Over the past few weeks, I have received so many messages from teachers asking for help with online learning and parents asking for help homeschooling their kids. I’ve started a series all about online learning to help BOTH teachers and parents who are feeling overwhelmed. In this post, we’re going to explore fun and engaging language arts activities for at-home learning. Whether you are taking on the role of virtual teacher or homeschool parent for the first time, these games and activities will have you on your way to providing great ELA instruction while students are at home!
Language Arts Activities: Reading
Whether going to school all day or social distancing, kids should spend time reading every day. Reading is so important, especially for kids, because reading helps expand vocabulary, reduces stress, and improves comprehension and memory skills. Here are a few ways to get your students excited about reading at home.
At-Home Novel Study
Select a novel you think will interest your child. Even better, allow your child to decide the novel you will read. Then, think of the novel study like an at-home book club. Each day, assign your child certain chapters or pages to read. You can decide whether to read them together or read them independently. After reading, take a few minutes to discuss what was read. Some questions you can ask include:
- What did you find most interesting?
- Were there any unfamiliar words or words that stood out to you?
- What was the main idea of the chapter?
- What do you think will happen next?
- Did the character change at all during this chapter or did he/she stay the same?
When doing an at-home novel study, make sure to give the student fun language arts activities to complete while reading the book. This can include activities such as:
- creating a movie poster for the book
- writing a song or poem to summarize the story
- writing a book review
- creating a slideshow about the book
- acting out part of the book or writing a script for a chapter
Novel studies are fun for students and adults. If you are feeling nervous about guiding your child through a novel study, there are lots of pre-made novel units on Teachers Pay Teachers. These pre-made units provide comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, assessments, and additional activities to go with the book of your choice. I always tell parents, “don’t reinvent the wheel” when it comes to teaching at home. These pre-made units can take a lot of stress away from teaching ELA at home.
Reading Language Arts Movie Night
Want another way to encourage your child to read? Bribe them with a movie night! At school, we are not allowed to show theatrical movies due to copyright laws, but you can show almost any movie to your family at home. When deciding what book to read, find one that has also been made into a movie. When the student finishes reading the book, host a family movie night. Then, take time to compare and contrast the book and the movie.
Language Arts Websites
If you are looking for leveled, nonfiction materials for your child to read at home, there are lots available on ELA websites. A few months ago, I created a post for teachers that lists free language arts websites for kids. Many of the resources are also available to you as a parent and provide access to leveled, current event articles. Some of the language arts websites even provide comprehension questions and ELA games for students to review what they read.
Language Arts: Writing
In addition to reading, students should practice writing skills every day. Luckily, there are many fun ways to encourage your child to write.
Daily Language Arts Writing Practice
One way to get your kid writing is to buy them a notebook or journal. Encourage them to write about their life and feelings each day. They can write as few or as many sentences as they want to describe what is happening in their life and the world around them.
The only problem with just writing in a journal each day is that journals do not encourage different styles of writing. If students are going to be out of school for weeks or months, they should be writing in a variety of styles such as creative, persuasive, informative, and descriptive. A great way to get students writing in different ways is with a writing prompt bundle. I have created a bundle with more than 140 writing prompts. These prompts can be printed and completed on paper. They can also be shared with students digitally and completed on the computer. These writing prompts save time by preventing teachers and parents from having to come up with their own writing prompts each day.
A research project is a great at-home ELA activity because it can span several days or even weeks. Have your child select a topic they are interested in. Some ideas include:
- an animal
- a famous or historical person
- a place they would like to visit
- their family history
Then, help your child research and take notes on the topic. If they are an elementary student, this may be new to them, so it is important that you guide them through the process. Help them find safe, quality websites with information and show them how to take notes on a topic. This process can be accomplished over several days.
Then, have your child take their research and create a report and a visual presentation with their findings. A visual presentation could be a slideshow, a poster, or a Google Site. Since this is an ELA activity that will take your child a lot of time to complete, have an at-home presentation where the student presents their project to the family. This an opportunity to work on public speaking skills, which are also part of many language arts standards. Allowing your child to present their work will also give them an opportunity to be proud of what they accomplished.
Language Arts Activities: Spelling and Grammar
While reading and writing are the most important language arts skills students should be practicing at home, there are also other ELA skills that students can be reviewing. Spelling and grammar are also important parts of ELA instruction that you can easily teach at home.
ELA Games for Word Work
You can create a list of spelling words for your child to practice each week. If you are not sure what words to use, there are ELA websites that list words students should know by the end of each grade level. You can also use words from a book you are reading or a subject your child is learning about. Then, have a short, fun game or activity your child can complete to review the words each day.
For the classroom, I have created word work task cards. There are more than 20 task cards, each with a different activity. Each day, students select a card and complete the activity on the card. These word work task cards can also be used at home in the same way by having students select an activity from a task card to complete each day.
If you are looking for language arts activities your child can complete with their friends while social distancing, host a spelling bee through Zoom or Google Hangouts. Students can take turns spelling words on camera while interacting with their friends. The kid who spells the most words correctly wins!
There are lots of fun ELA games you can play with a dictionary.
- Call out a random word and see which member of your family can find it the fastest.
- Have your child close their eyes, open the dictionary, and put their finger on a word.
- Give your child a challenge such as, “what is the most interesting word you can find that starts with the letter t?”
- Play a Pictionary game where you draw a picture and the student finds a word to describe the picture.
Most importantly, when playing dictionary games, it is important to take the time to review the words that are found. Make sure to review the part of speech, the meaning, and synonyms or antonyms.
If you are struggling to find language arts activities for at-home learning, start by getting your child to read and write each day. Then, as you begin to feel more comfortable and confident with at-home learning, find fun ELA games and activities to add with their reading and writing. I hope the games and activities listed in this post help you get started with teaching language arts at home!