CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Aquarium is helping parents dive into homeschool teaching by getting kids outside, away from screens and engaged in easy-to-understand, hands-on lessons.
The aquarium has created Weekday Wonders, a series of free, science-at-home activities.
The series offers curated science content that has more structure than some other kinds of activities without the formality of an actual school lesson, says Brooke Gorman, director of science education for the Tennessee Aquarium.
“This series is specially designed for pre-K through fifth-grade children whose parents are suddenly finding themselves homeschooling unexpectedly,” Gorman says. “A lot of people aren’t really comfortable with science, so we want to help support those parents to help their kids learn without feeling the pressure of feeling nervous about what they know or don’t know.”
Weekday Wonders activities are crafted to reflect and augment the lessons students would be tackling in the classroom.
“The guides are general enough that all ages can do something with them,” Gorman says. “We really wanted to think of ways that kids can do things that don’t involve devices and get them outside near their homes.”
The series is constructed around five-day “weeks,” each of which explores an overarching topic, such as living things and the environment or ecosystem diversity. New lessons are released daily, focusing on questions such as: “What do animals need to live?” and “Where do animals live in rivers and streams?”
Daily activity guides walk parents and their children through a variety of engaging activities, discussions and physical challenges, including daily nature journaling topics, hands-on art or crafting projects, backyard scientific investigations and even animal-themed yoga poses.
Gorman says Weekday Wonders should take some of the strain off parents who feel overwhelmed with the need to micromanage their children’s education.
“Even though these daily guides include interactive activities, we have tried to make them things that parents can get kids started on and then let the kids continue on their own,” Gorman says. “That way, parents have time to tackle their own work or prepare other activities.”
The Tennessee Aquarium is also producing live online streams at 1 p.m. on weekdays that include “moment of Zen” calming views of various exhibits and expert-led discussions of various animals or behaviors. The #AquariumAtHome Facebook Lives offer behind-the-scenes views and are opportunities for digital visitors to interact directly with Aquarium staff. The topic and timing of the daily stream is announced each morning on the Aquarium’s Facebook page.
There is also more free content at tnaqua.org/aquarium-at-home including:
- Access to always-on webcams in the Secret Reef, River Otter Falls and Penguins’ Rock
- Printable activity sheets
- Educational video series
- Naturalist Notebook blog written by Tennessee Aquarium Education Outreach Coordinator Bill Haley.
- Streamable IMAX films and accompanying educational guides
- A guide to backyard birdwatching
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