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One of the greatest things about homeschooling is that as the teacher, you are not limited or confined to a desk and a blackboard. The world is your classroom! In this post, I offer simple and easy ways to make learning at home fun and engaging.
So whether you are a homeschooling mama, or your child is currently a remote learner, there are so many ways you can take the sit-and-get method of learning and make it fun and magical for both you and your learner(s)!
Younger learners are always moving and grooving, and manipulatives really engage your tactile learner– the learner that likes touching and tinkering with everything.
Manipulatives are always engaging. Some of my favorite manipulates are actually the simplest and easiest items to snag from the store. Below is a list of manipulatives you can easily implement in any of your lessons!
Dry Erase Markers on the Window
Have your child practice handwriting skills or letter and number recognition by grabbing a dry erase marker (darker colors work better), and have them use a window, mirror, or sliding glass door as their paper! Tip: For extra protection, use painter’s tape to create a frame within which you want your child to stay inside. Otherwise, you may end up with dry erase marker on your window sill.
It’s a bit messy, but it sure is fun! For a quirky variation of number and letter recognition, grab a can of cheap shaving cream, squirt a bunch of it on the shower wall, and have your learner write numbers and letters with their finger. When the shower wall is full, smear the cream around and start fresh! Best part is, you turn on the shower and Poof! it’s clean! You could also use a big plastic storage tub and achieve the same effect.
Rice or Sand
Grab a flat and wide storage bin and dump some fine play sand or a giant bag of rice in. Students can practice numbers and letters, and even do math problems with their fingers. Sand can definitely be messy, but if it’s contained in a storage bin, it’s virtually mess free! Put the lid on it and keep it for more hours of learning!
The next time you’re making pasta, leave a handful of uncooked noodles out for your next math lesson! It’s probably not a good idea to cook with that same pasta, however.
Get them moving!
As a homeschool mom myself, I like to make sure I have a home base, my Learning Corner, for lessons and activities; but I also think it is really important to get up and get moving in order to make learning at home fun and engaging.
One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that you are not stuck in a classroom and your child is not stuck in a chair with little movement throughout the classroom and the school building. One way to keep your little learner engaged and having fun is to get them out of their chairs and moving. Learners, especially the younger ones, tend to be more kinetic learners, meaning they like to use their hands, bodies, and personal space to manipulate objects and wrestle with ideas and concepts.
Maybe this means having a learning mat where they do some lessons on the floor laying down or sitting up. Maybe this means going outside and on a walk to discover connections between nature and their science lessons. Or maybe, it’s just getting up and moving to a different room for story time. Whatever it looks like in your home, if it gets kids up and moving, you’re bound to have a more engaged learner.
You can even go further outside the box and use the bathtub for learning! Who said learning has to be from 8 AM- 4 PM? Why not pick up a few washable bathtub crayons and have your child practice handwriting, number recognition, or sight words while bubbles tickle their nose?
Play a game.
There are so many inventive and engaging games out there just waiting for you to use them at home! Check out this list of 20 Fun Ways to Practice Sight Words. None of these ideas require technology at all! Just a little imagination and enthusiasm!
If you’re looking for online games to pique the interest of your little learners here are two of my favorites:
To help get students interested in reading and make progress on their reading ability, teachers use Epic!’s vast library of texts. Epic! Has books on almost every subject and reading level. For younger, emergent readers, Epic! has books that read to you as you follow along. Scaredy Squirrel and Scaredy Monster are some of my favorites! This is the greatest resource because there is something for every child’s interest, and it’s free for educators!
Teach Your Monster to Read
Teach Your Monster to Read is a free online tool offered by Usborne Books and is designed for very early readers, between Kindergarten and 2nd grade. Children get to create a monster and dress him/her up and then take them on a magical journey through three games: First Steps, Fun With Words, and Champion Readers.
Let them lead!
Finally, (and this tip is more abstract and less of a concrete idea), let your child guide you. As the teacher, you know what the end goal of a lesson is, and maybe you even have an idea or a plan on how to get your student there. But don’t discount your learner’s ability to make decisions in that same process. Let them play a part in the pursuit of your objective. Try asking them, “You need to be able to do “this”, how can we get there?”
Be open to change and be flexible for students to be able to take risks and try new things and then reflect on the effectiveness of their decisions. All of this, mind you, is incredibly nuanced and requires you to respond to the learner in the moment, which can take some time to feel comfortable letting go and giving up some of that control over the instruction.
It is my hope that you have been able to take away even just a few nuggets of ideas to use at home with your child(ren). I know that however you get your students learning will be successful and exciting! As always, please share your experiences or ideas, or just let me know you stopped by!