Keeping Literacy Happening While Under Quarantine

Coronavirus is keeping everyone at home for a while. And with schools closing for the foreseeable future as well, many parents are wondering how to keep learning going (and prevent boredom from seeping in) during this quarantine.

As an author as well as a homeschooling mom, I've got plenty of ideas for learning at home. Here are a few of them:

1. Online author activities--Lots of authors have FREE resources for kids on their websites. There are so many options and too many to list. I encourage you to look up your favorite authors and see what kind of content they offer on their site. Another option is to look for the author on YouTube. A LOT of authors post free content (read alouds, activities, writing prompts) on YouTube.

2. Another related literacy activity is to have your child write a letter to his or her favorite author/illustrator. Authors LOVE getting mail (and you'd be surprised how many write back). This is a good way for kids to practice those often-forgotten letter-writing skills.

3. Have your child working on illustration skills too. There is nothing wrong liking to draw and you can certainly use this downtime to let your child improve his/her art skills. Jarrett Lerner has comic book templates and open-ended drawing prompts on his site. You child can use them as a springboard for creating a unique graphic novel or as inspiration for writing a new story. We also love the drawing tutorials at Art Hub for Kids. Last week my kids were writing nonfiction animal stories and used these lessons to learn how to draw realistic versions of their animals. (It's also great for learning how to draw the latest animated movie characters.)

4. Learn a new language. We recently discovered Duolingo. It's another FREE site that allows a child to learn a new language through online activities.

5. Take advantage of what your library offers. Everyone knows that the library lets you check out books for free, but odds are, your library offers more than you know. Most libraries give free access to e-books and audiobooks which is perfect if you're not leaving the house. My kids love to check out playaways, which are single audio book devices that can be played simply by plugging in a set of headphones. I like them because they allow my kids the ability to listen to an audio book without needing to use a smartphone or tablet.

5. Try a subscription box. So this is not a free option, but there are many economical options. We just started subscribing to MEL Science. For about $25 a month, we get a box with 2-3 science activities included. Last Christmas, a friend gifted us a YUM Box subscription which my kids really love. Each month we get 6-8 snacks from a country as well as an activity book and stories related to the country. This would be a great way to incorporate a little social studies into your daily curriculum.

6. There are tons of resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, a site where teachers can post learning activities on a variety of different topics. We love playing Presidents Memory from this site and it only cost $1 to buy.

7. We use Brave Writer as a writing curriculum. I highly recommend their Arrow lessons that offer writing exercises connected to the books your kids are already reading. Check out their site for free writing prompts as well as discounted materials through the end of April.

8. As always, use this extra time to spend time as a family. Cuddle up, read books, listen to podcasts, watch movies, play games and do puzzles together. We'll be back to our normal, harried lives before you know it.