Resources for dealing with COVID-19 school closures

Keeping kids entertained & educated during the COVID-19 school shut down

Community is what keeps us strong. Even when we need to physically distance ourselves for safety, we can come together in other ways.

When we knew schools would be closing, we created #pickleplanetfunweek, a week of theme days we could all play along with at home. We shared our list and so many of you shared your photos of PJ Day, Crazy Hair Day, Science Fair Day and more. We asked, and you all wanted us to keep going. so we did THREE theme weeks. With the announcement that New Brunswick schools would close through to the end of this academic year and the province would start providing some weekly direction, we’ve put our themes on hold — but we have lots of other resources you might want to check out!

Personally as a family, our goal at Pickle Planet HQ is to create and simple daily schedule that (hopefully!) allows us to combat the educational slide of being out of school, but not something that overwhelms either the adults or the children in this house. We aren’t suddenly switching to a home school environment, but a few weeks (or more) without any planning would be hard on us all.

Any schedule should only be as detailed as makes sense for your family. Some families will want hourly expectations, while others will be happy with a broad theme to morning and afternoon. There is no right way to do this and no perfect solution. Follow your instincts. Give yourself – and the rest of your family – grace. We don’t need to overwhelm ourselves with trying to uphold some standard. We need to stay healthy and happy. That’s it.

We have some great resources below, but you might also want to watch this message about why you won’t see a lot of ongoing COVID-19-related content on this site or our social media channels.

Do you subscribe to the Pickle Planet Podcast? We’ve been touching on strategies to deal with life at home during the COVID-19 pandemic each week. We talked with counsellor Kerri Gaskin about mental wellness, we shared more than TWO DOZEN links to podcasts, stories, and more to enjoy together as a family right now (find that here), and much more! We have some amazing guests lined up for the coming weeks; subscribe so you never miss an episode!

Alright, on to the links! Here are some more resources you might want to check out.

SITES & SOURCES WE USE FOR ONLINE LEARNING FUN

We suggest making sure each week day includes some ‘academic’ time, but feel free to have fun with it. Did you read our great post about combating summer slide with fun activities? Most of that applies perfectly now!

ABCYa This site has been a go-to in our home for several years; it offers educational games for pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6+. It has lots of great online games for younger years; we haven’t tested out the older grade options, but anticipate good quality and engaging elements. We see some great fraction, multiplication, etc. games listed! There is a premium version you can purchase, but we’ve always used the free options with no issue.

Scholastic has created an online ‘classroom’ with free resources grouped by age, from Kindergarten to Grade 6+. It’s neat that elements are grouped by days, so you can read a set of articles and activities each week day for a mix of online content.

Storytelling Online is a fun site filled with videos of famous folks reading books. There are activity guides to go along with the stories; it didn’t have as robust a search function as I’d like (I couldn’t see how to find books sorted by topic or age, though it tells you the suggested grade level and run time) and is geared to younger kids, but it’s still a fun site.

The Fable Cottage is a lovely site (written in English) with classic children’s tales retold and read in French; the stories include audio read slowly, text in French with an option to show English translation, and some have video, too.

Mystery Science We haven’t tried these projects yet, but we’re planning to! There is a TON of content broken down by age (up to Grade 5 level) with full lesson plans, online portions to watch, and hands-on activities you can do alongside. We quickly looked through the How Much Water is in The World lesson and were impressed!

If you’re looking to go the old-fashioned worksheet track, our favourite site so far is K5 Learning. Super easy to navigate and find Canadian worksheets broken into categories and by grade level.

PODCASTS! We LOVE smart podcasts that are kid-friendly! Pants on Fire is a current favourite (it’s a game show between kids & adults, trying to determine who is sharing facts and who is sharing fiction), and we’ve long been listeners of Brains On, Chompers, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Smash Boom Best, and Tumble, a science podcast for kids.

We also will be listening to The Big Life Kids Podcast, Highlights Hangout, and lots more; drop your favourites below and please, if you start listening to any of these, let them know the Pickle Planet Podcast sent them your way!

We’re also going to start watching more documentaries as a family, so if you have suggestions to share, please pop into the comments.

When it comes to screen time, be that documentaries, movies, TV shows and more, we love using Common Sense Media to get insight on why something has the rating it does. It’s super helpful to make decisions about age-appropriateness based on your family values.

Cosmic Kids is a fantastic site for yoga and mindfulness meditations for kids. If you don’t already have a daily yoga practice (I know I don’t!), maybe now is the time to start it as a family.

Many kids will be familiar with Go Noodle; it’s a great site some schools use to get classes up and moving.

Art appreciation. You’ve likely seen the Parents post floating around with the 12 Famous Museums Offering Virtual Tours; if you clicked through, you’ll realize Google actually compiled tours of HUNDREDS of museums and art galleries around the world. Check them ALL out here.

We didn’t have a ton of luck finding learning resources aimed at teens; if you’ve found some great links or ideas, please share in the comments. I’m thinking that you might just level up and look on places like SkillShare (some free options) and MasterClass (starts at $20/month) for things like writing, design, cooking, and more; maybe there are some programs you can do together! Most of what we have used in the past & were finding online were for kindergarten to Grade 5 or 6; to be honest, it’s pretty easy to find more ideas than one family could ever use for this age group! We’ll update with ideas for older students as we find ideas, so check back & share what you know, please.

When it comes to screen time, be that documentaries, movies, TV shows and more, we love using Common Sense Media to get insight on why something has the rating it does. It’s super helpful to make decisions about age-appropriateness based on your family values.
Also, on the question of screen time: we’ve relaxed our limits a LOT, but if as a mom I’m starting to feel a little guilty about relying on screens so I can do things like write these posts, I insist that it’s time to watch shows in French, choose documentaries, or work on educational games rather than just aimlessly watching another stream of episodes on Netflix. This is also when podcasts and audiobooks (you can download online via the library) can be handy!

SOCIALIZING

So, if you follow us on social, you’ll know the question of social media for kids has been on our radar for awhile. This shut down has actually pushed us as a family to take the leap into allowing our kids to start entering the world of online communication. We’re slowly adding trusted friends to Kids Messenger and hoping to allow our kids to maintain their friendships through virtual contact. At this point, our kids will be sharing access via one device and it won’t be allowed in rooms at nighttime, we as parents will be approving contacts and reviewing conversations, and slowly figuring this out as we go. We know our kids need to have access to their friends and they need to gradually learn how to use this technology responsibly; this extended time at home together will likely help us feel more confident in this transition.

CRAFTS & MORE

We’ve always been creating & sharing our favourite hands-on activities here at home. Check out our posts for slime & playdough recipes, DIY puzzles for little ones, literacy crafts can be easily be replicated, and more!

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