With the recent school closings, many parents are scrambling for some at-home activities to continue kids’ school learning. It’s okay to let your kids simply read, or learn about something they want to learn about, or take some virtual field trips, or work on a hobby. But if you’d feel more comfortable focusing on some core subjects, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few everyday activities that reinforce language arts skills, but mostly feel like fun. Many can be used across a wide age range. (See our other posts in the homeschool or parenting category for more ideas for other subject areas.)
Everyday Activities for Language Arts
Because language arts is a sequential, skills-based subject, most kiddos learn it via a textbook or organized teaching approach of some sort. However, the most effective learning—or at least reinforcement of concepts—often takes place in the context of everyday living or family activities, and many are free or very inexpensive:
If your kids don’t do anything else during their away-from-the-school time, encourage them to read! Need some book ideas?
This is a great time for read-alouds for all ages. Don’t quit reading aloud when your children learn to read on their own—it is still a valuable family activity! Hearing good literature read aloud encourages in children a love for language, builds vocabulary, motivates them to read, and encourages them to use their imagination. They have a much higher receptive vocabulary than reading vocabulary, so it’s okay to read books aloud that are well above their reading level, and stop to let them narrate back to you or to dramatize what you’ve read. Leave time for discussion and enjoy the experience!
Brain teasers and puzzles help build logic and thinking skills as well as spatial reasoning.
Jigsaw puzzles teach visual discrimination, a pre-reading and reading skill, as well as other spatial skills.
Read the Bible to not only learn God’s instruction and His character, but to appreciate the loveliness of Scripture, the poetry of the Psalms, and the patterns, imagery, and application of other literary terms throughout the various books.
Cook together, letting your child read the recipes. Check out Single-Serve Recipes by Joyce Herzog or Everyday Cooking by Vicki Bentley (available in digital edition for quick access.)
A household catch-up day can reinforce language arts skills! Putting the Legos away, sorting the Matchbox cars, tidying the colored pencils vs. the markers, reorganizing the linen closet or sorting the pantry, and other such tasks incorporate classification and organization—valuable language arts, science, and math skills!
Sorting, organizing and curating their collections can also encourage children’s organization and classification skills, and can provide opportunities to teach alphabetical order.
Play language games such as Scrabble, Guggenheim, Taboo, The Play’s the Thing, Scattergories, Balderdash, MadLibs, etc. Click here for more information on using games in your education.
Do you have a tape recorder or video camera (or phone)? Language Arts is about communication—not just the written word, but also oral communication. If your child is more interested in video than book work, a taped interview or video report could substitute for a written project.
The computer offers word processing, desktop publishing, and research opportunities, as well as online sites with “word of the day” emails, etc. (Did you know you can even get those in foreign languages? Do a search for [language] word of the day!)
Toss a sheet or tablecloth over a tension rod in a doorway, add some dollar store or lunch bag hand puppets, and you have a puppet theater to encourage your children of all ages to write skits, develop characters, etc.
Read Shakespeare and other plays. Let your kids write their own!
Create a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt to encourage following directions.
Encourage your child to write to a penpal to build letter-writing skills. No cousins or grandparents? The children of missionaries (or the missionaries themselves) would probably enjoy news from home.
An online search for student essay contest or student writing contest can motivate your children to write for an audience outside the home.
Encourage your kids to read about anything of interest to them. Need a book list?
One of my girls learned to read when I gave her a spiral notebook with some magazines, child-size scissors, and gluesticks. By cutting out things that make a B sound and gluing them onto the B page, then cutting out M words and gluing them onto the M page, and so on, she learned to listen for sounds in words.
Debate develops listening skills, writing proficiency, research skills, speech composition and delivery, and more. Capitalize on the logic stage of the average middle school student! For a debate-style intro for the home-bound, try assigning a persuasive essay, such as “Why I should be allowed to stay up later this week,” or something fun.
And I have to repeat the first suggestion because it’s just so foundational:
Read-alouds for all ages. Don’t quit reading aloud when your children learn to read on their own—it is still a valuable family activity! Hearing good literature read aloud encourages in children a love for language, builds vocabulary, motivates them to read, and encourages them to use their imagination. They have a much higher receptive vocabulary than reading vocabulary, so it’s okay to read books aloud that are well above their reading level, and stop to let them narrate back to you or to dramatize what you’ve read. Leave time for discussion and enjoy the experience!
(And if you can’t squeeze this in right now, maybe your older kids can read to the younger, or you can find books on Alexa or Audible.)
For other subject areas (such as math, science, and social studies), check our other blog posts!
Interested in learning more about home education? Free youTube video workshop for you!
Adapted from the Toddlers to Tweens newsletter at www.hslda.org – Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget: Spotlight on Language Arts. See the article there for more ideas and suggested resources.