I had my lesson plans all ready to go last week. I had planned a unit on force and motion and was excited to get the kids outside to push each other on the swing, pull each other in the wagon, and slide down the slide. Then I checked the forecast. Temps below zero for two days! While most of Tennessee was worrying about frozen pipes, traveling to school and work, and just how to stay warm I was worrying about how I was going to keep my cottage school kids engaged and focused without being able to get outside!
So today, like any other day, I said a prayer, took a deep breath and just let the kids take the reigns. I had already switched the outdoor activity to an indoor science experiment, but the kids for the most part helped me figure out how to keep them from going stir crazy! Here are my top 5 ways to keep kids learning and playing when you are stuck inside.
1. Conduct a science experiment. There are tons of science experiment ideas on the internet. Today my kiddos used different types of objects to see how they could pull their little box up the ramp. This experiment goes along with our force and motion unit and the recording sheet for it can be found by clicking on the link below.
2.Puppet Shows. My kids usually put on puppet shows for each other to reenact a story or to reteach a concept. Today my kids put on a 20 minute puppet show for each other telling how to be “humble”. If you don’t have puppets you could use dolls, socks, or you could use paper bags and create your own!
3. Play games or puzzles. Puzzles are great for strengthening logical thinking. When the weather doesn’t allow us to go outside I always have games available for my students to play. One of my favorites is Fenced In. It is a game where the players have to build squares for their animals. This teaches logical thinking and good sportsmanship. Kids always want to quit playing when they are not winning. Playing games with others helps build perseverance.
4. Starfall. I love using starfall.com as a teaching resource. I use this to reinforce a skill, not to teach it. It is great for prek and kindergarten students who are learning letters and reading skills. Usually once or twice a week I will let my kids get on the computer for about twenty minutes to go over a concept that we have been working on in class.
5. Free play. I hadn’t planned this activity today, but it did sure work out great! After I had dumped out the toys from two of my toy tubs (this will also help assist you in sorting out unwanted toys) the kids started using the empty tubs to play. They used blankets to make caves and tombs. They pretended that they were mummies from Egypt. (this was a great review from a previous unit of study) I always forget how much fun boxes and empty tubs can be! This builds creativity and imagination.
I know a lot of you moms out there are ready to send your kids back to school or at least send them outside to play. I hope some of these ideas will help get you through those days where everyone has watched too much television and the weather won’t allow you to go outside.