Learning Activities for Families While School is Out
We recommend Kahn Academy with free resources to keep everyone learning.
Daily schedules for students ages 2-18.
With the recent school closures due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are sharing some of our classroom resources to help teachers, parents, and kids at home.
BAM! from the Centers for Disease Control is a learning portal with resources lesson plans, activities, and handouts. Ask a Scientist comic series covers several health topics like “How Does My Body Fight Disease?”, “How Do People Become Infected With Germs?” and “How Loud is Too Loud?”
Resources, tips and more for remote and e-learning (teaching online) — from Educational Technology Guy
Tools to prepare for school closures–suggested by Common Sense
Advice for new Online Teachers–from EdSurge
Newsela COVID-19 resource center (and free access to their paid products this school year)
A live-tracker of the spread of the disease from Johns Hopkins University.
Family Engagement Activities for Schools
Plant the seeds of school improvement in your local schools with activities for your families every week of the school year! Below we have 30 family engagement activities, events and strategies with a focus on the 150 days between National Parental Involvement Day in November and Public School Volunteer Week in April.
Activity 1. Getting Started
CDC Parents for Healthy Schools Framework. Our partner at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined with Project Appleseed to release resources on parent engagement in school for the 18th annual National Parental Involvement Day. The guides are provided as a free tool in Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Toolbox. Drawing from research and best practices from schools across the country, CDC collaborated with key partners to create the strategies found in Parents for Healthy Schools to give schools a framework for parent engagement. There are three aspects of the parent engagement framework in the Parental Involvement Toolbox:
Connecting with parents thru the Parental Involvement Pledge learning compact.
Engaging parents in school health activities.
Sustaining parent engagement in school health.
CDC’s Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health (pdf 2 MB) defines and describes engagement between parents and school staff and identifies specific strategies for all three aspects of parent engagement in schools: connect, engage, and sustain.
CDC’s Promoting Parent Engagement in School Health: A Facilitator’s Guide for Staff Development (pdf – 3 MB) helps schools and school groups develop a plan for engaging parents in school health activities. Both of these resources provide the evidence-based framework for Parents for Healthy Schools.
Activity 2. Getting Started
Ask Families to Take the Pledge!
Distribute Project Appleseed's Parental Involvement Pledge learning compact which asks parents to volunteer 10 hours each in their local school and spend 15 minutes each night reading with their children. Sending the Pledge home with students will get a response rate of about 25%--or less. Asking parents to take the Pledge during their parent teacher conference will get a response rate approaching 80%. Constantly ask parents to take the Pledge at every opportunity. Use Project Appleseed's web site as a place in which parents can take the Pledge or Report Card online. The web site will print a hard copy for the school and parent. Once parents take the Pledge--CALL THEM and get them involved!
Activity 3. Getting Started
Give Families the Red Carpet Treatment!
Educators can prepare the school for families with the Red Carpet Treatment. This tool is our family friendly walk through process and it is part of the Parental Involvement Toolbox. The Red Carpet Treatment is an opportunity to meet as a team in order to identify ways in which the school can create a more welcoming environment for families. Parents, including parents of children with disabilities, community members, school board members, educators, and administrators are asked to consider looking at the school through the lenses of all of the families who attend that school.
Activity 4. Getting Started
Parental Involvement Checklist for an effective parent-school partnership on Project Appleseed's web site is a great way to start improving your school's parent-school partnerships. Asking the right questions can help you evaluate how well your school is reaching out to parents. Which partnership practices are currently working well at each grade level? Which partnership practices should be improved or added in each grade? How do you want your school's family involvement practices to look three years from now?
Host an open house at the school for parents and community members. Hold it in the evening or on the weekend so that more people can attend. At open house, ask every family to bring a member of the community to the picnic who did not have kids in the school. It provides parents with an opportunity to see the school first hand and feel more comfortable with the idea of getting involved.
Breakfast or Coffee & Pastries event to announce a new PTA or to boost membership in your PTA. The PTA is a key organization to connect parents, especially new parents to your school with other parents and community members.
Set up tables to welcome families and community members to your school. Make available membership forms to enroll new PTA members.
Make special name tags for members that say, “Ask me about the PTA’” or “Join the PTA Today.”
Provide “Welcome Bags” with school information, PTA brochures, and goodies gathered from local businesses or organizations. Include a bookmark with the dates of PTA meetings and special PTA sponsored school events.
Have a chart with a list of volunteer opportunities so parents can take the Pledge and sign up to help. Man the table with a volunteer to encourage sign-ups!
Celebrate Reading. Find ways to make reading a fun part of everyday life. Community literacy might be a focus of your National Parental Involvement Day & Public School Volunteer Week activities. Hold storytelling nights, guest author and poetry readings, read-aloud programs, dramatic readings, book fairs and book drives, a read-a-thon or a book report festival, family literacy nights, or other literacy activities for the whole community. Work with local colleges and universities to help get work-study students and other college students into the schools as reading tutors. Older students, such as Girl Scouts, can also work as reading tutors for younger students.
Issue A Proclamation!
Promote your event with official recognition. Ask your school board, mayor, city council, state representative or governor to issue a proclamation celebrating Project Appleseed's National Parental Involvement Day (Third Thursday in November) and Public School Volunteer Week (Third Week of April) to highlight the value of parental involvement in your schools.
Family Math Night
This middle school event invites parents and students to visit various interactive stations to work and play together (sometimes competing) to solve mathematics-based problems aligned to state math standards. Students help the teachers to set up each rotation with games or activities, such as: practicing math facts using Pringles cans, playing bingo, arranging tangrams and many others.
Create an event to showcase all of the extracurricular programs at your school (and in your community) such as clubs, athletics and honor groups that enrich classroom learning and provide students new ways to develop their interests and talents. Shine a light on all of the opportunities for students and families to get involved. Examples include sport team demos, cheer groups, band, chorus, clubs, robotics, dance, drama, afterschool programs, and community partnership services and resources.
Family Fitness Night
Join with families to identify health promotion projects in the community that could involve parents. For example, invite family members to participate in physical activities at school or in the community, such as runs or walkathons. Kick off National Parental Involvement Day & Public School Volunteer Week with a special welcome for new students and families in the community. Host discussions about how parents can support healthy behaviors at home. Such discussions might be held at open houses and back-to-school nights, at parent meetings, and during parent-teacher conferences.
Reaching students with the message about the importance of fitness isn't enough. Go for the gold with events designed to bring in students and their families too. Involve the Physical Education teachers to plan physical activities in the gym like karate, kick-boxing, aerobics, dance, yoga, Pilates, hip hop, Zumba, and body sculpting. In the main hallways provide information tables work with a local community clinic to bring their bus and provide free health screenings for families. Especially popular with students are the opportunities to try physical activities.
Mentoring and Tutoring
Launch a community mentoring program where parent volunteers and college students mentor high school and middle school students who, in turn, can mentor elementary school students. Mentoring can involve learning math and science - key gate opening courses for college - going to a museum, community service activities, recreational activities such as a mentor basketball league, tutoring and homework help.
Use the School
Make school facilities available for use by community organizations that will host activities for students and their parents outside of school hours. The National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (www.nplanonline.org) offers free resources on using school facilities for community use and developing joint agreements.