What an odd time this is we’re living in right now, huh?!?! I am not proud to say we typically run a pretty rushed and hurried schedule around here, but for now, that has certainly changed. It can certainly be challenging having everyone home 24/7, and knowing this is the norm for the forceable future, but I am trying to embrace this “forced family fun”, as I call it. I want us to try to ENJOY our time together between online learning and me trying to squeeze in a bit of work here and there. After all, while this is certainly a crisis of sorts, we’re counting our blessings and doing our best to “make memories” as our family says when things may seem more difficult than usual as we smile with thanks. 

I have to admit… we are super spoiled with J.T.’s love for cooking. Having our own on-site chef here all day, every day, has been pretty dreamy. We’ve been enjoying the days of slow mornings that all of the sudden turn into lunch time that he already has ready for us. Fast forward several hours and he’s handing me my favorite cocktail (aperol spritz right now) and then the next thing I know… dinner is served!  Truth is, we both hate the grocery as well as coming up with ideas for all of our meals (usually it’s just dinner), but this time we mapped them all out together AND went to the store together (talk about a dreamy day-date), and now, he is pleased as punch to get to cook so much! While it’s lovely, if I’m not careful, I may not have any clothes that fit by the time socialize distancing is a thing of the past!-Haha. 

For those of you that don’t know, I used to be a teacher and I LOVED it! Kaiser has officially informed me she HATES I used to be a teacher because “I make them do so much that no one else’s mom makes them do.” As I remind her, I am here to be her parent not her friend… and I do miss the classroom so parts of creating this new routine is a little bit exciting for me. For the record, yes, I probably do make my children do more than the average family, and yes, they are watching TV (lots), but I refuse to let them just live in front of the TV for the next however many weeks. 

In the coming days I hope to share more about schedules and “remote learning” in our house (amongst other things), but for now, I want to focus on what I think is THE MOST important- as I noted before- MAKING MEMORIES with your children!  Yes, learning has to happen, but when possible, try to make things FUN and almost trick them into learning by making things into a game of some kind. When Kaiser ditches her “teenager attitude” she has fun with it, and Mary Catherine and James almost always enjoy a game!

Here are a few things I call learning, but the children have no idea they aren’t just playing. I have linked them all in the descriptions below in case you want to grab some of them!

Silly Sentences + Construction Paper: have children create sentences that fit together properly, then point to the words, and finally write the sentence and illustrate it. Older children can work together to create a whole silly story/book.

Hedbanz + index cards: Use the Hedbanz and write vocabulary words on the index cards. Use THOSE to play the game.  Mixing the reading of the word with the kinesthetic learning and then the verbal of  speaking it out loud will help children learn it permanently.

Magnetic boards are perfect for letter writing practice. Boogie Boards are often a more fun way to  practice sight words, ABC writing, or even writing sentence with proper  punctuation and capitalization. 

Banana Grams… so many ways to use these.: Make the ABC’s, Who can make the most words?, Create a word family (-at, -ap, -ish, etc), & make a list of wacky works and real words

Hot Wheels & Barbies: Have your children create word problems for each other. (For example, there are 5 cars on the Franklin Rd., 4 more cars tuned from Battery Lane onto Franklin Road. How many total cars ended up on Franklin Rd? obviously, the complexity increases the older the child is.)They must act it out themselves, then write it down for sibling to act out and solve on a piece or construction paper. Make a book out of all that are created during the week.

Dice are obviously more fun when they are oversized, but any size works. Young children can roll the die and replicate the dot formation, count them, and practice writing the number corresponding #. As they get a bit older, give them multiple dice and it turns into an addition game!  

Blocks these actually teach critical thinking skills but children feel like they are playing instead of working. That’s a win win in my book.   

There are also times that I want them (and me) to have some alone time. I am a firm believer that it is OK for children to be alone and have to figure out how ot entertain themselves. Here are some perfect games/toys you could provide for alone time all linked up for your shopping ease. 

Highlights ~ Fashion Plates ~ Perfection

Osmo (requires an ipad) ~ Magnatiles ~ Spirograph ~

Rush Hour ~ Perler Beads & Peg BoardsPunching Bag (for all you boy moms, this is a must)

Last but certainly not least, FAMILY GAME TIME is something we always enjoy but rarely take the time to sit down and do it. I am normally so tired by the end of the day I just don’t have the energy. How pathetic is that?!?!? Well, not this week or next… or maybe the next! We have a ton of games that we love and plan to take advantage of. We will call game time “social studies” and make it a lesson in taking turns, good sportsmanship, and following directions. How’s that sound?

There you have it… in a nutshell this is what we will be spening our time doing when we aren’t “online learning” for the forceable future!

What games do y’all play at your house that we need to try out?