It’s been 3 weeks since the schools in California shut down and we have just now settled on a daily schedule I feel good about. Even better? The kids helped create choice “boards” with over 125 educational activities for remote learning and it means more fun for them and less work for me! A win-win!
As a former teacher and lover of organization, I greatly admired the color-coded daily school schedules that were going around Facebook in the beginning, but I admit that kind of strict schedule gave me heart palpitations just looking at it. I don’t know if it was just I know that kind of thing doesn’t work for my family or it was just the pressure I felt knowing I would have to teach all that stuff to 3 kids.
However, I do believe that in a time that feels so incredibly out-of-control, kids need things they can count on and a daily schedule can give them that. They also need a sense of control in any way they can get it and by creating these educational activity choice boards together, where they get to choose their activities each day, I think they can get that.
The real reason I created a remote learning schedule for my kids? They need something to do everyday!! If we just let our kids go without any remote learning plan at all, they would just ask to play video games every day, all day long. We knew they needed something! I think this comprehensive list of 120+ educational activities for remote learning where the kids are able to choose what types of activities they do each day is a great fit for what kids need right now.
Educational Activities for Remote Learning
We started this process by creating a list of different subjects that the kids need to be learning and reviewing every day. We talked about how they needed to be reading and writing daily, as well as practicing their math skills and getting exercise/outside time. We also added that each day should involve either science or history or art with some creative educational play activities thrown in for good measure.
Next, we worked together with our kids to brainstorm activities in each subject. For instance, we discussed all the different ways they could be writing every day. I made the younger boys a journal (I just printed some free lined paper off of TpT and added a cover) and then together we came up with a list of different things they can write.
They can simply journal about their experience during this history making pandemic or they can write me a letter about whatever is on their mind. I also encouraged them to use their daily writing time to write a letter to their grandparents or school friends that we can actually mail, as it’s a great way to keep in touch and that’s something else they really need right now.
While my kids can use their journals to write informal letters to me or lists of their favorite Marvel Superheroes, I also encouraged them to write more formal essays, as well as plays, poems or even a non-fiction report. Last week when my boys watched a nature documentary, they used their journals to write what they learned about bears.
Ultimately, I don’t care what they write, as long as they are using their writing and editing skills. They know that I want them to write freely to get their ideas down on paper, but then they will need to go back through and really edit and correct things that need it. After they have finished those steps, then we go over their writing together. It’s especially important that my Kindergartner gets the chance to read back what he wrote, as he needs to practice his reading skills and his ability to read his own invented spelling!
Just like I let the kids choose what they are going to write each day, I also let them choose the order of the subjects and their learning throughout the day. It’s another opportunity to put our kids in change of something. They know they have to make learning choices from their educational activities list, but they can do it in whatever order they want.
A few other things to note about our version of “Distance Learning Choice Boards” as we included several categories that you won’t see in a typical school day. From “Life Skills” (Our oldest needs to learn how to cook Top Ramen if he is going to college in 2 years after all!) to “Virtual Field Trips” and “Social Activities”, we had to include things that we felt like were specific needs during this time of social distancing and isolation. People need connection and community. We need to see other humans in some capacity! We are working on a separate blog post of ways for kids to connect to their friends virtually, but in the meantime, we put a few ideas down on our educational activities list.
Learning through Games and Activities
The last thing that you might wonder about on our choice boards is all the toys, games and dramatic play activities that are listed there. With my degree in human development/early childhood and 6 years at a play-based preschool, I am still fully committed to children learning through fun, hands-on games and activities. Especially during this stressful time where they need all the joy and laughter they can get!
Still not convinced your children should be “playing” during school time? You might be surprised to hear how much learning goes on during something like, “Opening a Restaurant” in the Dramatic Play Category. When my kids open a restaurant, they write up a menu (spelling, handwriting practice) with the costs of the items (math). They have to sell items and make change (math). Plus if you add in cooking (depending on age) or the simple act of making a menu, they are learning about nutrition and the culinary arts! Sure, some of that might take more direct instruction, but I would prefer to teach that then a Common Core Worksheet!
Not only do my kids choose how to learn math, science, writing, reading, but when they want a break or they are bored, I have them check their Educational Activities List for inspiration. They can make paper airplanes and race them (physics) or visit the Sistine Chapel and learn about Michelangelo (art, history) or even pull out the Summer Box for a science experiment! (STEM)
As always, do what works best for you and your family. This is something we are trying with our kids and so far, so good. As I have always promised when I find something that “worked for me”, I will always let you know- especially when a free printable is involved! You can download it below and I hope it inspires you and your kids and gives them some learning they look forward to!
Prefer your PDF in Black and White? You can get that version here:
Curious about what educational websites we are using for Remote Learning?
Want to see the exact schedule of our Remote Learning Daily Life? It is available for download!