Since schools closed I have seen some amazing home learning projects going. While we’ve stuck to the school work that has been set by our school so far, enthusiasm is waning now (both mine and the kids!) so we want to do some more creative learning projects. I asked both family bloggers and the parents in the awesome Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas Facebook group for the best learning projects they’d done during lockdown and below I have collated the results. A big thank you to everyone who contributed ideas.
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Thematic learning means covering lots of different aspects of the curriculum (for example, reading, writing, maths, science, history etc) while learning about one topic. Here are some thematic learning projects parents have done as well as some other ideas that lend themselves well to thematic learning.
Researching a Country
Researching countries has great potential for learning. Our school recently set some work on Kenya. They included colouring the flag, learning some drumming, learning a traditional Masai dance, creating a holiday brochure, an online virtual safari, drawing safari animals and writing a postcard as if you were in Kenya. Clare from Travel Bugs says her school have set a really flexible project for countries:
“Our school has set a project for each year group to research a country, find out as much or as little as they want about it and create a presentation at the end of term. The child can choose to make the presentation in whatever way they prefer. My son is learning about japan and will be creating a poster with the map and arrows with lots of different facts about it.”
Other things you could do include are, finding the country on the map, identifying the capital city, finding out what they manufacture, researching the national dress, cooking some food from the country, learning a few words of the language, finding out what the currency is and how it compares to your own and find out what the country’s traditions are.
Deliberate Travel have created some great free workbooks to help children research particular countries.
Basing Learning Around a Book
If your children have a favourite book, or there is a book you’d like to introduce to them, this can be a great project with a bit of imagination. What will work will depend on the book but here are some suggestions of features that you might be able to explore.
- Location: Research where the book is set. Find out how far away it is and what life is like there. If it’s an imaginary place, create a map of it or draw it’s special features.
- Clothes: Can you dress up as the characters for the day?
- Act it out: Can you act out a scene from the book.
- Write an alternative ending: Can you think of a different way the story could have ended. If writing is still tricky you could discuss it or even act it out with toys.
- Do some research about the author: How old are they? Where are they from? Have they written any other books? See if you can find an interview online.
- Crafts: Can you do a craft activity or even a messy play session related to the story?
- Maths: How do authors make money? What about the agents and publishers? How do public library lending rights work?
The Human Body
Learning about our bodies can be done in lots of fun ways. My children had great fun drawing around themselves and then adding the organs of the body. This book from Amazon* is also fun for finding out what goes on in our insides. The TV Show Operation Ouch on CBBC has put together some episodes called “Do Try This at Home”. They give experiments that are easy for kids to try in lockdown. We currently have a bone sitting in a jar of vinegar in our kitchen to see if it will be bendy in a week’s time.
Other Fun Topics for Home Learning Projects
- Climate Change – Go litter picking, get them to sort the recycling, research eco friendly changes you could make, learn about emissions targets and progress
- Fashion – Up cycle or tie dye some clothes, look at the ethics of the fashion industry (worker’s conditions and the image of beauty it projects), are designer clothes worth the extra money? Hold a home fashion show.
- Space – Stay up late and star gaze, learn the planet names with a sing, create your own model of space, have a go at making s’mores in a solar oven.
- Bees – What is pollination, why are bees so important, plant some bee friendly flowers, find out what honey is, learn how a bee colony is structured, try and buy some local honey, do a taste test against a supermarket honey
- Harry Potter – turn your homeschool into Hogwarts, potion making science experiments (much fun can be had with bicarbonate, vinegar and food colouring), use it as a basis for learning about friendship and community, research the history of witchcraft.
- Minecraft – Just playing Minecraft is fairly educational but there are also lots of other ways to learn from Minecraft
- Football – Reading, writing and maths can all be themed to football, check out these great resources
- Dinosaurs – If you have younger dinosaur fans there are some great dinosaur themed learning resources here
With any of these themes it can work well to have them present their findings to the rest of the family when they have finished. That could be through a PowerPoint presentation, a poster or a demonstration.
Real Life learning
Learning at home gives an opportunity to get away from sitting down at a desk with pen and paper and learn in the real world. Plenty of parents have been embracing this opportunity.
Creating the Real World at Home
While lots of families have had movie nights in lockdown, how about creating your own cinema at home? Children can choose a film and create a poster to advertise it. Make film snacks to sell, calculate the costs of running the cinema and decide how much to charge for tickets. They can turn the living room into a cinema and create tickets to “sell” to the rest of the household.
You could take this type of activity even further by creating theme park at home, as one member of the Facebook group did!
“We transformed our garden into a theme park. We had a ticket booth, climbing frame as a roller coaster, trampoline as the tea cups, little coup as the runaway train and Wendy House as a cafe. We designed a new ride then wrote a description on it. We wrote a menu for the cafe, made rocky Road to sell then wrote instructions on how to make it. We also designed a poster to get people to come. 6 yr old loved it.”
Get them to Design their own Quiz
Most people have been involved in a quiz or two during lockdown but how about getting your children to create the quiz? Kids love to challenge the adults and it makes a nice change for them to be asking the questions! They could make it general knowledge or focus it on their own expert subject like a TV show, book or computer game. They could even send copies to their friends to try.
Science through Cooking
One parent has been teaching her children science via the fermentation process. You can start with yeast in bread but if you want to really get into you can move on to sauerkraut and kimchi (might have to leave the grape fermentation till after bedtime!)
Get them to Help You Out
Many parents are pretty sick of meal planning and cooking in lockdown so if you have older kids, why not get them to do it? Provide a budget, shop for ingredients online and then let them cook. From my own experience of doing this with a 9 year old, make sure you check when they say you don’t have an ingredient, I have now have 2 bottles of cider vinegar because he didn’t check the cupboard properly!
Learn about Nature
If your children love nature then you might want to consider raising some butterflies. You can buy the kits easily on Amazon and it’s a great opportunity to see nature close up.
The chance to be creative is great for getting children enthusiastic about learning and there are lots of ways to do it.
Design Your Own Product
Creating their own product is a really fun Home learning project for children. The easiest way to go is probably a chocolate bar or their own ice cream flavour but they could also create their own soap or bath bomb. They’ll need to choose their ingredients, create the product and design some packaging. They could also create an advert for it, a poster or even a video ad.
Embrace Their Passion for Gaming
If you have gaming fans in your house then a great way to get them to engage is to theme your work around a game they love. You could ask them to create a character for their favourite game, a spin off game for it or even a completely new computer game. You could show them how to use storyboards to plan it.
If you have theatrical children who are missing out on their end of term performance, you could ask them to design their own end of term performance to show their family. You could share it with family outside of your home via zoom.
Design an Obstacle Course
If you want to get them a bit more active, you could ask them to design their own obstacle course which you then have to complete. You could also make it part of a family sports day, our kids loved it when we did this.
We all love a challenge and children are no different. Its often a good way to keep them engaged for a while when you need to do something else!
Create a Boat
One school set a great challenge involve creating something that would float out of tin foil and seeing how many pennies you can get it to hold. You could all do this as family with bragging rights or a small prize for the winner.
Design and Build a Marble Run
While you can buy marble runs in the shop, you can also create your own with some old toilet roll tubes and a sheet of cardboard. It’s a great activity for budding engineers and really good for developing problem solving skills.
Tower Building Challenge
Tower building is a staple at our scout group. Give the kids a pile of spaghetti and a packet of marshmallows and challenge them to build the biggest tower they can. You could also do this with Lego or other kids of blocks.
Earning a Badge
The opportunity to earn a badge can be very motivating for kids! If you have a child involved in Scouting or Girl Guiding your group will likely have suggested some ways to earn badges in Lockdown (we’ve done cooking, nights away for a back garden camp and music).
If your child isn’t involved in a uniformed club, check out Paw Prints which has free challenges packs for kids with badges available for parents to buy.
You could also apply for some Blue Peter Badges. We have applied for our blue badge and are now working on our green badge. Blue Peter are running the “Six Badges of Summer Challenge” to motivate children to earn their badges this summer.
Local and Family History Home Learning Projects
Focussing on things that are familiar for kids, like their family and local area, can be a great way of getting them engaged with history.
Have you ever noticed the Blue Plaques on local buildings? Blue Plaques are placed on buildings where someone of historical significance lived or worked. In London they are run by English Heritage but many local councils run the scheme in their area. Blue plaque spotting can be a way to structure a walk and lead on to research about interesting figures in local history. Check out you local council’s website to see if they run the scheme and where your local plaques are.
Local History Research
While history can sometimes seem rather distant to kids, focussing on local history can bring it to life. You could set your children a project to find out the history of your town, explore old photographs though online archives or visit some outdoor places of local significance. With museums about to open again you can take this topic even further.
Create Your Family Tree
Creating a family tree can be a lovely thing to do if you can’t currently see all of your family. You could use photographs of the family to create it, see how far back you can go. Older children might enjoy using Ancestry to research further using the 14 day free trial.
Interview a Family Member
Another way to bring family together in lockdown is to get your children to interview a family member. You could focus the interview on what life was like for them when they were young, the job they did or other experiences they’ve had. Older children could create their own questions but here are some to get you started:
- How old were you when you started school?
- What subjects did you learn?
- What did you do at lunchtime?
- How did you get to school?
- How were you punished?
- What did you do after school and in the holidays?
- What was your job?
- Was it what you wanted to do?
- What did you do all day?
- Who/what were you in charge of?
- What were your work hours?
- How much were you paid?
Creative Home Learning Projects
Creative time is important for children and also educational. There are lots of fun ways you can Chanel creativity.
Learn about the Greats
A great way to focus art work is to pick either some arts or artistic movements, research them and then create your own pictures. Our school had the children research and create aboriginal dot art. Other possibilities are Monet, cubism, Picasso, portrait art or pop art.
Make a Stop Motion Video
One of my children has done stop motion at school and is keen to have another go. He used plasticine but you can do it with toys, drawings or pretty much any object depending on what you want to make it about.
Create a Scrapbook
We create a scrapbook every summer and lots of parents are creating “Covid Scrapbooks”. You could include things like the letter from the Prime Minister, a copy of the Queens speech, pictures of the empty supermarket shelves or graphs showing the pandemic’s progress. Alternatively, you could make it a more more personal scrapbook and include photographs and descriptions of what you’ve been doing in lockdown.
Someone told me that this term their school is focussing a lot on mental health by setting mindfulness activities which I think is great. If your child is particularly anxious during lockdown I have written about how we’re managing our anxious child during lockdown.
I’d love to hear about your home learning projects in the comments.
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