PARENTING, TRAVEL, AND LITTLE JOYS
Let's be clear - this isn't homeschooling. This is trying to do some school-like activities while trapped at home in a pandemic. My son is four. Our expectations are LOW.
That said, a little bit of structure in the day is making it easier on everyone. A little bit of learning in the day gives us all something to do. I try to have a couple hours a day of "school" where we do some activities together that aren't watching TV or playing solo with toys.
The best tool in our arsenal has been this:
The "Cat in the Hat Learning Library" is 20 books written in the style of Dr. Seuss on topics like seeds, mammals, or money. The books vary in quality, both in writing style and in content. There are at least 2 different authors in the series, and one is better than the other. Some of the rhymes are kind of a stretch, but they include lots of info and are pretty easy to read.
There are some factual errors (like the whole section on how ostriches live in Australia?!), though overall I've found the content pretty informative and accurate. It's accessible at a pre-school level with some concepts and vocabulary that would be interesting and new all the way through elementary school (or to those of us who haven't taken a science class since the mid-90s).
This doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation so far... so why am I such a fan? There's enough material in each of these slim books that it gives us sort of a curriculum theme for the day, and then I can look for other age-appropriate activities that go along with it. So for the "Oh Say Can You Seed" book, we have planted seeds, counted beans, and looked for different types of leaves in the yard. Older kids could label parts of a plant or write a summary, as just some examples.
Having a theme for the day and some basic terms, diagrams, facts, and pictures helps everything else feel like "school" and kind of feel tied together. So if we're drawing, playing with clay, playing with toys, writing, doing an art project, singing a song, or looking for another book to read, we can look for one that relates to the theme.
For us, this set worked well because these books are new to us and have lots of content. But if you don't want to order a new set of books, you could think about just choosing some books you already have in the house and using one a day (or few days) as a theme "unit" for all your homeschool activities. This is far from a novel concept - it's used in schools around the world all the time. But somehow having a little "textbook" like this to anchor it to was a lot easier for me than just coming up with my own theme of the day and trying to find all the materials myself.
What have you tried that's worked well?