Many families have elected to homeschool or do virtual schooling at home this year (at the time of this writing, it’s fall 2020)
You may be clamoring for ideas and resources on how to make the learning fun and engaging for your children. Afterall, when children are enjoying themselves, they don’t even realize they are learning and they are often more cooperative! Not to mention, they retain more of what they are learning, too! Who wouldn’t want that for their kids! Maybe as a parent, you are bored to tears teaching your child’s curriculum or supporting virtual learning and you need some ideas on how to spice things up. I’ve got you! Check out the ideas below and let me know what you think and if they were useful to you! Which ideas will you implement right away in your learning at home this year to help make the learning come alive for your children?
Cooking, Baking, and Treats
As you may know, cooking and baking not only involve math, science, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, but it also helps our children develop life skills that they will carry on with them as they grow into independent members of our society! Doesn’t it make sense for us to help foster these skills in our kids? We can make learning come alive for them in the kitchen! Want some ideas on how you can incorporate cooking and baking into your homeschool? I’m here for it! Cooking and baking can be taught independent of any curriculum as there is much learning to be had through these experiences, but there are also some fun ways to incorporate it into your child’s regular studies. For example, are you reading books that feature characters making special treats? Why not look up recipes together and prepare the same dishes, desserts, snacks, and treats that your children’s favorite characters are making in the stories your family is reading together? Here are some children’s cookbooks to get you started!
Maybe your family is much like our family and you also enjoy incorporating classical or fine arts studies into your homeschool including poetry, art appreciation, nature study, classical music, and more? Why not periodically incorporate “tea time” into your at-home learning and prepare special treats to share as a family while you listen to classical music and study fine art, or poetry? Or maybe your family just enjoys special treats and snacks during your read aloud time. There’s something wonderful about coming together with popcorn or cookies and milk to share a read aloud novel as a family.
Adventures in Nature
We love our Exploring Nature with Children curriculum and highly recommend it to other families. Within the curriculum, there are weekly opportunities to go to your family’s special “nature spot” or venture out together on nature walks. This doesn’t have to take a whole lot of forethought or planning. Our children love simply exploring our backyard plants, trees, rocks, bugs, and passing wildlife. Sometimes, we “do school” outside on nice days by laying down a picnic blanket, enjoying some treats, and reading, playing games, or working through our curriculum. Not only do we get to enjoy some vitamin D, but it’s also nice to get some fresh air and grow a greater appreciation for God’s creation. Of course, I also recommend our wide assortment of nature books on my online book store! We have beautifully illustrated books worth exploring with our children to help them grow a lifelong love of nature and the wild world around them. Check out those selections here!
Does your family engage in any art studies at home? We love studying famous and classical artists in our homeschool. We love to take the learning further and enjoy exploring these famous artists’ techniques and trying to replicate their famous pieces, as well. It’s also fun to learn about these artists’ lives and the time periods in which they lived. We also have a variety of art books and resources that you can add to your learning at home experience to study these artists and test out some of their techniques. Beyond art appreciation studies, we can teach our kids step by step drawing techniques to add depth and dimension to their own art pieces. Not good at drawing yourself? You can learn right alongside your child! Check out some of these arts and craft books and resources that are sure to get your kids on the right path learning which art modes and mediums that they love to experiment with the most. You might be surprised by the artistic talents that your children already hold, just waiting to be revealed through their arts and craft projects!
Science Experiments and Learning Kits
Are your students learning about science concepts that are hard to comprehend? While your curriculum may already have experiments embedded to help your family explore scientific phenomena, these pieces may be missing or you may be looking for something more. Don’t despair! There are tons of free and inexpensive resources out there that can be used to help bring some life to any dry science content that your children may be learning. A few years ago, we were learning about dinosaurs and we bought a dino dig kit for the kids to excavate and assemble a model dinosaur. It was so fun and I know they loved the experience! We also recommend snap circuits! It’s fun for the kids to move through the suggested activities as they get progressively harder, and they can build their own as well to test how they work, all in the name of exploring power and electricity! I can also recommend several books that have great science experiments that you can conduct really easily at home with limited materials, many of which you probably already have on hand.
Field Trips and Travel
At the time of this writing, we and many other families are social-distancing, but when it is safe and you’re comfortable to do so, consider adding field trips to your homeschool or virtual schooling in order to help make the learning come alive for your children. While taking field trips can be fun and educational, it’s even better when you can be strategic about planning the ones you will do to specifically go along with what they are learning in their homeschool or virtual school studies. For example, are your children learning about space and planets? Take a trip to the planetarium to experience the stars and planets firsthand! Are you reading the Little House on the Prairie series or learning about medieval times? Venture off as a family to “prairie days” or a renaissance festival in your area to take a step back in time. You could even go in costume to dress the part!
Family travel experiences can be super educational for your children, too. Some of my most memorable experiences from childhood were from the times that we traveled to Yellowstone, the grand canyon, the beach, Mount Rushmore, and many more amazing destinations. We did a lot of camping as a family and it was a great way to not only go on adventures and learn about our nation’s history, natural wildlife, geography, and geology together, but it also really tightened our family’s bonds! It was a win-win, if you ask me! I wasn’t homeschooled growing up, but I know that these experiences really taught my sister and I a great deal! Did you know that some families “road-school” and homeschool on the road for long periods of time bouncing from place to place? This is our family’s ultimate dream, but we aren’t there quite yet! Someday…. Take a look at these books about the USA and around the world to help capture your child’s interest in travel and what may be worth exploring outside their own neighborhood.
Look for Other Activity Match-Ups in Learning
What do I mean by this? If you are following curriculum, developing unit studies for your children, or even following your school’s virtual learning program, you might be surprised by how easy it can be to brainstorm activities and experiences that go along with the learning. This can even be done on a whim! Here’s an example: the other day in our nature study (check out Exploring Nature with Children), we were studying an “Art Piece to Enjoy,” called Blackberry Picking by James Clarke Hooke. I figured, what better way to make the learning come alive than to actually go blackberry picking! So my oldest and I ventured to the neighbor’s yard (with permission, of course), to pick some blackberries and then we came home and made a yummy yogurt parfait with our little blackberry harvest! Or when we were doing a unit study about the moon, stars, and space last year, we checked out a telescope from the library and got to view and experience the moon on our own at home! What are some other activities and experiences that your family could do to make the learning come alive for your children?
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive!
I want to encourage and empower you to brainstorm other learning adventures that you can partake in with your children and family as a whole! The curriculum you are using may already have some ideas embedded in it, but feel free to go off course a bit and take the learning even further. You may be surprised by how much better your children will retain their learning when you incorporate these extra activities and experiences. Their learning will be unforgettable!