Interactive Advent Calendars of Activities for Parents, Class Dojo, Games & More- Moving your Preschool/Primary school Online

Hello, my dear educators! I wrote another post, this time, aimed at preschool teachers and elementary school teachers who need to transfer their school to the cloud quickly. It is easier for the university, high school, and even middle school students, but the primary school students and preschoolers will lose the most content in this situation. So, what are some activities you can do in your online preschool?

Read two other posts on teaching large groups online:

  1. Classroom Management in a Large Online Classroom – Tips for Managing 20+ Students
  2. Teaching Large Student Groups Online – 10 Steps & Apps – A Complete Guide: Teenage and Adult Learners

Teaching online requires a lot of ed-tech knowledge, but I will present only simple apps and tips which I found to be the most useful. When it comes to teaching online, the rule is the same as in the classroom – less is usually more, especially with the little ones.

Tips & Apps – Only 3 crucial apps for an interactive classroom: Zoom, ClassDojo & Genial.ly

  1. How to transfer your teaching methods, usual activities & materials online?
  2. Duration of the lesson;
  3. Zoom – App for the live lesson;
  4. Important features for the little ones on Zoom;
  5. One ring to rule them all: ClassDojo – Communicational platform for communication after the class;
  6. Daily rituals in every lesson – from yoga to calendar for kids;
  7. TPR & drama games in your lesson – Padlet for collecting activities ;
  8. Interactive online games & videos;
  9. Props, puppets, & books to make your lesson more magical;
  10. Activity advent calendars on Genial.ly. One activity to be done with parents or in free time every day/WebQuests created in Genial.ly for self-study.

1.How to transfer your teaching methods, usual activities & materials online?

Try not to think about reinventing your teaching practice – reshape it so that it can be used in the online classroom.

What does that mean?

If you like singing, KEEP SINGING. Share your screen and your sound. Share projects and flashcards to your children. Make sure that you are sharing documents so that if they need to fill a blank – they can also do it with their parents. 

If you are a worksheet kind of teacher, THAT’S PERFECT. Zoom allows children to draw, type on the screen, and even control your screen. You have an integrated whiteboard, which means that there are no limits.

If you like physical activities, P.E. and TPR – KEEP MOVING! You can easily share videos to dance to, use yoga for children, and much more. Drama games are amazing for TPR, and children can communicate with their bodies.

If you are a science kind of teacher, KEEP EXPERIMENTING! Set up your ‘home laboratory’, help children set up theirs, and start your science journey live on Zoom!

If you are artsy, learn about art techniques and paint/draw/craft step by step with your children. You only need to position the camera so that they see what you are creating.

The point is that YOU DO NOT NEED TO MAKE ANY DRASTIC CHANGES. As I always say, a classroom is a classroom regardless of where it is located. 🙂

2. Duration of the lesson

If you are teaching preschool children, more than 30 minutes is out of the question. Sometimes even 30 minutes is too much, so start with 20 minutes to get them used to the duration. Preschool children could sit through a 45-minute session, but it all depends on the group. If you see that their focus is dropping, do not prologue the session as you will only get frustrated. Think of engaging and active online preschool activities to keep their attention.

3. Zoom – App for the online preschool activities

As for the Zoom, there are literally 3 steps you need to complete:

  1. Download it and install it.
  2. Make an account by setting your email and password.
  3. Post the link for your live lesson to ClassDojo. THAT’S IT! 🙂

There are many posts about Zoom created by educators out there, so I will not waste time, and I will just share a very detailed post on how to use Zoom a colleague wrote.

Students should also complete the first 2 steps, and then simply click on the link to join. When they join you will see a tool line on the bottom of the screen – this is the most important thing for you as a teacher since all the features will be listed down there. Explore for a few minutes!

4. Important features for the little ones on Zoom

Zoom offers muting the participants as you wish, controlling the screen, sharing the screen, built-in whiteboard, built-in audio/video recording, taking screenshots inside Zoom, your students can also MANIPULATE your screen so they can complete an interactive task on your computer.

online preschool activities zoom
An example of using the annotations 1
online preschool activities zoom and textbook
An example of using the annotations 2 – Using a pdf of the official textbook: Student writing and teacher checking the answers

5. One ring to rule them all – ClassDojo as a communicational platform for communication after the class

One of my favorite virtual classroom apps for kids is ClassDojo – a communicational platform many preschool teachers already use. You can set small tasks, share rewards, share tasks, photos, and videos as posts (similar to Facebook), and you can even track attendance. I honestly recommend it as it is very easy to use, and this is your one ring to rule them all app since you will be posting everything in one place. Avoid private groups/emails since it will take up a lot of your time. The mere fact that the lessons are transferred online creates an illusion that you are available 24/7, and this is simply not true. Set the time you will be online and follow through your plan.

online preschool activities class dojo
Class Dojo
online preschool activities class dojo
Class Dojo features – Short picture tutorial
online preschool activities class dojo
Class Dojo teacher toolkit

If this seems too complicated, you can also use Padlet to post activities and stay in touch with students. Keep reading the post to see other activities on Padlet.

6. Daily rituals in every lesson – from yoga to calendar for kids

What are classroom rituals?

Classroom rituals develop a sense of routine and establish a connection between the child and the preschool. They also develop the teacher-child relationship, children’s emotional intelligence and prepare children for enrolling into elementary school.

Despite the lessons being online, children still need their classroom rituals or ‘circle time’. There are plenty of ideas for classroom rituals in the post below, and most of them can be also used with primary school students.

7. TPR & drama games in your lesson – Padlet for collecting activities

Again, despite the lessons being online, you still need to have plenty of interactive activities. For example, after we discuss clothes, play with an online game, learn a song about clothes, and review with worksheets by using the annotations tool on Zoom, we can instruct the kids to go, find and wear a certain part of clothing. I love this activity, and I always use this chance to practice action verbs with kids, along with learning about clothes.

I use Wheel of games” to select a drama game we can use and adapt to fit our story after storytelling. It can also be used in many other situations. Click on the picture below or on the link above to access the wheel.

The wheel of games contains the following drama games: ways to greet each other, expert double, gibberish, exaggeration circle, energy circle – share the love, body game, campfire, interview game, team pantomime, let’s focus, association walking, name and action game, and theater pronunciation walking. By using the wheel of games we give the children the right to choose their next activity, and we increase engagement.

Wheel of games for using drama with young learners

Wheel of games – copy-paste this link into your browser if it doesn’t open via the link wheelofnames.com/ptz-j3h After we selected the activity randomly, we went to the Padlet board I created for this activity, and we had the task to find, read, and do the activity. Parents can help here and you can create any activities you want and keep them together on Padlet. The Padlet for the drama games has both games you need to play in groups and games you can play individually. The parent can help with group games and you can use the Pdlet to create literally any kind of activity collection.

Made with Padlet

8. Interactive online games, videos & ready-made worksheets

Interactive online games, videos & ready-made worksheets can lessen your burden a lot! Select websites you like and then just circulate through them – do not pile up a lot of websites on your list and keep it simple.

My top 5 websites with games and interactive materials to use in your online preschool activities are:
  1. EslGames+ – My favorite website with grammar quizzes & interactive board games you can play. I’ve been using their board games for years and I really like them. Ideal for online group lessons.
  2. National Geographic kids – One of my favorite websites ever offering games, quizzes, videos, articles, videos with experiments, funny fill-ins where you make your own funny story by adding words in the gaps. This website is a real treasure.
  3. Anglomaniacy – A lot of simple games for young learners + a lot of downloadable materials to accompany the same topics the games are connected to.
  4. Brainpop – Great interactive videos, tasks on multiple topics.
  5. PBSlearningmedia – An insane amount of videos, tasks & lesson plans for ALL subjects. I simply love it!
My top 5 websites with downloadable, ready-to-use materials to use in your online preschool activities are:
  1. Learn English Kids British Council Other than great videos and interactive practice, Learn English Kids British Council offers a lot of downloadable materials. I especially love their grammar bookmarks.
  2. Twinkle– A lot of free amazing materials to download – from presentations to worksheets and flashcards.
  3. ISLCollective– A lot of materials created by teachers. Some of them have lower quality since they can seem a bit older in terms of design, but they still have literally anything. Do check out their amazing interactive video quizzes as well!
  4. TeachersPayTeachers Select the FREE option and browse for downloadable materials! Definitely useful!
  5. FlashcardFox – I am a flashcard lover, so this website was really a gem for me since I love the modern, vector design.
British Council PBS, Anglomaniacy & ISLcollective offer both interactive and downloadable materials!

There are many YouTube channels on the internet, but I suggest that you stick to one or two channels, preferably the more quality ones. Why? Because they also offer games, worksheets, and flashcards for free!

Take a look at SuperSimple and their accompanying SuperSimple website – every song has already created materials!

online preschool activities

9. Props, puppets, & books to make your lesson more magical

When I started teaching online 6 years ago, I created my first ‘magic box’. This is essentially a didactic box with plenty of tools, props, books, objects, flashcards, puppets, and literally anything you can use. Make one for every lesson you have and have different tools at hand. One single prop or flashcard can save your lesson if all the children start misbehaving, and everything goes downhill.

Here is an example of what I keep in my ‘magic box’:

10. Activity advent calendars & WebQuest on Genial.ly – Online preschool activities to be done with parents or in free time every day for self-study

Two great online preschool activities are an interactive advent calendar and a WebQuest.

An interactive advent calendar can be an amazing asset to parents and give them some activities to do with their children every day. Some activities are more independent, and some require parent assistance.

You can quickly make your advent calendar – when you join Genial.ly, search for an advent calendar template and edit it by changing the appearance and adding your activities!

If you are interested in creating a WebQuest, and motivating the children to search for something while also developing their digital skills, read the post below. You can create your own WebQuest from templates on Genial.ly in less than 10 minutes.

Hamilton Publishing is officially the best publisher in the world!

Hamilton Publishing has ALL interactive online books in the form of an .exe file you can install on your computer for FREE. I love these materials, but they usually expire, and you get them only if you buy a textbook in the print form. These .exe files are interactive digital books, and they do not have an expiration date!

To conclude

How would you organize your own online classroom? What are some great online preschool activities? If you would like to add something or ask something, please write in the comments, or write via the contact form!

Alice Glass

About Alice Glass

Alice is a 27 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for British Council. Last but not least, she is a mother of a very energetic toddler.

4 Comments

  1. […] Tips for moving your preschool/primary classes online – a blogpost by Alice Glass […]

    1. Dear Alice,
      Thanks a lot for the tips about teaching very young learners online. I´m a preschool teacher as well in Mexico City. I love to see that I´m not far from your suggestions. I´m not familiar to ClassDojo, it seems interesting, I would like to learn a little more about it.

      1. I am happy you are on the right path!
        Make an account on Class Dojo and explore! I am sure your preschoolers will like it. Here is my latest article on the British Council where I wrote about setting up a classroom on Class Dojo!

        https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/milica-vukadin/setting-a-classroom-or-teacher-training-lms-learning-management-system-edmodo

        Let me know if you need any help 🙂
        Sincerely,
        Alice

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