What an unbelievable few months the world has been experiencing with the global pandemic of the coronavirus shutting down global cities, closing borders of countries and locking down schools, restaurants, museums, galleries, bars, you name it!
And well, we won't even talk about the issue Australians seem to have with hoarding toilet paper...
So, it looks like with the majority of the world in lockdown and schools shut and people isolated at home, looking after their children that we might all be stuck inside for the foreseeable future.
How the heck will we all cope?
I am not a teacher and from articles that I have been reading, I don't think we should try to put too much pressure on ourselves to take the place of our children's teachers.
I have 4 kids, aged 3, 5, 8 and 11 so it is certainly not going to be an easy task to home school them. We are in the fortunate position that we can both work from home. However, it will be a juggle with taking care of kids and ensuring they are still progressing school work and other educational activities whilst we both have our jobs (mine is contract work plus running BabyDonkie). We are also still asking our babysitter to continue to work but potentially adjusting her hours to assist us during school hours. She is currently studying at uni to become a high school teacher so homeschooling 4 kids should be a breeze! Ha!
We are confident that if our school closes then the teachers will be more than prepared to continue to teach students remotely. Until such a time, our school's approach is to continue to cater to students who are attending the school. They have advised that if our child is not attending school, then to complete work via the usual methods of accessing current online programs (such as Reading Eggs, Mathletics), reading books or novels, daily diary entries etc.
I wanted to, therefore, pull together some ideas of what I will be doing with my little ones over the next few months, indoors as we self-isolate ourselves ( note, Australian schools haven't been shut down but I have taken my children out of school to help flatten the curve).
I will write another blog on all the online resources available for all the different age groups but for this blog post, I wanted to share with you play-based activities that are fun, educational and will help to break up the homeschooling or distance learning day.
Building & Construction- I find wooden blocks are great for this age as are stacking sets. You can even use things from your kitchen like plastic cups or bowls if you are stuck.
Our Way to Play road track is great for indoor and outdoor play and can even be used in the bath. You can add cars, wooden blocks or Grapat wooden mandalas to then create small world play. You can discuss different occupations and chat about what they are doing to help our world get through this crisis.
Sensory Play - depending on how messy you want to go, you can get a tray and pop water in it and add things like plastic animals ( Schleich, CollectA and Kmart also do these), bath toys or plastic cups or spoons and allow your child to explore and play.
You can also use kinetic sand in a tub with cars and diggers or rice or pasta with things you find outside likes leaves, pine cones or stones ( please be aware this is more for the 3+ age group). Or pop some old silk scarves in a tray with shells, plastic sea animals and explore ideas around the ocean.
Puzzles - We love puzzles for this age group and we have quite a few you can purchase here at BabyDonkie. Our favourites for this age is the Djeco World Animals Observation Puzzle and the Djeco Monuments of the World 200 piece Puzzle. They are great puzzles as they can help your child to understand just how many countries there are in the world who are all impacted by the same virus and all staying indoors to flatten the curve. You can also explore these countries and chat about whether it is winter or summer, what is their national language and cuisine and explore more ideas about geography, language and culture.
Building & Construction - We love magnetic tiles for this age group and our favourite is Connetix! We do stock this brand but after testing out a few (read more here), we keep coming back to this brand. It is great toy that allows creative and constructive play and can be used with so many other toys or resources you might have at home like cars, animals, etc I have even seen it used as a crib for doll!
Open-Ended Play - There are so many different ideas and activities for open-ended play as you can imagine! Grapat wooden toys are perfect for this type of play and their mandalas, palos, brots, nins and bugs allow the child to play as well as learn things like numeracy, colour and imaginative play.
Pretend Play -This is easy and fun to do at home. You can raid your own wardrobe and do dress-ups or use cardboard boxes to build forts, dens, shops. We love our Wooden Toy Doctor's Play set as it is a great resource to help talk with your toddler about the virus and the amazing work that our health care workers are doing to help those affected by the Coronavirus.
Dolls and soft toys are also great as they can be used by the child for role play and storytelling. This type of play-based learning is important during this time as it allows the child to potentially use play to express emotions, fears and any anxiety they might be feeling about the global pandemic and worry about family or grandparents who might get sick. Our Miniland Dolls are a great toy for this type of pretend play.
Lego - Duplo is great for small hands as it allows them to improve their fine motor skills. Lego City, Disney and the Classic box sets are also a great starter set for this age.
Board Games - Some of our favourites for this age group are Orchard Toys Shopping List, Memory games, Giant Snakes and Ladders, Hungry Hippos ( but be warned, it's noisy!) and Twister!
Puzzles - We love the Sassi puzzles for this age group which you can purchase here at BabyDonkie. Our favourite for this age is The Human Body Puzzle and Book Set. You child can play as well as learn about the anatomy and science.
Lego - Minecraft, Ninjago, City, Friends, Star Wars and Harry Potter are all popular for this age.
STEAM -there are some great science and art kits you can purchase from toy stores but equally finding household junk, old boxes and materials that they can use for tinkering/upcycling activities. We found Science Buddies a great online resource to help with ideas.
Board Games - Some of our favourite for this age group are Headbandz, Sleeping Queens, Qwirkle, Sequence, Dobble and Splendour.
Educational toys - For the younger age group, they may have just started school and be learning to write. To keep up the fine motor development whilst schools are closed, there are some great tracing boards that you can use like Qtoys Wooden tracing boards to help your child with their alphabet. Although even things like playdough, painting, playing with kinetic sand, threading games will help to improve their dexterity for writing.
Lego - Technics, Star Wars, Boost, Mindstorms, Creator and Architecture are great sets for this age group. Some kids may have moved on from Lego but these sets especially Boost and Mindstorm ( let's not talk about the price) will help to bridge the gap between play and technology as this age moves away from play-based learning.
STEAM - Science and art kits delivered to your door each month, like KiwiCo offer great STEAM ideas through their Atlas, Tinke or Doodle crates that specially cater for this age group. They can build hydraulic crates, a trebuchet or learn about the stars and the universe through optical fibres.
Board Games - Some of our favourite for this age group areBattleship, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Bananagrams, Mobi, and Jenga.
We wanted to share with you some of our favourite playbased learning accounts on Instagram who offer a wealth of ideas for playing and learning indoors.
One important activity that you can do each day for all these age groups is to read. Having your child read a book every day will help continue their reading, literacy and learning. Or you might be reading a book aloud to your child each day depending on the ages of your child. Reading is so important and even if it is the only thing that happens each day whilst you try to fit in work as well, then your job is done. Reading helps to take our minds of the sad news we keep seeing each day and transport us to another, happier world. A world which we will all be returning to very soon, one which is a little slower, a little more kind and stronger than ever.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about different ways you can use play-based learning at home whilst we all stay indoors to help our countries battle the Coronavirus.
I will share another blog post next week that covers all the different online teaching and learning resources available for kids, so stay tuned for that.
Please take care of yourselves and your families during this period.
I have created a special fun sheet for you to use during our time indoors, to download our 50 Kids Indoor Activities click here.
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