. (without any prompting I might add) They simply enjoyed playing and learning together. I take pride in the fact that we did not watch any TV and only played on a digital device for fifteen minutes. During this uncertain time our day was filled with creation, imagination, discovery, cooperation and play. There was no fighting and no tears from any of us..including from the Noteworthy Mommy!

Below is the post I originally planned to publish. As I reflect on our first day I think we accomplished and learned a lot…all three of us!           

Schedule– Children thrive on routine so I am in the process of developing a daily schedule for us to follow. I began by asking my daughter what we should include and plan to incorporate the things she does at school. I went to The Mom Advantage for ideas on creating an age appropriate schedule for my family. This website and companion The Mom Advantage Facebook page was created by an educational friend of mine and I highly recommend subscribing to her newsletter. What I really like about The Mom Advantage is she provides several sample schedules for mommies who find themselves home schooling while trying to work from home. The Mom Advantage is filled with resources for children preschool-grade 3.

Jesus Time– We are a Christian family so setting extra time aside for family devotionals and worship, bible stories, songs and prayer will be important. We will begin our day with a morning Jesus Time and have a family devotional with daddy after dinner. During Lent my daughter has enjoyed opening a new window on a Lenten calendar. There is a bible verse to go along with each revealed picture.

Journal Time or Writing Time– My daughter has recently gotten into book making and writing. We will take time each day to write, illustrate and read books that we write together. Allow your children to freely write each day or give them a topic or sentence starter. Remember young children may draw pictures or use scribbles and mock letters to represent their thoughts and ideas.

Play Dough– Have your child help you make some homemade play dough. There are many recipes out there but I have found the ones that involve boiling water to work the best. We used Mrs. Stanglein’s Playdough recipe. Don’t forget to add some scented oils, vanilla, cinnamon or Kool Aid to make the mixture smell good. It’s also fun to add food coloring and glitter to make it extra fun to play with. Use cookie cutters, straws and scissors to play with the play dough. Playing with play dough helps little hands build fine motor skills.

Storytime– We have a lot of picture books at home but to add variety to our read aloud time we have been watching videos on-line of other people reading. Josh Gad who voices Olaf on Frozen has been recording his favorite books and Lillian’s teacher is sending out a nightly read aloud as well. Click Here to link to favorite authors reading their books. I recommend video chatting with a relative or friend and reading each other books as well. After reading it is always fun to write or draw a picture in response to the reading. You could start a “Reading Response Journal” and add to it after each book you read.