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Books, Crafts, and Online Learning Tools for Parents

Books, Crafts and Online Learning Tools for Parents

Like so many other parents, I’ve been stepping in as a teacher for my four-year-old daughter this spring. Nyla’s preschool class meets for circle time every morning, but then I have to try to fill the rest of her day with reading, learning and play through books, crafts and online learning tools — and still get some work done!

Nyla loves books and Cosmic Kids Yoga, and I’ve been turning to Instagram for craft and at-home activity ideas. Here are some of the resources we’ve come to rely on this spring. 

Books We Love

A family member who used to teach preschool recommended that we buy a copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Yes, this book is from the 1980s, but the lessons are still relevant! My husband has been working through these lessons with Nyla over the last few months and she’s catching on. 

Nyla is obsessed with the Disney Fairies books. And I like these books a lot more than I expected to because they usually focus on themes like making friends, being kind and helping others — unlike the Disney stories of my childhood, which seemed like they were all about helpless princesses waiting for Prince Charming. 

We’re trying to feed Nyla’s curiosity with the National Geographic children’s book collection. These books introduce kids to the ocean, space, animals, and other parts of the natural world with age-appropriate words and ideas. 

Mo Willems, an author and illustrator, is another one of our favorites. He has an extensive series of books and videos featuring pigeon characters. Nyla especially loves Piggy and Gerald, who are best friends in the pigeon universe. On top of books, Mo’s website includes downloadable coloring pages and activity sheets to keep kids busy.  

Finally, we love the Bharat Babies series. These books are all written and illustrated by South Asian authors and feature characters who look like Nyla, which is important to us. Her current favorite is Always Anjali, probably because that’s my name! 

Online Learning Tools

I know we’re all trying to limit our kids’ screen time, but sometimes it feels impossible. I keep trying to tell myself that that’s OK — and there are lots of things we can do online that still promote learning and growth.

Nyla’s teacher uses Epic during their morning circle time. This digital library includes hundreds of thousands of books, plus learning videos and quizzes. Parents can get a 30-day free trial. 

Cosmic Kids Yoga is everywhere this spring, it seems, and every parent I know says their kids love it. These YouTube videos get kids moving while introducing them to basic ideas about mindfulness. Nyla now does 20 minutes of yoga every morning, which helps her get some exercise while I catch up on emails. 

Finally, like so many other families, we’re spending a lot of time on FaceTime, Zoom and Google Meet. I try to set up video calls with friends and family members a few times each week so we can all stay connected. Nyla doesn’t appear to have Zoom fatigue yet, so even when I’ve been on video calls all day, she’s always excited to see her grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends.

Crafts and Other Things To Do at Home 

Like so many other Millennial parents, I get most of my craft ideas on Instagram. @bestideasforkids gives step-by-step instructions for easy at-home crafts. @kidsactivitiesblog posts a new activity almost every day. @recycleandplay highlights kids (and parents) creatively repurposing Amazon boxes, empty juice bottles and much more. And @inspiremyplay posts pictures that are so beautiful I’m almost afraid to try them, but they’re inspiring nonetheless!

The Natural Beach Living blog offers step-by-step instructions for things like making your own play-doh and sensory bins. And for easy ideas with detailed how-to videos, I turn to Michaels. We might not be able to visit the craft store, but there’s still so much we can do at home. 

Parents, what resources are you recommending to your friends? Let me know in the comments! 

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