Covid-19 2020 Home Education

So tomorrow marks the first day in the UK where all parents (who aren’t key workers) will be trying to educate their kids at home. 

Of course, many of you will have done this already because you already had  to self-isolate  or because (like my older son) there were insufficient staff to properly teach. 

I have been thinking about this since the initial thoughts of closure and setting myself up as best I can and been saving resources, screengrabbing here and there and this is a collation of lots of view points which I hope you find useful.  

A POST FROM A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL : – 

Usual disclaimer, I’m a school principal but I speak only for myself. Others may have different ideas**

I’m seeing a lot of threads online with the same general theme, so I wanted to just given a schools perspective on it all and answer some FAQs. Also happy to answer any questions people have that I can answer.

Lots of people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by the work being sent home for kids. I hope this can help with that somewhat.

Few points to note first :

1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Let’s keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child’s school teacher in whatever form you choose . This is at best distance learning. In reality, it’s everyone trying to separate their bums from their elbows because none of us know what we’re doing and what’s right and wrong here.

2) You are, and always have been, your child’s primary educator. If you decide that your child isn’t going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, that is your choice. That is your right. It is clear in the constitution. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.

3) Schools don’t know what they’re doing either. They got no notice, no prep time and we’re told ‘continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home’ as if that is in any way possible. If it were, we’d all be out of a job very quickly. I won’t rant about my thoughts on the Dept on this, but suffice it to say your school is winging it.

4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you’re trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.

So, a few FAQs:

– My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!

You’re not, don’t try. Your child’s teacher spent a couple of hours in utter panic gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there weren’t a lot if complaints that enough didn’t go home. It’s not a competition, or a race, it’s unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.

– My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop. Ahhhhhh

See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried itl be said they’re not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don’t if they don’t. If you’re getting stressed, stop opening the emails. No one will know!

– X in my child’s class has everything done and we’ve barely started. Will they fall behind?

Even if everything were equal in terms of support and time and number of kids etc (which its not) kids learn at different rates. In the class there’s a wide range of levels in all subjects, there’s different paces and there are many kids working on differentiated level of work. It’s almost impossible for teachers do differentiate at the moment, so you have to do it. By expectation and by time.

Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If kids could learn new concepts without specific teaching we wouldn’t need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.

– I’m not doing any work with my kids. All their doing is Lego, cooking and playing outside.

All of this is learning. Very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.

– How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?

You can’t, stop trying. If they’re old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.

– So what’s the bare minimum you’d expect?

For me, survival mode. I won’t pretend that may be true of all teachers, but you know what if they can’t have perspective in a time like this then I wouldn’t overly worry about their opinion anyway.

My ideal for my kids in our school?

– A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)

– some free writing now and then. If they’ll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?

– Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games physical or digital. 

– Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.

– Physical exercise everyday

– Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn’t need to be guided.

-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.

– If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.

You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don’t let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.

Happy to answer any questions if you have any. 

HOME EDUCATION PERSPECTIVE

This is absolutely spot on advice written  by an experienced Home Educator who wishes to remain anonymous ❤️

Tips for PARENTS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN who might be spending a lot of time at home together in the near future, because 😷🦠. Hopefully these are some useful tips/thoughts/experience from a HOME EDUCATOR’S PERSPECTIVE on what can work at home. NB: this is what works for us, and all families are different, so take however much is useful to you and leave the rest. Bare in mind, if your child is receiving work to do at home from school, that external factor may give quite a different dynamic to home ed, so your experiences may differ too. But I still hope some bits of this might be useful.

1. Replicating school at home doesn’t work. This is a truth almost universally acknowledged in home ed groups by parents who tried it, including qualified trachers. Naturally sometimes parents begin home ed in a school-like manner, perhaps after removing a child from school, thinking that’s the way to go. But it seems 9/10 times families quickly discover this is a route to frustration for children and parents. So if this happens to you, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal, read on for alternatives. 🙂

2. It’s fine for children to be bored. Actually it’s good for children to be bored. Perhaps not all the time, but definitely sometimes. Boredom breeds creativity. Our minds cannot stay idle, so inevitably they find something to do, and often they find surprising and interesting things. Isaac Newton began his discovery of gravity at home when Cambridge University closed because of the plague. Shakespeare also wrote some of his best regarded plays while hiding in the countryside from the plague. Possibly if feeling bored is unusual for a child, they might find it uncomfortable at first, but rest assured it is good and valuable. Parents, we do not always have to “solve” boredom.

3. Schools spend less time on learning than you might think. There are several calculations by teachers-turned-home-educators that attempt to quantify actual learning time in schools. When the breaks, and moving around, and getting things out and putting things away, and controlling behaviour and setting expectations, and golden time, and school photos, and last day of term, and a million other things are taken into account, how much focused learning time is left on average per day? The calculations range from 45mins to 2hours. Consider scaling back your own expectations accordingly.

4. Learning doesn’t have to be at a table with a worksheet. Oodles can be learnt through cooking, gardening, household tasks*, reading stories to each other, board games, card games, toys and roleplay, sewing and knitting, art and crafts, DIY, servicing a car or bike, music, radio, discussing the news, magazines, documentaries… Some families find that things learnt in an active practical way can stick better than learning on paper.

(* Yes cleaning really can be educational – think of all the science involved in descaling a sink, enzymes in washing up liquid, microbes on surfaces, dissolving stains in solvents…)

5. You don’t have to already know everything your child needs/wants to learn. Welcome questions and try to find answers together if you don’t know. Actually you might want to search for answers together even if you do know, because how to find things out for yourself is a valuable skill for kids to develop. In periods when children’s questions aren’t forthcoming, try voicing your own questions out loud while you go about your tasks, or ask kids their opinion on something to start a discussion. For older kids (we aren’t there yet) it seems to be about helping them find resources (people, clubs, books, courses) that they can learn from. “Facilitator not teacher” is a phrase sometimes used.

6. Learning doesn’t have to happen in school hours. You probably have the children with you longer than they would be in school, so you have the option to pick times when they are more receptive, or that fit with family needs. Some families come to consider all-day every-day as learning time, by noticing and using learning possibilities in all of everyday life.

(7. Because I can’t not mention it after 4 and 6: home learning doesn’t have to happen at home. Unfortunately right now there may be No, or Very Limited, options to go out – follow the advice for your country. But rest assured that there are some (many) home educating families who usually go out a lot, and they may well be having similar challenges staying at home as school families do.)

8. Set expectations/ have a rhythm. This might be very individual, but what works for us, while not being too rigid, is to have a pattern of when we do activities together and when we don’t. Eg you might come together to do a joint activity in the morning after breakfast. And during meal prep and clear up might be independent play/activities that they choose themselves. I find I still need to remind frequently that I won’t be taking part in complicated parent-dependant activities when I’m in the middle of clearing up the lunch carnage! And reminding of the slots when we do those things together really helps.

9. Consider including quiet time/a break for everyone. Ours coincides with the toddler’s afternoon nap. But even before a younger sibling, we found it helpful to have a quiet break after lunch. This is when I get some quiet thinking/headtasks time (those things not being at all compatible with awake toddlers). The older one might have some screen time, and/or she usually has creative projects that she wants to work on. It took us some practice to get this going well.

10. Having a bad day? However crazy and distracting your household (younger siblings, pets, deliveries, illness, broken washing machines…) is it truly more crazy and distracting than 30 other kids? Or, if you feel like you didn’t give enough attention to your child today, was it really less than 1/30th of the attention of the teacher at school? Probably not. These can be helpful thoughts, especially on a bad day.

11. Minimise prep, or include the kids in preparing for future activities. Because, quite differently to a teacher, you have these kids with you *all the time*. If you can’t find a way to get it done together, it probably isn’t going to happen. I try not to use the quiet time/break for prepping because that isn’t a really a break and I wouldn’t emerge sufficiently refreshed for getting through the rest of the day.

12. Look for activities that you get something out of as well as the kids. This is how to stay sane. Do as many of these as possible.

13. Atmosphere. You can always subtly change how a situation feels by putting on music, changing lighting, opening a window,…

14. Lead by example. Do you wish your child would show an interest in something (more) wholesome (than what they’re doing right now)? What might happen if you gather some interesting objects on the table, and some paper and pencils, and begin drawing? Or put on some exercise clothes and get out your yoga mat and video? Make sure to just casually happen to have some spare pencils & paper/floorspace nearby ready for any requests to join in. Play it cool and don’t be obvious about hoping they’ll take an interest, and keep an open mind about what follows. This can work with so many activities. They might choose to join in, or they might not this time. But chances are they’ll have noticed, and you hopefully got to do something you enjoyed for a short time, and you’ve set a great example, and… sometimes interesting responses emerge much later. 😉

15. Don’t compare. Inevitably we tend to share the highlights where a child made something we’re proud of. We don’t share the moment when the floor can’t be seen, every opportunity provided for doing something wholesome has failed all morning, both the kids are screaming because you dared to use the loo, lunch is hours late, and the toddler has smeared poo on the coffee table. 🤦 But even with the highlights, just because a friend seems to do lots of X or Y, doesn’t mean we all should. Families are different, so focus on what works for yours. Including, ignoring all of the above advice if you think that’s best!

THOUGHTS ON SNACKS & RATIONING THEM

I have seen a few “tuck shops” where parents are “charging” either monopoly money or real money so that the children don’t expect to be fed all day. 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT 

Clubs and businesses who provide this kind of club which have had to close their doors 

will want to carry on going after this quarantine time has finished so if you can possibly afford to, please continue to pay for your classes, which may be online for a time. 

Friend of Gingham Cloud, Mama.codes who teach coding to kids have some brilliant online offerings here: https://www.mama.codes/online

A MASSIVE LIST OF RESOURCES ONLINE AND OTHER

Audible  have released all  their  children’s  titles for free.

✅The San Diego Zoo has a website just for kids with amazing videos, activities, and games. Enjoy the tour! https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/

✅Tour Yellowstone National Park!

https://www.nps.gov/…/lea…/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm

✅Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover. 

https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/

✅This Canadian site FarmFood 360 offers 11 Virtual Tours of farms from minks, pigs, and cows, to apples and eggs. https://www.farmfood360.ca/

✅Indoor Activities for busy toddlers 

https://busytoddler.com/2020/03/indoor-activities/…

✅Play games and learn all about animals

https://switchzoo.com/

✅Play with fave show characters and learn too https://pbskids.org/

✅Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre with this virtual field trip. 

https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

✅This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.

https://www.thechinaguide.com/destinati…/great-wall-of-china

✅Math and Reading games https://www.funbrain.com/

✅Phonics skills https://www.starfall.com/h/

✅This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/

✅ Read, play games, and hang out with Dr. Seuss https://www.seussville.com/

✅300,000+ FREE printable worksheets from toddlers to teens https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printabl…/

✅Geography and animals

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

✅Math practice from counting to algebra and geometry http://www.mathscore.com/

✅Fave kids books read by famous people https://www.storylineonline.net/

✅Crafts, activities, mazes, dot to dot, etc, https://www.allkidsnetwork.com/

✅High school chemistry topics https://www.acs.org/…/hi…/chemmatters/articles-by-topic.html

✅Math and reading games https://www.abcya.com/

✅Math and language games https://www.arcademics.com/

✅Hands on Elem science videos https://www.backpacksciences.com/science-simplified

✅Voice based learning… learn through Alexa https://bamboolearning.com/resources

✅Fun games, recipes, crafts, activities https://www.highlightskids.com/

✅ClickSchooling brings you daily recommendations by email for entertaining websites that help your kids learn. https://clickschooling.com/

✅Math as a fun part of your daily family routine http://bedtimemath.org/

✅Games to get “into the book” https://reading.ecb.org/

✅Online history classes for all ages preteen through adults https://school.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive

✅Biology https://www.biologysimulations.com/

✅ Elem Math through 6th grade https://boddlelearning.com/

✅Educational games K-12 https://www.breakoutedu.com/funathome

✅Digital archive of history https://www.bunkhistory.org/

✅Test Prep for SAT, ACT, etc. https://www.bwseducationconsulting.com/handouts.php

✅Geometry https://www.canfigureit.com/

✅Resources for Spanish practice https://www.difusion.com/campus/

✅Chinese learning activities https://chalkacademy.com/

✅Music is for everyone https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Experiments

✅Science, Math, Social Studies https://www.ck12.org/student/

✅Grammar practice for middle grades https://www.classroomcereal.com/

✅Daily free science or cooking experiment to do at home.http://www.clubscikidzmd.com/blog/

✅Chemistry https://www.playmadagames.com/

✅Reading passages for grades 3-12, with reading comprehension and discussion questions. https://www.commonlit.org/

✅Vocabulary, grammar, listening activities and games in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin. https://conjuguemos.com/

✅35,000 pages of online content on the cultures and countries of the world. https://www.countryreports.org/

✅K-5th Science lessons https://mysteryscience.com/

✅Tons of free classes from leading universities and companies https://www.coursera.org/

✅Free printable K-8 Reading and Math activity packs (available in English and Spanish) https://www.curriculumassociates.com/supporting-students-aw

✅Digital learning content for preschool through high school https://www.curriki.org/

✅A wide range of math content from middle school through AP Calculus. https://deltamath.com/overview

✅Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/…/learnathome.html

✅3 Free Weeks of Maker Stations to keep your children creating at home! Each challenge includes simple instructions using materials around the house, QR code video resources, and a student recording sheet. bit.ly/freemakerstations

✅Classes for older teens or adults https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/lp/t1/freemo

✅Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. http://discoveryk12.com/dk12/

✅Printable board games, activities and more for phonics and reading all using evidence-based methods. Can be customized to any student’s needs including creating flashcards for other subjects. https://dogonalogbooks.com/printables/

✅K-8 online math program that looks at how a student is solving problems to adjust accordingly and build a unique learning path for them. https://www.dreambox.com/at-home

✅Engaging reading game for grades 2-8 that combines strategy, engagement, and imaginative reading passages to create a fun, curriculum-aligned literacy game. https://www.squigglepark.com/dreamscape/

✅Higher level math series… online video series with detailed solutions to more than a thousand publicly-released College Board SAT Math, Subject Test Math Level 1, and Subject Test Math Level 2 problems.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbQoCpvYRYRkRRvsObOPHaA

✅Foreign languages https://www.duolingo.com/

✅Interactive video earth science based curriculum supplement. https://www.everyday-earth.com/

✅A safe research site for elementary-level readers. They are offering — free 24/7 access

https://www.facts4me.com/

✅Resources for AP students including live reviews, live trivia, and study guides! https://app.fiveable.me/

✅Educational brain breaks to help students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. Our site is best used for ages 4-8. https://fluencyandfitness.com/register/school-closures/

✅Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. https://www.gonoodle.com/

✅7,000 free videos in 13 subject areas https://hippocampus.org/

✅Carmen Sandiego videos, stories, and lessons for all subject areas https://www.carmensandiego.com/resources/

✅Math Videos with lessons, real life uses of math, famous actors https://www.hmhco.com/math-at-work

✅Entertaining & educational videos for all levels and subjects 

https://www.izzit.org/index.php

✅Online education program for toddler through high school… https://www.khanacademy.org/

✅Free Printables for PreK-2nd Grade https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/…/Lite…/Price-Range/Free

✅Free printables library with activities for children 0-6 https://www.littlesparkcompany.com/printables-library

✅Free at-home kids yoga lesson plans https://littletwistersyoga.com/online-store/

✅Magic Spell is a carefully crafted spelling adventure. https://brainbox.games/

✅Resources for AP students https://marcolearning.com/

✅Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and they show you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college. https://www.mathcelebrity.com/online-math-tutor.php

✅Elem Math games, logic puzzles and educational resources https://www.mathplayground.com/

✅Poetry and music https://www.thewell.world/mindful-mu…/mindful-poetry-moments

✅3D printing projects and Coding projects, involving math and other K-12 subjects https://www.instructables.com/…/EdgertonCent…/instructables/

✅Introductory and intermediate music theory lessons, exercises, ear trainers, and calculators. https://www.musictheory.net/

✅Scads of free resources, games, learning resources, and lesson plans for teaching personal finance https://www.ngpf.org/

✅Improve your typing skills while competing in fast-paced races with up to 5 typers from around the world. https://www.nitrotype.com/

✅Illustrated recipes designed to help kids age 2-12 cook with their grown-ups. Recipes encourage culinary skills, literacy, math, and science. https://www.nomsterchef.com/nomster-recipe-library

✅Online curriculum that builds better writers. https://www.noredink.com/

✅80+ do at home science activities https://elementalscience.com/…/n…/80-free-science-activities

✅Daily lessons and educational activities that kids can do on their own https://www.superchargedschool.com/

✅Adaptive curriculum in Math and ELA for Grades K-8

https://www.scootpad.com/

✅Novel Effect makes storytime a little more fun for kids (and grown-ups too!) As you read out loud from print books (or ebooks!) music, sound effects, and character voices play at just the right moment, adjusting and responding to your voice. https://noveleffect.com/

✅Quick & easy at home projects curated for kids 2 and up

https://www.kiwico.com/kids-at-home

✅Teaches students how to write a paragraph through interactive online tutorial http://www.paragraphpunch.com/

✅PreK-12 digital media service with more than 30,000 learning materials https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/

✅Curricular content hub specifically designed for K-3 students.

https://pebblego.com/free-pebblego-capstone-interactive-acc…

✅Science and math labs and simulations https://phet.colorado.edu/

✅An online physics problem and video bank designed for conceptual, standard, honors or AP1 physics. https://www.positivephysics.org/home

✅Prodigies is a colorful music curriculum for kids 1-12 that will teach your kids how to play their first instrument, how to sing in tune & how to understand the language of music! 21 for free https://prodigiesmusic.com/

✅Free videos from around the world from grade 3-12

https://www.projectexplorer.org/

✅QuaverMusic is offering free access to general music activities to all impacted schools, including free student access at-home https://www.quavermusic.com/info/at-home-resources/

✅For students to practice and master whatever they are learning. https://quizlet.com/

✅ReadWorks is an online resource of reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. https://www.readworks.org/

✅Critical Thinking resources for K-6 students https://marketplace.mythinkscape.com/store/redtkids

✅Music Based Spanish Learning https://rockalingua.com/

✅Science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology

https://sepuplhs.org/

✅The Shurley English program for grades K-8 provides a clear, logical, and concrete approach to language arts. https://www.shurley.com/

✅Sight reading and sight singing practice exercises. https://www.sightreadingfactory.com/

✅Music practice transformed https://www.smartmusic.com/

✅Spellingcity is free right now with code VSCFree90

https://www.spellingcity.com/

✅Kid-friendly workouts — choose from Strength for Kids, Agility for Kids, Flexibility and Balance for Kids, Warm-Up for Kids, Cooldown for Kids, Stand Up and Move for Kids, OR create your own custom kid workout. https://app.sworkit.com/collections/kids-workouts

✅A collection of hundreds of free K-12 STEM resources, from standalone models and simulations to short activities and week long sequences of curriculum materials. https://learn.concord.org/

✅Course sets (Levels 1–5) that combine and thoroughly cover phonics, reading, writing, spelling, literature, grammar, punctuation, art, and geography—all in one easy-to-use, beautiful course. https://www.goodandbeautiful.com/

✅At home OT, PT, and ST resources designed to build skills in children through movement and play. https://www.theottoolbox.com/

✅Science projects that can be completed with or without Internet access https://sciencespot.net/Pages/classhome.html

✅Keyboarding practice https://www.typingclub.com/ or https://www.typing.com/

✅Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school where students directly engage in science phenomena as they solve problems. https://www.tytoonline.com/

✅Short videos and readings that answer various burning questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions. http://wonderopolis.org/

✅Math practice https://xtramath.org/#/home/index

✅K-5 curriculum that builds deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students https://www.zearn.org/

✅A quick start resource to help families pull together a plan for surviving the next 1-2 months at home with their kids, but it can also be a time of slowing down and enjoying kids as they learn.

Preschool through 8th grade https://abetterwaytohomeschool.com/learning-at-home-everyth

✅450 Ivy League courses that you can take https://www.freecodecamp.org/…/ivy-league-free-online-cou…/…

✅Spelling 1-4 grade

https://www.spellingtraining.com/

✅2,500+ online courses from top institutions https://www.edx.org/

✅22 languages to learn https://www.memrise.com/

✅Learn to code https://www.codecademy.com/

✅Miscellaneous games for all subjects k-8 https://www.funbrain.com/

✅Phonics and learning to read https://readingeggs.com/

✅PreK – 5 games for all subjects https://www.turtlediary.com/

✅Online digital coloring pages https://www.thecolor.com/

✅Every course you could possibly want to homeschool preschool – 8 https://allinonehomeschool.com/

✅Every course you could possibly want to homeschool for high school https://allinonehighschool.com/

✅Phonics worksheets for kids https://www.funfonix.com/

✅Free stories online ages 3-12 https://www.freechildrenstories.com/

✅National Geographic Young Explorers is a magazine designed specifically for kindergarten and first grade students. Children can listen to the magazine being read to them as they follow along with the highlighted text. https://ngexplorer.cengage.com/ngyoungexplorer/index.html

✅Learn all about earthquakes https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/

✅Learn all about the periodic table https://www.chemicool.com/

✅Farmer’s almanac for kids… Date, weather, moon phase, etc. https://www.almanac.com/kids

✅Guide to gardening for kids https://web.extension.illinois.edu/firstgarden/

✅Website allows students to play basic games to reinforce math skills and compete against the computer or others https://www.mangahigh.com/en-us/

✅Space science for kiddos https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/index.html

✅Math Games, Logic Puzzles and Brain Builders https://www.mathplayground.com/

✅Games, quizzes and fact sheets take kids on a journey through time. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/forkids/

✅NGAkids interactives offer an entertaining and informative introduction to art and art history. https://www.nga.gov/education/kids.html

✅News and more for kids https://www.youngzine.org/

✅Randomly generates 356,300,262,144 story starters

https://thestorystarter.com/

✅Immerse yourself in cryptography https://www.cryptoclub.org/

✅Math games galore https://gridclub.com/

✅Tons of science experiments that you can do at home

https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/

✅An interactive way to learn history 

https://www.mission-us.org/

✅Just explore, have fun, and learn some science along the way. https://thehappyscientist.com/

✅Interactive games based on the book series

✅Work on the 8 parts of speech https://www.grammaropolis.com/

✅Learn all about cells https://www.cellsalive.com/

✅All sorts of learning here if you dig in https://www.google.com/earth/

✅Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning. https://scratch.mit.edu/

✅A wonderful, endlessly detailed way to get kids engaged in the world of art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/

✅Tests kids’ geography skills. Using images from Google’s Street View, it plops players down in the middle of the street and asks them to figure out where they are. https://www.geoguessr.com/

✅Allows students to type in any city, state, or country to view an archive of historical photographs and other documents. It’s a unique way to help them learn about history. 

http://www.whatwasthere.com/

✅Short videos about numbers that help kids explore complex math topics and make math more fun. https://www.numberphile.com/

✅A human visualization platform that allows students to explore the human body in really cool ways. https://human.biodigital.com/login?returnUrl=%2Fdashboard

✅Helps kids learn to appreciate the arts by providing them with the opportunity to play games, conduct investigations, and explore different forms of art. https://artsology.com/

✅Lets kids play instruments online. Instruments include the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, and bongos. https://www.virtualmusicalinstruments.com/

✅Crafts, activities, bulletin board designs, and finger plays for early education teachers and parents to use with kids.

http://www.preschoolexpress.com/

✅A large selection of fun songs to help teach preschool and kindergarten students https://www.songsforteaching.com/preschoolkindergarten.htm

✅Resource section includes free flashcards, coloring pages, worksheets, and other resources for children, teachers, and parents. https://supersimple.com/

✅Life skills curriculum for students in grades K-12. Their resources include strategies for teaching social and emotional skills. https://www.overcomingobstacles.org/

✅Coding for ages 4-10 https://www.kodable.com/

✅No need to travel to one of the Smithsonian’s zoos or museums — this website brings your child everything from live video of the National Zoo to the Smithsonian Learning Lab right to their screen https://www.si.edu/kids

✅Cool Kid Facts gives your child access to educational videos, pictures, quizzes, downloadable worksheets, and infographics. They can use these to learn about geography, history, science, animals, and even the human body. 

✅This interactive website, hosted by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, allows your child to see the ins and outs of the U.S. government by taking a series of learning adventures with none other than Benjamin Franklin. https://bensguide.gpo.gov/

✅This NASA initiative covers a wide range of topics including weather, climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals. https://climatekids.nasa.gov/

✅Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education project from Washington State University. Kids can send Dr. Universe any question they may have about history, geography, plants, animals, technology, engineering, math, culture, and more. 

✅Your child can play games, learn fun facts, and find out how to turn coin collecting into a hobby. https://www.usmint.gov/learn/kids

✅From rainbows to tornadoes and winter storms to tsunamis, meteorologist Crystal Wicker breaks down the fascinating world of weather. http://www.weatherwizkids.com/

✅Kids Think Design explores careers in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, book design, product design, film and theatre, architecture, animation, and environmental design. http://www.kidsthinkdesign.org/

✅This educational website hosted by the Smithsonian Museum takes a deep dive into ocean life. https://ocean.si.edu/

✅Brainscape offers over a million flashcard decks for every subject, entrance exam, and certification imaginable. https://www.brainscape.com/

✅The Theta Music Trainer offers a series of online courses and games for ear training and music theory. 

https://trainer.thetamusic.com/en

✅Banzai exposes students to real-world financial dilemmas to teach them the importance of smart money management. https://www.teachbanzai.com/

✅Innerbody explores the 11 bodily systems in depth. With interactive models and detailed explanations, this website will help them learn more about the internal mechanics of the amazing human body.https://www.innerbody.com/htm/body.html

✅Free Ivy League courses 

https://www.freecodecamp.org/…/ivy-league-free-online-cours…

✅MIT courses https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

Khan Academy

https://www.khanacademy.org/

Especially good for maths and computing for all ages but other subjects at Secondary level. Note this uses the U.S. grade system but it’s mostly common material.

BBC Learning

http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/coursesearch/

This site is old and no longer updated and yet there’s so much still available, from language learning to BBC Bitesize for revision. No TV licence required except for content on BBC iPlayer.

Futurelearn

https://www.futurelearn.com/

Free to access 100s of courses, only pay to upgrade if you need a certificate in your name (own account from age 14+ but younger learners can use a parent account).

Seneca

https://www.senecalearning.com/

For those revising at GCSE or A level. Tons of free revision content. Paid access to higher level material.

Openlearn

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Free taster courses aimed at those considering Open University but everyone can access it. Adult level, but some e.g. nature and environment courses could well be of interest to young people.

Blockly

https://blockly.games/

Learn computer programming skills – fun and free.

Scratch

https://scratch.mit.edu/explore/projects/games/

Creative computer programming

Ted Ed

https://ed.ted.com/

All sorts of engaging educational videos

National Geographic Kids

https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/

Activities and quizzes for younger kids.

Duolingo

https://www.duolingo.com/

Learn languages for free. Web or app.

Mystery Science

https://mysteryscience.com/

Free science lessons

The Kids Should See This

Wide range of cool educational videos

Crash Course

https://thecrashcourse.com/

You Tube videos on many subjects

Crash Course Kids

https://m.youtube.com/user/crashcoursekids

As above for a younger audience

Crest Awards

https://www.crestawards.org/

Science awards you can complete from home.

iDEA Awards

https://idea.org.uk/

Digital enterprise award scheme you can complete online.

Paw Print Badges

https://www.pawprintbadges.co.uk/

Free challenge packs and other downloads. Many activities can be completed indoors. Badges cost but are optional.

Tinkercad

https://www.tinkercad.com/

All kinds of making.

Prodigy Maths

https://www.prodigygame.com/

Is in U.S. grades, but good for UK Primary age.

Cbeebies Radio

https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/radio

Listening activities for the younger ones.

Nature Detectives

https://naturedetectives.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetect…/

A lot of these can be done in a garden, or if you can get to a remote forest location!

British Council

https://www.britishcouncil.org/school-resources/find

Resources for English language learning

Oxford Owl for Home

https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/

Lots of free resources for Primary age

Big History Project

https://www.bighistoryproject.com/home

Aimed at Secondary age. Multi disciplinary activities.

Geography Games

https://world-geography-games.com/world.html

Geography gaming!

Blue Peter Badges

https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/joinin/about-blue-peter-badges

If you have a stamp and a nearby post box.

The Artful Parent

https://www.facebook.com/artfulparent/

Good, free art activities

Red Ted Art

https://www.redtedart.com/

Easy arts and crafts for little ones

The Imagination Tree

https://theimaginationtree.com/

Creative art and craft activities for the very youngest.

Toy Theater

Educational online games

DK Find Out

https://www.dkfindout.com/uk/…

Activities and quizzes

Twinkl

https://www.twinkl.co.uk/

This is more for printouts, and usually at a fee, but they are offering a month of free access to parents in the event of school closures.

HOPE THIS HELPS and see you on the other side

xOlivia

A MASSIVE LIST OF RESOURCES ONLINE AND OTHER

Six steps to avoid being on the back foot online

The cobbler’s children have no shoes. This is a common complaint for SMEs – that you’re so busy working for your clients that you’re not taking care of your own. This can take two forms – either that you’re hustling so hard that you’re burning the candle at both ends and then end up with health issues, or that you are so engrossed with the work for this month that you’ve not lined up any for next – creating a common feast and famine cycle. A recent Forbes article claims that even Coca-Cola spent 18.3% of revenue in 2018 on marketing and advertising –  a spend  of $5.8 billion. This equates to nearly one day a week spent marketing. 

Are you doing this? Last week I attended an event run by content guru Janet Murray (janetmurray.co.uk) where the speakers between them had an online reach of over 6million followers. Over many presentations, different platforms were covered in huge detail, from SEO and getting found on Google to whether there is any point to Twitter (jury’s still out!).

So I’m sharing six key takeaways from my trip for business owners who have an interest in growing their client base which will ensure that their marketing and communication efforts will work.

Be constant: Posting regularly is vital. Tumbleweed blowing around a social media presence does not inspire confidence to a visitor at all. It’s the online equivalent of newspaper taped across a shop window. If you’re not comfortable using a specific network, then just delete your profile and don’t use it, but pay decent attention to the ones you do like. 

Be on video:  YouTube algorithms reward those who are posting regularly. Many of my clients and even I myself are intimidated by video. But I’ve been so inspired by this event, I’ll be opening my own channel this very week. Its potential to help you get found online is huge and it’s easier than ever to make a watchable video.

Be realistic: Everyone starts with 0 followers. Don’t get caught up on how many (or few) likes and followers you have, instead , engagement – people talking back to you, is actually of more importance. 

Be organised: Posting regularly online does take time and planning but if you are creating content that is valuable then the right people will find you, but be mindful that it takes many “touch points” before you make sale.

Be artistic:  Images matter – don’t just snap any old thing – try and think about photo composition. This doesn’t need to be photoshopped to death, you’re not a Kardashian.  But do ensure that what you’re posting reflects you and your business.

Be true to yourself: Remember that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room – make sure you’re polite and helpful and the clients will find you. 

Which of these steps can you take to make sure you’re building your business for the future? 

Why I’m attending Build Your Audience Live 2019

I’ve been attending events run by Janet Murray for over 10 years. When she was a journalist she ran a forum for fellow freelance journalists (like me) and we had get-togethers that were legendary. So I know that she packs value in .

It’s also really important to me to invest in learning new skills which I can bring to my clients. What’s great about this is that Janet’s events are paired with networking and meeting the best in the industry which makes them a pleasure to attend. Oh and the food is always amazing.

I’m already excited about the food at the event.


Janet does a great job of bringing people together. Her events aren’t rushed and have lots of opportunity to mingle and make connections. As in everything she does, she goes the extra mile in creating delegate info so you can see who’s attending and be sure not to miss someone who could be a useful contact or even potential colloborator.

Many of the contacts I have met through Janet have become of great help professionally – if I’m not working directly with them, then they’ve been able to point me in the direction of help/clients. It’s been a huge help. I’m so convinced that this event will be brilliant, I’m providing a free gift for the goody bag.

You’ll meet some of the world’s most inspiring marketing experts – all of whom have built a large online audience on a particular platform (or several) and are generating income online  (including passive income from courses, memberships and affiliate marketing).

What’s great is that you don’t just get to hear them speak…you get to hang out with them for the full two day event.  I only met the inimitable Gary Vaynerchuk by sheer fluke when I shelled out over £1000 to go to TNW in Amsterdam back in 2016. But with Janet’s event so you can chat to speakers over, coffee, lunch, dinner – and get personalised advice during dedicated table talks.

Plus I know it’s a chance to spend a few days with like-minded coaches, consultants, experts and entrepreneurs who are also looking to build their online audience.

Janet has pulled together a longer version of 10 reasons to attend that you can view here. But there’s so much that I’m looking forward to: I met the supremely charistmatic Youtuber Jess Dante at another JM event and was impressed with her knowledge. I have been following manly pinterest guru Jeff Sieh for ages so am already working out which early train I need to get to the breakfast session. And I love love love a live tweet along at an event so am excited to hear more from #FOMOcreator May King Tsang on anything I may have missed.

All in all I know it’s going to be a cracking couple of days. If you’re looking for a way to build your audience, I can highly recommend it.

I think BYAL tickets are no longer available but worth a shot to try and grab your ticket here: https://www.janetmurray.co.uk/build-your-audience-live-tickets/ If not add yourself to the waitlist for Janet’s November event, pronto.

My only query now – what on earth to wear? On the first day I’m planning to be in my trusty Temperley animal print dress, so you can recognise me from my photo. But Day 2? Having watched MamaLifeLondon on what to wear for a conference, I’m seriously considering a pink blazer!.

You’ll recognise me in the animal print




Where to start with social media marketing

This is a question I get asked a lot by my clients: ” I know I need to be doing more with my social media but I don’t know where to start.”

Well, first of all look at what resource you have.  Small business owners are often wearing many hats and don’t have the time or expertise to spend hours creating social media content. This is where an experienced company like Gingham Cloud can step in – providing bespoke training to help you on your way or managing the whole process for you.

Gingham Cloud 9 plain talking tips to get you started

  1. Many people are afraid to dive into social media. Kick perfectionism to the kerb and just do it already. Start small and keep going.
  2. On which note, commit to posting regularly and actually do it. Set a reminder on your phone or look into a scheduler.
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s so much better to be doing brilliantly and consistently on one network than a flash in the pan on many.
  4. Go where your customer is. No point in killing it on Snapchat if your ideal consumer is a 40 year old yummy mummy as she’s much more likely on Instagram or Facebook.
  5. Forget what you know about traditional marketing – where social media really adds value is that it allows you to listen to your customers – not just broadcast to them.
  6. Analytics help you measure your return on investment. But if you’re a one-man band this doesn’t need to be a big complicated metrics based spreadsheet. A notepad with numbers of followers week on week is a good place to start.
  7. Don’t forget the call to action – make sure you end every blog, post, photo or pin making sure your customer can get back to you.
  8. But don’t forget that it’s unlikely that you’d walk up to someone in the street and demand that they buy something from you, so don’t do it on social media.
  9. Don’t worry too much about creating huge amounts of content yourself to start off with (though there is obviously huge value in being an expert and bringing people to your page). Instead, remember that you can share the content of others and still be informative, entertaining and fun.

Does this sound like an actionable plan? Gingham Cloud are launching evening workshops in Herts this October – get in touch to book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How supporting local causes provides a massive ROI for SMEs

Dolls on the globe

Why Small Businesses Should Donate to Local Charities

Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve have had a request to support a local charity and you’re not sure whether it’s a good way to boost your marketing effort.

In terms of ROI – it really is a no-brainer. It’s a cheaper form of advertising often without actually having to spend much cash.

A Foresters survey in the UK found that 89% of consumers think businesses should support charities and their local communities.

82% said that when offered a choice between identical products or services, their purchasing decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community. Yes that said 82%. That’s eight out of ten cats folks.

It makes sense for a local business to choose to support a local charity both in terms of visibility and reach – local people are at local fundraisers.

Estate agents are pretty canny with this – they frequently pay to have “for sale” boards erected around a local community stating how they’re sponsoring the local fete. Great publicity for them and drives traffic to the event. Win Win.

Product based businesses can find a home for an otherwise unusable end of line item easily by offering it as a prize. Service based businesses can offer vouchers – again bearing in mind that he UK Gift Card & Voucher Association reckon that  as many as ten per cent of cards expire, are forgotten about – or simply lost once won. The business still retains the kudos of having offered the prize. Plus, it’s perfectly acceptable to attach terms and conditions to a prize (e.g a restaurant donates a free meal but winners must buy drinks  or a venue donates an off-peak weekday birthday party).

So,  have some pretty cards printed up “kindly donated by  your business  with the company logo and attach to the prize. It can be as small as a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine. As they say “every little helps.” Of course if you can afford to be more generous, your charity will raise more and will of course be more grateful.  And don’t forget, smaller charities massively value any corporate sponsor – you won’t just be one of many.

Budget cuts and the credit crunch have had biggest impact on local charities so your help will make a really big difference.

Plus you’ll get more bang for your buck. This is because a higher percentage of the value of your offering will go the work of the charity because local causes tend to have much lower overheads.

Of course in return for your donation (no matter how small)  a chosen charity should have active accounts on social media,  a decent website which can feature their donors and good relations with the local press to shout about fundraising activities.

I can’t recommend this enough. By visibly supporting local charities like this, a particular business can become synonymous with supporting the community in the minds of local people.

From a personal perspective it certainly boosted Gingham Cloud’s visibility as a fledgling business when we paid to sponsor the entertainment at a local black tie fundraiser.

Are you looking for help with your fundraising and marketing efforts? Do get in touch and we can arrange a coffee to see how we can help.

Takeaways from Social Day UK 2017

Social Day was a one day event in London bringing together a variety of experts who shared their knowledge and expertise. Here’s what we learnt.

It’s all about storytelling

Janet Murray explains how press and tv coverage add “bling” to your website and your credibility

Janet Murray PR expert gave us tips on how to get use social media to obtain press coverage in the traditional print media. This in turn provides a business with credibility and so can make a dramatic difference in sales. Check out the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to see if any journalists are looking to talk to someone like you. Her basic advice though? Share the story others want to hear, not the story YOU want to tell.

If you want to really capture attention, stories are where it is at, explained Snapchat specialist Sumaiya Omar. She provided a very powerful (if hard to watch) demonstration of the impact of how video and stories can provide insight that doesn’t come from any other medium by showing us footage from Rania Ibrham’s harrowing video as she and her neighbours tried to flee the fire on the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower.  She also advised that video is super easy to repurpose if you shoot with Snapchat’s spectacles so watch this space on that.

Video video video

We all keep reading how important it is to go live and yet we’re all embarrassed to put ourselves out there. This week I felt the fear and did it anyway, thanks the charismatic Garry aka The Optician Social Media Guy.  I learnt that actually I’m probably better off doing an interview based format. But the real top tip on going live came from SuperPeriscoper and serial live broadcaster MrASingh.  Think about your content first. Don’t worry about how many followers or viewers you have when you’re live. If you’re going to feel dejected and depressed by seeing how few people are watching, put a post-it note or some blu-tac over the viewer numbers. This allows you to just focus on offering something interesting for people. (Often many people view later rather than live anyway, so this really is great advice to concentrate on adding value with what you’re actually saying.

 

Twitter handle embroidered on shirt cuffs. Love this.

It’s not enough to be liked.

The keynote from the super energetic founder of Youpreneur Chris Ducker claimed that it’s not enough to be liked – you have to be people’s favourite. He also reminded us how important it is to avoid being distracted by  shiny things.
His secret? FOCUS –  Follow One Course Until Success

Follow One Course Until Success – FOCUS

 

Twitter’s Bruce Daisley gave us a few key stats on the microblogging platform. Twitter now describes itself as a news app. Users go on to Twitter with a discovery mindset and this means that they are more attentive, responsive and more trusting than on other platforms. This can easily be summed up in this cartoon.

Virtual Reality specialist Sarah Jones was saying that the beauty of a VR is that it’s an immersive experience and so its stories are much deeper. The fact that you’re in a headset means that you can’t be “second screening”. That’s the technical term for what we all do, with one eye on House of Cards, and the other on your weekend plans in your WhatsApp groups. It’s this focus that makes VR valuable and exciting.

Victoria Taylor from UntwistedSocial Media is all about the bubbles. Not prosecco -though I think she likes that, too!. But using the DM facility on Instagram and FB messenger to get in touch with people. All part of the  know/like/trust cycle which  ultimately drives sales.

Speaker of the day for me, by far,  was the irrepressible Growth Hacker Vin Clancy who  just shared so much value, it’s going to be a blog post all of its own. Watch this space for more.