It may be tempting to go online and order lots of new things to keep the kids busy during lockdown, but consider what you may already have hidden away at home.
I’ve been looking online all morning for some washable paint, with the intention of making Easter cards with my two year old. Well I’m clearly not the first person to have had that idea. Out of stock, out of stock, out of stock.
Like many parents, you may be creating mini classrooms at home to enable you to home school your children during the Coronavirus lockdown. You’re not going to have all the practical resources of a school classroom, so you may be scanning the internet in search of the perfect products and materials to keep the little ones busy and to support their learning. Aside from things being out of stock, you may be facing some financial uncertainty, which means that now may not be an ideal time to be spending money on such things. Plus if your house is anything like mine, you definitely don’t need the added clutter!
You’ll be surprised how many items you already have at home that make perfectly fine learning aids. Below are some of my favourites.
Lego is a fantastic resource and there are endless possibilities of what you can do with it. Plus most families will have at least one set of it scattered throughout the toy box. Building with Lego encourages creativity, problem solving and team work and also helps to strengthen fine motor skills. It is also a great maths resource, you can use the bricks to count and calculate, you can build bar charts or even create a Lego ruler for measuring. You can also create repeating patterns.
Buttons and beads
If like me you’ve attempted various crafts over the years, then you may have a few beads or buttons stashed away that your children could get some use out of. Why not sort them by size or colour? Or alternatively you could create a bead string together. Threading is great for dexterity, then you can use the bead strings to support with counting, addition and subtraction. A string of 10 beads is a great resource for practising number bonds to 10.
Junk modelling was a firm favourite in my year 1 and year 2 class when I was a teacher. I’ve witnessed children creating some serious masterpieces from unwanted boxes, bottles and tubes. Junk modelling is pretty easy to clear away too – who needs sequins, pom poms and glitter all over the house right now? No thanks.
You may also be able to make some helpful resources from things out of your recycling, an egg box is perfect for sorting buttons, words or numbers into. There are lots of games you could create from old pots, jars and lids.
So before you rush to put your recycling out for collection, consider if it has a use in your home classroom.
Not everyone has the luxury of a garden, but if you do it really is one of the best learning resources available to you. So much to inspire little learners. Here are some ideas of things you could do in your garden.
- Plant some seeds together and write some instructions on how to plant seeds
- Go on a hunt for minibeasts or signs of spring
- Write descriptive sentences about things you find in the garden
- Write a spring acrostic poem
- Gather some stones or pebbles and do some garden maths
- Practise writing letters or numbers on the patio using chalk or a paint brush and water
- Build a bug hotel
- Gather sticks, stones, grass, leaves, flowers and anything else you can find to create some natural art. Or create a magic potion by adding a little water.
Dominoes, dice and cards
Go and raid your games cupboard and I guarantee you’ll find some useful maths resources. Dominoes, dice and cards are great number generators. I used dice a lot in my classroom to support addition and multiplication. For example, I would ask children to roll 2 dice, then add or multiply the numbers.
You may find some other useful objects hidden away in some old board games, a spinner, some counters or a sand timer perhaps?
Preparing and cooking food is a great activity to do with your children. It provides an opportunity to talk about measures, fractions (think about cutting an apple in half, or slices of pizza) and sharing. Cooking is also a great practical task to encourage written pieces such as menus, recipes and instructions. You can also use food for creative work. Appreciate we are rationing our food at the moment, but if you have some fruit or vegetables that have seen better days, then why not trying some vegetable printing? Pasta is also an arts and crafts favourite.
Paper and card
Paper and card has many uses, other than just for writing or drawing on. If you have plenty of paper and card then you can make a variety of things to support your home schooling. Why not get your children involved in some origami, by making paper airplanes or fortune tellers. You’re covering geometry, fractions and problem solving, while also helping to develop hand-eye coordination.
I’m a big fan of book making, children are often inspired to do some great writing inside a book they have carefully made themselves.
You could also make a range of flashcards to support your maths, phonics and literacy activities.
Clothes pegs are incredibly useful and can be used for multiple subjects. Go online and check out all the activities other people have shared.
I used them a lot for maths. I created mini washing lines to order numbers on and attached them to a coat hanger to practise number bonds.
They are another good item for strengthening fine motors skills.
Hopefully, by checking through your cupboards and drawers, you can find some handy bits and pieces to support your children’s activities.
As for my Easter cards, I think I’ll need to revisit the old craft cupboard, I experimented with card making a few years back, there must be something useful stashed away in there. The paint will have to wait for another day.