10 Engaging Resources to Make Home Learning Fun

Since so many of us have kids at home for an extra week or three, I thought it would be fun to round up some of my favorite resources to help make this a time of learning AND play.  Much of this is based off of what we did last summer, which was my first real, intentional time of structuring learning into our days.  I am a HUGE believer in free play, and my girls have in fact spent the entire time I spent writing this post in their rooms with their dollhouses happily unstructured, but as they've gotten older, I have enjoyed balancing in some structured activities as well.  Plus, a few screen-time favorites because it's raining outside all week long!

  1. Highlights Big Fun Activity Workbooks - These are hands down my favorite workbooks for math and reading.  Over the summer, we spent about 20-30 minutes on them each weekday, and they are so fun and engaging compared to the others that we tried.  I asked them to do one letter and one math each day, and then let them choose a "fun" page beyond that, although there was a maze or a find-it on almost every "learning" page they did as well.
  2. Water Beads - we bought a similar pack about two years ago, and I still have a TON left.  Trust me that a little goes a long way with these.  Put them in a giant tupperware, or in the water table outside if it's nice and throw in some cups and scoops.  My girls love to use their play kitchen dishes, or any of their plastic creatures/LOL dolls/Hatchimals/etc.  No, they aren't drilling letter sounds or sight words, but sensory play is so important to brain development.
  3. Endless Learning Academy and Math Tango - Let's be honest, there will be screen-time involved.  These subscriptions are absolutely worthwhile; I think Originator is probably the best pre-school/early elementary learning app developer out there.  These games are SO FUN, but also great to practice those skills.  Worthwhile to subscribe for a month or two and make screen-time an intentional part of your learning day, instead of watching LOL unboxing all day.
  4. Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids - Insanely, all of Khan Academy's material is free.  For littles (up through about first grade), the kids' app is so rich, but if you have some older kids home and math gives you hives, I cannot recommend Khan Academy enough.  You can sign up as their "coach" and assign videos and exercises - but you don't have to grade any of it.  I use this as supplemental instruction in my classes all the time.  You may not know exactly what standards your kids are currently working on (although so many districts are working so hard right now to get that information prepped for you), but keep them in the habit with their grade level work until you have more information and resources from your school.
  5. Picture Books - Most of our learning is literature and project based, and I'm planning to write up our summer themes later this week (you can find that here), but you can't go wrong by asking your children what they'd like to learn about and then find a great non-fiction book to go with it.  I have a bunch in our Grayceful Girls Book Club, on Pinterest, or on my Beautiful Nonfiction and Picture Biographies Amazon Lists.
  6. Usborne 365 Science Activities - Most of the activities in this book can be done with materials from around the house, and my girls are obsessed with picking "projects" to try.
  7. Craft Supplies - tissue paper, scissors, pipe cleaners, puff balls, coffee filters, felt, popsicle sticks, stickers, googly eyes, glitter (if you're brave), paint, markers, etc.  It is amazing what a fresh set of supplies can inspire.  I will share later in the week some of the projects we created with our learning themes last summer (find it here).  Don't forget to save the tubes from all of that toilet paper you bought, either!
  8. Toobs- This is a great way to lean in on something your kids want to learn about. All of the names of the creatures/buildings/vehicles/etc are listed on the bottom, so you can research more individually as your kids as questions.  I promise, if you ask your kids what they want to know more about, they will always tell you. Kids are so naturally curious!  These also make great bath toys, and nothing breaks up a morning better than a 9am bath.
  9. Dot Stickers - Susie at Busy Toddler is a genius.  Honestly, if you follow one person for activity ideas, let this be it.  She has so many fun ideas for these stickers to practice letters, fine motor skills, name recognition, etc.
  10. Wild Kratts - This is probably my favorite kids' show of all time (ok, besides Daniel Tiger, which I still can't deal that we have grown out of).  We pay for the PBS monthly subscription just to always have access to it.  My girls know so much about so many animals, and M knew vocabulary like "predator" and "carnivore" before she was three (although they call them "creditors" instead and I die every time).
What are your favorite ways to entertain your kids while they are out of school? Do you love structured activities, free play, or a combination? Do your kids love being outside or inside?

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