Over recent weeks I’ve been sharing links/ideas in a number of different places, to engage kids of assorted ages and abilities, during these surreal times. The links and ideas shared have been chosen because they appeal to my mother/author/educator persona.
These ideas aren’t targeted at any specific age or curriculum area. Nor have I aligned them to Australian Curriculum. (Feel free to share in the comments if you do.) In fact, I was particularly attracted to ideas that engaged kids across a spread of ages and abilities, like… siblings! I personally believe that curriculum is not the sum total of all learning. And at this point in time, if curriculum ramps up stress levels, (for kids, parents and teachers) then it isn’t worth it! Lifelong learning is about real-life learning – and there has never been a better time to put this into practise!
1) Australian birdlife survey: The survey is valuable activity in itself – but you can then take it further by graphing the birds found in your yard. Perhaps even extending your knowledge with a spot of research. Maybe even keep a diary of a bird’s daily activities… Creating a collage (or other art) of a backyard bird. (There is so much more you could do!) http://www.birdsinbackyards.net
2) Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Prompt Project: There is no right (or wrong) time to start – but when you do, begin at Day One and follow along.
3) Keyboarding skills: Keyboarding is the new handwriting. If you’ve got kids doing home-based learning then put keyboarding high on the list of things to do. https://www.typingclub.com (Thanks Rebecca Toltz for the updated program recommendation.)
4) Stop-Motion movie: I love the wide-openness of the stop-motion movie! If kids are at home, they’d have more time to invest in polishing a task like this. Or producing multiple attempts to refine their skills. The degree of difficulty can vary for siblings across different grades, whilst the theme can suit different class topics, or individual interests. For example, one child could be working on a fairytale stop-motion. Another child could be working on an advertisement for healthy eating… or a type of physical activity… or animating a scene from a book… (If you’re wanting inspiration, feel free to make a stop motion for my picture book, ‘This is the Mud!’🤠 – or a scene from one of my verse novels.🚌)
Some links to develop understanding:
a) Design/make a stand for the iPad/phone, so that is does not move for the duration of the shoot. (There are so many different ways this could be done – Lego, blue tack, cardboard box …)
b) Storyboard scenes. (Template: https://www.instructables.com)
c) Shoot the stop-motion – using paper, plasticine, Lego, anything! (Stop motion using bread: https://www.instagram.com)
Don’t forget to add credits for any music/images you use.
5) ‘I Want my Hat Back’ by Jon Klassen, presented as a puppet play is delightful and entertaining, but also wonderfully inspiring for creative play for kids of all ages, giving a glimpse behind the scenes of puppetry. https://www.youtube.com
6) Nat Amoore has a fun book’n’boogie youtube channel, which she’s adding to twice a week. In itself it is a fun way to exercise – and hear a new book recommendation. https://www.youtube.com
To extend this further for home-learning, have your child/ren:
1) Watch Nat’s video.
2) Groove along.
3) Choose their own book &create a simple boogie how-to.
4) Record it. (Include quick book-look.)
5) Share with friends, so they can learn the dance, too!
6) Tag Nat into the link and she will boogie with you! Twitter/Instagram: @nat_amoore
7) Poetry Competitions/Writing/Illustrating Opportunities:
- Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards (Online registration is preferred. As the primary school judge, I look forward to reading heaps of wonderful student work!)
- Red Room Poetry Competition
- Wombat Books Illustration Challenge
- Ipswich Poetry Feast
8) There are numerous poetry/writing prompts, under both the ‘Kids’ Stuff’, and the ‘Whisker of Poetry’ tabs on this (katswhiskers) site. Three specific links are:
There are also teacher notes for my three verse novels (under the ‘Books’ tab) – and a whole HEAP of stuff for Bully on the Bus, including a weekly study guide for Yr 4. Also bus/wolf shape poetry – and three different wolf masks. Click through the dropdown options for a full offering.
10) Mail a Hug to friends or family members, using your child’s upper body silhouette: https://www.instagram.com
11) For a huge range of curated video resources, to enhance work set by your child’s school – or to further their own interests; https://thekidshouldseethis.com
12) Downloaded your free copy of ‘Coronavirus – A Book for Children’, by the Nosy Crow team – with illustrations by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo): https://nosycrow.com/blog
13) Lego Projects: Lego kits are all well and good – but setting instructions aside and letting kids create their own designs is so valuable. (And that’s not limited to Lego. There are so many great construction resources out there.) This tweet from Rachael Lehr featured a Lego tissue box cover in the background – that completely stole the show! Pretty sure we all need tissue box covers. Perhaps even toilet paper covers?🧻 Mayhaps you’ve got enough Lego lying around to create a toy box!😉
14) Recycled Poetry Wall Plaque: Mother’s Day is fast approaching… and I’m a big believer in meaningful homemade gifts. This recycled poetry plaque is one I’ve done with kids in the classroom, and with adults during workshops. It’s perfect for Mother’s Day – especially when we are all hunkering down at home. But it’s also lots of fun as a ‘just because’ wall plaque.
15) NEW RESOURCES ADDED: I’ve created a ‘Too Many Friends Stuff‘ page in the Kids’ Stuff tab, which includes a video reading from by my book, ‘Too Many Friends’ (with help from some friends) and a poetry activity for kids. Also a resource for a Friend-shaped poem. And an activity for kids to do during these days of isolation…
NOTE: With kids home for extended periods, let go of your expectations for a ‘tidy’ house. Don’t put that pressure on yourself! (Or your kids.) If kids can make a little mess they will likely be more deeply invested in a creative project/investigation; more engaged and productive! And perhaps they will also free you up to invest in YOUR projects. #winWIN! (And right now, who is going to be popping in unexpectedly, to catch you with your lived-in, messy house?🙃 )
That’s all for now – but I will continue to update sporadically.
(Last updated 2 May 2020.)