9 Distance Learning Ideas to Reach Students Without Internet (Plus, Where to Find Templates)

With every school district in the United States mandating distance learning, teachers and parents alike are getting creative to make sure kids are still getting an education.

In 2020, it’s easy to assume that distance learning would be easy, since the internet and personal devices are so common. However, as the New York Times reported, many students aren’t able to participate in remote classrooms, for reasons ranging from limited internet access to limited number of devices in their homes to being the family babysitter while their parents continue essential work.

That’s why it is important for schools to provide learning experiences that don’t require internet, in addition to remote classrooms. The concept of distance learning pre-dates the internet, relying on printed materials and the US Postal Service instead.

With that in mind, we collected ideas and templates you can use for your students.

9 Ideas for Printed Distance Learning Activities

Reading Packets

In the absence of being able to access your classroom, your students may need to do some reading. Send them packets for the week of the topics you’ll be covering so they can learn the topics themselves. 

Exercise Sheets

This is an oldie but a goodie. Send your students one or two-page exercise sheets so they can practice the concepts they’re learning. This applies to math problems, spelling practice, and event short-answer questions for social studies or history.

You likely already have these sheets created, so all you need to do is print and mail them to your students.

Puzzles

While school districts grapple with how to measure students’ learning during the pandemic, one of the most important things you can do is keep their minds engaged. Send them word puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, math puzzles, or logic games. Be sure to include an answer key so they don’t go crazy wondering whether they got it right!

Coloring Sheets

For preschool or elementary-school aged students, send your students coloring assignments. You could include designs that relate to a key learning (for example, a map of the 50 states) or use topics you know your students will like. If you’re able, send along a box of crayons or colored pencils, in case your students don’t have those at home. 

Flash Cards

Send your students flash cards to help them learn productive study habits. You could either send them a blank set and ask them to create their own, or send them a pre-made set. Whichever method, be sure to include an instruction sheet so they don’t need to log into your learning system to find out what they are supposed to do. 

Hands-On Exercises

Send students printed instructions for hands-on exercises using whatever they may have on hand. For example, for a simple math exercise, ask them to count the forks, knives, and spoons in their house, then sum all three categories together. For a social studies exercise, give them a list of questions to ask a parent or grandparent about what life was like when they were in school.

Whatever the task, be sure you provide them printed instructions and a way to write down their responses.

Chain Letters

Make sure your students all feel connected to each other by starting a chain letter amongst their classmates. It should be related to topics you’re learning, but expect them to get creative and social. Be sure to send every student a set of instructions (in case someone mails the letter without the instructions) and the mailing address they’ll need in order to send the letter forward.

Journals

Send your students journals with instructions for how to use them to continue their learning. For example, for a social studies class, you could ask them to respond to one news story per day. For English, you could have them write book reports or stories. For science, you could have them observe the weather or keep track of birds they see out their windows.

At-Home Science Projects

Many scientific concepts can be experienced at home with basic ingredients. Send your students instruction sheets (don’t forget safety information!) so they can get experimenting. Here are eight at-home science project ideas from Business Insider.

(You may want to consider sending an apology letter to their parents, too.)

Free Printable Templates

Ideas are great, but how to execute when you’re already overwhelmed and overstressed? The good news is there are lots of free resources out there for homeschooling.

Here are a few sites with downloadable print templates you can use today:

When it comes to printing and mailing, Mimeo can make it a 10-minute process for you. We have special pricing for educators to make sure this doesn’t break your budget.
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