How to Keep Your Kids' Minds Active and Engaged at Home | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

How to Keep Your Kids’ Minds Active and Engaged at Home

With schools closing across the country, you’ve no doubt found yourself wondering how to keep your kids active, engaged and entertained all day. We’ve put together a list of some helpful tips–and lots of great (free) resources and activities–to help you navigate this unique learning challenge.
 

DISTANCE LEARNING TIPS + TRICKS

  1. Establish a schedule or routine. Kids thrive on structure. A routine not only helps keeps learning going but helps pass the time productively.
  2. Practice grace with yourself and your children. This season isn’t about perfection–it is about doing the best we can.
  3. Stay in communication with your childcare center and/or school district. They are working hard to put resources on their webpages and social media channels.
  4. Experiment with learning opportunities beyond your school curriculum. Teach a cooking lesson or practical life skills.
  5. Stay active. Exercise is good for mental health and physical health. See example activities below!
  6. Don’t forget about art, music and P.E. It’s important to round out the core subjects.
  7. Consider virtual playdates with friends through FaceTime. Kids need their friends right now. Try playing a board game that both kids have at home.
  8. Use audiobooks to switch things up. Many resources like Audible and Pinna have free trials right now.
  9. Think about how you might help someone else right now. Helping others feels good and is a great example for kids!

 

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES + ACTIVITIES

People across the internet have come together to compile all sorts of learning resources and activities to do during the Coronavirus quarantine. We’ve pulled together some of our favorites by category, in case you find the giant lists to be overwhelming. And here’s some good news: many education companies are currently offering subscriptions for free. Check out this comprehensive (and growing) list of amazing educational resources.

Here are a few of our favorite online resources and tech-free activities to keep your kids’ brains sharp and their bodies healthy:

 

READING

Several authors have videos of them reading their children’s books, plus read-along activities:

 
Pinna has a wide variety of audiobooks and podcasts for kids–and they’re offering a 60-day free trial with code PINNA4KIDS.
 
Wilbooks has thousands of free online books, coloring pages, word searches and more.
 
Student Discovery Sets include free iBooks from the Library of Congress that bring together historical artifacts and documents on topics from history, to science, to literature.
 
The Teach Your Monster to Read app (free on Amazon) covers the first two years of reading, including matching letters and phonics exercises.
 
Once Upon a Month, a United Way of Metropolitan Dallas program, provides children ages 0-5 with one free children’s book every month for a year, along with parent guides in both English and Spanish.

 

STEM GAMES + ACTIVITIES

IF/THEN, an initiative designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers, has a fantastic list of educational resources produced by their coalition members.
 
Vroom has created amazing printable tip sheets for parents that feature a mix of brain building activities for kids ages 0-5 like hand washing and preparing food together. Tips are available to download in English and Spanish.
 
The EVERFI Remote Learning Portal has 100+ interactive, game-based lessons to help families bring learning to life at home.
 
CK-12 offers a wide range of free science, social studies and math activities for grades K-12.
 
Join Girl Scouts Live! on Facebook every day at 10 a.m. for hands-on activities for all-ages. You can also explore these fun at-home activities by the Girl Scout STEM Center partners at Camp Invention.
 
Mystery Science has dozens of open-and-go lessons that will inspire your kids to love science.
 
Prodigy is a curriculum-aligned math game loved by over 50 million kids from grades 1-8.
 
The Endless Numbers app (free on Amazon) includes interactive number puzzles and animations to reinforce recognition, counting and basic numeracy skills.
 
NASA STEM Engagement offers a variety of games to play, activities to do together away from the screen and even educational curriculums chock-full of STEM-focused content.
 
Make any room a classroom with BrainPOP‘s video and activity learning covering a wide range of subjects.
 
The Australian Coding Academy offers free coding programs for kids, like this Blockly Turtle challenge that teaches you how to control a turtle and draw pictures.
 
talkSTEM is offering a free Virtual Math Festival with varied activities and performances, all easily done with everyday materials. Don’t forget to check out the talkSTEM YouTube channel with over 250 short videos highlighting real world math and science concepts and skills, or the 21 Day Spring STEAM Challenge.

 

VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS AND TOURS

National Zoo Webcam has four different webcams to providing a glimpse into the daily life of mole-rats, lions, giant pandas and elephants in Washington, D.C.
 
Take a virtual tour of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and explore the historic Thomas Jefferson Building online.
 
Kids will have a fun time unleashing their inner scientist as they learn to be citizen scientists right from their own neighborhoods or backyards with this virtual STEM field trip produced by DiscoveryEd and Girl Scouts.
 
Explore and Learn with Smithsonian Museums. Access dozens of fun games, quizzes and activities.
 
Check out 12 famous Museums with Virtual Tours with this list from Travel + Leisure.
 
Explore Adventures in Familyhood’s list of 20 Virtual Field Trips to Take with your Kids.

 

EXERCISE + PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES

Get your kids moving with GoNoodle. It’s great for guided movement, mindfulness and more.
 
Sign up for PBS KIDS’ new weekday newsletter to receive activity ideas and tips to help kids play and learn at home.

Try Cosmic Kids Yoga or Yoga for Kids! on YouTube.
 
Learn how to do a new dance with Kidz Bop dance-along videos, Just Dance–or make up your own!

 

EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT

Student Success Agency‘s free virtual student support service offers free college advising, academic tutoring and at-home learning guidance for all U.S. middle and high school students.

 

20 FUN IDEAS THAT DON’T REQUIRE TECHNOLOGY

      1. Measure the area and perimeter of each room in your home
      2. Draw a map of your home
      3. Construct a family tree
      4. Imagine, create and fly a full-size flag that tells the world about you
      5. Write and mail a letter to your teacher, principal or classroom pen pal
      6. Build a “fable fort” out of blankets and chairs: camp in it all day while you create stories to tell your family over dinner
      7. Call a grandparent or older relative and ask them to teach you the words to a song from their childhood
      8. Create a Venn Diagram that compares and contrasts two people in your family
      9. Write a poem on your sidewalk using chalk
      10. Classify twenty everyday objects by shape, size, color, height, mass and material
      11. Alphabetize the spices in your kitchen
      12. Determine the volumes of ten containers, then display them in order on your porch
      13. Call a person who speaks a language you do not and ask them to teach you five common words or phrases
      14. Using paper, tape and string, design, build and test a device that warns you when someone opens the kitchen cabinet
      15. Learn how to bake something tasty
      16. Write a short story and illustrate it
      17. Make cards and send them to family and friends
      18. Create your own Olympic games with some silly events, some physical activity and some helpful chores around the house (like organizing, etc.)
      19. Dissect a flower, then learn the different parts of the plant and how they function
      20. Pick a new 20 second song each day to sing while washing your hands

 

 

We’d love to hear how you’re keeping your kids active and engaged. Snap a picture and tag @unitedwaydallas to share!