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Explore the world, play big while teaching at home

Grassroots Tehachapi


April 11, 2020

Julianna Crisalli

Winning one lesson at a time through online learning with PBS Kids.

I feel very lucky. Frustrated and scared, but lucky.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our world hard, and the number of confirmed cases here in Kern County continues to grow. It's hard not knowing when it will ease, or when life will go back to something more familiar. But while the growing pains of this new life are uncomfortable, it is encouraging and comforting to see people using compassion to help their community.

For me, working from home instead of the office isn't new. Throughout my journalism career I've had many remote positions, meaning my office was my home, sometimes even my car. When my oldest child was a baby, I worked remotely for a communications company and often drove to the beach to work out of my car. I loved my ocean view office.

That said, it is completely different learning how to work from home, while also filling in as teacher for my kids. Teachers truly are heroes without a cape.

Many days I have completely failed in my creation of a learning plan. With a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, I find myself sending them off for far too many recesses. But again, I feel lucky because I know they are safe at home with me, and because I have a community of teachers and parents who have my back.

It's easier to teach my son. He's young and teaching letters, easy math and other pre-k curriculum is something I can do. Keeping up with his endless energy? Not so much.

My daughter's lessons are far more complex. I'm not a math person, and definitely not a common co re math person. I have to Google every problem just to learn the "correct" way to teach the darn thing. Thankfully, Tehachapi Unified School District and her amazing teachers, keep in frequent contact, providing links to free learning experiences.

These are some of my favorites so far.

I hope they can help you, too.

• PBS kids online (this website has great learning tools and educational games for little ones. My son loves it and doesn't even realize how much he's learning during each game.)

• Take a virtual field trip! (So far my kids and I have been to the San Diego Zoo, Aquarium of the Pacific, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Musée d'Orsay in Paris and The Getty ... all virtually of course.)

• NASA Science Space Place (I love everything space, so if I have the teaching reins, I'm taking my kids to the stars. This website offers a fun way to explore the solar system and even throws in some educational games as well.)

• ABC Mouse (This is a great digital classroom with lots of subjects to explore. While it is subscription based, you can try it now free for 30 days.)

There are tons of resources to make learning from home a fun adventure, but sometimes, let the learning come naturally through big playtimes.

On my last supply run, I bumped into a teacher. She asked how we were handling the changes and I confessed that I haven't a clue if I'm handling this right and I worry they aren't learning enough. She said, in all her years of experience, she sees kids learn so much just by simple play. Give kids chalk and tell them to trace shadows. Let them find their own new painting techniques. Send them on a nature hunt in the backyard and encourage them to write or draw their discoveries in a field journal.

Lastly, we all miss our friends and families, and explaining social distancing to children is hard. This distance hurts them and feels lonely. So why not practice the art of snail mail with your kids? It could even be a great time to introduce cursive. We all know that takes practice. I'm sure there are many distant grandparents, cousins and friends that would love a friendly pen pal right now.

Be kind to one another and stay safe my friends.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at


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