Articles, Literacy

Lockdown – stimulation & literacy ideas for kids.

Lockdown in Johannesburg (a lock on a fence)

There are so many great ideas available online for keeping children busy and stimulated during this difficult time. There are also a multitude of ideas for building literacy skills and general knowledge during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Many companies & organizations that deal with children’s products have generously made certain online options available for free. It is time to take advantage of these opportunities. Your child could get to the other side of the lockdown better off than they were before.

Freebie Resources

1. Audible (free children’s title)

Audible, which is an Amazon company, has made streaming children’s audiobook titles available for free for now. Listening to stories as a child improves and develops auditory memory, comprehension skills, vocabulary skills, attention span, concentration, visualization, grammar and sentence structure. It also reduces stress as it is an enjoyable and relaxing exercise. You don’t even need to register with Audible. To browse what is available on AUDIBLE, CLICK HERE.

Image of the offer made by Audible.

2. Explore Live Cams (Educational)

Exploring the Explore Live Cams website is a fascinating experience and could well add to an educational discussion around aspects of nature that you are dealing with in homeschooling.

Watch live footage of the Decorah North Eagles in Iowa, USA or the Grace Gorillas in the Gorilla Forest Corridor in the Eastern DRC amongst other options. It is hard to drag yourself away from watching these magnificent creatures when they are unaware of us. Last night we spent a fair bit of time watching a family of Gorillas and this morning another 30 minutes watching a herd of elephants at a watering hole.

Some of the cameras have sound attached so please make sure to turn your volume up. To browse what is available at Explore Live Cams, CLICK HERE.

3. The Body Coach TV (also known as ‘The World’s PE Teacher’)

Joe Wicks has made PE class videos available on his YouTube Channel. He is fun, positive and energetic and is the perfect solution for getting active and ridding kids of excess energy. This is perfect for if you live in a flat or a complex with a tiny garden. Give Joe a try. You may even decide to join in. To go to his YouTube channel and see PE with JOE, CLICK HERE.

4. Storyline Online (books read aloud to children)

Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing and communication skills, comprehension, logical thinking, concentration, attention span and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. Storyline Online is used by teachers in classrooms. For obvious reasons, nurses and doctors play Storyline Online in children’s hospitals.

Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, caregivers and educators worldwide. Each book includes supplementary resources developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners. To see more of what is available on STORYLINE ONLINE, CLICK HERE.

5. Barnes & Noble (Online Storytime)

Barnes & Noble offers virtual storytime for free on certain dates.

MARCH 28, 2020 – Macca the Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove
In this adorable, quirky picture book, Macca the alpaca loves splashing in puddles and gives the best cuddles. But when he bumps into a big bullying llama named Harmer (who’s no charmer), Macca must prove the value of smarts and kindness.

MARCH 28, 2020 – The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach
Ross Burach’s hilarious, tongue-in-cheek exploration of metamorphosis will make you flutter with glee, while also providing real facts about how caterpillars transform into butterflies.

For more information on the events being held by BARNES AND NOBLE, CLICK HERE.

6. National Geographic Young Explorers (free read-along stories)

The Young Explorer is a magazine that includes educational stories about living creatures and our natural world. You can order these magazines in hard copy but they also are available in a read-along online version for free. To access the Young Explorer stories please CLICK HERE.

7. A daily dose of NumberBlocks for the young ones

Yes, I am recommending a daily dose of TV for your child. When the programme being prescribed is as educational, beneficial and amazing as Numberblocks is, you can safely leave your child in front of the TV for 20-30 minutes at a time. In fact, if your child is NOT watching Numberblocks daily I think you should be worried.

What does Numberblocks teach young children:
• number sense • number names and numerals • number order •  bigger, smaller, same • missing numbers • number patterns • first, second, third • adding • subtracting • recognizing amounts on sight •  number bonds • odds and evens • doubling and halving • mental maths • thinking for yourself • being creative • building confidence • solving problems

Within the UK, Numberblocks is available on the CBeeBies website. Outside of the UK you may find NumberBlocks is part of your TV viewing subscription bundle or available on YouTube.

8. Online Chess – teach your child to play Chess

Child playing chess.

Learning to play Chess has many benefits. It can improve and develop a child’s spatial awareness, problem-solving ability, use of logic, forward-thinking, planning, exercise their working memory and improve their self-regulation. All of this can take place in a confined space, indoors against people all over the world matched at your level.

After I moved back from living overseas, a friend and I who had been playing chess regularly, continued to play online for the next few years.

If you and/or your child are raw beginners, have a look at the rules to CHESS HERE at CHESS KID.

If you would like to play online against a human opponent or a computer, then CLICK HERE at MATH IS FUN.

9. Google 3D Animals just for fun

  • Open Google (on an iPhone or Android)
  • Type in an animal’s name
  • Then press ‘View in 3D’If you do not see the option ‘View in your space’ then you may need to download Google Play Services for AR. If you see a message telling you that your device is not compatible with this version then you will not be able to access the ‘View in your space’ feature.
  • If your device is compatible, then approximately 30 seconds later you should have an animal in your house!
  • You can take a photo of the kids with it and they can walk around it.
  • Available animals – lion, bear, shark, penguin, horse, pony, octopus, cheetah, tiger, shark, hedgehog, duck, Emperor penguin, wolf, Angler fish, goat, Rottweiler, snakes, eagle, Brown bear, alligator, horse, Shetland pony, Macaw, Pug, Turtle, cat, octopus, dog and Golden Retriever.
  • Have fun!

10. Audio Books for Young Adults

ESL BITS has a wonderful collection of English Learning Audiobook titles that can be listened to, listened to while reading along or read without audio. They have a wide range of titles and authors. A few examples are such as Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Small steps by Louis Sachar, as well as a number of classics. Even when not on lockdown this is a fantastic site.

To see what titles are available go to ESL BITS by CLICKING HERE.

11. Michelle Obama is hosting a weekly storytime for kids during the pandemic


Michell Obama begins "Mondays with Michelle Obama" with a reading of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.

Storytime with Michelle Obama will begin on Monday 20th April 2020. She will begin her 4 week “Mondays with Michelle Obama” with Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. She has teamed up with PBS Kids and Penguin Random House to host a weekly read-aloud series.

Families can tune in to the livestream on PBS Kids’ Facebook page and YouTube channel, or the Penguin Random House Facebook page.

The schedule for this exciting series is below, with each event beginning at 12 p.m. ET (should be 6 pm in South Africa):

  • April 20: “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (should be 6 pm in South Africa)
  • April 27: “There’s a Dragon in Your Book” by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott
  • May 4: “Miss Maple’s Seeds” by Eliza Wheeler
  • May 11: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

For the original CNN article announcing these events, please CLICK HERE.

I will continue to update this blog post as I come across interesting and educationally worthwhile activities.

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.