10 Fun Play-and-Learn Activities for Distance Learning
- Stick to a routine.
- Create a dedicated workspace.
- Incorporate plenty of hands-on play away from the screen.
- Set aside time for physical activity.
As schools across the country transition to fully virtual classrooms and hybrid models for fall, parents are seeking out additional ways to support their children’s education. Whether you are among this group of newly minted homeschoolers or simply looking for additional resources to supplement your child’s development, the following play-and-learn ideas offer 10 easy ways to keep kids engaged at home.
Will You Be My Neighbor (ages 3+)
Help kids practice communication skills and build their vocabulary in this imagination-fueled Q∓A activity. Ask kids who they would trust in their home or community to help them with certain problems or situations. Make a list of people they name. Then set up a play area for kids to play “neighborhood” and act out various real-life scenarios with their answers.
Bedroom Planetarium (ages 5+)
Go stargazing at home. Let kids pick a constellation to research, including how to identify it in the night sky and the story behind it. Have them illustrate the constellation using poster board and glow-in-the-dark drawing and paint supplies. Transform their bedroom into an at-home planetarium by hanging their creations on the ceiling to gaze up at and discuss together.
Puzzle Storytime (ages 3+)
Spur your child’s imagination with something as simple as a puzzle! The more happening in the puzzle’s scene, the better. Begin telling a story about what you see in the puzzle. Each time someone puts down a piece, that person takes over as the storyteller. Done for the day? Have your child recap the story as a reminder of where you left off.
Build This City (ages 4+)
Explore basic concepts of geography (location, place, etc.) by creating your own map. Have kids trace blocks and shapes to create outlines for buildings, shops, homes, and more. As they color them in, see how many landmarks they can name. Kids can also use markers to draw in roads, waterways, and more. Once complete, take a photo of their finished creation to give them a bird’s eye view of their map.
Memory Makeover (ages 5+)
Give the classic game of Memory a makeover. Pick a subject with a lot of facts (i.e. state capitals). Set aside time for kids to do some research on the topic using reputable sources. Then, have them write down questions or facts on individual index cards and write corresponding answers on others. Mix up the cards and start matching!
International Menu (ages 7+)
Learn about different places and cultures through food! Select a location and look up some local cuisine for inspiration. Using play compounds, have kids create five dishes. Then have them create a menu for their DIY meals and play restaurant.
How Do You Spell (ages 3+)
Opportunities to learn new words are everywhere. The next time you and your child are doing an activity together, choose some related, age-appropriate words to practice. Start with monosyllabic words and then build up to words with two or more syllables as your child becomes more efficient.
Emoji Bingo (ages 3+)
Make talking about your feelings fun. Search the internet for emojis or make your own paper faces and be sure to create duplicates of each emoji. Once boards are ready (using old Bingo boards or free downloadable templates), put the duplicate copies of your emojis in a jar to draw from and you are ready to play. When an emoji is called out, take an extra minute to discuss what that emotion means and offer examples.
Discovery Hunt (ages 3+)
A scavenger hunt can be done anywhere (indoors or outside) using objects you have on hand. First, make a list of items for the hunt. Share the list with kids and set a time limit. As kids hunt down each object, they can check it off their list. Kids can also take pictures of their finds, which can then be used to make a keepsake album.
Work It Out (ages 3+)
Reinforce counting skills while getting kids up and moving. Think of a different exercise to do each day (jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, etc.) and set aside time in your weekly schedule. Do each exercise together, counting out loud. Keep track of your reps and try to increase the amount each time. Kids can also make a chart to track everyone’s progress and hang it prominently on a bulletin board, chalk board, or fridge.