Do you want some fun, interactive, and educational ideas to entertain children? Then join us below for some low-cost to free ideas!
Educational Activities for Younger Children:
No matter the reason, when you have kids at home—be it for a weekend or days on end—it is easy for them to become bored or run out of things to do. Yes, watching a movie or playing a video game can keep them occupied for a while, but there are times when it’s good to refocus and simply improve the mind.
Here’s a few ideas for younger children that are both educational and fun…
1. For kids just learning—or new to—the alphabet, create a unique, interactive experience for both of you by adding sign language!
All that’s required is for you to search online for “American Sign Language Alphabet.” Here, you can view images depicting the hand positions, then teach your children either with the ABC song or as individual letters. Though very young children may be slow to master the hand positions, it’s easy to learn. It helps improve not only their understanding of the English alphabet but gives them a basic foothold into a second language while simultaneously improving their motor function!
Older children may enjoy the challenge of learning to sign the alphabet with both hands. For children who already recognize the alphabet, you can either print out or save a copy of the American Sign Language alphabet to a device for them to practice on their own.
2. Visit a free, educational website made just for kids, learning, and fun!
There are many sites to choose from, but here are a few for starters…
- brainpop.com (temporarily free; topics include science, math, English, and more)
- pbslearningmedia.org collection/emergency-closings-collection/ (from pre-k through 12; fun videos teaching everything from the seasons to mathematics explored by grade level)
- kids.nationalgeographic.com (videos, games, etc., with all forms of information on animals, space, and more)
- abcya.com (games for pre-k to grade 6+ teaching English, math, etc.)
- wow.boomlearning.com (free for 1-5 students, larger groups require a paid plan and there are certain in-use paid options)
- classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html (offers pre-k to grade 9 daily projects to keep children entertained and educated)
3. Write a story!
Kids love to have books read to them, so why not use that love of stories to encourage them to improve their English and promote creativity?!
For younger children who cannot write yet, options include:
- recording a story via the built-in microphone on your computer or smart phone
- encouraging them to tell you a story
- taking turns telling stories to one another if more than one child is present
You can even give them a story-telling starting point to see where their imagination leads!
For older children this is a great opportunity for them to practice their writing in a fun way! They can write their story using traditional pen and paper, or even type it up on a device. Either way they will have their imagination to keep them busily occupied along with practicing the skills they will need in their school years and beyond.
4. Bake or cook!
This does require a little more of your involvement than some of the other options, however, it is a great way to teach your children the necessary skills in the kitchen that will last them a lifetime. It’s also a wonderful way to introduce basic or more complicated math!
From measuring out ingredients to discovering the degrees of temperature, there is a world of math available in the kitchen… even science. By opening up a cook book, following a recipe, and then enjoying it together, you are not only teaching your children to cook or be better at math, you’re teaching them togetherness and responsibility.
By giving them a couple of recipes to choose from, you are letting them feel empowered and more importantly, trusted, as they get to be directly involved in decision making. Then, you can gather all of the needed ingredients and tools beforehand or let them help you before coming together in the kitchen to cook or bake! *
*Note: younger children should not use sharp knives, and even older children benefit from supervision. With younger children, you may want to pour liquid ingredients to avoid accidents or show them how to help you know when to stop; or have them put their hand on the container to make them feel more involved.
Educational Activities for Tweens to Teens:
While tweens and teens are usually more adept at finding activities to do on their own, there are times where even they run out of things to do. So, why not give them productive, fun suggestions and see where it leads them!
A few ideas for tweens and teens are…
1. Download a free language app!
The number of language apps* available has grown significantly over the years… as has the style and variety of free apps!
If you own a smart phone or other device with app capabilities and your tweens or teens are in need of a productive outlet, a language app may be the perfect option. From Hebrew to Japanese and beyond, there are free apps* for almost any language your child could want to learn—and many have fun, interactive formats!
Take Hebrew… if you search “Hebrew” in the app store you can find everything from standard learning sessions to more engaging apps. An app* known as “Drops,” for instance, has daily five-minute sessions in an interactive, almost game-like format that makes learning a new language easy and fun! “Drops” also appears to have many different languages from all over the world!
*Note: many language apps, even when free, do have in-app purchase options. If you have any automatic payment setups, it may be important to supervise younger children and inform older ones to make no purchases without your approval.
2. Write a story!
Yes, you probably saw this in the “Educational Activities for Younger Children” section above, however, no matter how old you are, writing a story is not only a great way to entertain, but also a wonderful way to explore the imagination and improve writing skills!
No matter if they choose to utilize pen and paper, computer, smart phone, or other medium, it’s a great way for tweens and teens to burn off restless energy and practice their compositional skills in a fun, expressive way. Who knows, it may even improve grades in many subjects as they work on their writing. Further, if they are so inclined, you may ask if they want to revise their work, just like published authors have to do many times. *
*Note: they may not be inclined to revise if they view it as being too much like school-work. However, if they enjoy story craft, it could be a great idea!
3. Cook or bake!
Again, this idea was one of the ideas above for younger children, however, tweens and teens will be able to take this idea much further. Have them choose a part of the world or a particular flavor to base their meal on or allow them to be solely responsible for crafting a special dinner of their own making! *
This not only allows your kids to learn the responsibility of cooking and baking for the family, it also helps them develop their creativity, mathematics and science skills, and more! It’s a wonderful way to burn off excess energy while providing you less to do in the kitchen! **
If mature enough, many tweens and teens may be able to be in the kitchen with little to no supervision—less mature, or those with fewer kitchen skills, may require assistance with knives, etc.
*Note: if you have limited ingredients or have anything you do not want used up, make sure you set whatever boundaries you need BEFORE they begin cooking/baking.
**Note: it may be advisable to come to an agreement on who will be cleaning what BEFORE they begin cooking/baking. Will they be cleaning only the counters and putting everything in the sink/dishwasher, or will they be expected to do that and wash any pots, pans, trays, and so forth? Coming to an agreement beforehand with clear expectations will belay anxieties and spats later on.
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