Spark Learning At Home With These Easy & Educational Activities

I’m breaking from my usual posts of photography related content to one that was inspired by all the school closings due to Coronavirus. I’ve been seeing so many parents on social media scrambling for ideas on educating their kids at home and on keeping kids busy while they may have to work from home and I knew I could do something to help. I’ve been homeschooling my girls for the last 3 years. This in no way makes me an expert, but it has given me enough hands-on experience to share ways for parents to spark learning in their kids that are actually easy and educational. So I made a list of activities (indoor and outdoor) plus links to resources and to educational YouTube channels! And being a family photographer, I figured this space is as good as any for information that directly helps families.

Many of these activities can be done with what you already have at home. Most can be tailored to fit a wide range of ages by simplifying them further or adding extra steps to make them more challenging. These ideas are meant to inspire you, dear parent, on ways to educate that don’t always involve sitting at a desk with paper and pencil in hand. As you navigate this new journey ahead, I hope you give yourself and your children grace. You absolutely don’t have to replicate your child’s public school life. Create an environment and rhythm in your home that works for all of you. You can do this!

I truly hope you find this list helpful. I’ll be adding more activities and resources as I gather them so check back in occasionally. Feel free to share this post with friends and family.


  • Bring back Pen Pals! Write letters to friends & family, complete with illustrations. Let your kids address the envelope and drop it off at the post office. You can extend this activity into a study on the post office, how mail is delivered and the job of mail carriers (“community helpers”). Learn your mail carrier’s name and introduce yourself. With small kids, practice sorting items at home into categories like mail needs to be sorted by neighborhood/address. Make your own postcards for neighbors, take a neighborhood stroll and put them in their mailboxes.
  • Flower arrangements + Flower study. If you have flowers in your yard, let your kids pick a few and create mini flower arrangements in your home with small jars. You can extend this into a lesson on flowers, their life cycle, the parts of a flower, what they need to grow, etc. Study common local plants in your neighborhood and your state’s flower. Next time you’re out in your neighborhood, keep an eye out for them. Plant a flower in your yard or in a pot, care for it, observe growth, record your findings daily with words and or pictures.
  • Follow a recipe + cook/bake. Teach your kids how to read measurements & let them practice using measuring cups/spoons to measure out non-messy foods like dried beans and pasta. Take this a step further by actually cooking or baking something together. During the process, discuss where the ingredients come from. Ask if your child knows how each are grown. How did they get to the store? Look up a video for kids on YouTube that shows how a food gets from farm to table.When eating the finished product, ask your child to describe how it tastes and its texture. Which ingredients contributed to these flavors? Does it need more/less of them next time? Let your kids get really creative by coming up with their own recipe, complete with measurements and step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Write it out for smaller kids. If you’re brave, try making it.
  • Animal study. Have your child choose any animal they’d like to learn more about. Look up what it eats (carnivore? herbivore? omnivore?), where it lives (habitat), how it protects itself (camouflage?), unique characteristics, is it a mammal/insect/reptile etc. Watch videos about it. Draw pictures of it. Write sentences under the pictures about a few things you’ve learned. If you plan to pick a new animal every few days or once a week, dedicate one notebook as your personal animal encyclopedia.
  • Bust out the Play-Doh! Don’t have any? Look up recipes to make your own. Teach molding techniques, use tools to slice or cut out shapes. Include small objects to press into the Play-Doh like beads, dried beans, pasta, marbles. Use objects to make prints in the Play-Doh. Use “Play-Doh Mats” online, print some out and either laminate them or put them in a plastic sleeve for kids to use Play-Doh directly on. Don’t have a printer? Use a marker and draw them out yourself on paper. Some mats are just for fun (we like blank faces, a plain pizza, an empty dinner plate) to fill up using our imaginations and some are learning mats that encourage practice with counting, math, ABCs, etc. Other source here.
  • Create an “All About Me” book. Fold a small stack of paper in half and staple the “binding” or string it together. Have your child fill out the book with their favorite color, food, clothing, toy, book, song, animal, etc. Include family members, friends, favorite places to visit, what makes them happy/sad, what they want to be when they grow up, etc.
  • Play Store! Create a pretend store with items (“goods”) from around the house. Put prices on them. Give your kids coins/dollars (or make your own with paper if you don’t have any on hand) and have them practice counting them and paying for the items they can afford. Can they buy a few items? Just one? Take it a step further and explain getting change if they pay too much. Next, add “services” like haircut, car wash etc. and price them for purchase. Discuss the kinds of goods and services your child and family like to buy. Are they “wants” or “needs”? Make a collage from magazines with “wants” on one side and “needs” on another. Act out one of the services for fun. Make it as realistic as possible by having your child make an appointment, greet them at a front desk, exchange money, communicating expectations, then do the service. We like creating a nail salon. We get out a foot bath, nail files/clippers, polish, include massages and lotion afterwards. The service providers get a tip with great service!
  • Lots of art! Both process art (look it up) and actual lessons (YouTube links at the end of this post). If you have paint, experiment with mixing colors together (primary & secondary colors). Discuss how colors can express different emotions. Use fingers or paintbrushes. Don’t have paintbrushes? Create your own by attaching leaves to a stick. Make a collage using old magazines (cutting = fine motor skills exercise). Use a mirror to draw a “self-portrait”. Draw portraits of family members. There are TONS of art ideas for kids on Pinterest.
  • Paint. Experiment with painting on different surfaces other than paper/canvas. Examples: cardboard, metal, wood, your body (washable paints). Gather smooth stones from the yard or on a walk and paint them. Leave them in your yard or in the neighborhood for others to find. For older kids, leave inspiring messages on the stones to spread kindness.
  • Create a Gratitude List! Using the alphabet, think of things you’re grateful for that start with each letter and list them. Use a dictionary (introduce alphabetical order) to get ideas. Explain how looking for the good in our lives can help get us through difficult times. Parents, share what you’re grateful for, too. For older kids, create a gratitude journal. Start each day with an entry in the gratitude journal, writing about one or a few things your child is grateful for. Make it a family journal where each member of the family writes one thing they’re grateful for each day on the same page and date it. This will be very special to look back through at the end of the year.
  • Recite a poem. Select a poem to read, memorize, then recite! Call up a relative or friend and recite it to them, too. Do it over Face Time or Skype.
  • Read books (“fiction” and “nonfiction”). Depending on age: act out parts of the book, use new words from the book for a spelling list/test, ask lots of questions about why certain things happened in the story. Would your child have done anything differently if they were a “character” in the story? At the end, ask what your child thinks might happen next. How does the story make your child feel and why? Identify the “main idea” of the story and identify nouns, verbs and adjectives from the story. What’s the setting? When does it take place? Young kids can verbally communicate comprehension of the story at the end, older kids can write a mini book report. Come up with art projects inspired by the story.
  • YouTube Read Aloud. Don’t have an extensive home library? With public libraries closed right now, here are some YouTube channels that read books aloud to your kids! Happy Cultivated, PV Storytime, Brightly Storytime, Lights Down Reading
  • Write your own book/story! Introduce brainstorming before diving in, gathering the main points of the story first. Introduce “sentences”, “paragraphs”, “main idea + supporting details.” Encourage using adjectives to create more interest. Add illustrations. If writing isn’t a strength, parents can write for the child or it can be a picture book or a comic book. Look up videos on how books are made (binding, where paper comes from, etc). Discuss different book types/genres. What’s your child’s favorite? If making a book is too much, just write a creative story. Make sure your child is using punctuation and capitalization correctly.
  • Photography challenge! (Pinterest to the rescue, again) and have your child photograph the daily theme. Use a real camera or just your phone. Ask why your child chose their particular subjects and how it expresses the theme. Introduce composition, lighting techniques, discuss emotion in images, artistic expression, etc. Look up the work of famous photographers and study them. Introduce self-portraits, portraits and landscapes. Let them take your portrait. Take their portrait.
  • Slime! Look up a recipe for homemade slime and make it!
  • Make puppets (sock, paper bag, popsicle sticks, get creative) and put on a puppet show. If you can, create the characters from the story your child wrote and act it out. Act out the scenes from your favorite books. Face Time/Skype friends and relatives to watch the show.
  • Make a meal. Teach your kids how to make a few basic meals for themselves and/or prepare snacks. Introduce the microwave/toaster oven or stove for older kids. Have older kids create a complete dinner menu and let them cook it, with as little parent involvement as possible. Younger kids can create a menu with meal choices and illustrations to hand to family members at dinner time. If they’re too young to make the meal completely, they can assist in the kitchen and/or serve the family like a waiter/waitress.
  • Play board games. Learn new card games. Create your own memory/matching games (where picture cards are facing down and you flip 2 over to find a match). Come up with your own creative game. Discuss the importance of rules to keep things fair and orderly. Play a game without the rules to illustrate how chaotic and unfair it is without them. Extend that concept to the real world. How do laws and rules help our community and home? What would happen if there were no laws/rules. Who are the authority figures in our community/family who enforce them? What should we do if we see someone breaking a law or rule?
  • Make a brochure for your community! Include the name of your city and your mayor. Who are your community leaders? Include your neighborhood’s best restaurants, services, parks, events, etc. Include descriptions and pictures. Draw or print them out from the internet.
  • Make sculptures with mini marshmallows (or Play-Doh balls) and toothpicks.
  • Artist Study. Look up a famous artist and learn about his/her life. Why are they important? Observe their different works of art and ask your child questions about how it makes them feel? What do they think the artist is trying to express? Then recreate your own versions of their work (by either using the same medium, or techniques, colors, emotions, etc). Example sources for younger kids & older kids.
  • Learn sign language (alphabet and basic words/greetings). Discuss how life might be different if you couldn’t hear, speak, or see. What are resources available to people with these disabilities. Try moving through the house (carefully, of course) with a blindfold on.
  • Music study. Introduce your child to a type of music they’ve never heard of or don’t normally listen to. What kinds of instruments are used to create the sounds? What makes this music unique? How does it make you feel? Is it popular in certain parts of the world? What’s its history? How long has it been around? How has it influenced other types of music? Let your body move to the music. Does it make you want to move slowly? Quickly? Why?
  • Friendship study. What makes a good friend? Ask your child how s/he can be a good friend. What do friends do or say to each other? How can you show someone you want to be a friend? What should you do if a disagreement occurs with a friend? Draw pictures, list the ideas. Use real life examples about friendship at school, at home, etc.
  • Design a house. Have a large cardboard box? Imagine it a house and paint/design the outside and decorate the inside. No box? Have your child design their dream house on paper. Discuss the different types of homes people have. What’s the main function of a house? How do we care for it, preserve it? Why is that important? What makes a house a home?
  • Puzzles! Try doing one while only looking at the back-side of the pieces.
  • Country study. Pick any country and research it online. Learn about the people, different customs/cultures, food, clothing, music (listen to it), religion, language (learn a few words), communities, animals, climate, tourist attractions, land forms, etc. Compare what you learn to the life you lead in America (similarities and differences). Write a report on the country with illustrations. Share what you’ve learned with friends/family via Face Time or Skype.
  • Inventor study. Pick a famous inventor and learn about him/her. What did s/he invent? How did that change daily life? What would life be like without this invention? Ask your child to come up with their own invention and draw/design it. Write sentences describing what it is, why s/he chose to create it, how it’s helpful, what problem does it solve, what materials are needed to make it, etc. Can a model of it be made with Play-Doh/clay?
  • Make clothes. Depending on age, either sew or glue pieces of fabric together to make mini blankets for stuffed animals. Make accessories like bracelets, necklaces, glasses, hats, etc. Older kids can make these items for themselves. What other materials can you use to make clothing or accessories?
  • Introduce journal writing. Begin writing excerpts in the journal about your child’s day, activities, emotions, fears, hopes, goals, etc. Or just what they had for dinner. There’s no right or wrong. It’s an outlet for free expression. Suggest doodling as well.
  • Mystery Study! Let your child choose any topic they’d like to learn about. Anything goes. The subjects they’re interested in may surprise you! Assist them in looking up all you can about it. Draw pictures, write sentences, and call a friend or relative to tell them what they’ve learned. Verbally sharing helps retain info! Dedicate a notebook to these studies and pick a new subject to add to the notebook every few days or once a week.
  • Scholastic is offering free “Learn At Home” daily lesson plans online for grades prek – 6+
  • The Magic Bean. Glue a dried bean to the bottom of a sheet of paper (draw it if you don’t have one) and have your child draw what they think might grow out of it. A tree? Rainbow? Monkey? Anything goes. This is a great activity to do after reading Jack and the Beanstalk. If you don’t have the book, watch this YouTube read aloud video.
  • Worksheets. You can find plenty of free worksheets to download and print out from Teachers Pay Teachers. Just click “free” in the sidebar under pricing. There’s plenty of reasonably priced lessons for purchase, too. Further filter your search by selecting a subject and grade level in the sidebar. At the very least, you can get ideas for worksheets you can make yourself with a marker on a sheet of paper for your kids to work on. No need to be typed and fancy!


  • Is it raining? Make mud pies outside. Dollar stores have pots, pans, spoons, spatulas, cake pans for your kids to play in the mud with. Look for worms. Splash in puddles. Study different clouds. What is thunder? What is lightning?
  • If you have yard space, make a small river! Dig a trench in dirt and line it with foil (don’t rip it). Fill with water and let your kids put some toys in it. Construct bridges from sticks and bark to cross the river.
  • Color Hunt in nature. Make a list of colors and head out into your yard, go for a walk on your street or go on a nature walk on a trail. Look for items in nature that match your colors. Take a magnifying glass for more fun. Take a “treasure bag” to bring some of the items home if you’d like.
  • Make a Nature Face. In your yard, on a neighborhood walk or on a hike, collect items to use as parts of a face (rocks, grass, sticks, flowers, etc). On a large, oval shaped paper/cardboard cut-out, arrange your nature finds to make a face. Rearrange them to convey different emotions.
  • Sidewalk Chalk! Draw hopscotch squares and play. Draw “lanes” big enough to ride your bike in or pretend to drive a car in. Make small lanes to drive your toy cars on and add houses, stores, a lake, a park, etc. Play tic-tac-toe. Free draw.
  • Go for a bike ride and don’t forget your helmet. With so many business closures, look for large and empty parking lots to ride in.


  • Have lots of living room dance parties! Sample different types of music.
  • Use your body to create letters of the alphabet and spell words with your body. Have family members guess the words.
  • Play Simon Says. Try using the game to get your kids to do chores, too.
  • Play Hot or Cold. Hide an item somewhere in your home so your child can find it. Say “warmer” as they get closer to it and “colder” as they get farther. When they’re right next to it, say “Hot!”. You can play by hiding multiple items at a time, too (like an egg hunt). For older kids, use “north”, “south”, “east”, “west” to direct your child towards a hidden object. Have siblings hide items for each other (and cross your fingers it lasts long enough for some kid-free time).
  • Choose animals to act like: crawl like a cat, walk like a bear, hop like a bunny, slither like a snake, etc. Have family guess which animal you are.
  • Yoga for kids! (click for the YouTube channel)
  • Keep a balloon in the air, don’t let it touch the ground.









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