Week 1 Learning Center For Grades 1–4: Daily ELA Learning Activities

Welcome to our teacher-reviewed Elementary Student Learning Center!

We’ve planned out daily activities to last a week.

Elementary students may not be totally self-sufficient in terms of their learning, and that’s OK. It’s a balance. That’s why our self-guided activities for each day help younger students figure out how to navigate reference sites and learn information on their own while also balancing parental interaction to help validate their learnings and explain harder concepts.

Starting at day 1, we’ve organized 7 themed activities that have self-guided and family-fun components. We also welcome all feedback, ideas, and suggestions about these activities because we’ll be adding a new round next week!

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Day 1: Word origins

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Watch a fun video about a word origin you never knew.

WATCH: The Disgusting Origin Of The Word "Squirt"


2. Answer these 3 questions about the word squirt.

Hint: use the definition page to help you answer the questions!

  • What does the word squirt mean?
  • What did the word squirt used to mean?
  • What are some things that squirt?

3. Look up the word origin in the dictionary.

Help your child understand language and how its history helps explain how people throughout time created ways to communicate with each other.

4. Have kids explain (or write about) what the word origin means.

Ask them why they think they are learning about squirt‘s word origin.

5. Search for the Word of the Day.

See if you can find the word origin section there. What does it tell you about the word?

Family time activities:

1. Go around and share some seriously weird word origins (from this slideshow) at the dinner table. See which family member can make the others laugh the most.

2. Play a game: Family Words!

Make a word up that originates with you! 

  • Using letter blocks or letter refrigerator magnets, spell out the name of a family member.
  • Rearrange the letters to create a nickname for that family member (you don’t have to use them all!). For example, Nicholas could be rearranged to spell Nachos, which is a pretty great nickname.
  • Come up with as many nicknames as you can. Who knows, maybe one will stick?

Day 2: Spelling

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Sight word treasure hunt.

This one works well with some basic sight words appropriate for your kid’s age.

  • Write or type the words in large letters and cut the letters apart (or use sticky notes).
  • Tape or stick the letters throughout the house.
  • Give kids a list of the words and send them hunting to find the letters that match the spelling of the words on the list.

2. Shaving cream spelling.

A little planning may be necessary before starting this challenge, especially when coming up with a list of age-appropriate words.

  • Cover a cookie sheet or tabletop in shaving cream (make sure it won’t damage the surface—we don’t want you to hate us!).
  • Have kids spell the words from your list using their fingers to write in the shaving cream.
  • After each word, they can “erase” the letters and start over again.

Talk about good, clean fun!

Family time activity:

1. Play this word game with the whole family: Letter Dice!

This game requires a little bit of preparation, but the added tactile element makes it worth it.

  • Put letters on dice (or make some using a template). You can make a variety of letters and use them all at once or swap them out periodically. Be sure to include all five vowels. Make three to five dice (you can use the same letter more than once).
  • Roll the dice.
  • See who can make the longest word and the most words from the letters available. Each player gets one point for each word they create and two points for the longest word.

To make the game more difficult, you can set a four-minute time limit for each round.

2. Read through this slideshow about spelling.

Ask kids what each “hack” means and how it helps them remember a spelling tip. Come up with your own funny family spelling “hacks,” as well.

Day 3: Idioms

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Have your child watch these videos of other kids answering questions about idioms.

2. Look up the word idiom in the dictionary. 

Parents: help explain to your child what it means, using examples from the video.

3. Ask your child to explain what they think the following idioms mean (and record your own video for fun, too!):

4. If they are old enough, have them write their own idioms in the Writing Tool!

Otherwise, you can write down the idioms they’ve created.

Family time activities:

1. Look up some idioms in the dictionary as a family.

Quiz each other on what they mean.

2. Make up some family idioms that you can use while home on break with each other.

They can be secret codes that only your family knows the meaning of.

3. Write down your family idioms.

Decorate them and hang them on your fridge or wall so you can remember what they are and how to use them.

Day 4: Word relationships

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Have your kid watch this video about onomatopoeia to figure out what this long, funny-sound word means.

WATCH: What Kind Of Words Are Onomatopoeia?


2. Ask your child to give more examples of onomatopoeia words.

They can write them down or just tell them to you.

3. Have your child create their own comic strip by inserting onomatopoeia words into the speech bubbles (or use this printable template here!).

Have them read you the comic after they are done.

4. Set up “muffin tin word toss” and add a little action to the day (it’s a ball toss with words!).

  • Using a muffin baking tray, fill each cup with a word written on a small piece of paper.
  • Have kids take turns tossing a small ball, trying to land it in one of the cups.
  • When they get a ball in, have them read and/or define the word.
  • Ask them to think of an opposite word or a word that is related to the word their ball just landed on.

You can mix this one up for kids of all ages by increasing the complexity of the words and adding fun twists like having them give antonyms or synonyms for the words or asking them to use the words in a sentence.

Family time activity:

1. Play this word game with the whole family: Word Pals!

One of the perks of this game is that it’s a good way to practice both spelling and pattern recognition.

  • Make up a list of words that have something in common. They could all come from the same spelling family (e.g., -at, like bat, hat, and mat) or have some other common characteristic (e.g., animals, like dog, cat, and bear).
  • State one word. You can write it on construction paper or show a picture so kids know what the word means. Then, move on to the next word. You can write this one down or show a picture again, as well.
  • After two words, the player has the chance to guess what the common characteristic is. If they can, they get three points. If they miss, read another word and have the player guess again.
  • The player gets one fewer point with each round. For example, if they guess it after three words, they get two points, and so on.

Day 5: Writing

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Adjective cloud writing.

  • Take a piece of construction paper (blue preferably) and put white paint in center. Have your child help squeeze the paint out.
  • Fold the paper in half, really squish it together. Open the paper to see your cloud.
  • On the bottom of your cloud paper (or on another piece of paper), write “This is a  _______ cloud.” (Examples: large, turtle, rainbow.)
  • Ask your kid to brainstorm what they think their cloud looks like (tip: outlining the cloud shape with a black marker might help).
  • Then, either have your child write out as many words that describe their cloud as they can think of. Or help them write the words in the blank. Write as many words as your child can think of!

2. Have your child draw a picture of someone in your family.

Then, ask them to write one sentence about them. (For example: “My mom is nice.”)

  • If your child is too young to write a full sentence, have them dictate their sentence to you so you can write it. Then, ask your child to try and trace the words.
  • You can do this for every member of your family, including pets!

Family time activity:

1. Have your child tell you a story.

Write the story down as they tell it to you. Then, read the story back to them.

2. Get a stack of paper.

Write each sentence from your child’s story on one piece of paper. Then, draw pictures for the story to make a whole book!

  • The image drawing for your child’s book could be another self-guided activity for tomorrow!

Day 6: Words for animals

Self-guided activities (with a little parental help):

1. Have your child watch this video about words for baby animals.

WATCH: How Well Do You Know Your Baby Animals


2. Then, have them complete this word search to find the words they learned about in the video.

3. Parents: write each one of the baby animal words on its own piece of paper.

Then, have your child draw a picture of the baby animal that goes with each word.

4. Take this quiz about reptiles and amphibians.

Do you know these words?

Family time activity:

1. Have each family member take a piece of construction paper and some drawing tools.

Ask each person to draw a made-up animal.

  • The animals can be combinations of animals or something completely random and new!

2. Have each person name their animal.

Write the name (and the spelling of the name you think it has) on the paper. Help your child write their name if needed. (Hint: read this slideshow about funny, but real, animal names to help ignite your creativity!)

3. Have each person try to pronounce the name of the animals.

Pick the pronunciation you like best!

Day 7: Introduction to poetry

Self-guided activity (with a little parental help):

1. Have your kids create a list of words that rhyme (a list of 10 is best).

2. Have them write a poem using all 10 words.

It’s OK if it doesn’t make sense.

  • You can write the poem for them if needed.

3. Have your child draw a picture that illustrates what is happening in their poem.

4. Ask them who they wrote the poem for.

Have them draw a picture of that person (or thing) as well.

5. Have your child write a new list of words, any 10 words (they don’t have to rhyme).

Ask your child to write a similar poem to the one they did above, but using the non-rhyming words now.

6. Read the poem and ask your child if they like it without the rhymes.

Explain that poems can be either rhyming or non-rhyming (also called “free verse“), depending on the type of poem and the author’s preference.

Family time activity:

1. Play a game: Slap the Word!

This is a good one to get some of the yoo-hoos out.

  • Write several words (9-12) that rhyme in large letters on sheets of computer paper or other scratch paper. There should be one word per piece of paper.
  • Lay out the papers on the floor or a table. You may want to put something underneath the papers like a towel.
  • Give each of the players something to hit the board with, like a flyswatter, a wooden spoon, or a drumstick.
  • Make up a quick poem using 2 of the rhyming words. The first player to slap the words in your poem gets a point.
  • Have the next person make up a poem and let the slapping commence!

To make the game more challenging, use longer words or say them faster.

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