Meaningful Tools for Learning at Home, Together
As teachers and school districts scramble to get kiddos learning at home in a way that meets state requirements, offers opportunities for teacher monitoring of learning, is as equitable as possible, and doesn't make everyone involved crazy and overwhelmed, I've talked to some educators, parents, and guardians who feel that the work is largely sit-and-maybe-absorb and/or review only work. Which is amazing. That teachers and school districts have so quickly and with so little support revolutionized how they teach is astounding. That phone and internet companies are stepping up to help more families have more reliable access to web resources is inspiring. Anddddd...for adults at home with kiddos, some are finding the need for supplemental activities that are engaging and hands-on, activities that can be scaled up or down so toddlers don't try to take over an older siblings computer work and so that teens don't hide out in their rooms ALL day. I have been excitedly working away over here for the past two weeks to try to fill that space. A few family friends asked, and then a few more, and a few more and I ended up with a few resources that I'm excited to share widely - and I'd LOVE to keep adding on! Keep reading to find out more about the resources I've got ready-made and how to get in touch if you have requests! You'll also see some ideas on how you can pay it forward if you use and love these resources.
Where do I find your resources?
Well, to start, you can click the links below to open a week of kindergarten activities (works great for ages 5-7 and 3-5 if you use the preschool notebook here). Some of the tasks focus on bacteria and viruses as requested by a family friend. I used very age appropriate texts and focused on what we can do to protect our health. Please note that the date is included in some packets - simply ignore or skip that or you can get in touch with me for an editable copy (see how to do that below). You can also find a 2nd grade science activity about wetland habitats.
Head to the FREE "Members" tab of this site for more resources in a more organized fashion. All you need is an email address for the "Members" section (and don't worry, you won't get spammed with emails (yet) as I haven't really figured out how to do that...). The Members section has a Forum and File Share - you'll find the resources in the File Share. You'll see a folder with all of the Months in Moments calendars I've created if you're looking for whole family, shorter tasks (you can find April's calendar here). Open the "Learning At Home Resources" folder for preK-middle school resources. When you open a file, you can download it and print. If you'd like an editable copy, email me via "Get in Touch" or DM me on Instagram and I'll share the Google Docs versions with you! Need high school resources? Shoot me an email via "Get in Touch" or DM me on Instagram and I'll send you my classroom blogs for Earth and Environmental Science and Study Skills :). I'll also be adding more resource to the Google Drive Folder "Learning at Home Resources" here and this might update faster than my "Members" File Sharing section. You can select the folder, right click, and choose, "Add to Drive".
What's in these resources? What's NOT in these resources?
You'll find printable learning notebooks to work through as a family - with learners driving the learning. You won't find worksheets with the same kind of task over and over. You won't find tasks that are "just cute" - the purpose (usually a standard, hopefully some kiddo-curiosity) drives the task. I aim to inspire play-based (or project-based for older kiddos) learning. You'll find tasks that get you up and moving, outside, collaborating, and creating. You won't find yourself parked in front of a computer for long for any task. I strive to use national or state standards to drive my plans, however, you'll find some stretches - like in the kindergarten plans. Kindergarteners generally focus on needs of plants and animals, yet in this time, viruses are super relevant to learn about - so we focused on needs of organisms but a different organism. What we know about learning is that when it is relevant and interesting the learning lasts longer.
What do I need to be able to use these resources?
A printer and internet access are awesome! There are work-arounds if you get creative :). Some activities will require manipulatives like a some paperclips or rocks or something to count. In another activity, you'll use sticks to create and name shapes. For some of the activities in the members section of the site, scissors and glue will be helpful. Random art supplies you have on hand will be useful for projects - we love recycle bin projects in my former classroom and home :). Building prototypes and mini-habitats does not require anything fancy :).
Have other people used these? What do they think?
YES! I used to be a classroom teacher, so my students helped me refine years worth of lesson plans. I also worked as a new teacher coach for grades preK-13 and planned collaboratively and offered resources to many teachers. Over the years, I have worked on simplifying plans. What you'll find is that what the learners see and do is pretty clear and straightforward. The resources for adults tend to be a bit wordy and brainstormy (You can see my April's Month in Moment's post about how simplicity is a struggle and goal for me :). So, overwhelming positive feedback (not to toot my own horn) and a lot of requests to FOR THE LOVE learn to simplify :). (In my defense, learning is complex and so are my plans...but that's me getting defensive. :) Here are some kind words from families that have been using the Kindergarten packet:
"I can’t believe how much amazing content you’re creating during this time!! You’re amazing. so thankful our paths crossed during my short time here."
"The resources I need as a parent are ones that aren't computer based. Something he can take around the house or outside and continue the learning. They both agreed their favorite activity was the weather and date. We are so grateful for you. We think it's funny that you and HG eat bacteria for your bellies in the mornings." (We video chatted about how bacteria move and I shared that we eat bacteria (probiotics) each morning :)
UM, I LOVE THESE! I feel like I at least owe you a coffee... Are you on Teachers Pay Teachers? Can I pay you?
At this point, I would love to offer these resources on a donation basis. I love the donation based model for teaching yoga and would like to use that here. Donation based does not mean free, it means pay what you can so that teaching/learning with these tools is sustainable for you and so that planning/producing these tools is sustainable for me. Also, when we pay for things we might be a little more accountable for using them (and I'll be a little more accountable for making them user friendly and not brainstormy messes :). You can pay me what you feel is appropriate via Venmo at Mallory-Foster-2. I would recommend $10-40 for a week of plans used (remember, this is a sliding scale based on what your family can afford - I'll gladly accept less or more). If you are out of work due to the pandemic, please use these resources for free. If you started using these when I was sharing them with a very narrow audience, please keep using them. If you cannot compensate me monetarily at this time OR would like to help me spread the word about these resources, please share the link to this post with friends, family, your kiddo's teacher, anyone who could use it and/or send me an email with pictures or tag me (@watchwonderbloom) in posts with pictures of your household learning and playing using these resources. You have no idea how much joy these pictures bring me!!! I'm a teacher, can I share these with my students? The short answer is yes and give me credit (blog link, name, etc). The longer answer is, please reach out to me. As a teacher, I know that we teach best from our own plans and I'd love to help you tailor these resources to your learners. Finally, no, I'm not on Teachers Pay Teachers since I like a donation based model and sharing equitable or free resources (if you're on TPT and there's a way to do that, please let me know :).
You said it first...I want to use these but they're a little confusing... can we chat?
UM, yes, there is nothing I love more than chatting about learning (well...I love learning and playing with my mini human a bit more). DM me via Instagram or email me via "Get in Touch" and we can set up a Zoom, phone, or Google Hangout chat! Even if you aren't confused but your kiddos have strange questions or want to see how bacteria move, etc, get in touch :). I love feeling like I'm not shouting into an abyss when I pour resources into the interwebs.
OMG I love these! Can you make a week about _______?
YES! DM me via Instagram (@watchwonderbloom) or use "Get In Touch" - tell me your kiddos' ages and the topics they love! I'd love to keep making tailored plans and choice boards as we learn at home alone together during this time!
So friends, please share this far and wide, use the resources, donate if you can, and enjoy learning together! Pleaseeeeee post pics of learning at work and tag me (@watchwonderbloom). I LOVE seeing learners at work, and perhaps even more than that, I love hearing the questions they cook up - so add those as captions :).