With all of the information and ideas swirling on social media about homeschooling, we asked our friend and teacher-extraordinaire, Shannon, to help parents wade through it all and find reliable resources. She came up with a great list of digital resources that you can trust. If you like what you read, check back with us because Shannon is working on a second list of "unplugged" activities for your little ones.
We’ve entered into unknown territory in the face of a pandemic that has closed schools and (most) daycares, forcing many parents to stay home and perform the duties of both parent and educator. Thanks to social media and the internet, there is no shortage of resources being shared to help students and parents learn from home, but admittedly, with so many resources, it can become quite overwhelming. So, I’ve taken a look at MANY of the digital tools and sites available and wanted to share a few that are definitely worth checking out.
Scholastic Learn at Home
You’ve heard it a million times before, “If there is ONE thing to make sure your kids are doing during this time, it is to READ!” So, if you’re looking for a great reading resource, my top pick for reading is Scholastic Learn at Home. Scholastic has broken down the lessons and activities by grade level; Pk-K, 1-2, 3-5, and 6+. They do a great job of choosing content that is age appropriate and also of interest to kids, and they provide a variety of activities to go along with the story or article. For younger readers, they offer paired texts, a fiction and non-fiction book on the topic, and the option to “read along” and listen to the story. For upper grades, many of the articles allow you to choose either the Lexile level or “on level/lower level,” as well as text-to-speech for struggling readers or English Learners (ELs). At this time, 5 days worth of activities are provided and a promise that 15 more are coming soon!
GoNoodle’s Good Energy at Home offers a variety of videos and characters that encourage movement, calm, and focus. If your kids have ever sung “Pop-See-Ko,” they’re already part of the GoNoodle fan club! This one’s probably better suited for a younger audience due to some of its silly characters and nonsense songs, but the site also has Fresh Start Fitness videos with a cardio focus that will cause anyone to break a sweat. Brain breaks are a great way for kids to recharge and refocus. From yoga and meditation to dance alongs with silly songs and intense cardio, GoNoodle has something for everyone. Blazer Fresh is one of my personal favorites because it combines movement, music, AND learning!
Virtual Field Trips
You don’t need to leave the house to visit some extraordinary places! Now you can visit an aquarium, learn about exhibits at museums, and even get an up close look at National Parks and zoos. For some amazing views of animals from around the world-honeybees to gorillas, head on over to https://explore.org/livecams, Your child can learn more about the history of Virginia and some historical landmarks and museums by going to Encyclopedia Virginia, including Richmond’s own Poe Museum and the Glass House in Jamestown. Travel to one of the seven wonders, visit Hawaii or brainstorm for the next family vacation via Google Earth, You can find more virtual field trips on a list I’ve compiled here.
PBS Design Squad
There are so many things I love about the offerings from PBS. I stumbled across the previous version of this site years ago in my search for STEM activities to do with my students. They’ve updated the site and given it a new look, now called Design Squad Global, and it won’t disappoint. All of the content is centered around design thinking and innovation. You’ll find videos about kid inventions, games, and a Global Challenge. If you click on the build button, it will take you to a page FULL of design ideas and challenges that your child can do using household objects; Newspaper shoes are always a favorite!
I couldn’t write this post and not include coding in my recommendations. As an Innovative Learning Coach, a big part of my job is teaching the Computer Science Standards (that will be mandated in the fall of 2020) and leveraging learning with digital tools. My job aside, I absolutely LOVE teaching kids how to code. When kids are coding, they are practicing so many skills-from sequencing and patterns to mathematical equations to creative thinking and problem solving! And believe me when I say, you don’t have to know a thing about coding to get your kid started! For younger ones check out the ScratchJr app (learn more here); it relies on block coding with pictures to tell a story. Code.org is definitely worth checking out for kids with a variety of coding experience. Code.org can act as a coding curriculum, with courses designed for pre-readers all the way to adults, where students watch, learn, do, and then move on to a new skill or challenge. If your child is already coding, or ready for a bigger challenge, check out Scratch. Scratched was developed by MIT and geared for students 8-16, but I’ve seen it used by “kids” of all ages.
These are only a few of the many digital resources available for you to use at home in the coming weeks, and maybe beyond, in an effort to keep your child engaged in learning. We’re in uncharted territory and learning as we go. Whether you’re using a color coded schedule or just winging it and hoping to simply survive the day, do what works best for you and find comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together!
I’ve worked in elementary education for 19 years, specializing in the collaborative classroom model. I am an avid proponent of STEM and STEAM education, with a passion for hands-on, innovative learning. Champion for the underdog, I believe that every child has a voice and it is our responsibility to let it be heard. I live with my two dogs, Clapton and Joplin.