At-Home Simulations during Distance Learning

Using at-home simulations during distance learning is a great way to add engaging, meaningful (and fun!) activities for students, while practicing skills in reading, writing, and S.T.E.M. This blog post walks through three fun simulation ideas. (The Thinker Builder)This distance learning thing definitely has its challenges. But I will say, certain types of learning opportunities have surfaced that lend themselves really well to an at-home set-up.

One type of activity I LOVE for distance learning is a simulation, where students are asked to imagine a certain scenario and then actually live it out. Kids are great at pretend play, so incorporating a simulation-type of experience allows them to use their imaginations to really immerse themselves. And guess what, tying important skills to a simulation, like reading, writing, and S.T.E.M., is pretty easy.

Imagine...

Your brand new luxury yacht just sank, and you are now stuck on a life raft (a blanket spread on the floor) with few supplies, adrift in the middle of the ocean.

Yikes! That's quite a dramatic intro to a simulation. But kids eat this stuff up! The idea of "surviving" on a blanket for an afternoon, fending off sharks? Uh, hello? If I'm a kid, sign me up! (Heck man, I'm about to go spread a blanket and set myself adrift.)

Give students survival-like tasks, creating things from simple materials found at home (like cardboard) and writing journal entries of their experience. Or, have them use the journal in the following resource, which guides students through the "Lost At Sea" simulation:


Here's my 9-year-old on her "life raft"...


I've included printable and digital versions to help add versatility to sharing it with your students.


The journal guides students through 12 parts to the simulation, from being set adrift in the life raft, to building protection from the sun, to designing a rainwater collection system, "fishing" for food, creating a Morse Code message, and more! Lots of cross-curricular practice, too. Check out my "Lost At Sea" Simulation HERE.

Then I went and took the "Lost At Sea" idea a huge step forward with a sequel... "Stranded!"


In "Stranded," students imagine their life raft washing up on a tropical island. So now their survival adventure continues with a whole new set of challenges, like building a fort-style shelter, collecting coconuts, befriending a monkey, weaving a mat from palm fronds, and mapping the island. Plus a surprise twist at the end! (Are they really alone on the island? He-He-He :)


Check out my "Stranded!" Simulation HERE.

"Lost At Sea" and "Stranded are my only full-fledged simulations I've created, but you don't necessarily need a structured plan for a simulation to be engaging and meaningful. Here's one more idea (not survival related) you and your students could run with:

Run a Pet Daycare with Stuffed Animals:
Use as many stuffed animals as you have. Categorize them based on animal type. Create different "zones" in your room for each type of animal... the dogs stay here, the dolphins and fish stay in the "water tank" over here, etc. Use boxes or bins to help give each animal their own space. Create a flyer advertising your pet daycare business. Create a form for customers to fill out with information about their pet: length of stay, type of food, personality, toys, likes, dislikes. Create a "menu" of services provided at your pet daycare: price per night, bath, haircut/grooming, etc. Get your siblings involved as customers or as employees!


I hope you get a chance to use one (or more!) of these simulation ideas with your students!



Using at-home simulations during distance learning is a great way to add engaging, meaningful (and fun!) activities for students, while practicing skills in reading, writing, and S.T.E.M. This blog post walks through three fun simulation ideas. (The Thinker Builder)