Suggestions on how children's popular interests and activities can be used to stimulate learning.
Opportunities afforded by real life / cross curricular learning:
- Real life encourages developing new vocabulary and encouraging talk, discussion and debate.
- Real life is truly multisensory learning, stimulating the brain with all the senses.
- Real life learning supports learning to be embedded in long term memory because it is contextualised and the learner can make sense of it in their own terms.
Football offers a great opportunity for work around money or statistics. The Telegraph have a ‘stats centre’ where you can find details on the price of player or how often they were in the starting 11 for example.
Why not give each child a fixed sum of £120million and ask them to create their dream team. Whilst working in millions may seem daunting, on the whole, the stats are to one decimal place so are very friendly numbers:
- Fantasy football - stats centre (The Telegraph website)
Design a set of top trumps cards based on your fantasy team. On each card you need to have the name of the player, how much they are worth, their power, speed and agility (or any other characteristics you choose).
This involves reading, synthesising and writing skills. Once you have created the game then you can play, this works on speaking and listening and problem-solving skills. Your child may want to design them for themselves or here's a template for the game:
- Top Trumps Card Templates (Pininterest website)
Carry out an experiment to see why football balls are the size and shape that they are.
First work together to set your hypothesis 'which ball is the fastest?' for instance or 'which ball can you best control'. Then you need to collect as many different types of balls as possible in your house.
To design the experiment, think about the question you are asking, if it is speed then perhaps you want to have a masking tape line and a ramp that each ball runs down with a timer.
If it is control, perhaps it is how many keepie-uppies. Make a recording sheet based on your experiment, collect any other resources that you may need and have fun experimenting and recording. If you have access to a device, then taking photos that you can then look at and discuss afterwards is always a useful way to discuss scientific conclusions.
If you have multiple children, assign each one a role such as 'resource manager', 'recorder' or 'experimenter' so that every gets a role and a turn.
Here are some free science recording sheets for you to download or draw out:
- Science Experiment Recording Sheet (Twinkl website)
Spend some time looking at the emblems for each of the teams, what features do they share and what makes them different? Design an emblem for your fantasy football team.
Design and Technology
A 'make your own' table football game is a great idea that we have seen online. This involves skills such as planning, designing, using tools and problem-solving:
- Shoebox table football / foosball table (The Mad House website)
Use YouTube to explore football songs through the ages, some suggestions are to search 'football world cup songs'. Ensure that parental controls are turned on so that no inappropriate content is streamed alongside or within your choices.
Talk to your child about how the music made them feel and how they might have felt if they were a football player walking to the world cup final and hear their song. Ask your child if there are any songs or pieces of music that they like that make them feel good about themselves, this could be turned into a playlist.
Print off some photos of football players from the 1930's to the present day, about five should be enough. Look at the photos together and try and put them in order. Talk about features that you can see such as kits and haircuts and if the photo is in black and white or colour.
If the child is able, ask them to make a football quiz that they can share with their family either in person or virtually. They need to find out some fun historical facts and write these down along with the answers. Or, perhaps you would all like to do a quiz yourself, there are lots of options if you google football quiz.
Here is a short clip from the popular CBBC Horrible Histories of England and Germany playing football during WWI:
- WW1 England vs Germany football match (YouTube, CBBC channel)
Draw from different angles and in different styles.
Write out and illustrate the recipe (good for practicing sequencing).
Count, weigh, record weights, add and subtract. What would half be? What about double?
For older children, ask questions about ratio eg of sugar to butter or ask how much you would need to increase quantities if three more people were eating.
Design a poster to advertise your food. Photograph each stage and describe what is happening.
Work out the calories then find out how much of which exercise would burn them off.
Name ingredients, tastes, textures, smells and consistency.
Cooking ideas to link to the wider academic curriculum:
- The Nomster Recipe Library (Nomster chef website) - illustrated recipes designed to help kids age 2-12 cook with their family members. Recipes encourage culinary skills, literacy, maths, and science.
Describe the day through the eyes of the animal.
Draw pictures of your pet and send them to friends and family.
What diet does your pet need? What are the diets of some other wild animals? Where do these other animals live? You might want to use the circular framework (coming up).
What other animals are in the same genus (eg cat family, canine family)?
Find out the birth size of mammals compared to their mothers’ size. Subtract these, or add them. Older children could find out the ratio!
Writing for different audiences
Write an advertisement to find a home for a rescue animal and/or write a booklet about how to look after your pet.
What pets did people have in different historical periods?
Lots of ideas for primary and secondary school children:
- Pet education resources website
- Animals, Including Humans - Pets (Twinkl website)
- PDSA Education Programme (PDSA website)
- Blue cross for pets website
Count as you walk, then count every second or third step only (times tables).
Pretend you are starting on a number, say 8 or 47. Count on as you walk: 9, 10, 11 or 48, 49, 50...
Many children find this very difficult. When they master it, try counting backwards from the number 7, 6, 5 or 46, 45, 44. You can then increase the complexity by counting on or back in twos or threes.
Anything, particularly focusing on how size changes to show perspectives.
Pick up leaves/twigs etc for collages.
What type of habitat can you see? Which animals, insects or plants are found here? Could you write a biodiversity report?
Discussions about books or TV programmes
Ask the child what they think will happen next?
Can the child summarise what happened, in the right sequence? Can the detail be increased?
Ask whether the character did the right thing. What else could they have done? What would the child advise?
How are different scenarios/characters the same or different?
Could the story be told in a different way or at a different point in time?
Could the ending be different?
Sports with scores
Can the child add up totals or predict how many more points/goals are needed to secure a win?
Other useful links
- Bedtime Math website - maths as a fun part of your daily family routine.
- Games to get "into the book" website.
- NGPF (Next Gen Personal Finance) website - lots of free resources, games, learning resources, and lesson plans for teaching personal finance.
- At-Home Resources for Kids (and their grownups) on the KiwiCo website - quick and easy at home projects curated for kids 2 and up.
- Wonderopolis website - short videos and readings that answer various burning questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions.
- Codecademy website - learn to code.
- GeoGuessr website - tests geography skills. Using images from Google’s Street View, it plops players down in the middle of the street and asks them to figure out where they are.
- WhatWas There website - allows students to type in any city, state, or country to view an archive of historical photographs and other documents. It is a unique way to learn about history.
- Artsology website - helps children to learn to appreciate the arts by providing them with the opportunity to play games, conduct investigations, and explore different forms of art.
- Virtual Musical Instruments website- lets children play instruments online. Instruments include the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, and bongos.
- Life Skills Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and High School - for students in grades K-12. Their resources include strategies for teaching social and emotional skills.
- Fun Stuff for Kids and Teens (Smithsonian website) - no need to travel to one of the Smithsonian’s zoos or museums. This website brings your child everything from live video of the National Zoo to the Smithsonian Learning Lab right to their screen.
- ClimateKids (NASA website) - this NASA initiative covers a wide range of topics including weather, climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals.
- Ask Dr. Universe website - a science-education project from Washington State University. You can send Dr. Universe any question about history, geography, plants, animals, technology, engineering, math, culture, and more.
Note: You know your child the best and so please adapt and amend the learning suggestions to utilise specific teaching strategies that support your child to engage and learn.