How to Keep our Bilingual Kids Happy and Learning during Coronavirus – The Easy Way
As many of us are dealing with new routines, new realities, and changing circumstances, I’d like to share some easy ways to engage in activities with your kids at home – with a bilingual twist, of course!
In this time of uncertainty, many parents are feeling a bit lost about how to homeschool their kids while also working from home. We’ve been in this situation for going on four months now, and I promise:
it gets easier! It can even be an amazing bonding time for your family.
Whether you’re home for a planned break, self-quarantine, or you’re looking for new bilingual homeschool ideas, try these activities to keep your kiddos’ playfully learning this spring:
Go on a scavenger hunt
through your house or, if you are able to get outside, your neighborhood. Give children a list of items to find, written in the target language, and set them loose! Create your own, or choose one to download for free.
Do a spring-themed puzzle together.
Make a rule that participants can only use their target language to ask for pieces.
Attend a virtual circle time together.
Create Happy Easter, Mother’s Day Card
to brighten someone’s day. You can send them to relatives, friends, or patients in nursing homes or hospitals. Even a simple note or hand-drawn picture makes a great snail mail surprise! Easy Easter Arts and Crafts Ideas
A puppet show
in your target language. Encourage kids to come up with a story, find or make costumes and props, and then record or perform for the family. To help get the ideas flowing maybe start with a book, but don’t finish make the kids create the ending of the story as a puppet show.
Play Charades or Pictionary.
Another easy, no-prep game is “I Spy” – we like playing this while we eat dinner together. It keeps the family engaged and talking at the table.
Go on a virtual nature adventure
a virtual visit to a national park, planetarium, and more. Check out a full list of virtual visits here!
Take a virtual cultural field trip.
Tons of famous museums are offering free virtual tours. You can visit the Louvre in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York, and many more.
Learn a new recipe together.
The kitchen is one of the best places to practice language skills! Taste Buds Kitchen is offering a free at-home cooking club, with new recipe videos twice a week. For English and Spanish recipes for Kids check out Cooking with Languages
Coloring together can be calming, and you can use the time to discuss colors, the content of the picture, and how you’re feeling that day. Websites like crayola.com offer free printables. here our very own TimTimTom Underwater Adventure coloring pages, enjoy reading the story and coloring some cute underwater creatures.
Have younger children create a picture book.
You can find editable story frames online, or your kiddos can make a book from scratch using construction paper and markers. Older kiddos could create a short story or book of poems. They could even enter a writing contest!
Plant flowers or vegetables and use the target language
as you work together. There are lots of plants that do well indoors or on patios. Check out these kid-friendly plants for some inspiration.
Have a dance party.
Crank up some fun songs in the target language, or search Youtube for music videos. You may want to preview the video if it’s not specifically for kids ????
Read books together!
Read Aloud, Act them out, invent new endings…or beginnings. There are so many ways to “read” a book with kids. And Reading a Bilingual Book allows you to practice both languages while staying at home.
There are also several Youtube channels that have storytimes for kids in all sorts of languages. Here are a few options for you:
Get some exercise together!
Keep it simple, like jumping rope, stretching, or doing some beginner yoga moves. Sun salutations are my family’s favorite way to get moving in the morning. Try a kids’ yoga video for a more structured plan. Cosmic Kids Yoga combines storytelling and yoga – there are even some Spanish language versions! Or join a live PE class every weekday at 9 am GMT with personal trainer Joe Wicks. You can join him live if you are in the right timezone, otherwise you can see his videos here.
Organize a Virtual Bilingual Playdate
Set up FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom playdates with family members, your child’s classmates, or other friends. Even young kids enjoy connecting on video chats! A new app my teenage kids are using to stay in touch with their friends and even to do homework is Houseparty. Easy to use, especially if more than two kids are joining the playdate.
Check your local library’s digital resources.
Many give you access to online libraries, educational websites, audio and ebook downloads, and more. There are also libraries all over the world that present video storytimes, book groups, and other virtual learning opportunities.
This library system in the United States records one storytime per day for children to watch from home via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kclibrary/, or you can call their Dial-a-Story line to hear a book read over the phone. Amazon’s Audible Stories subscription of audible books and stories available in 6 languages is free as long as schools are closed.
And for a good cause Save with Stories helps kids in the US to continue learning and getting a meal during this very trying time. We would be thrilled to hear about your favorite resources and pull together a list for everyone looking for stories and books to keep the little ones playfully learning.
Use sidewalk chalk
and write messages and draw colorful spring-themed images. Or, decorate your windows with some make-at-home, washable window paint.
Watch a movie in your home language
Spend some quality snuggling time together as you watch a movie in your target language. Throw in some favorite snacks to make it extra special! Or spend some time watching some old family videos and laugh at your own ridiculous voices, outdated outfits and funny baby moments.
Have a living room or backyard picnic
Let the kids plan the menu and prepare the food together.
your kids can take turns leading a lesson for each other, for you, or for their stuffed animals. Encourage them to be creative, and of course to use their target language! It may be extra motivating to record a video of the lesson to share with friends and family.
Finally, I’d like to offer some advice from a parent who has been homeschooling since January due to the coronavirus outbreak. This time, while challenging, has actually been very positive for our family. We’ve learned to slow down, take breaks, be flexible, and be intentional as we all work and live together in a small space.
Go easy on yourself and your kids: we spent the first week in pajamas before we decided we should get cleaned up a bit! It helped us to make a schedule and try to stick to it, while also giving ourselves permission to change plans and go with the flow.
Will homeschool be challenging? Yes! Will it be impossible? Absolutely not – make the best of it and look for the positive each day. We’ve found this to be a wonderful time to bond as a family. And it definitely helps to know that we’re all in this together. We can do hard things!
So let’s lean on each other in this new and challenging time. What are your suggestions for life at home with kids? Do you have any fun ideas to share with us? Daily routines that work well for your family?
Comment below, or come join the conversation with us on Instagram.
Above all, remember that kids crave engagement, interaction, and snuggles. If you start there, you can’t go wrong!
A bilingual and personalized story that will spark your kid’s imagination and language ability.
You can customize the name and look of the child and choose any combination of two out of ten available languages.
(Some available language combinations: English-Spanish, English-German, English-Russian, English-Chinese, English-Portuguese, English-Italian, English-Dutch, English-French, French-German, Russian-German, Spanish-German.)
The books are now also available in one language
TimTimTom – Reading in Two Languages is Double the Fun