Resources to Help Make Learning Fun for Kids
If you can encourage children at a young age to love learning, there’s a good chance they will continue to enjoy learning for the rest of their lives. You can do this is by feeding and reinforcing their interests — whether they like science, technology, English, the arts or math — while simultaneously getting them excited about exploring new things.
Here are some tools and ideas to help make learning fun.
National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is held in November. It offers a challenge to draft an entire novel in only 30 days. This requires putting away your inner editor and letting your imagination run wild. The challenge’s Young Writers Program supports K-12 students and educators, as well as independent young writers. Budding authors can sign up, create a profile, set a word-count goal for the month and start writing. They can track their progress on the website, as well as get resources and support from published authors and fellow novelists. Although November is the official challenge month, your child can still create new projects throughout the year, with personal challenges or sitewide events such as Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, or Short Story Month in May.
Duolingo is a free program designed to feel like a game. It helps children — and adults — learn languages online and through their iOS, Android or Windows phone apps. Languages offered include Hebrew, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Welsh and English. Duolingo claims to be the “most popular language-learning platform and the most downloaded education app in the world” with more than 170 million users. The company’s mission is to make education free, fun and accessible to all. It’s intended for ages 10 and older.
Book Club for Kids Podcast
Book Club for Kids is a free, 20-minute podcast in which middle-grade students talk about books with award-winning public radio journalist Kitty Felde. The show also includes a celebrity reading and an interview with the author. Subscribe on iTunes or download new episodes on your smartphone, tablet or computer. And, if your child has a favorite book, he or she can apply to be on the show. You can also sign up for a free newsletter that includes tips from teachers, librarians and parents on how to turn your child into a lifelong reader. The website also has past episodes and a resource list.
Do you have an inventor in the family? LittleBits kits are composed of color-coded, magnetic, electronic building blocks that help empower children’s creativity. Using LittleBits, students can create a wide variety of items, ranging from a wireless robot to a digital instrument. The company believes in STEAM, not STEM, arguing that Art should also factor into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math mix. LittleBits can be used at every level of education, from elementary school and beyond. The company also has pages on its website dedicated to sharing community inventions and educator lessons.
One of many podcasts aimed at young listeners, Book Club for Kids joined forces with the producers of Brains On!, Ear Snacks, Tumble science podcasts for kids, Sparkle Stories, Story Pirates and The Show About Science to create the advocacy group Kids Listen.
This story appeared in the 2018 Education Guide edition of the paper.