Curiosity. It leads to creativity and critical thinking and wonder. It helps kids make sense of their world and leads them to learn new things. If I only focused on developing one thing in my children, it would be curiosity.
OBSERVE & WONDER ABOUT THE WORLD
There are so many cool ways to look at the world, even when you're stuck inside.
- Check out Trevor MacKenzie on Instagram. He has all sorts of interesting pictures (aka provocations) that encourage kids to wonder about the world.
- Jump on a livestream from zoos around the world. The Calgary Zoo's Daily Dose has videos with accompanying PDF links that keep the fun & learning going.
- Watch a documentary. Many streaming services are offering free access right now which makes it super easy to learn something cool about the world. Try the Netflix series Brainchild or check out this list from CommonSense Media to get started.
- Wonderopolis is a fun website that allows kids to ask questions and explore answers to other kids' questions. Kids can learn about the wonder of the day or search wonders on topics they are interested in.
- Check out Tabletop Whale - "charts, infographics and animations about any and all things science" - for things like an animated sketch of the Earth...or Jupiter. Best for older kids or with an adult.
- Watch Mark Rober's videos on YouTube. His video explanation about how germs spread is the best I've seen yet and really helped my kids understand more about why we're staying home right now.
- Get outside! Watch things grow, lie on your back and stare at the sky, examine a leaf, watch some birds, look closely into a pond. Ask - "what do you notice?" "what do you wonder?" and "what do you know?" (thanks to Trevor MacKenzie for the questions!)
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
- YouTube is a fantastic place to start to learn just about anything new. YouTube EDU makes it easier by compiling 100s of educational videos in to custom playlists. Try this list of the 21 best educational YouTube channels for kids, with recommendations for kids of all ages.
- Does your child want to learn something specific, like guitar or painting? Search for it in YouTube, then watch for that checkmark beside the YouTuber's name to let you know it's a verified channel. This way you'll know you're getting high-quality videos.
- Have a bit of money to spend, especially with older kids? Masterclass & SkillShare offer high-quality courses led by well-recognized leaders in a wide variety of areas. Learn to shoot hoops with Stephen Curry, photography from Annie Leibowitz or music production from Timbaland.
- Want to learn how to draw? Jarrett J. Krosoczka is offering fun daily drawing videos "Draw Everyday With JJK", as is Mo Willems, author of the Elephant & Piggy and Pigeon books. Both are lots of fun, interactive and aimed primarily at elementary students.
TRY A STEAM ACTIVITY
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. Activities generally involve challenges to use design-thinking to create something new from simple tools.
- Check out my Pinterest board with tons of fun activities for all ages here. My favourites? These Harry Potter-themed challenges are sure to be a hit with your Potterhead. For younger kids, these Lego challenge cards will keep them occupied for hours. My 8 & 10 year-olds think that this Ancient Greek architecture challenge looks like fun!
- LEGO, K'Nex & Lincoln Logs are the ultimate STEAM building toys! Challenge your kids to build something specific (my 8 yr old is working on her dream house at the moment) or just let them free play.
- Check out this article for great information & resources for design thinking. More design thinking materials can be found here.
- Coding is super popular and being taught at many schools. Continue that learning at home with some of these apps, suitable for all ages.
- In this article, Brian Oshiro encourages us to go beyond "what" to asking "how" and "why" when examining issues with our kids.
- This graphic gives a simple list of questions similar to the ones above. Print it out & keep it handy!
- Watch a news broadcast or read an article together (Newsela has a great selection of current events articles geared to kids with adjustable reading levels). Use the questions above to talk about it.
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
By nature, kids ask a lot of questions. Although it can be exhausting at times, remember that this is how they learn about the world. Set your kids up with a "Wonder Journal" and encourage them to write or draw their wonders throughout the day, then set aside a time to go over their questions together.