Julie Bogart from Brave Writer (writing curriculum) recently quoted William Reinsmith in her new book Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life. He said, “Real learning connotes use. If something isn’t going to be immediately used or applied in some manner, it won’t get learned .” It’s easy to find ourselves just working our way through the curriculum and checking off those lists, but “doing” solidifies those synaptic pathways we are looking to establish in the brain. If you are looking for more activity in your homeschool or just want to mix in some fun, these 5 things are just for you. They don’t have to be long or elaborate. Some can even be spur of the moment. Others may take a little more time. Either way, here are some ideas for you that will bring a little more “enchantment” into your homeschool life.
#1 Sort it
Sorting can be a fun activity that can bring a better understanding to whatever you are studying. When we were doing our solar system study we decided to sort the planets. I made several copies of the eight planets from a sticker set I had, and we sorted them according to how far they are from the sun, their temperature, how many moons they have, how large they are, how long their days are and how long their years are. Then we looked at the different sortings to see if any have any similarities. Hint hint, they do! You could also sort dinosaurs by what they eat, when they lived, or where the fossils are found. There are many things that lend themselves to sorting. Animals are just begging to be sorted, as are plants. You can even create ven diagrams with them. Sorting is a great way to better understand how different things are related.
#2 Illustrate it
Nothing brings awareness and attention to detail like drawing something you are studying. Want your children to recognize Monet? Have them draw or paint his pictures. It will bring an attention to his work that they never knew was there. Life cycles lend themselves well to drawing, as do anatomy diagrams. Drawing an item of study is a great way to instill awareness to the details of that item.
#3 Demonstrate/Enact It
Studying the food web? Take a few pictures of plants and animals with a sun in the middle, paste them around the room. Use a piece of yarn to jump from one item to another. Your child will be able to see the web and can even be part of it. Use a flashlight and have your spin to understand day and night. Walk about the flashlight or lamp to understand a year. These can be planned out or even spur of the moment, but it definitely mixes things up a bit.
#4 Make it
Studying the layers of the earth, make an earth out of different colored playdough, beeswax, or modeling clay. Then cut it open to see the layers. This works for the layers of the sun as well. Studying Egypt? Make a salt dough map. Studying platonic and archemedes solids, make them using nets on paper or with clay. Studying elipses or curves? Make a cone of clay and use dental floss to cut cross sections and see the different curves.
#5 Engage the senses
Last, but definitely not least, engage the senses. Use each of the senses to engage the whole child in what you are studying.
- Touch – Practice your handwriting in a tray of salt or get a cell model, close your eyes, and try to guess which organelle it is
- Taste/smell- have a poetry tea time or make a meal from another country or time
- Sound- use glasses filled with water to experience fractions
- See- weave a skip counting pattern with different color strips of paper within a 100 chart or make a rainbow with a pH indicator like red cabbage