How to make home-schooling more fun
We’ve all started on this new brave world of home-schooling – well those of us with school age children have anyway. But how many of us are dreading it?If you are organised and good at following timetables it will probably be a bit easier but for those of us who do things a bit more on the hop it could be more challenging. So, to try and reduce the stress I have come up with a way of making home schooling for younger children a bit more fun and exciting. Bear with me it is still very much a work in progress, and I will add ideas and activities each week but here is the concept as it stands so far….
Create a spy world, to do this everyone needs a code-name (think Spy Kids the movie and if your children are the right age then watch it for inspiration!) if you need some ideas for creating Spy names here are the ones my children had a go at –
Colour + Mineral = (Blue Diamond)
Triple number + shape = (i.e. 444 Square)
Animal + action = (i.e. Panda Runs)
Colour + First Name + number = (i.e. Blue George 22)
Name prefix + colour + plant = (i.e. Miss Pinkie Moss)
Adjective + animal = (i.e. Mighty Dinosaur)
Then in box files put a series of ‘missions’ (each mission is a piece of work/or set time for work) Have another box file for ‘outside missions’ (each mission is an outdoor activity or errand).
Then ask the children to create some money, they need something that can be a poundand something for pence. Then photocopy the money or draw out lots of replicas and put it into another box – this is the bank.
Then finally find a selection of ‘prizes. I went to a second hand book shop and brought some books, maybe a pack of cards, or jacks or some Top Trumps, a hot wheels car, a small bag of Haribo and also some ‘experience’ vouchers such as hot chocolate and marshmallows, cupcake baking, movie and popcorn, bike ride, treasure hunt, sleepover night, later bedtime, extra bedtime stories, favourite meal etc. Be as imaginative as possible and vary the prizes from small to less small! Then put a spy price on them making sure you have some things that are more expensive and that they will have to work quite hard for as well as some easy to earn things such as the Haribo. Everything in our spy shop was brought in sales/bargain shops/second hand shops with the exception of the HP top trumps everything cost less then £2.
Each time a ‘mission’ is completed without incident the Spy gets paid by the bank, the spy can then save their money for something in the box or buy something in the box. Try to make them work for their money, don’t make it to easy otherwise it won’t work but equally they have to feel that they can save up for something. The bank can also give bonus’s for spies who complete extra challenges (bed making, bedroom tidying, laundry sorting etc we have envelopes with tasks in – they pick a random envelope and complete the task!) or show exceptionally good behaviour or for great teamwork. You get my drift??
Ideas for ‘experiences’
Hot chocolate and marshmallows
Family game of daddy’s choice/mummy’s choice/your choice etc
Extra play time
10/15/20/30 minutes extra TV time
Movie and popcorn night
Den building session
1 episode of your favourite TV show
Then let the children draw a big picture of their secret agent identity – what colour hair? What gizmos? Any secret powers? What are they frightened of? What makes them extra brave? Who are their friends? Do they have a mode of transport? Depending on the age of your child encourage them to draw or write in as much description as possible. If you have access to a computer and printer (or use the scanning option in notes on your iPhone) then print the picture out and use it to label the boxes etc.
It’s fun to set extra missions too – for my 5-year-old going on sound hunts throughout the house is fun i.e. give them a task – ‘find as many things beginning with ‘o’ as you can in 5 minutes’ or ‘find 5 ‘o’ things as fast as possible’. For my older daughter (8) she has challenges like ‘write down 2 things you find for each colour of the rainbow’ or ‘find 10 objects then use the first letters to create as many words as possible – you can have 2 bonus vowels if needed’.
Be as imaginative as possible and try to wind the challenges into aspects of schoolwork – its good practice to get them to use their school skills in different ways.
We are currently working on ‘wanted’ posters (photos to follow!) – each poster is an alliteration – i.e.
Bob the Builder who bulldozes beasts, balloons and bubbles
Clever Cat who carries crisps, cries and cuddles
Silly Sophie who spreads sloppy slime and sings senseless songs
My daughter (8) has to write the description of the wanted person but my son (5) draws his person and copies some key words.
The next part they will work on will be their spy vehicles – they will need to do a detailed drawing with a detailed description for each part of the car/boat/plane/rocket. For my daughter she will be using verbs in sentences for each action the car does, in the present tense then I will ask her to write the same sentences in past tense (trying to get her to use participles).
For my son I am going to give him a sound mat and get him to choose the words that he wants his car to do then write them around it. It needs to be fun but a bit challenging so try to amend bits according to your child(s) current ability.
I’ll post photos and keep adding ideas as time goes on so keep on checking back here.
Variations on a theme – A mission on the moon, The Wombles, The Wild West, Wizard of Oz, Hogwarts, another country, cowboys, Indians, a favourite cartoon etc. All you need is to create adventures/chapters/missions (which are pieces of work or time spent on work) etc, create currency and names, a shop and off you go…
I used a lot of free printable templates that I found online – a bit of googling should give you some great things to use for making it a bit more interesting to look at unless you are a brilliant artist.
twitter @EmilyRittner @BornToParent
Spymobile maths game
– Blank squares of paper and colouring pencils (optional!)
– Squares of paper with plus/minus/divide/multiply and some extras such as -10, +10 etc (add in the maths numbers that are appropriate to your child’s schooling level.
– Bag/box of random items such as a dinosaur/Lego brick/train/car/keyring etc. (if you have a large number of Lego bricks then you can put lots of these into the bag instead and skip drawing/writing on paper)
1) First player rolls the die
2) Take a corresponding number of blank squares
3) Pick an item out of the bag
4) Draw or write the name of the item on to each of the blank squares
5) Place them into the net/trailer behind your spy mobile
6) Each person repeats this process until everyone has a selection of items in their trailer/net
7) Roll the die
8) Take the corresponding number of blank squares
9) Pick something out of the bag and draw/write it on to the paper squares
10) Pick a hazard card
11) Now complete the maths question using the items in your net/trailer. Place the answer back into the trailer/net and put the spare ones into a bowl in the middle for anyone to use if they pick that item)
12) The next person repeats steps 7-11
13) If you can’t complete the maths problem, then pass your turn
14) Keep going until you have each played a set number of times, or played for a time limit, or until someone reaches a specific number i.e. a multiple of 10/5/2 or 50. Again make this relevant to the maths stage of your child. If you are playing with a mix of abilities, then use the youngest person’s ability as your guide but give older children a 30 second time limit to work out their answers or make them do an extra stage like multiplying by 10 etc.