Activities for Kids

School Routine And Themes during COVID-19

Following on from my blog yesterday on “At Home Activities” to keep the kids busy during our “social distancing”, a number of you asked about routines and structures. I’ve seen a couple of great timetables around on the internet, but I personally wanted to keep mine as close to our South African school day as possible.

I’ve designed an easily printable version of our typical timetable, this is also scheduled around my usual breaks with work. I can leave them to get on with activities, and then set up a new one when I normally take a break. I think we all have to just learn to be a lot more flexible with this new normal and cherish the time we have together. I’ve also created 5 “themed” weeks, for me personally, this is a life saver in terms of planning. So download and read on, and I hope this can help you in some way.

Preparation and Themes

Trust me when I say, this is for your own sanity! With a little bit of forward planning and foresight, your days will be a lot easier. If you can print out activity packs ahead of time (I’ll give you a list of my favourite resources at the end), and prepare any sensory activities or mini worlds the night before. Working with a theme every week helps to tie in an activities, and it assists in learning. I’ve tried to keep mine aligned with a preschool/kindergarten curriculum, however, my eldest is in Grade 1 and he still repeats some of these themes.

Weekly Themes:

1. Autumn

  • Ideas: Create an Autumn leaf sensory tray.
  • Art: Create an Autumn Leaf collage from leaves picked up during a walk outdoors
  • Fine Motor: Grab some paper and some crayons and do some leaf/bark shading
  • Create a “Hand print tree” cutting out (practise those cutting skills) an outline of their hand print on different coloured card.
  • Read: “We’re going on a leaf hunt” by Steve Metzger

2. The Ocean

  • Ideas: Create an Ocean layer sensory tray. Use sensory materials such as rice or jello to depict the different layers of the ocean, and talk about what type of fish and underwater creatures are found at various layers.
  • Art: Create a DIY Jellyfish out of paper plates and string.
  • Re-purpose recyclables to create ocean creatures (plastic bags into jelly fish etc).
  • Sea Salt Art.
  • Create some “trapped fish” in ice and let them work to release the animals from the ice.
  • Create an Ocean scene out of cardboard.
  • Cut out the shape of a fish and using bubble wrap, paint the scales on a fish.
  • Create an underwater sensory bottle.
  • Gross Motor: Practice the “Crab Walk”.

3. Lifecycle of a Plant/ Garden

  • Gross Motor: Go on a nature walk and see how many types of flowers/plants you can identify.
  • Math activities – cutting out flower shapes and using paper clips as leaves, count the number of leaves on the flower.
  • Cut some kitchen roll holder/toilet paper rolls into sections and use them to “layer” different parts of the flower.
  • Fine Motor: Pressed flowers.
  • Grow some seeds.
  • Create a garden potion.

4. Wildlife

  • Create an “African” themed sensory tray.
  • Identify and separate the animals into herbivores and carnivores (explain the difference). Let your child put the animals into the correct “habitat”
  • Create some binoculars out of toilet roll and hide some animals around the house/garden. Create a scavenger hunt safari where your children have to find the animals.
  • Talk about the Big 5.
  • Make a giraffe hand-print.
  • Make a lion out of paper plates and pasta.
  • Read: How the Cheetah got its tears by Avril Van der Merwe, how the Zebra got its stripes by Justine Fontes

5. The Five Senses – This can sometimes be a long one, so don’t worry if it goes over a week.

  • Hearing – Make your own music shakers and rain makers.
  • Blindfold them and get them to follow a course by listening to your voice.
  • Smell – Scented Paint activity (add oils or juices into different coloured paints)
  • Create lavender or coffee scented play-dough
  • Homemade paint with spices and seasoning (turmeric, cloves, cinnamon etc)
  • Touch – Make some oobleck or slime, talk about how it feels in your hands.
  • Create a Mystery bag, throw some items into a draw string bag and get them to guess what they are.
  • Create a Texture Tray with off cuts of material. Get the children to describe how it feels.
  • Sight – Play a game of I-Spy.
  • Hide Objects around the room and get the children to find them with a magnifying glass.
  • Taste – Create a Mystery taste tray, blindfold them and give them something sweet, salty, sour etc and try to identify what it is.
  • Apple Test – Get 3 types of apple (red, yellow, green) – children should taste them and distinguish the different flavours.
  • Bake something – Bake some cookies or muffins.

To summarise all 5 senses do the “Popcorn” test – “LOOK at the kernals, LISTEN to them pop, SMELL the delicious aroma, use your sense of TOUCH to fill your bag and finally TASTE the delicious popcorn that you made.

There are some fantastic online resources to guide you for activities, and most of them offer free printables. Some of my favourites are:

https://www.twinkl.co.za/

https://theimaginationtree.com/

https://www.preschoolthemes.co.za/

https://playtolearnpreschool.us/

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