When I think of what school entails for elementary school-aged students, I typically think of reading, writing, and math. The subjects I would consider “extracurricular” include science, physical education, and music. To go further: I would name geography, computer skills, and social studies. Last year, our school distance-learning lessons consisted of reading, writing, and math with small amounts of physical education, music, and computer lab. We plan to follow our school distance-learning program, but I would also like to seek out a few extracurricular online programs.
Most schools will likely include music and physical education, so I scoured the internet for lessons in 1) science 2) computer skills 3) geography 4) social studies. As I started to research online, I found some correlating programs/activities that look extremely fun, informative, and engaging for kids. Below is a list of recommendations:
“Science Kids” is a website that has free lesson plans for Earth, animals, water, biology, chemistry, and technology. Here is the link: https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/lessonplans.html
“OMSI.com” is the website for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Resources for families include DIY science activities and science videos. Here is the link: https://omsi.edu/at-home
“Better Lesson” offers lessons for K-12 kids and are sorted into four categories 1) physical science 2) life science 3) Earth and space sciences 4) engineering, technology, and applications of science. Here is the link: https://betterlesson.com/browse/next_gen_science
“Typing.com” is a website that is “free for everyone!” This program teaches computer basics, keyboarding, and there is even a coding curriculum. Here is the link to sign up: https://www.typing.com/teachers
“Typing Club” boasts on its homepage that it is free, and that it always will be. There are fun games for kiddos and options to learn to type in many different languages. Here is the link for more info: https://www.typingclub.com/
“Farm Typing Game” is a cute game that is on turtlediary.com. The object is to pop bubbles that contain corn (and letters) down to a hungry rooster. The student can choose easy/medium/hard varying between identifying 1 and 7 letters. I know my kids will have a blast with this game. Here is the link: https://www.turtlediary.com/game/farm-typing.html
“National Geographic” is pretty much the perfect website if you would like to start teaching your kids geography. There are sections for map skills, different types of land, Earth elements, etc. There is educational materials and activities for kids’ pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. Here is the link: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/map-skills-elementary-students/
“JumpStart.com” is a website that provides geography lesson plans and downloadable, printable worksheets that teach about populations, world tours, and home and/or class maps. Here is the link: https://www.jumpstart.com/teachers/lesson-plans/geography-lesson-plans
“WeareTeachers.com” has an awesome list of 13 unique geography lessons for kids. Suggestions include setting up a pen-pal program with a teacher in another city or country, getting to know international foods, or studying the geography of ocean currents. This particular article has great links to information to support these lessons. I will definitely be using the resources! Here is the link: https://www.weareteachers.com/fun-geography-lessons/
“PBSLearningMedia.com” offers thousands of videos, interactive lessons, and lesson plans for families who would like to teach their children about social studies. A lot to explore here! There are also images, audio, and online references to social studies information. The information can be sorted by grade level and information type. I know my kids and I will be taking part in this amazing resource. Here is the link: https://opb.pbslearningmedia.org/subjects/social-studies/
“Scholastic.com” has some great hands-on suggestions for educators and families who would like their kids to learn about important elements of social studies. Some of the suggestions include making a “clothesline timeline” or making paper-plate people who are decorated with different accessories from different places, or different time periods. Here is the link: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/classroom-activities-making-social-studies-come-alive-grades-k-5/
“Education.com” has an impressive section regarding social studies. Activities and lessons are sorted by grade level, and the social studies section has many topics such as world cultures, government, history, national symbols, social skills, and many more. And the activities are awesome! “How to dig for gold” and “Making an Egyptian sarcophagus” are some interesting options that I found on there. I plan on using many of these activities. Here is the link: https://www.education.com/activity/social-studies/
I realize kids (and parents) will likely have their plates full of the minimum required distance-learning tasks. But I want to have these extracurricular resources locked and loaded for when my kiddos want a break/change of scenery from reading, writing, and math. These activities or lessons may be fun during early-evening hours, weekends, or for a break in the middle of our regular classwork. I am sure I will keep finding other topics to introduce, but I don’t want to overload them too much. Just like everything else in life: we will consider “trial and error” with curriculum additions. We are all continually learning with this “new normal” of required distance-learning.
Best of luck to you all in navigating and customizing your kiddos’ curriculums.
Stephanie McCoy was born and raised in Portland, Oregon-where she still lives. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Education degree from Concordia University. In her free time: she likes to read and write, get outdoors, embrace her kiddos and husband, and watch travel documentaries.