Supplementing Distance Learning for Elementary Grades

Hello teachers, parents, and care givers!

School looks a lot different today than it did three weeks ago. It’s draining, difficult, uncertain, anxiety-ridden, and really, it’s never been done before. We are incredibly fortunate to be living in the year 2020 where so much technology is at our finger tips. Here is a small fraction of the amazing resources that may help ease this virtual transition. I will update it as new and exciting links are sent my way!

For those looking for a full scope and sequence of ELA (English Language Arts: Reading and Writing) and math standards, check out this page from the Common Core that breaks requirements down by grade level.

Creating routine:
*Creating and sticking to a daily routine is an absolute necessity in your child’s quarantined life. At school, they are used to eating snack at the exact same time everyday five days a week. Right now, they don’t know when they’ll be able to go on a playdate again. Structure provides safety and sanity at any age.
*Khan Academy. You may know Khan Academy as a resource for online based instructional tools. Here, they did everyone a solid by creating schedules that cater to all ages of children. This link also includes a variety of academic resources that you might find useful in the below areas.
*Wide Open School. WOS is brought to you by Common Sense Media, a website I frequently use to confirm how appropriate movies or tv shows are for the age group I work with. They have newly outdone themselves with this website that is a beautifully done aggregate of resources to external sites ranging from schedule creation, field trips, reading, math, socializing and more. Worth a look!

Reading:
Note- It is more important than ever that your child read for 10-30 minutes each night and hear books read aloud to them. This is often the biggest academic regression that teachers see after summer vacation. Do not let that gap widen!
*RazKids. What would I do without RazKids? From their website, “Raz-Kids delivers hundreds of interactive, leveled eBooks spanning 29 levels.” Many schools have usernames for students already so make sure to reach out!
*Epic. Ask your teacher about snagging your child’s classroom an Epic account. It’s free until June 30th, 2020. The website reads, “Instantly Access 35,000 eBooks, Learning Videos, Quizzes and more for K-5!”
*Read Out Loud. Listen to wonderful kid-friendly read alouds in a fun and interactive easy to use website.

Math:
*Bridges Math. Bridges states, “The curriculum focuses on developing students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. Bridges blends direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration.” Their website features an Activity of the Day, a variety of family games, and single-player online games that cater to your student’s grade level.
*SplashMath. Wow do my kids love SplashMath. The games range from highly academically rigorous and helpful to downright goofy. In the end, there is always a mathematical component that kids love.
*IXL. See below.
*Don’t discount the power of a good ol’ math packet. Teachers Pay Teachers has saved me on more than one occasion and ensures we’re not all reinventing the wheel. I’ve used these sets before along with anything from Tara West (more geared toward home schooling but fabulous, super easy to follow units). In general, try searching “Math packet + month + grade” so the material is as targeted as possible.

Science and Social Studies:
*IXL. The website writes, “IXL offers a delightful experience, full of vibrant visuals, interactive questions, and exciting prizes. Learning becomes an adventure where students build the confidence to explore new concepts and rise to any challenge.” We use IXL weekly in our classrooms for both Math and now, science and social studies! They have gamified learning in one very easy to navigate app.
*BrainPop. The website writes, “Engaging learning games, animated movies, and activities. Designed with relevance, depth, and humor to encourage kids on their unique learning paths.” BrainPop is my go to destination for fun science and social studies videos. Free right now for families and educators.
*Time for Kids. The website writes, “Time Magazine is providing free resources for teachers and free subscriptions of ‘TIME for Kids’ for families.”
*News-O-Matic. The website writes, “News-O-Matic is the first daily newspaper just for kids. It provides an exciting and engaging nonfiction experience for children, complete with valuable literacy tools for the classroom.” Free until June 30th.

Movement breaks:
*Cosmic Kids Yoga. CKY writes, “Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed specially for kids aged 3+, used in schools and homes all over the world.” It’s true! They’re designed with little ones in mind, are very silly, and get kiddos’ wiggles out.
*The Body Coach TV. The BC writes, “I started the Body Coach TV with a goal to offer free home workouts to everyone, no matter what their fitness levels.” I use these 5-minute workout videos in my class and the kids love ’em!
*GoNoodle. GoNoodle has a mix of original songs and popular songs that guide kids through a series of dance moves a la “Just Dance” videos. Just Dance is another popular dancing platform you just need to be careful what song you pull up.

Make learning fun:
*Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems.The website states, “Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks.”
*CommonSenseMedia list of resources. The website writes, “Whether you want easy lesson plans from Scholastic, a living room concert from John Legend, or a drawing lesson from Mo Willems, there’s no shortage of fun things to do online. We even have tools to help you find free or reduced-cost internet in your area.”
*Virtual Field Trips. Check out this list from The Educator’s Spin On It who list out different trips based on theme: animals, US history, landmarks, and more.

SEL Activities:
Note- Pinterest can be a huge help in creating some of the below!
*Create a gratitude Jar. Fill up the jar each day with positive moments from the day and schedule a time to read them as a family.
*Leave time for meditation. There are a ton of great apps out there to help with this! This link goes to Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids.
*Give students a daily list of to-dos. It can help children feel they are in control of their day. This can include their school work and chores which leads to a variety of free choice activities.
*Take the time to teach empathy. Everyone in your community is effected by COVID-19 in different ways. Think of your neighbors, family members, strangers walking down the street, how might their daily lives be different? How could we show them compassion?
*Have consistent check-ins with feelings. Cheesy for adults, a learning opportunity for little ones. Have a printed chart with a list of feelings, some they may already know, some that may be new. Have two check-in times throughout the day with the whole family to go over how you are beginning the day and how you are closing out the day.
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*Have a cool down corner. In my classroom we have a space specifically designed for students to be hidden from the rest of the class with a variety of calming activities for them to choose from. Some items include a Buddha board, coloring book, stress ball, glitter globe, and breathing cards. Kids will be going through a lot right now and showing them they are in control of their own self-regulation will be helpful for years to come.
*A Kids Book About COVID. Does your child have lots of questions about the virus but you’re not sure what to say/ what not to say? Check out this free downloadable book that has some of the answers.

How do I keep my child engaged during distance learning?

This is a tricky one and is different for each child. Here are some ideas:

  • Change up the order he or she has each class. In school, we have reading at the beginning of the day and math at the end. This is usually because reading involves the most sitting and math often involves a game or something active. Find what works for your kid.
  • Sprinkle in wiggle breaks! Use the aforementioned movement breaks as needed.
  • Include art in as many components of the day that you can.
  • Allow your child to move while reviewing a lesson or completing an assignment. Working from home gives students the freedom to lounge and get comfortable. If your child works best on their belly, go for it!
  • Sticker chart! Feel free to create your own sticker system for your child. In our classroom, we award stickers for good behavior and instances where students go above and beyond the call of duty. You can create a reward system that increases family bonding/ doesn’t have to focus on the self.
  • Setup a Zoom chat with a friend. Virtual playdates and study buddies will be very comforting at this time. Check out the game, Drawful 2! There is a family friendly setting you can turn on for kiddos.
  • Send in the teacher. Sometimes having a heart to heart with your teacher can set your kiddo on the straight and narrow. Let your teacher know if they need some motivation and see if they’ll hop on a call! On the flip side, let their teacher know if they are rocking it at home so they can be showered with adoration as well.

Some of you may be fortunate to attend a school whose curriculum has gone fully virtual. Amazing! Please know that even if the curriculum isn’t perfect, your child’s teachers are working their booties off. If you are in this camp, the next question might be around what your role is as their classroom adult. I have some ideas below,

How much support should I give my child?

The below is a guide that is not meant to be taken as a set of hard and fast rules. We teachers don’t want all of your time to be taken up helping your child through assignments but we do want to make sure he or she is set up for success.

Remember, in the classroom we are more than just educators. We are sounding boards for silly stories, audiences for jokes, critics for magic tricks, secretaries who bring tissues and sharpen pencils, friends who offer their hands at recess when others are busy, coaches, disciplinarians, and more. You may find yourself offering more of your time than you bargained for but know this is new territory for everyone and may take a while to settle into a rhythm. In the end, work out what is best for you and your family. 

  • Directions. For grades two and above, try allowing your student to read directions to themselves. If you see them struggling, ask them to read the directions to you out loud. Assist them when they get to a word they don’t know. Once finished, ask, “What is this assignment asking you to do?” If they are struggling to paraphrase, help provide more clarity.
  • Completing the assignment. Once your student understands the task, they should start their work independently. Teachers and parents are ideally there to provide feedback, not give an outline for exactly what to do. If they put something on the paper, even if it’s not what the sheet was asking for, you can then work with them on what was put down and determine where their confusion stems from.
  • Reviewing work. If you can, review the assignment when they’re done. If needed and time permits, pick one to two pieces of feedback. There’s no need to correct the entire sheet but it is important for them to have something to work on.

 

Thank you to everyone who has sent me resources over the last few weeks. They have proven absolutely invaluable.

Have any other tips that have been working in your homes? I’d love to hear about them!

 

**Please excuse any accidental use of the term “boys” or “son”- I teach at a single-sex education institution so it’s hard to turn off 🙈.

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