Home School Round Up Volume 1

I love Home School
If you are like us then all of a sudden in addition to your mom duties (and/or) working mom duties you have now become your kid's home school teacher. And if you're also like us then it has certainly been a challenging transition. So we put together some activities that helped us navigate these first few weeks and some cool links that may just buy you a few minutes of peace (no promises ūüėČ).¬†

Schedules and Routines 

It sounds simple but the thing that is helping us the most RN is creating and sticking to a schedule and a routine. We spoke to our resident parenting expert Dr. Penni Seller (@thepandemicparent) about why a routine is so important: 
"Children and adults function better when they know what to expect. One thing that is so hard about this new normal is that our structures and routines have been taken away. There are no longer set working hours or scheduled classes, school, or even extra curricular activities like Saturday soccer practice. What will help us feel a bit more in control is writing down a schedule and sticking to it. I always recommend putting it down on paper or using a white board. For young children you can draw pictures next to the activity or time of day as well so they can also follow along. Knowing what is coming next in the day can help alleviate anxiety and stress. You want to make sure you have a good balance of activities. If you are expecting your child to sit for an extended period of time (like for a school lesson) then you want to make sure you sandwich that between 2 periods of non-sedentary activities like walking the dog, doing yoga, or freeze dance. You can also build in independent work time or free play where your child should be expected to play independently for a short period of time (depending on their age). One of the things my clients are struggling with the most right now is shifting how they parent. Before we were just filling in the gaps for our children in between activities/school/work, etc. and now they are with us 24 hours a day. Our mindset needs to shift from thinking we need to entertain them all the time. Now is a great time to teach your children how to play independently. the NY Times just did a great article on this if you want to read more. You should also incorporate things like chores and other household tasks into your daily schedule. Having children help with things like laundry, washing dishes, and taking out the trash helps them feel important and connected to you as well as takes some tasks off of your plate." 

Sample Home Learning Schedules 

So now that we know why schedules are important, here are a few examples we have found: 
Schedule option 1
Schedule Option 2
Schedule Option 3

Snack time

Because if your kids are like our they are literally always asking for one...
Don't underestimate the appeal of a charcuterie board. This has proven to be successful every time we put it out. For some reason it encourages our children to try some new things. Some faves to include are: different kinds of cheese, freash fruits, veggies and dip, dried fruit, other sources of protein like nuts, hard boiled eggs, and lunch meats, crackers, pretzels and hummus. There are so many variations you and your kids will never get bored! You can also make a sweet and salty board like our friends over at @twopeasantheirpod
Snack Board Ideas
Snack Board 3

Cooking and Baking

One of our favorite ways to fill the day is enlisting our children into helping us  cook and bake. Through cooking they are learning about science, math, health, and nutrition. If they are helping knead or roll out dough for example they are also getting some necessary sensory input as well. You can prolong these activities by having the kids help wash the dishes ;)  
Here are some of our favorite recipes and even though you shouldn't eat it, we included a recipe for the perfect play dough as well! 

Banana Bread

Our Favorite Banana Bread

recipe by: @lifeisbutadish 
3/4 cup avocado oil (or any flavorless oil like coconut, or veg oil)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4¬†‚Äst1¬†cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the oil, sugar, and eggs until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Add the milk, vanilla, and bananas and combine until just mixed. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter equally into two greased loaf pans. Then bake for about 45-50 minutes. Pro tip: toss your chocolate chips in some flour before adding them to the batter. For whatever reason this spreads them out evenly throughout the batter when it bakes instead of having all of the chocolate chips just sink to the bottom. You can also add some hemp hearts and flax seeds for a nutritional boost. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies 

recipe by: @studioDIY

2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups+ semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt or Salt Flakes (for topping)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375¬įF.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and creamy.
  4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Drop large heaping scoops (I use an ice cream scoop) of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Top with sea salt flakes. (You can also add the salt flakes after baking for a prettier look, but I prefer to do before so they stick a little better.)
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden.
  9. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack

Play Dough

 Perfect Playdough

From our friends at thebestideasforkids.com
1 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp cooking oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
1 cup water 
Food Coloring 
Pro tip: Mix the food color into the water before adding it to the other ingredients
1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
2. Put oil and colored water in a shallow pan and heat on medium low
3. Mix in dry ingredients and "cook" until dough forms (mix, mix, mix because once it starts to form it comes together very quickly
4. Remove from heat. Put some flour on the surface and knead the dough until super soft and ready to play with. 

Our fave activities of the week

Scavenger huntScavenger Hunt 

We have used this idea several times and in several different ways. First we came up with a list of things to look for on a walk in our neighborhood. For our toddlers we wrote the words and drew a little picture next to them so they could easily follow along. For our older children we had them write out the lists. We went for a walk and brought our lists on clipboards. Each child marked off what they found. The next day it was raining so we made an indoor scavenger hunt. We also gave the kids binoculars this time. This also works if you take a drive around your neighborhood. Some of our favorite things to include on these lists have been: someone riding a bike, yellow flowers, birds, 3 squirrels, a blue baseball hat, a stop sign, a walk signal, an address with the numbers 3 and 5 in it, a pink house, a silver car, a garbage truck, a helicopter... There are endless possibilities. 

Hot RocksHot Rocks

This one was super easy and a surprising hit. Collect rock (smooth ones work the best but the textured ones also came out super cool!). Line a baking sheet with foil and 'bake" rocks at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They will be HOT so be careful. Use crayons to draw on the hot rocks. The heat will melt the wax and will leave some really cool drip designs! 

Helpful and educational links: 

The best meditation apps for kids

Common Sense Media This comprehensive list is put together by age and includes some of our faves like: Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine, Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street, Smiling Mind, and the Calm app. 

PORTS Program
A free program that uses technology to teach K-12 students about nature in the context of the CA state parks. Every week they put out a home learning schedule by grade. Check it out! 

The California Science Center 

One of our fave places to visit IRL is doing an online series on "Stuck at Home Science." Last week they even did the science of ice cream which you know is right up our alley! 

Kate the Chemist

Speaking of science- we are big fans of Kate the Chemist. Her instagram is filled with fun experiments and cool facts. Check it out! 

Live Webcams for Zoos and Aquariums 

These zoos and aquariums may be closed but you can still see what your favorite animals are up to with these live webcams. This is certainly a fave in our houses right now!
San Diego Zoo
Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Cam (this one is available daily from 7-7 PST) 
The Smithsonian National Zoo Webcams (check out the cheetah cubs!) 
The Polar Bear Cubs Camera from the Ouwehand Zoo in the Netherlands (they just had twins) 
Live Shark Cam at the Tennessee Aquarium 
The Edinburgh Zoo has a live panda cam and penguins! 
And we especially love the sea jellies cam at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach because of the sound of the bubbles 
What have you tried that has worked in your home? Let us know in the comments below or tag us with your ideas on instagram @theicecreamcastles using the hashtag #insidescoop. We are hoping to bring new activities, recipes, and resources every week. We're all in this together! 
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