Tag Archives: fun

Book Work v.s. Hands-on Projects

caves stalactites stalagmitesWe all know the public schools focus mainly on book work with the occasional science or social studies project once a year. As homeschoolers we have the opportunity to do as many hands-on projects as we want, whenever we want.

Studying earthquakes? Let’s do an experiment! What about stalactites and stalagmites? Create some! Geography fair time? Let’s do it! The list can go on an on, but it’s also important to find a balance that works for you and your children.

Too many projects and experiments can lead to less broad learning, but much more in-depth learning. In-depth learning is a GOOD thing, just don’t forget to touch on the high points of some other topics as well.  🙂

growing crystals balloon skewer project
We do a ton of book work from August through September when it’s still very hot outside. In October we usually start doing more hands-on learning and field trips. By the holidays we’re doing a combination of book work and hands-on projects, then the cycle starts all over again. When the weather is pleasant we enjoy hiking and outdoor experiments, but when the weather is oppressively hot and humid we do more book work and learning games than projects.

luke & brooke bookworkOver the past few years of homeschooling I’ve learned to try to balance out fun projects with book work (or seat work as some call it). Book work is necessary and not every aspect of homeschooling can be fun all the time.

I find that our children do their best work early in the morning. Once our main written subjects are finished we can move towards the more interactive subjects like music, art, science projects, etc.

What works for you and your children? Do your children have 1-2 big projects each year? Do they complete 4-6 smaller projects? Does what you do vary and just sort of go with what you are studying, the weather, and whatever whim you (or your children) happen to have at the moment? There is no right or wrong answer. 🙂

If your children are learning and you aren’t stressing out then say a prayer of thanks. Keep exploring and learning with your children as you watch the wonder in their eyes when they discover new things.


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That Blurry Grey Line Between School-time and Normal Life…

Math & Spanish playdoh activity - larger/smaller & longer/shorter

As I was sorting pictures into albums on my computer this evening I found myself trying to figure out if certain pictures belonged in the “Homeschooling” folder or in the “Family” folder.  Isn’t it funny how so many people look at their day as having “school hours” and normal/non-school hours.  For our family we consider the 8am – 12noon our school time, though I often will leave science, social studies or art for the afternoon.  I’ve been known to give an oral test in the evening before dinner and sometimes we review things out loud on the weekends.  (Children who go to school have homework in the evenings, so I figure me doing this isn’t all that different.)  Learning doesn’t stop just because the school books are closed and the pencils are put away.  Our children read or look at books, draw pictures and play card games on the weekends regularly.  This is where I think the line gets a bit blurry or “grey” so to speak between normal life and a school day.

I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite books is “Learning All the Time” by John Holt.  There is no switch to turn off learning simply because a child isn’t at school or “doing school” as it is sometimes called when children are educated at home.  I believe in giving children numerous and varied opportunities to explore and learn on their own.  Guide them only when truly needed or when they ask questions.  Don’t underestimate their ability to understand things.

So, that snack that your four year old was sorting and counting… was that math time or just snack time?  When your older child is playing “Hot Cross Buns” on the keyboard over and over and over again… is that music time or is he just playing because he enjoys playing?  Why does it have to be one or the other?  I think it’s BOTH.  I want them to enjoy learning and exploring new things.  That’s what childhood is all about right?

So, when the line gets blurry between school-time and normal life then I say GREAT!  That means the children are learning and hopefully they are enjoying it.


Posted by on January 30, 2012 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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Substitute Teacher – Courtesy of Dr. Suess

SneetchToday’s school lessons were going pretty typical until we started our Social Studies lesson.  Now to give a bit of background, we do different subjects in different parts of the house.  This is #1 for comfort, #2 to break up the monotony and #3 to allow the children to wiggle a bit for some lessons (which they do very well).  Since Social Studies is mostly a reading and oral discussion subject we usually do this lesson in my bedroom.

My son and I were snuggled all cozily on the king-size bed getting ready to start when my recently turned 4yr old brought in several stuffed animals (several = 6+ when it comes to little girls and stuffed animals).  She asked me which one I wanted, so without hesitation I chose the Sneetch.

SIDE NOTE:  If you’ve never heard of a Sneetch then you are really missing out.  Get the book The Sneetches by Dr. Suess from the library next time you’re out and about (it’s in the children’s section… in case you didn’t know).

Children with the Sneetch

Now that I held the Sneetch in my hand we began the lesson.  My husband knows me well enough by now to know that I can’t hold a stuffed animal for long without giving it voice and letting it “talk” to the children.  I’m a child at heart… and in the head too at times it seems.  Anyway, so very soon the “Sneetch” was talking and teaching the children.  They would tell him their answers and sometimes they were wrong, but that’s okay, everyone was learning and the Sneetch was a very good teacher.  We all had such a fun time learning that I may have the Sneetch substitute teach for me one or two lessons each week.


Posted by on December 1, 2011 in My Thoughts on Homeschooling


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