Do you think the children in your class can make their own breakfast? Plant a seed? Wrap a present? These are all practical life skills that aren’t just nice-to-haves; providing people with skills they can use to be independent gives them confidence to ‘have a go’ at tasks and problems they have never done before. This is a skill that could be applied to a more academic-focused curriculum.
But, teaching life skills at school, with an already jam-packed curriculum, can be pretty difficult to do. We have collated some great fun and low-cost home learning activities that pretty much any parent can get started with. You may need the help and support of parents on some of these, but if at the end of it, their children can do the laundry and make their own breakfast, everyone’s a winner!
Home learning activity ideas
- Doing the washing
- Plant some seeds
- Wrapping a gift
- Writing a letter or story
- Reading a story
- Preparing a meal
- Tidying their room
- Discovering a new hobby
- Keeping active
- Treasure hunt
- Let them be the teacher
1. Doing the washing
A maths lesson on measurements of liquids should cover the amount of detergent required to do a load of washing. Then ask parents to show their children the different steps involved in doing a wash and the correct settings on their washing machine. This will help to reduce mishaps with shrinkage and colour running.
2. Plant some seeds
It’s really common for young children to do science experiments at school that demonstrate what a seedling needs to grow healthily. But what about taking that a step further and planting the seedling into the ground to see what happens? Provide children simple instructions, for example:
- Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the container your seedling/plant is in.
- Remove the seeding/plant from the pot and place it in the hole.
- Push the soil back around the seedling/plant and gently pat it down being careful not to knock the seedling too much.
- Water it when there hasn’t been rain for a long time.
- Take weekly/monthly pictures of its progress.
3. Wrapping a gift
With all the children’s parties that your pupils attend every weekend, you’d hope they’d know how to wrap a present. Encourage them to ask their parent or guardian to show them, or find an online guide or YouTube video. There are tons of really clever ways to use up scraps of gift wrap. It’s also a great opportunity for children to let creativity and ribbon run away with them!
4. Writing a letter or story
Of course, children are practicing their creative writing all time, but practice makes perfect. Plus, writing letters and stories isn’t just about the correct use of adverbials. Writing letters is about communication and building relationships, and writing stories engages the creative part of a child’s mind. If you’ve given letters and stories a try, there are plenty of other ways you can bring creative writing to home learning to.
Encourage children to write a heartfelt letter or a dramatic story. Plus, here are 37 story starters to get the ball rolling and creative juices flowing.
5. Reading a story
When they’re done with writing their own, give them every opportunity for inspiration by reading other people’s creations. Reading at home can feed into a child’s English proficiency in the classroom, developing vocabulary and the reading competency that forms a vital part of their early educational journey.
Try and fit some time for storytelling in as often as you can, applying some of these teacher tips for reading for pleasure to your home.
6. Preparing a meal
Preparing a meal doesn’t have to be dangerous or complicated. A quick and easy breakfast could just be mixing fruit, yoghurt and some oats. But this simple task not only helps mum and dad out, it’s also practice for using enough ingredients for the amount of meals you need to make.
The BBC has an entire range of recipes aimed at children. Try to get children to share pictures of what they have made and be proud of their achievements. You never know who in your class might be the next Mary Berry!
We all rely heavily on GPS. But good old fashioned map reading can still come into its own and it’s a great life skill to have. Children could draw their own maps of their houses or garden and create their own voyage or adventure. Or, they could download free maps of their favourite museum or zoo and follow along with virtual tours that many of these establishments have on their websites.
8. Tidying their room
This may seem like a simple and obvious task. But setting children the job of tidying their room encourages a certain level of discipline as well as organisation skills. It also helps children take responsibility for their own spaces and actions. If you set it as homework, they might be more encouraged to give it a go, too!
As an extension of preparing a meal, baking is a great way to have some fun without losing sight of the need to learn. Aside from the creative aspects of baking (like decorating biscuits or a cake), with a little imagination, it can also improve other vital skills.
Reading recipes develops reading skills and introduces new, complex vocabulary. Plus, the lists of measurements are a perfect way to hone those maths skills.
Getting arty and introducing a craft activity, or another art-based task, is probably one of the most fun-filled home learning activities you could have a go at. Crafting is great for improving hand-eye coordination and creativity, sure. If aligned with the curriculum, you can make it central to what your children are learning at school too.
Science is a great example:
- Make a homemade cardboard telescope and teach your child about the wonders of magnification.
- Create a model planet Earth and discuss climate change or the solar system.
- Make a miniature hot air balloon and learn how rising heat allows them to fly.
11. Discovering a new hobby
A home learning session could simply be offering an opportunity for them to learn a new skill or try out a new hobby. Many of the hobbies and interests that children get involved in are beneficial to their educational journey, and if you’re conscious of tying it to the curriculum you could steer the activity in the right direction.
Writing songs and stories or learning instruments are great examples. They build key learning concepts like creativity, reading and writing, but they can be even more educational. Learning about the sea? Make up a rhyme or song about all the things you find there, or create a story that ties them all together.
Take another example – LEGO. LEGO is one of the most flexible kids’ toys around. Aside from the typical building we’re all familiar with, it also has plenty of applications in maths.
12. Keeping active
Instilling the importance of staying fit and healthy couldn’t be more vital in a child’s younger years. Thankfully, they’re likely to find it one of the most fun home learning activities, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to encourage them off the sofa and on their feet.
Again, you can adapt your activity and give it an educational spin. Make up a dance based on different moves and apply simple maths equations to instruct them how many of each move to make. Or, give them word and, depending on the categorisation of that word (verb vs noun for example), task them busting out a certain shape.
If you’re all out of ideas, just head to YouTube – a shed load of dedicated to this exact sort of thing.
13. Treasure hunt
As something a bit different, hide a variety of objects around the home and develop a series of clues or conundrums that help the child to find them. It’ll be sure to build vital problem-solving skills, and can be tailored to the child’s skill set and what they’re learning in class.
You could even use it as the carrot to doing something fun. Want to make something crafty? Not until you’ve solved all these clues, each of which finds us another thing we need to get started!
14. Let them be the teacher
Occasionally, why not switch it up and become the pupil. Allowing the child to be the teacher is a great way to give them some control for a short period, while also reinforcing what they’ve learned in class. Being able to explain concepts is a great way of showing your understanding of that topic. Aside from reinforcing learning, it can be a great way to discover gaps if your child doesn’t seem too confident.
Given how long it was since you were in the classroom, you’ll no doubt end up learning something new too!