At the beginning of the summer, I was honoured to be asked to speak at a training session to share the FunLab experience using digital platforms during the COVID quarantine. As you know, school shut down this year with no advance notice. This meant that we had to reinvent our JOLLY PHONICS based courses in a “digital platform”. I have to admit that it was an adventure. The FunLab teachers pulled together and learned new technology in order to move our students towards our goals – great job! While we were in the middle of it I did not really have time to think about how other teachers and schools were dealing with this unique situation. During the training that I spoke at in June, I saw wonderful different solutions from teachers from around the world.
One teacher from Australia really struck me. She said we must work to find a balance between screen time and “GREEN TIME”. When she started speaking I thought to myself, “try finding GREEN TIME in a small apartment in downtown Milan” but I listened to what she had to share and I realised that we actually have a lot in common. During the shut down I made loads of videos for our small kids that included creative activities to support kids learning our “didactic goals”. Basically we were trying to balance screen time with CRAFT TIME!
I would like to share one of the awesome ideas that she presented during her talk. She showed how she had her small kids using sensory bags to do dictations during online classes. If you have had any experience using Jolly Phonics, you know that letter formation goes hand in hand with learning a new sound. I thought that her suggestion was an idea that we could use in either situation – if we are able to hold in person classes (keeping my fingers crossed) or if we are holding classes remotely using our digital platform. We did similar things with yellow flour and salt dough (click here to read related post) but I thought this might be more like a DIY: WHITEBOARD that the kids could use over the entire academic school year without the hassle of flour or salt dough.
At first I was not sure that I would be able to make them without going crazy to find the supplies but I found everything at the local grocery store! All you need is: ziplock bags, hair gel and food colouring.
I made a video to show how to make the DIY: WHITEBOARDS! which I hope captures how easy to make and versatile these sensory bags can be for teachers and parents who are dealing with homeschooling.
We are ready to try it out in September! If you try them out at home send us some pictures!
In summary as we go forward into the next academic school year, I am going to keep her message in my mind: BALANCE SCREEN TIME WITH GREEN TIME! Any suggestions? Share with us!