We have a had a great homeschool year. My kindergartener is reading very well and he is obsessed with spelling at the moment. I’m so glad that we have managed to keep their interest in school even though we aren’t getting out much. I am so grateful that we had a wonderful and productive Fall. That said, I am so glad that we are taking some time off in December. We will be taking a whole two weeks off and just focusing on fun activities and play, so I’ll be sharing some of our fun activities here on the blog.
Printable Christmas I Spy
To Christmas off, I’m sharing a printable Christmas I Spy that I’ve made for my kindergartener. I think that children under five might struggle with it. I purposely made it a little challenging by using similar objects. Therefore, it is better suited for ages five and up. You can download it here and print it out at home. Feel free to share this post with others.
You can download some of my other FREE games and activities for other holidays
And coming soon this month, I’ll be doing a printable Christmas Memory Game! Stay tuned or subscribe to the blog to be notified.
As with all my printables on the blog, you can print them without an email sign up, although I”d love it if you subscribed.
You can use the following for your I spy game:
There is an answer key at the bottom of the page that states the objects to find as well as how many of the items there are in the maze. I suggest having your child count and color them as they find them. I’ve included lots of objects that are similar and objects that are not in the key to make it more challenging.
Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle
Whether you are taking your Christmas Party to the next level or just want some fun holiday-themed activities with your family, this bundle of ten printable Christmas games are sure to delight everyone!
Download your free Thanksgiving Word Search for kids. This is a fun word recognition activity for elementary school aged children.
Hey friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving has always been a special time. First, my mom’s birthday almost always falls on the week of Thanksgiving, so it’s always super special. Secondly, as a child, I used to love to hear my grandfather’s stories about our own Apache heritage. We are prepping for Thanksgiving this week. I imagine this year, Thanksgiving will look different for many families. I’ve heard some cities are locking down again. If you are in one of those cities, I’m sorry. It’s very tough to be apart from families especially this time of year, especially after all we’ve done already this year. We are staying home and cooking for a few immediate family members.
Today, I’ve created something fun for your older elementary school kids. I’ve created a free Thanksgiving word search for kids. Who knows, maybe it will keep them busy long enough to butter rolls! I personally used to love word search games particularly as a kid. Who am I kidding? I still really love them. I always felt like it helped me with my dyslexia because it forced me to concentrate.
Benefits of Word Searches
Sometimes word searches can get a bad rap. They seem like they are just busywork, but the truth is, they have lots of benefits. Here are some of the perks to incorporating word searches into your child’s playtime or school time.
Word recognition – Word recognition is very easy for adults that have been reading for years and are familiar with recognizing words by just a glance. While such things are obvious to adults, it’s not to you our little ones. For the emergent reader, word searches require them to truly hone in on the letters that make up the word.
We visualize words as a picture – Word searches have a unique effect on our brain. When we search for a word in a word search, we continually picture the word in our mind, thus reinforcing the spelling and structure of the word. This, of course, improves memory.
Focus on letter combinations. It’s in our nature to look for parts of the word that are unique like ie, uo, ea, tr, etc. We tend to hunt for letter combinations in word searches. For example, in the word Thanksgiving we tend to look for the letter combination ‘TH’ and ‘NG.’
Spelling – This might seem obvious and that’s because it is. Word searches encourage spelling. When you word search, you will have to examine the maze of letters to find the letters that make up the word and you have to spell it in order to know if you have found the word correctly.
Improves Vocabulary – I like using word searches to help reinforce vocabulary words. You can make the word search for just about any subject. Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, etc.
My Word Search
I’ve created this word search with 25 different Thanksgiving-themed words. Have your child search for the words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. To add an extra level of difficulty, the words can also appear forwards or backward. I’ve created the word search in a .pdf document. You will need Adobe Acrobat or some other pdf viewing software to view it. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.
I love coming up with some of these fun games. I created a Halloween I Spy as well and I plan on making a fun Christmas version as well in the next coming weeks. Also, be sure to check out Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle available in my shop here on the blog or in my ETSY shop.
Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle
Whether you are taking your Christmas Party to the next level or just want some fun holiday-themed activities with your family, this bundle of ten printable Christmas games are sure to delight everyone!
Are your kids bored this week? Download my free Halloween I Spy Printable for a for spooky Halloween activity that’s fun for all ages.
Hey Friends! We are in October and here in my house we are wondering how things will be different in 2020. This year, lots of things have looked differently. This year, we did all of our birthday parties on Zoom and we even had drive by parties. My husband and I have had to get pretty creative on how we can keep the kids entertained.
Personally, I’ve been creating lots of printables to keep my kids busy. Things that are low cost and certainly things that kill their boredom while social distancing. You see, I know many people have returned to relatively normal lives, but since we help my elderly parents, we are still strictly quarantining. I keep telling myself one day this will be all over!
So, I decided to create a fun Halloween I spy printable to add to our homeschooling activities. My kids love I spy games and they are so fun to do. But they are more than just fun, they are actually educational. So why are I spy games good for kids, you ask.
The Benefits of I Spy Games
It Builds Memory Skills
Memory games and I Spy games help your child fine-tune their photographic memory. When children search for the image in the maze of other pictures, they must use their visual memory to find the picture. Using I Spy activities really strengthens your child’s memory. This is essential for growing children. It can be really frustrating when children disobey us. But as a mom of two, I’ve learned that many times my kids don’t mean to disobey, they simply forget. Little ones still have budding brains and it has become really apparent to me as I’ve homeschooled that children really need memory training.
It Improves Focus
Children have to focus when they do an I spy game. Nearly all young children struggle with concentration and focus. That’s why training their minds to focus through games is so helpful. To them it is just play or a fun activity, but ultimately you are trying to get them used to focusing so it can carry over into school work and other life skills.
They Can Improve Counting Skills
Some I spy games, like the Halloween I Spy printable I’ve created for you, asks children to find the picture multiple times. This forces children to keep count. When you complete the I spy printable, have your child make tally marks as they find the picture.
Halloween Watercolor Wall Art – Set of 4
It’s time to start decorating for Halloween and My Beautiful Mess Blog has a fun Halloween Watercolor Wall Art set to help get you started. This fun digital download set contains four individual 8×10 printable prints you can print and frame.
I can recall when I started to teach my children colors. We did lots of color sorts. I’d give my child math counters of different colors and they would have to sort it into the coordinating colored bowl. Why? Because sorting helps your child not only decide what color it is, it helps them figure out what color it is not. The same is true for I spy. As your child sorts through the jumbled pictures, your child will have to hone in on the discrepancies, differences, and similarities between the pictures and ultimately decide if the picture is the same they are searching for or not. Your child will have to use visual discrimination to determine the differences.
How to Use The Halloween I Spy Printable
The printable is a US letter-sized document. I’ve made it into a PDF document you can download. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat or some other PDF viewing software. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free here.
I’ve purposely made the pictures black and white. First, so that the images are harder to find. Secondly, so that your child can color them in when they find them. He or she can also put an “x” over the image if they’d rather not color. If it’s easier for your child they can also put little tally marks in the answer key if they want.
Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.
Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.
Is Your Child Ready to Read?
Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own
They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.
If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.
Using Sight Words
Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.
To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.
Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.
For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.
If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.
I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.
Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.
Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.
Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.
A Preschool Introduction
Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below
A typical preschool day for us includes the following:
Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)
One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.
SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.
If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.
I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.
One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.
If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.
Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.
Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.
Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.
There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.
The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.
And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.
Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.
There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.
For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.
We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.
If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.
Before You Go
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.
If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.
Interested in homeschooling, but don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone. Take a look at my quick guide on how to start homeschooling. It’s easier to get started than you think.
If you are here, it’s because you are considering homeschooling. First off, let me say I’m proud of you for taking charge of your children’s education. Whether you are dead serious about starting or simply want to find out more about what it takes to educate your children at home, know that you are doing a great thing for your family.
There are lots of reasons families decide to educate at home. Currently, many families are considering homeschooling due to COVID concerns and the instability it might bring to the upcoming school year. Whatever your reasons they are both valid and personal. Today, I am going share with you how to start homeschooling.
How To Start Homeschooling
Review Your State’s Homeschooling Laws
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. The very first thing you’ll need to do is review your state’s homeschool regulations. Homeschooling laws are regulated by your state, not the federal government. You can find your state’s homeschooling laws at HSLDA. Some states, like Texas where I live, have few regulations, giving parents lots of freedom and autonomy. However, other states have moderate regulations and a few states (primarily in the North Eastern United States) have far more stringent regulations. These laws will tell you:
How many school days are required
Mandatory number of days (attendance)
Notifying the local public school/withdrawing children from public school
Figure Out Who Will Teach
There are a few states that require homeschool teachers to have teaching certificates. Some states only require it if you are teaching additional children that aren’t yours. That’s right! Did you know that many states allow people other than parents to homeschool? It’s true. Homeschool teachers can be parents, neighbors, aunts or uncles, even grandparents. This can be a great solution for working parents who want to homeschool. For example, in Texas, you can teach up to five kids that aren’t yours before the state requires a teaching certificate. So if my brothers wanted me to homeschool their kids alongside mine, we can. You’ll need to figure out who will be facilitating school and make sure it is in accordance with state regulations.
Decide on a Homeschooling Method
There are lots of ways to educate a child and homeschooling provides different methods of teaching. If you are homeschooling temporarily due to COVID, you may want to consider doing Traditional homeschooling. Traditional homeschooling will mirror public schools in structure and method. There are other methods like Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, and Eclectic. I’ve created a separate post entitled, Homeschooling Methods Explained, where I explain the differences in detail.
Decide on a Schedule
Part of planning your homeschool will involve planning out your school calendar. It is important to note that some states have a required number of days your child must attend school. 180 to 185 days is the average requirement. In some states, like my home state of Texas, there is no attendance requirement. This is great because it means you can finish your school year as quickly as you want or you can stretch out your school year-round with lots of days off during the year. Many families simply follow the same schedule as their public school system. For some it just makes it easier.
Personally, we homeschool year round. First, it ensures your child doesn’t forget things over the summer. Plus it means I don’t have to remotivate them (or myself) at the beginning of the school year. Also, it means we can take lots of vacations or time off anytime we feel we need it during the year. This really helps us from feeling burnt out. It means we don’t have to take our family vacations in summer when everyone else is also vacationing. (Thats right. No lines at Disney World!)
Choose a Curriculum
The idea of choosing a curriculum can be really overwhelming to parents who are homeschooling for the first time. My advice is not to stress too much over it. If you and your child are struggling you can change the curriculum at any time! One of the best resources I ever found is a book entitled, Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this book, Duffy writes in-depth curriculum reviews and also helps you assess which curriculum will best meet your needs. Here are some things you need to consider when choosing curriculum.
How to Choose Curriculum
TEACHER-LED OR STUDENT-LED: Curriculum is designed to either be led by a teacher or by the student. In the early years, students will likely benefit more from having you work directly with them. However, as your child matures, independent learners may benefit more with the autonomy found in student-led curriculum.
SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS: You will need to decide whether you want religion to play a part in your child’s studies. Some religious families opt for a secular curriculum with separate religious or bible studies. Others prefer religion to be intertwined in subjects. Many secular curricula are religion-friendly, meaning there is unlikely to be anything in direct opposition to religious tenets. This will become especially critical in Science when deciding whether to teach creation or evolution.
YOUR HOMESCHOOLING METHOD: Curriculum varies widely in their approach to learning. Your curriculum choices may be impacted by the homeschooling method you wish to employ. Be sure to read my post, Homeschooling Methods Explained for an in-depth look at the different homeschooling methods.
YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE: Just like us, children have different learning styles. Some children are auditory learners, while others need to visualize concepts. Still, others benefit more from a hands-on (tactile) experience. One advantage to homeschooling is the ability to use a curriculum tailored to your child’s learning style. It is important to note that young children are generally tactile learners and may change learning styles as they mature.
HOW MUCH TIME YOU WANT TO SPEND: Some curriculum requires prep work on the part of the teacher, while others allow you to dive right in. Some curriculum is relaxed, others are rigorous and of course, there is everything in between. You will need to figure out how much time you are willing to dedicate. This is especially important if you are a single parent, working parent, or are teaching multiple students.
SPECIAL NEEDS: Consider if your child has any special needs that may influence the curriculum you choose. Not only are there curriculum choices that are special need friendly, but there are also support groups for families.
YOUR BUDGET: You will decide how much you are willing to spend on the curriculum. It is important to note that there are many free and low-cost options available. In fact, some school districts even offer public school online at home and it’s completely free!
ONLINE OR TANGIBLE: You will need to decide how much screen time your child has. There are pros and cons to both. Some parents want their kids to be tech-savvy and comfortable with online applications. Whereas other parents feel too much time online can stunt literacy. Many families find a happy medium or encourage technology in later years like high school.
Join Homeschooling Groups
One thing that is wonderful about homeschooling is the community. I have found homeschooling families to be wonderfully accepting and helpful to other families, especially those just getting started. Other families are a valuable resource for both motivation, advice, and socialization, so look into joining homeschool groups. You can find many online, even on Facebook.
Other Common Questions
Do I need to formally withdraw my kids from public school?
The answer depends largely on your state laws. Many states do require you to submit a form to avoid truency problems. You can find your state laws here: https://hslda.org/legal
Will my child receive a diploma when he / she graduates?
A diploma is just a piece of paper saying that school was completed. If your child wants a paper diploma, homeschool parents can order them online. https://www.homeschooldiploma.com is a great place to order them and other graduation items.
Can my child still attend college if they are homeschooled?
Absolutely. In fact, I was a homeschooled child and attended college. Colleges will require a high school transcript and may require a standardized test such as the SATs.
Where can I get a high school transcript?
Parents will need to create them using the child’s grades. Most online homeschool planners make it easy to create a transcript based on the grades you input.
I’m nervous about teaching math and science. What happens if I struggle teaching a certain subject?
First, teacher manuals will teach you how to teach the subject and how to engage your child. If you still feel uncomfortable, you can also look into a tutor. Aside from tutors, Co-ops are a great resource for teaching help. Co-ops are teacher-led, classroom style classes. You can always put your child in a co-op for harder subjects. Another option is to simply get together with another homeschooling family for help.
What is a co-op?
A co-op is a group of homeschoolers that come together for classroom-style learning. The co-op class can be lead by one appointed teacher or a group of them. The co-op can include traditional subjects like math and science, electives like drama and art, or extra-curricular activities like band, orchestra, or sports.
What if my child has special needs?
Homeschooling is great for children with special needs. For starters, there is no shame or peer pressure for going as slowly as your child needs. Homeschooling also allows you to tailor the curriculum and learning process to your child’s specific needs. These days there are lots of homeschool curriculum that is designed for special needs like dyslexia, autism, ADHD, etc. Just take a look at one example at https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling/special-needs/
Will my child be socialized?
Absolutely. Children not being socialized is the biggest myth about homeschooling. As a homeschooler, you should get involved with co-ops, support groups, extra-curricular clubs, sports, and other homeschooling families. Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers aren’t stuck at home all the time. Rather, they have the freedom to accompany parents, volunteer, and join other homeschoolers during the day for social activities.
What happens if I need legal help regarding homeschooling?
There are many coalitions that help protect the rights of homeschool families. Many coalitions provide legal assistance, forms, information, legal resources and sometimes even legal representation. Some are state specific (such as Texas Homeschool Coalition) and others are for all fifty states (such as HSLDA).
Do my children need to complete state standardized testing?
This depends on your state’s homeschooling laws. Some states require it, while others exempt homeschoolers. Many colleges and universities may still require your child take the SATs or other college entrance exams.
How do I know my child is learning as much as public schooled children?
This is often a common concern of beginner homeschoolers. First, many parents choose to homeschool because many studies show that homeschooled children are more advanced than public schooled children. However, if you would like to compare you child’s progress to public school you can use the state core standards to set educational goals.
What kind of records do I need to keep?
This is dependent upon your state’s individual homeschooling laws and regulations, but generally speaking, you will need to keep records that prove your child’s progress, attendence and abilities. These may include items like attendance records, grades, names of curriculum used, reading lists, field trip lists, standardaized testing scores, work samples, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, and subjects mastered.
I hope I have answered some of your basic questions on how to start homeschooling. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!
Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!
I am often asked about our homeschool room and with so many friends turning to homeschooling this fall due to COVID, I’ve decided to give you our homeschool room tour. First, let me start by saying, I know how blessed I am to have a dedicated room. I know most people don’t have an extra room to use. That said, many families opt for the kitchen table or home office as a learning space. However, when my husband and I were building our house, years before we had children, we knew we were going to homeschool. Therefore, we built this room just for homeschooling. If you are just homeschooling for this coming year due to COVID, a kitchen table is fine! If you are interested in learning about more about homeschooling permanently I have lots of homeschooling posts including, Homeschooling Methods Explained.
Lots of moms have asked me if you need a dedicated room. I would say you need a dedicated space. That doesn’t mean the room can’t serve more than one purpose. Up until last year our classroom was also a playroom. But since we buckled down on home education, we removed the toys and put them in their bedrooms. That would probably be my only caveat. I have found that if you have little ones, removing distraction is key. Having the toys in the same room as our learning space is just too distracting for my little guys.
Let’s start our tour and I will explain why and how I do things.
Our room is the game room in our house. It is at the top of the landing in our house. Before kids, it was just another comfy living space. Our space isn’t really decorated. I added some color with a rug, but it was more to protect our carpet in case we accidentally spilled glue, paint, or other stuff. I’d rather replace a $100 rug than wall-to-wall carpeting! I put up some matching curtains for color and made some streamers and alphabet with paper and stickers. A few of the alphabets have fallen down and I just haven’t made time to get the ladder from the garage and put them back up. I’ll do that before we start school again in a few weeks. Other than that it is a hodgepodge of bookcases and file cabinets. I don’t really care if things are matching. It’s more about functionality than aesthetics.
The Desk and Chairs
I’ll be honest, it took me forever to decide what kind of desk and chairs to get. There are so many options and I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Well, I finally made a decision a few years back. I decided to build my own desk with IKEA accessories. I got two desktops from IKEA in gray. They are basically long rectangles. Then I bought four drawers and put the tops on top. We then secured the top with brackets. I offset the drawers to create a square table with four workstations which gives us plenty of space to work.
Furthermore, I decided on this set up for one main reason. I have no idea if we will always be in this house. Right now, we have space to create this four-workstation look. However, if we have to move, I can take this desk apart and create more of a traditional workstation with two drawers on each side and a rectangular top. It’s versatile.
PARDON MY KIDS THINGS ON THE FLOOR. I purposely didn’t pick them up because I want you to know this room is almost never pristine! We live in this room and it is often messy and disorganized. Real-life, friends!
In the drawers, I keep art supplies, workbooks, construction paper, playdoh, paper plates (for crafts and painting), and all kinds of other school-related materials. On top of the table, I found a cute craft carousel from Michaels Craft Stores. Here I keep all the supplies we use all day long so they are close at hand. Things like paintbrushes, glue sticks, glue, markers, pencils, erasers. dot stampers, pencil sharpeners, watercolors, rulers, etc.
I decided on these chairs by IKEA because they adjust to the children’s height as they grow. They were $35 each and they still have them on the IKEA site. Additionally, we have an old tv in the room for when we watch educational videos and we have a Melissa and Doug Calendar.
We repurposed my husband’s old office bookcase. In here I keep our curriculum, educational books, some educational games, DVDs, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. I keep a large trash can here for all of our craft messes. I also keep some folders (Target Dollar Spot) for my teacher organization. I also keep my teacher planner (The Happy Planner) on this rack. We have a teacher whiteboard and a wooden abacus which really helped my little ones count and are helping them learn addition and subtraction. Below the whiteboard, I repainted an old coat hook mint and sprayed the metal gold. I found some metal pails at the Target Dollar Spot and filled them with things like dry erase markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.
We have a smaller children’s table and chairs which my mother had specially made for my boys. It doesn’t provide enough room for our studies so we use it as a dedicated coloring station. I have this awesome roll of paper dispenser which is bladeless for the kids to draw on. I give them each a pail of crayons and they have fun drawing away.
We use an old filing cabinet for a lot of my teaching materials including teachers manuals, sensory bin fillers, file folders, worksheets and other things we want put away from the kids. We have a globe which the kids absolutely love! It has been such a great learning tool! I’ll go through the bookcase with more detail.
On the Top
Up at the top, I keep bins for Art, Colors, and Language. The art bin contains things like paints, glitter, etc. I keep these things up high so that the kids can’t get into them and potentially spill them on the rug. In the colors bin, I keep colorful counters that we use for math and color sorting as well as other color-related activities. Lastly, I have a tub labeled “language.” In this bin, I keep different kinds of letter related activities.
On the second shelf, I have some awesome picture vocabulary photo cards I bought from Lakeshore learning. I keep extra boxes of pencils and erasers. I keep dot markers in a glass container. Also, I have two photo boxes (purchased at Michaels) that are full of all kinds of math activities and learning items like play money, shapes, etc.
On the Middle shelves I have a storage container with drawers. These are similar to what you might use as an organizer in your garage for nuts, bolts, and screws. Originally, I used this for language. I had letters of the alphabet on each of the drawers and inside the drawers I put objects that started with that word. For example, the letter ‘C’ drawer had things like a candle, cotton, candy, coins, a car, a crayon, and a cardinal. You get the idea. After my kids outgrew this, I use it to store small parts that we use for homeschooling. We use TOOB figures in our learning all the time. For example, when we learned about Egypt, I bought some TOOB Egyptian figures. We learned what everything was called and then we pretended to excavate them in kinetic sand. So much fun!
The decorative boxes are just filled with miscellanies like flash cards, lacing cards and other things. The decorative boxes were purchased at Michaels craft stores.
The last shelves have some miscellanies. I have a nautical tote filed with felt activity books (quiet busy books). We use these for quiet playtime during the day. I promptly put them away after using so that we don’t lose pieces. In the magazine holders, I have activity books organized by grade level.
On the bottom, I have file boxes. In these boxes are 180 manila file folders. They represent 180 school days. Each one labeled with a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2, etc) I organize the kid’s schoolwork into these folders. Once we get through all 180 folders we are done for the year.
Thank you for joining me on our homeschool room tour. I hope I’ve given you an insight as to how we stay organized all year. If you have questions about anything, I am happy to answer them. Just leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer.
Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.
I have been asked by numerous friends and family about our curriculum choices for Kindergarten. I am certainly happy to share what we have decided to use. First, let me share the tool that really helped us make some decisions. This book has been a Godsend to me. It is a handbook of sorts for homeschooling families. In fact, I’ve included it before as a must-read homeschooling book in my post 4 Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.
The resource is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this comprehensive book, Duffy provides a questionnaire to help narrow down the homeschooling method that is right for you and your family. (You can read more about homeschooling methods in my post Homeschooling Methods Explained) Then, she provides information on how to determine how what kind of learner your child is. For instance, some students may be tactile learners (hands-on), visual or etc. Some children prefer to work independently, while others need instructor-led education. Some families prefer textbooks, while others want an online experience. This book helps to determine those choices and ranks curriculum based on those needs so you understand which material will be a good fit. The book also provides a thorough review of each of the curriculum choices including the time intensity of the program, other materials that might be needed, and cost.
You can purchase Duffy’s Homeschool Picks through the affiliate links below. You may also purchase it through her website, Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews. I think the book is easier to navigate than the website and provides more handholding when choosing a curriculum, but the website is also a wonderful curriculum source.
Lastly, when it comes to choosing which subjects you are going to teach, understand that some states may have specific requirements. So, don’t forget to look up your state’s requirements first.
Where to Buy Curriculum
First, all publishers of the curriculum have their own websites with information and links on where you may purchase curriculum. However, my favorite shopping source is Rainbow Resource. Even though they are a smaller company they have one of the largest selections. They carry about 40,000 educational resources all geared towards homeschooling. You can purchase online, but they also provide (for the asking) paper catalogs that you can browse through.
Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is another good source for curriculum. They run sales often and even provide teacher and student IDs for your homeschool for about $5. As a co-op, they have big discounts on lots of curriculum. You can also find curriculum on Amazon, Christian Book, and The Curriculum Store. You can even buy used curriculum in Buy/Sell Homeschool Groups on Facebook.
Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
Social Studies / History
Most kindergarten curriculum does not include social studies or history at this age. However, even at the preschool age, I introduced my son to Egyptology. He is fascinated by The Great Sphinx. Jack can name things like a cartouche, sarcophagus, canopic jar, and hieroglyphics. He can even recognize the images of Pharaoh, King Tut, and Nefertiti. We talked about the four directions (the points on a compass). I taught him how to find our city, state, and country on a globe. We’ve also talked extensively about our Apache heritage. My point is that even though they are young, your child may enjoy social studies and history. Most children don’t really start this until the elementary years, but since our son has expressed interest and we are history lovers ourselves, we have introduced it earlier. You certainly do not need to include this in your homeschooling unless your state requires it.
We are using 180 Days of Social Studies. I plan on using this workbook for regular social studies lessons. Additionally, I plan to supplement some fun field trips to museums and historic sites here locally. The social studies workbook has 180 days of lessons which is the average length of a school year.
The social studies workbook introduces concepts like civics, economics, and history. I admit that I don’t like that these books are in black and white. The lessons are also very simple. I would prefer something more comprehensive, but there aren’t a lot of choices at this age so I’m willing to use this for now to at least introduce the subject matter. I’m sure in first grade I will find something more in-depth.
We are also using DK Geography Workbook. The geography book covers topics like how to read maps, our community, landscapes, and spatial skills. The workbook itself is fairly short (only about 40 lessons) so I will combine it with the social studies.
Math is a scary subject for me. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize that it’s very easy to fall behind and then stay behind. So far, Jack has done very well learning things like counting to 100, number recognition, etc. I think that he may need some visual and hands-on work as we start to introduce additional math concepts to him in Kindergarten. So I found a program that is both Classical-friendly and also has some tactile learning, Horizon’s Math. The set includes two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The lessons include directions and positions, introducing simple fractions, time, days of the week, money values, adding and subtracting single digits, etc. The other nice thing about Horizons is that they have done the lesson planning for you into 180 lessons. So far I am very pleased with this curriculum. Aside from the workbook, the teacher’s manual provides additional games and activities you can do with your child to cement concepts.
In addition to the curriculum, we use these math manipulatives and math counters so that our children can visualize addition and subtraction. We also use dominoes which is a great way for children to learn patterns and visualize numbers in the dots as well.
Jack is struggling with handwriting. He hates coloring and using a pencil. Honestly, it has been a frustrating experience for both of us. Because he laments doing anything that requires writing, we had been more focused on pre-writing skills. We’ve been doing lots of things that don’t feel like handwriting practice, like salt writing, tracing, looping, etc. After lots of discussions with teachers and hours of research, we are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears. This program seems to be one of the better ones for resistant learners. Hopefully, this will help us break through some of the frustration. HWT is a workbook based writing program but includes multisensory learning. It has leveled books and a teacher’s manual. Wish us luck!
UPDATE: We’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears and we have a completely different child! After four weeks of using the program, Jack is writing! He loves it. We had tried other programs during pre-k, but none of them managed to break through his resistance to it. I can’t even begin to explain my love for this program. It is quick and easy and it has made writing fun for Jack. I will tell you one thing that really helped was using the program’s chalkboard in addition to the workbook. He wants to do handwriting first before other subjects every day. The blackboard isn’t currently available on Amazon. You can buy it through Christian Book below.
So far, choosing a Phonics program has been one of the hardest things I’ve researched. There are so many choices out there that claim to be the best. Dyslexia runs in my family, so naturally, I am concerned about that with Jack. I do think that Jack needs a program that is fun and engaging. We are starting with Hooked On Phonics. One of the main reasons we are choosing it is because my brothers and I used it to read when we were children, so obviously, it’s been around for a while. It tried and true. There are two levels for every grade and you can buy them individually. The levels are about $26 each so it also one of the more reasonable programs out there. I figured we can try it and if it doesn’t work out, we haven’t invested much.
Since we are classical homeschoolers, we focus heavily on reading. Here is our fiction reading list. We will also be reading lots of other books that are about science, notable people, places, and other things, but here are our storytime books. I’ve included them in the post, Classical Books for Kindergarteners. We are getting most of them through the library and used book sources.
We are also playing a fun phonics game called, Launch and Learn: Beginning Sounds from Lakeshore. This really isn’t part of our curriculum. It’s just something we can do as a family, helps reinforce phonics and doesn’t feel like learning! It’s not available through Amazon and is only available on the Lakeshore website.
Our Bible Study is simply consisting of reading stories from The Complete Children’s Illustrated Bible. This bible is in full color and has beautiful illustrations on every page. One thing I love about this particular bible is that it does not omit stories that other children’s bibles do. For instance, in the Moses story, it plainly says that the Egyptians drowned when God closed the Red Sea. It does not water down Cain murdering his brother Abel or the killing of the firstborns by Pharaoh. Nor does it leave out Sodom and Gomorrah. It does however, leave out the Song of Solomon. I love that even though it is in story-form for young readers, it still is very complete.
We are reading 2-4 pages per day. Since a great deal of the pages are illustrations, it is a very quick read. In addition to reading Bible stories, we will also be singing some praise songs, hymns, and children’s Christian songs.
You may find that Science is hard to come by at the Kindergarten level. Most children begin learning Science in first grade. I did not include Science in my original version of this post because we were still trying to find resources. My husband, who is a chemical engineer is excited to help with our Science class. Here are the resources we are using.
I never considered how confusing it is to explain the concept of time to a five-year-old. Seconds, minutes, hours. The 7 represents both a 7 and 35. The 12 is a 12, 60, and a 00. This learning clock by Melissa and Doug has been awesome. We bought it in May this year and it has totally helped him under the concepts better and he’s doing fantastic so far telling time. First, we worked on learning 5-minute increments along with the hour. After being fluent in that, we will then introduce how to read the precise minute. Then we will introduce quarter and half-hours. This clock comes with flashcards to practice. It has been so helpful! In just the first week of owning it, my son finally understood what I had been trying to explain for months.
This past year we started to implement a small allowance for my oldest in exchange for doing household chores. It’s important to us that he learns the value of money and delayed gratification when it comes to buying things. That said, it dawned on me that he had no concept of the worth of money, so I decided to dedicate some time to learning about money. Sure, we played “store.” He understood the concept of money being exchanged for goods and services, but it was time to learn how to count money. So, I purchased some realistic play money to be used in our math studies.
We learned about seasons and weather in preschool. Now in Kindergarten, I am requesting that Jack use this Melissa and Doug calendar at the start of our homeschool day.
Music and Arts & Crafts
We will incorporate arts and craft times throughout the week. I find hobby stores have lots of seasonal crafts that are fun as well as coloring and painting.
Over the last couple of years. Jack already knows some musical terms like piano, pianissimo, crescendo, accelerando, forte and fortissimo. We will continue to introduce and add more musical terms and we will listen to one piece of classical music a day. Jack already loves several pieces by Verdi and Peer Gynt “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”
That’s it. If you have questions about curriculum or homeschooling, feel free to ask them in the comments section. If this is your first year of homeschooling, try not to stress too much about it. Homeschooling is a journey and there is a lot of trial and error as you find your way. You can find me on Instagram where I share our homeschool day and activities.
Introduce your child to the joy of reading classical literature. Here is a list of classical books for kindergarteners for homeschooling or reading pleasure.
Classical books are some of the greatest teaching tools for your children. When you introduce a child to reading, you introduce them to a vivid imagination, new vocabulary, and novel concepts. Classical books that stand the test of time in regards to storytelling, subject matter, and quality. As a classical homeschooler, we focus heavily on Classical literature. But even if your child is public schooled, I encourage you to read classic books.
Many classic books are more conservative than their contemporary counterparts, thus preserving your child’s innocence. Also, classical literature typically contains richer vocabulary than most modern books which are full of modern colloquiums. Classic books also offer a different perspective of history and the world, which brings me to my next point.
Classical Literature For a Lifetime
Starting the habit of reading classical literature can foster a love of classical reading for a lifetime. I was very blessed that my mother read all the books I’m about to share below. As I grew, my love of books continued well into my teenage years and remained a cornerstone of my classical education. As your child develops and matures, continue adding age-appropriate classics. For example, as a pre-teen, I loved reading Jane Austin, Bronte, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Rimbaud, and James Fenimore Cooper. By high school, I was reading books like The Devine Comedy (Dante), Paradise Lost (Milton), War and Peace, and In Cold Blood (Capote) and The Count of Monte Cristo. As a young adult under twenty, I read 1984 (Orwell), Animal Farm (Orwell), Atlas Shrugged (Rand), Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer) and The Prince (Machiavelli).
I am certain of how introducing reading early, particularly classical literature and poetry, can cement a fondness for it that lasts a lifetime. I absolutely attribute my love of books to my mother, who read to us every day as children. Most people are surprised to learn I have dyslexia. Although reading and writing requires more concentration for me than for others, I’ve always enjoyed reading. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll compile a list of classical books for adults.
Classical Literature for Children
Although this list is long, you needn’t worry about buying every book. Public libraries are a great resource for classics. Some libraries offer the ability to order books from other branches if it isn’t available at your branch. Many libraries even have their catalogs online, so you can see if your public library carries it. Some even allow you to reserve copies online. Half Price Books, ABE Books, and other used book stores are also a great resource.
If you can only afford a few books, I recommend investing in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesops Fables, Greek Mythology, and Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. You will see that so many of the great stories we come to know as children originate from these books. You can find illustrated versions of these books at Amazon and other book retailers. Here are some examples of the stories you can find in those treasuries.
Famous Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Little Mermaid
The Princess and the Pea
The Snow Queen (you know it as Disney’s Frozen)
The Ugly Duckling
The Tinder Box (The Pied Piper)
Famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales
The Twelve Brothers
Hansel and Gretel
The Fisherman and His Wife
Little Red Riding Hood
The Bremen Town Musicians
The Shoemaker and the Elves
Thumbling Travels (Tom Thumb)
Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
The Golden Goose
The Twelve Huntsman
The Wolf and the Fox
Benefits of Reading to Children
Reading is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. Just take a look at some of the benefits your child receives by daily reading.
The sound of your voice is calming to your child
It models proper diction and enunciation
Increases their vocabulary
Showing your child the text improves letter and word recognition
Promotes a longer attention span
Books teach about morals, situations, personalities, emotions, and relationships.
Helps to reinforce parental bonds and quality time
I really hope that this list of classical books for kindergarteners helps you and perhaps even challenges you to read more classics with your child. I know it will be a great experience for both of you! In the comments below, I would love to hear what your favorite book was growing up.
With kids being home during the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be wondering how to keep your little ones busy. I’m sharing some boredom busters for kids to keep you from losing your mind at home.
With the COVID-19 virus, lots of schools have extended Spring break or suspended classes. While that might be fine at first, I think a lot of moms are intimated and maybe even a little terrified that cabin fever will set in.
For homeschool mamas like myself, this is just another day for us! But that got me thinking that a lot of moms out there are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pass the time at home. Most of what we do is learning activities, but I’m sharing some ideas that are mostly just boredom busters for kids that you can do.
Boredom Busters for Kids
Grab some old birthday balloons you have kicking around. Blow them up. Grab some spatulas from the kitchen and let your kids play indoor tennis or ping pong with them.
Laser Obstacle Course
Do you know those half-used paper party streamers that are at the bottom of your party decor drawer? Take them out and create an obstacle course. Cut various lengths of the streamers, tape across hallways, doorways, and walls. Let your kids crawl and maneuver around the course without touching any of the streamers.
Free Education Subscriptions
With lots of schools and daycares being closed, many education websites and apps are offering Free subscriptions for the duration of this outbreak. You can find a list of companies here.
I admit I’ve got some rambunctious boys and one thing they love to do is roughhouse. Mama isn’t too into that, but I do love a good sock fight. There isn’t much to it. Take some clean socks, ball them up and have your own indoor “snowball” fight.
Dramatic play is a type of play where kids are assigned roles and then act it out. Typically, there are lots of make believe props to help kids immerse themselves in make believe. For example, if you child is playing vet perhaps you make their stuffed animals the patients. Create forms or pretend x-rays, give them a doctors kit. You get the idea. Create a simulated environment.
Dramatic play is great for vocabulary, building social skills, modeling adult behavior, sharing, taking turns, fantasy/reality, helps them use their imagination, etc. Here are some ideas for dramatic play. We do dramatic play and let me tell you that creating the dramatic play center is just as fun as playing. For example, if we are playing store, the kids select boxes in our pantry to be the grocery store items and they help me set up the “pretend store” and cash register. The setting up keeps them just as busy as the actual activity does.
Watercolors, tempera paint, finger paint – it really doesn’t matter. Painting is fun sensory experience for any kid and it’s therapeutic. If you’ve got a small child and you are really worried about the mess, you can always do it in a dry bathtub then just give them a bath afterwards.
Indoor Water Table
Use your bathtub. Fill it up with a little water. Add measuring cups, toys, and other water-friendly things. We actually use a long, shallow (under the bed) Sterilite tub. I add some colored bath drops to make it more interesting.
Build a Fort
Come on, admit it, you loved building forts as a kid. My older brother made some really elaborate forts with tunnels and we’ve always found that sheets work the best because they don’t weigh as much. If you don’t want to build a fort, you can use a small pop-up tent. Set it up in their bedrooms or in your living room and watch how easy it is to get them to go to bed!
Indoor Picnic / Pinic
Lay a comfy blanket out, find a comfy spot in the living room and turn an ordinary meal into something special. Or better yet, have an actual picnic outside. Put a quilt down on the grass and take your food outside. Afterwards, lay on the blanket and gaze at the clouds. It’s funny how just switching up everyday things can change the mood!
Moon Rock Toss
Gather some small waste bins or other containers and line them up at different distances. For added fun, label points on them. The farther away the more points. Then crumple up balls of tin foil and take turns trying to throw them into the containers.
Cardboard Box Play
Maybe you are like me and you have a ton of cardboard boxes in the garage that you haven’t had time to cut down and put in the recycling. Well, there are lots of ways your kids can play with them and it will keep both you and them busy. Just take a look at some of these really cute ideas.
Full confession – I’m a nerd and I love jigsaw puzzles. We actually love to do jigsaw puzzles and now that my oldest son is getting older he is starting to get interested in them too. We love Thomas Kincade ones because they are pretty challenging. They take a while, they kill time, and the whole family can do it together.
Music is not only great for getting energy out, it’s great for lifting spirits. I put music on all the time for me and the kids and it helps us get out of a rut. Put on some tunes and get you and your kids dancing. If you want to get creative, try looking up a popular dance on YouTube and learn the steps. Suggestions (Cha-Cha Slide, The Hustle, The Charleston, The Cupid Shuffle, The Thriller Dance, Texas Two-Step, The Moonwalk, etc.)
All you need is a ball and empty plastic containers like water bottles. Set the water bottles up in a hallway or long room and try knocking them down. Traditional bowling uses ten pins, but you could use less if you wanted. Six works really well also.
Make Pasta Jewelry
You stocked up on a bunch of dry pasta, right? Why not let your kids use a little to make some pasta jewelry. All you need is a string and pasta with a hole like penne, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, etc. You can even dye it different colors. Here is how to color dry pasta.
Get your kids to draw self-portraits or portraits of each other.
Keep a Diary
If you’re kids are old enough to read and write, why not have them journal about the COVID-19 quarantine day by day. Encourage them to pen their feelings and observations about all the things going on around us right now. If you doubt the value of doing this, remember how Anne Frank’s diary has become a treasured account of the horrors of World War II.
One thing my kids really love is kinetic sand. If you haven’t used this, it is a lot of fun. It’s almost as if play dough and sand had a baby. It’s way easier to clean up than regular sand and its completely moldable. This can keep my little ones busy for hours. Sometimes I put little toys underneath the sand like little toy dinosaurs, plastic bugs, and seashells and let them excavate them in the sand. They absolutely love that!
We have a few of these that we pull out on rainy days. First, they are educational and they brush kids up on their alphabet, colors, shapes and early math skills. For older kids, maybe get crosswords, sudoko, mad libs and brain teasers.
10 and Up
Bingo is a fun game the whole family can do. You can purchase one online or you can use the one I created in my post, Valentine’s Day Bingo Game. You can print it out on your home computer and play right now. For square markers, you can use dry beans or pennies.
Memory Matching Games
Memory matching games are super fun for kids. You can certainly buy some online, however, I have a Halloween Memory Game you can download for FREE and print out on your home computer.
Make Your Own Play Dough
You can make your own playdough at home. It really is very simple. Just a side note, homemade play dough out very quickly, so make sure to store it in an airtight container.
Here is what you need to make it at home
2 Cups All-purpose flour
¾ cups salt
4 tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
Food coloring (optional)
Quart sized zip lock bag or storage container
Make Birthday Cards
Have your kids make some birthday cards for your family members this month. Let them use glitter, stickers, markers / crayons, sequins and any other spare craft supplies. Then mail them to people!
I love playing dominoes, but my preschooler loves to set up dominoes to knock them down. Challenge your kids to set up a long domino fall. We love using this set below, because it has 91 dominoes in the set.
Make Fake Snow
We do this all the time as a winter activity. We don’t get snow here in South Texas, so we make our own. All you need is 3 cups of baking soda and half cup of conditioner.
If you are doing this outside you can use sidewalk chalk. If you’re doing it inside, you just need painters tape or masking tape. All the jumping around wears them out and gets out their wiggles.
Make a Pretzel Log Cabin
We found this cute activity a while back on how to make a pretzel log cabin. All you need is some pretzel rods, confectioners sugar, and water. It was a fun STEM activity for my little guy.
Write a Soldier
If your kids are old enough, have them write a letter to a soldier and thank them for their service. Soldier’s Angels is one place to start, but it is more of a pen pal setup and they ask that you write to your soldier for at least three months. If you don’t want that kind of commitment, you can use Any Soldier. You can choose to send a letter or a care package.
Alphabet “Sand” Writing
My son loves to do this! Just get a mostly flat container, lid or tray and fill it up with salt or granulated sugar. Give your little one a pencil, paintbrush (use the pointy end) or another instrument and have them practice writing their letters in the “sand.”
Rice Sensory Bin
Make an indoor “sandbox” using colored rice. It’s very easy to make. You just get 4 cups of rice, 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. You can make batches of different colors if you want “rainbow” rice. Put it in a container and give your little one scoopers and any other toys they want. This keeps my toddler and preschooler busy for a long time! It’s very easy to clean up, but you can always do it outside if the mess bothers you.
Give your kids a stack of old magazines you have kicking around and ask them to make a collage of everything they like.
Blow up a balloon and challenge your kids to see how long they can toss is around without it touching the ground.
This is is kind of a no-brainer, but sometimes, I think people forget how versatile this one is. There are so many board games to choose from.
Some of our favorites for young children (ages 3-5) are:
This can be a fun STEM activity. Take various liquids of varying density and let your kids discover how the liquids separate. You can use liquids like water, oil, dish soap, honey, milk, rubbing alcohol, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. As an added bonus, you can drop small objects like (a small ball, a cherry tomato, a popcorn kernel, a penny, etc.) and see if it floats or sinks through the different liquids.
Make Your Own Race Track
Don’t throw away the cardboard in paper towel roll. I save them for the kids to make their own racetrack. I tape some to the wall so my boys can put their hot wheels inside and see it come racing out. There tubes I cut in half lengthwise and we tape them all together to make a track. Don’t forget to add the dotted line in marker so it looks like a road. It’s funny. My kids have actual toy race tracks, but I’m always surprised at how making our own is so fun to them.
Take a Virtual Museum Tour
Lots of museums around the world offer virtual museums online. You and your kids can explore museums and their treasured works right from your couch! Take a look at these virtual tours.
Hide some candy, a toy or anything else your kids might like and get them to hunt for it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to hide a single item, you can do a treasure hunt version of “eye spy.” Basically a scavenger hunt. Ask them to find the following:
Something taller than you
Something you throw away
Something that starts with a letter ‘S’
Something that moves
Something you wear
Something that can’t get wet
Something that made of wood
Something with numbers (but not a watch or clock)
You get the idea…use your imagination. Additionally, you can take this and give them an outdoor version of eye spy.
Something with wings
Moss or algae
Give your kids a list and this will keep them busy for a while.
Another fun STEM activity is to build sculptures out of nothing more than marshmallows and toothpicks. Stick the toothpicks into the marshmallow and keep building!
Draw Your Own Comic Book
If you have a child who loves to draw, encourage them to come up with a special character and have them draw their own comic book on paper.
Use some Washi tape, masking tape or painters tray and make a tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Take paper plates and write X’s and O’s with markers. It’s kind of silly how just making it large makes it more fun for kiddos. Take the activity outdoors on the lawn too!
Sink or Float Experiment
Grab a glass pitcher or other large see-through container (like a storage tub). Fill it up with water. Then gather small objects of varying sizes and materials. (examples: cork, coin, rock, bottle cap, toothpick, crayon, plastic toy, etc) Have your child choose one object at a time and have them guess if it will sink or float. If your child is old enough, have them record their findings on paper. Take the opportunity to explain why an object sinks or floats. If an object floats it is less dense than water. If it is denser, it sinks.
Water Displacement Experiment
I did this with my oldest son when he was both three and four. It’s a great STEM activity that introduces fluid mechanics to your child. We talked about Archimedes and his theory of fluid displacement. Like the sink or float experiment, you will need a large container full of water. Leave some room at the top. I like to use dry erase markers if the container is glass or plastic. Gather household objects of varying weight and size. Insert each item individually and watch how much the water in the container rises. Get your child to mark where the water rose with a dry erase marker. Fluid displacement is all about volume. When an object is immersed in a fluid, displacement occurs as it pushes the fluid out of the way and it takes it’s place.
Make a Cardboard City
Take some of those empty Amazon boxes and food boxes and turn them into your own cardboard city. Use wrapping paper of construction paper to cover them up and draw on them. Then have your kids get their toy cars and people and let them play in their city.
Other Helpful Things
Maintain a Schedule
At our house, we maintain a schedule. It isn’t rigorous, but it ensures that we are mixing things up during the day. Here is a quick look at our schedule over the next coming weeks.
This might sound overly simple, but reading is one of the best things you can do with your kids. Seriously, take this opportunity while we are all stuck at home and read to them! If your child is older, have them read classic literature. Great stories like Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and Little Women never go out of style.