Go Back

Plan a Fun Break with Our Winter Activity Calendar

By: Beth Werrell

Calendars are useful tools in virtual school for many reasons. A typical calendar helps by keeping track of appointments, test dates, special occasions, and more. Learning calendars can help you understand the learning process by recording what goes well and what can be improved. There are also family calendar apps that help families manage daily priorities.

Calendars also make fun crafts, especially if they take on a creative form. For example, the dates on our Winter Activity Calendar are represented by paper cutouts, which dangle from a clothes hanger on a piece of string.

The Winter Activity Calendar also has a special purpose: to help students schedule activities over winter break. To try this calendar craft, download the Winter Shapes Templates and click on the graphic below to see the activity instructions.

Winter Activity Ideas

When you’re choosing activities for your winter calendar, take a look at the following list for inspiration.

  1. Write a poem about winter.
  2. Find coding tutorials to try.
  3. Make paper snowflakes to study symmetry.
  4. Play a board game.
  5. Build nature smarts by finding and counting evergreen plants in the backyard.
  6. Do our holiday marbled paper craft.
  7. Find the most effective feeder for your backyard birds on January 5th, which is National Bird Day.
  8. Learn how to dust for fingerprints.
  9. Test out new indoor physical education activities for K–5 students or exercises for students in grades 6–12.
  10. Make positive refrigerator magnets.
  11. Bake cookies to ...

9 Pinterest-Inspired Winter Learning and Craft Ideas for Kids

By: Stephanie Osorno
Pinterest Winter Break Activities

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again—endless food, festive parties, gift giving, and family gatherings! This joyful season is especially exciting for kids, who have most likely been anticipating the winter celebrations for months. But how do you motivate your student when the holiday fun is over and it’s time to get back to the daily school routine? Luckily, the learning never has to stop! There are plenty of enjoyable winter learning activity ideas available on Connections Academy's Pinterest boards that you can do together over the winter break to keep your child stimulated and excited about academics.

How Does It Work?

For those of you who are not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a “visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas for all your projects and interests.” It serves as a useful virtual bulletin board to store all of your creative findings! The assortment of inspirational ideas and projects are broken down into different themed “boards,” which you can choose to “follow.”

“We are using Pinterest to find some creative craft ideas so we can decorate our home for the holidays. From making hand turkeys to making snow, we find a way to incorporate math, reading, or science into our fun activities—and, of course, we do work outside on a beautiful day!”
~ Kelley Christiansen, Louisiana Connections Academy parent

What Do You Look For?

We curate a number of helpful and interesting boards that, among others, include useful tips for parents ...

Why Do Leaves Change Color? A Leaf Activity for Kids

By: Beth Werrell

Every autumn when the leaves start to fall from the trees, we admire the bright array of colors they display. We rake the leaves up, play in them, and even use them for crafts like this leaf symmetry activity. But do you and your child ever stop and wonder why the leaves change color and fall at this time of year?

Now is your chance to take the next step and discover the scientific side of fall. Just try this leaf activity for kids to find out why leaves change color. In the leaf experiment, you and your child will use chemistry to break leaves down and reveal their secrets.

To start the activity, follow the instructions by clicking on the leaf graphic below.

All About Leaves

Do you have other questions about leaves? Here are some fun facts that might answer them.

Why do trees grow leaves?
Trees grow leaves to conduct photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, the cells in leaves turn sunlight into the sugars and starches trees need for food.1

Why are leaves green?
Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives leaves their green color. All trees have chlorophyll because they need it to soak in sunlight for photosynthesis.2

Why do leaves fall?
If leaves didn’t fall, they would freeze during the winter because they contain water.1

How do leaves fall?
To shed its leaves, a tree will form barriers of cells between its branches and the stems of ...

Making Sense of Math: Applying, Playing, Exploring

By: Kim McConnell
young student using an abacus

Does your child …

  • Feel competent and comfortable working with numbers?
  • Know how to check an exact calculation by estimating the answer?
  • Know and choose between several methods of solving a math problem?
  • Understand the relationship between the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)?
  • Use mental math efficiently?

If you answered yes to all of the above, then congratulations, your child is numerate! That is, he or she has numbers sense, the ability to use numbers flexibly and understand basic math concepts.

As the foundation for all later math study, numeracy ensures that students will be ready to approach progressively more difficult problems and subjects like algebra confidently and logically—without being overwhelmed. Like literacy, it’s an essential skill set for navigating through life.

But what if your child isn’t numerate? What if your he or she …

  • “Hates” math?
  • Doesn’t know how to estimate an answer to check its reasonableness?
  • Needs pencil and paper to perform simple calculations?
  • Isn’t sure how numbers and operations are related?

Well, just because a student isn’t numerate today doesn’t mean that he or she can’t become numerate tomorrow. Here are a few suggestions and resources you can use to help.

Developing Numeracy Skills

To help develop your child’s numeracy skills, it’s important to first understand how students make sense of math. Basically, it comes down to APE: applying, playing, and exploring.

50 Facts and Events in U.S. Education History

By: Beth Werrell
50 important events in U.S. Education History

The Fourth of July is practically here! Flags wave at every corner, fireworks sprinkle the sky, and children sing patriotic anthems. It’s time to gather with family for festive picnics and celebrate the birth of the United States.

We all know how our country grew from thirteen British colonies to fifty United States. The Boston Tea Party and the ride of Paul Revere are just a couple legendary events that dot the timeline. But while U.S. parents and children know how the U.S. was formed, few know how our education system has evolved.

Review the fifty facts and events on this timeline with your child and give thanks for getting an education!
  • 1635—Boston Latin School becomes the first public school as well as the oldest existing school in the U.S.
  • 1647—A law passed in Massachusetts requires towns with fifty or more families to hire a teacher, and towns with a hundred or more families to build a grammar school.
  • 1690—Benjamin Harris prints The New England Primer, a reading textbook that becomes widely used for the next century.
  • 1783—Noah Webster finishes A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, a three-volume work he developed because he didn’t like the textbooks from England that were used at the time. In later editions, Webster rewrote words using American spelling.
  • 1791—Individual states take control of education when the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified.
  • 1801—While James Pillans discovered the method of using chalk on ...

Test the Sun’s Effects in this Sunscreen Experiment

By: Beth Werrell

Does your young child wriggle away when you apply sunscreen to his nose? Does your teen complain that she isn’t “tan enough”? Some children need help forming good sun-safety habits, and reinforcing them is crucial if you want to protect your child from permanent sun damage.

“There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why it’s so important to apply sunscreen diligently. To help your student understand the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, try this sunscreen experiment for kids. All you need are a few household items and a sunny day.

Click on the graphic below to see the full instructions for this sunscreen experiment.

True or False

Ask your child these true-or-false questions to measure his or her knowledge of the skin.

  1. The skin is the largest organ of the body.
  2. Birthmarks are caused by minor damage to a baby’s skin in the womb.
  3. A callus is a bump on the skin that’s filled with fluid.
  4. You should wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
  5. One way pimples form is when your skin produces too much oil.
  6. Scars can form on your skin when an injury heals too quickly.
  7. You don’t have to worry about UV rays on cloudy days.
  8. You have skin on your scalp.
  9. A first-degree burn damages the first layer of skin.
  10. Only humans and primates have fingerprints.


  1. True...

Keep Kids Learning with a Fun Summer Online Trivia Quiz

By: Beth Werrell
QuizBowl Challenge: Free Summer Online Trivia Quiz

Summertime is made for fun—but learning should be an important and enjoyable part of this carefree season! To kick off your vacation right, why not do something special today to recognize Summer Learning Day with your kids? Marking the occasion with tasty treats and a mini-celebration will help you emphasize the importance of summer learning and start family discussions about educational summertime opportunities.

As any teacher can tell you, a student’s grasp of academic concepts can “slide” over the summer. Providing children with learning opportunities helps them to hold on to previously learned knowledge and better prepare for the new school year. One great way to keep those young brains active is by playing our fun, free, online summer-themed trivia quiz. Or, download the printable version for use in the car, at parties, or over dinner.

Featuring twenty trivia questions of varying degrees of difficulty, the trivia quiz promotes lively and educational discussion and is an easy way to incorporate learning into everyday summer activities. Students of all ages—and their parents—can play the Quiz Bowl and then challenge their friends. This summer trivia quiz is available to the public, so feel free to share the link with other families.

You may even want to continue the friendly competition by creating some of your own trivia questions! Parents can find even more ideas to help keep students learning throughout every season by visiting Connections Academy’s resources page.

By making summer learning activities enjoyable and incorporating a bit of lighthearted ...

3 Simple Tips for Choosing Age-Appropriate Children’s Books

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
mother and daughters reading a book together

When you go to the library with your child, there are hundreds of books to choose from. How do you find books that are just right for your child’s reading level and interests?

You can take a chance and pick a few, of course, or you can ask a teacher or librarian for a recommended reading list. But you can also find the right books for your child just by using a few simple techniques.

  1. Determine your child’s reading level.

    Sometimes, finding an age-appropriate book is as easy as matching your child’s age to the reading level printed on the back of a book. If your child is 10, for example, then you can look for books in the 9–12 age bracket.

    Here is one tool that uses a measure called a Lexile to match readers of all ages with books and other reading resources.

    But before you rely on this method, remember that every child is different. Struggling readers fall below the normal reading level for their age or grade, while advanced readers may be several levels ahead. Difficulty varies within reading levels and within Lexile ranges, as well. If a book uses a lot of figurative language, metaphors, idioms, or hyperbole, it will be more challenging to understand than other books in the same Lexile.

  2. Do a background check.

    If you want to know more about the content of a book before your child chooses it, do some research. Read reviews online and ask for advice from ...

Using Math in Nature: Activities for Kids

By: Michelle Pratt
Math in nature activities for kids

Summer offers endless opportunities for your child to build nature smarts. There’s gardening, swimming, biking, and other outdoor activities to enjoy.

While it’s good for kids to spend time outdoors, it’s also important for them to keep their academic skills sharp over the summer. It’s even better when you can combine summer fun and learning!

It’s time for you and your child to explore math in nature.

Finding Math in Nature

At first glance, math class and the backyard seem like two different worlds. But the two are actually very connected and math is all around us. In fact, math was developed to describe patterns in nature!

Here are some familiar math concepts with real examples in nature. There are also simple math-in-nature activities for you and your child to try.


Definition: When one half of an object is the mirror image of the other half.

Examples: Butterfly wings, flowers.

Activities: Make a list of 25 things in nature that have symmetry. Go outside to search for examples, if needed! You can also do this Leaf Symmetry Craft to get you started.


Definition: A perfectly round, three-dimensional object.

Examples: Earth, sun, an orange.

Activity: Find an example of a sphere in nature and one that’s manmade. What’s different about them?

Fibonacci Spirals

Definition: A series of squares with lengths that match the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. It forms a spiral when you draw a line through the diagonals of each square.

Example: The inside ...

Father’s Day Activities: 10 Ways for Kids to Spend Time with Dad

By: Beth Werrell
10 Ways for Kids to Spend Time with Dad on Father’s Day

When Father’s Day rolls around each year, it’s customary to give Dad a card and maybe a present. You might even have a barbecue or a nice family dinner.

But if you want to truly thank Dad for everything he’s done for you, spend some time with him. Here are some Father’s Day activities to get you started.

  1. Help Prepare One of Dad’s Favorite Foods
  2. Alone or with the help of your family members, plan and prepare one of Dad’s favorite meals. You could surprise him with breakfast in bed or make him a special dish to take on a picnic. Another option is to ask Dad if he can show you how to cook his favorite food.

  3. Create a “Dad Handbook”
  4. Think about all of the important lessons or skills your dad has taught you. Write them down in a handmade book or blank journal to create a “Dad Handbook.” You can also write about favorite memories—and don’t forget to add illustrations or photos. When you are finished, present the handbook to Dad on Father’s Day so he can read it and display it on a family bookshelf.

  5. Discover Dad’s Interests
  6. Ask your dad to share one of his interests or hobbies with you. For example, if Dad plays an instrument, he can teach you how to play a few chords, or you can simply make music with water glasses. If he enjoys art, go to a museum together. Everyone likes to share their interests with someone they ...

Next page