Summertime is a time for fun, vacations, playdates, sun, and lots of activities outdoors. Our current pandemic has made summer look a little different this year, however, which means, not as many outgoing activities are happening for kids all over the world! Usually B and I spend our summers with friends at the playground, Disney, Crayola Experience, The Orlando Science Center, and Sea World, to name a few, but I’m not entirely sure what all of that will look like this summer, or even if we’d be able to get in these places with less people permitted due to social distancing.
So, I anticipate more days at home, which means keeping him busy and NOT just sitting in front of a screen. We allow only tablets in very rare cases, video games only on the weekends, or if he’s earned them by doing other things, (more on this later) and only a certain amount of TV during the day.
Since B and I have both been home for the last several months, me being a teacher from home and him attending school from home, I quickly realized that an actual hour by hour schedule wasn’t going to work for us. I needed something with a little more flexibility, so instead of a schedule with times on it, I ended up creating more of a checklist. Checklists work really well for him any way because he can check things off himself, can visually see how much he has left to do, which helps him not get so overwhelmed with life!
If there’s one thing B operates on it’s checklists, knowing what’s ahead, what’s left to do, and how much time something will take. We have Amazon Alexa’s ALL OVER the house, and they’re constantly used for timers. So much so that he now sets his own timers; Showers, cleaning up, playing, work. You name it. It’s a good habit and routine he’s finally fallen in to because it eliminates a million questions he’ll ask and the anxiety that comes along with the “unknown” for him.
I was inspired by a friend on social media to make an even better choice board than I already had that incorporates more “fun” activities for him to do each day AFTER his “everyday” MUST tasks are completed.
This really eliminates the, “I don’t know what to do next” complaints AND kind of forces him to do new things, with the benefit of him “choosing”! It’s a win/win!
I customized it based on things he likes to do and some recent interests that he’s expressed to me.
I made it so that he HAS to do the “Every day I will…” before moving on to the 5 choice items. It really works well because he doesn’t complain about the things he must do because it’s a) consistent EVERY DAY and b) the incentive is the choice afterward, since they’re all designed around things he likes, anyway.
In case you’d like to add some of the activities I did in your choice board, here are my sources for all of them! You’ll be able to snag your own customizable choice board at the end of this!
I laminated the choice board and we put an X on it after everything is completed. He knows he can’t move on to the choice activities until there are 5 X’s on the board top part, which is the “MUST do” activities for the day.
I laminate EVERYTHING at home when I can. This is my favorite laminator! (I use one in my classroom, as well. So, yes, I have TWO!)
Here’s what our set up looks like.
No, I didn’t cheat with the 5 X’s today. Well, I guess we kinda did. I let him skip the 30 minutes of physical activity MUST DO because I had a doctor’s appointment and since we were going to be out and about, I let that one slide.
(Read on to learn about my “Reading on Location BINGO” that you see)
Below is what I’ve built into B’s choice board with explanations, helpful tips, and additional resources to aid in each.
Choiceboard “Every day I will…” Resources
*These are the MUSTS before moving on to the pick 5 choices*
Do IXL for 20 minutes
IXL.com- we paid for a yearly IXL membership. It includes subjects to practice in reading, writing, math, and science. It will give your child a diagnostic to determine placement and then give lessons individually given to them. I love this program for B because there’s a timer, it’s competitive, and he earns various badges. I understand these incentives don’t work for all kids, and sometimes timers can cause anxiety, but the competitive edge works so well for him. He absolutely LOVES logging onto this program every day!
Read for 20 minutes
BINGO Reading- I created a BINGO reading board for B, which also serves as a great incentive for him to read each day. You can find and download my BINGO board here. When he makes a BINGO, he has earned one hour of video games during the week-HUGE incentive for him! There have even been days where he’s wanted to read for 40 minutes to cross off 2 BINGO squares so he can earn video games faster. Works for me!
Do 30 minutes of physical activity
GO NOODLE- We usually go outside during this time to jump on the trampoline, get in the pool, play ball, or run around. But there are some instances where it’s raining or just much too hot! In this case, we utilize Go Noodle at home! It’s free and a really fun resources for families at home with exercises, silly songs, and games!
Do 1 workbook page
We make our way through a workbook over the summer. Here are my favorite workbooks for each grade level, for less than $10 on Amazon!
We started chores and teaching responsibility with keeping up with toys and putting them away as soon as B could pick things up! I wanted to build it in as a habit for B early on. This creates less complaining when they’re older because they’ve already gotten into the habit of it. As an example, at 6 years old B folds and puts away his own laundry and it’s a pretty natural thing for him to do at this point. For tips and tricks on how to help make this seamless for you, see my cleaning photo checklist! If you have a 3 year old, here are some great chores you can get them started with! For B, he has to make sure his bedroom and bathroom are clean, do any laundry he has for the day, and take out the garbage (if it’s a Tuesday).
We recently enrolled Blake in guitar lessons, and he’s been ROCKIN’ it! Literally! His instructor said he needed to practice 30 minutes a day. Keeping his attention for that long is hard so we usually end up breaking it up throughout the day.
This concludes the 5 daily things he HAS to do.
Once these 5 things are done, the choices begin!
Choiceboard “Choose 5” Resources
Each one is set for a timer. This is mostly a MINIMUM time so that he doesn’t try to get something done too quickly, since he does love to just “get it over with”. Of course I don’t mind if he goes over. I kept his short at 15 minutes because his attention span is quite small and I wanted to be sensitive to that. You may want to increase your minimum time.
I wanted to explain some of the things I have on our board to help give you some inspiration, but you can customize one for you as well!
Xtramath.- yes, believe it or not, this is a CHOICE activity. He loves Math! Xtramath is completely free and allows students to practice math facts. You can start them off with addition, subtraction, mixed problems with addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, and mixed operations. When one has been mastered there are even certificates you can print! I display ours and B loves them and feels so accomplished!
I used Worksheetworks to create Blake’s name on a sheet he could trace. He’s expressed an interest in learning to write his name in “fancy handwriting” so this has become a fun activity for him. I laminated it so that it could be re-used.
This is my favorite at-home laminator if you need one. I use it ALL the time!
B loves to draw and is always captioning his pictures, so I thought he would enjoy writing and accompanying it with sentences. I like the use of this primary journal because it helps him practice letter sizing properly.
Count Your Money
This boy LOVES numbers and counting. And he’s really obsessed with money and knowing how much he always has! We give him an allowance each week. He has several piggy banks where he has to divide his money; 10% each week goes into savings and 10% goes toward tithing at our church. The rest is his to use as he wishes. I chose this activity for him because it’s great practice for counting money and learning all about coins, and gives us time to have good discussions about what he can do with his money!
Draw a picture for family and mail it
Ahh, the art of snail mail. I wanted to combine his drawing with passing his lovely art work onto others. I make him fill out the envelopes, so he’s learning how to address a letter and mail it. Yesterday we mailed a picture to his grandpa, my dad.
Make an obstacle course
B has been in OT for a few years. We’ve learned during our time that obstacle courses are wonderful for kids on the spectrum or have ADHD. We used to make the courses for him, but now he enjoys doing it himself. Which is perfect because he incorporates his own things now that he knows what his body needs! You can read about our adventures first starting obstacle courses here. Even if you don’t have kids with any special needs, it’s just a fun activity!
Work out with weights
What can I say? He likes to work out! We have small sets of weights that he will use and make up his own exercises, which is good, because the more energy this kid can get out…the better!
I have a math and science kid on my hands! He will often choose to do some kind of experiment. Some of the ones I have on my blog-Just click “Activities for Kids” in the top menu. You can also follow along on my Science experiment Pinterest board!
Virtual field trip
Virtual field trips and museums are a great way to keep kids engaged right now. Here are a few that we’ve enjoyed, but you can even google “Virtual live aquariums” (for example) and you’ll get some fun results!
Learn something new!
Technology makes learning something new so easy these days! Youtube videos have been great for this, especially when counting in different languages. We do NOT allow him on Youtube without us literally sitting next to him (We don’t do YouTUbe kids) so this only happens when I’m sitting down with him and personally selecting the videos myself. He’s enjoyed learning counting in other languages! (Go figure, he wanted to learn something to do with numbers-ha!)
Make a comic strip
As I said, he loves to draw! So I found this comic strip template online that lets him make his own comics! I printed a few out so he’d have them to work with. It’s been so fun!
Make a Video
Ok, so I know I said we don’t do devices/iPad time, but let me rephrase that….we do if it’s closely monitored, and we only allow very few things. One of them is making a video! He loves making videos of his LEGO stormtroopers interacting with one another. We’ve turned a couple of them into iMovies together complete with music!
Bible Story & App
We love Kids Bible App! It’s very interactive and truly helps kids to understand the bible stories. For this activity two things take place. I found these A-Z bible memory verse cards online, and they’ve been amazing! I printed, laminated and cut them out. We memorize a verse when he chooses this, and after he’s learned it he moves onto the bible app! Memorizing the verses has sparked really great conversation about the meaning of each and how they apply to life.
This is pretty self explanatory! B LOVES LOVES LOVES his Legos, and he’s always building and creating with them.
This is a way I encourage him to do something beyond just drawing, should he get bored with that. This summer we’ve made friendship bracelets and done a few origami pieces. This choice is especially important for young kids who may need practice with fine motor skills like cutting and gluing.
Travel to a state! Watch a video, learn facts, and color!
I feel like geography is really neglected these days in school, especially U.S. geography! B loves non fiction information and facts so this as been a fun way for him to learn about places and their location. I let B pick the state, we watch some videos on it online, I ask him facts he’s learned, and then he has to find it and color it in on the map. My hope is that by the end of the summer his whole map will be colored in because he’s learned something about each! I used this map I found online and just printed the black and white one! For a challenge, or for an older child, you can use this map.Click on the green map to print and click “scale to print” so it covers the whole page.
To print this map, scroll to the bottom and click “Map of the US in B&W States”.
Play a game with Alexa
YES, Alexa has some cute games that kids can play! You will need to enable them, but they’re well worth it!
Call/Facetime a Friend
This has been a LIFESAVER during Quarantine. I know things are opening back up right now but not everyone feels comfortable having a playdate so this has been a good alternative for us to keep the socialization skills going.
Social Skills Lesson
If you know me, you know I’m HUGE on social skills! So much so, that I wrote a curriculum about it! (New exciting things coming with this soon!) Social skills is especially important for my little guy. I usually read a social skills book and then we discuss scenarios together.
I recommend Way of the Warrior Kid books by Joko Willink, which teach some wonderful social and emotional skills for kids! Blake LOVES his books!
One of our favorites is “Mikey and the Dragons“. This is the only picture book he has, the rest are chapter books. My husband reads a chapter to Blake each night from one of the chapter books and the lessons really sink in for B!
Warrior Kid chapter books
We purchased an ABC Mouse subscription for B when he was 3.5. It was the perfect program to get him started. We’ve moved onto IXL now because it’s more motivating for him, but we still own the subscription to ABC Mouse until the end of the year, and he likes playing some of the games on here so I added it in for interest. This is a truly great program, in my opinion, for students in Pre-k to 2nd grade.
This is something I started in my classroom years ago and I brought it home because I have quite a curious little boy on my hands! He’s always asking questions and wants to know MORE. When he asks something I don’t know, sometimes I will write it down on a post it note, and I place it on our “Wonder Wall” board at home. Then, when he chooses a “Wonder Wall” activity, we go online together and research his question. As you can see, such as the ‘what was then first word’ question, some result in some pretty interesting research rabbit holes! ha!
Here’s our Wonder Wall set up.
And if you’re wondering, I named this Wonder Wall years ago in my classroom because I’m an Oasis fan. HAHA!
B is involved in baseball so going outside and hitting a few balls provides physical activity and keeping his skills going, especially since this past season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Scavenger Hunt (Outside)
I created a fun scavenger hunt that we’ve done before, but now that he’s older I switched it up where he creates his own list of items to find before we actually go hunt for them.
Scavenger Hunt (Inside)
This is where I make a list of items for him to find indoors and I set a timer for him to find as quickly as he can. Like I said, he’s quite competitive so working against a timer is a good motivator for him. Don’t get me wrong, he can get easily frustrated when there’s a timer as well but this is where those awesome social skills come into play and I can use his frustration as a teachable moment. We do our best to work THROUGH these things rather than AVOID them.
If you think you and your family might enjoy this choice board, you can make on for each child. Feel free to customize as you wish!
You can snag yours to edit here!
*This post contains affiliate links. This mean that if you purchase on Amazon from one of my links, then I will receive a small commission.