Educators are in agreement that no one form of instruction should be used all the time. There may be a time for textbook and a time for worksheets and a time for reading aloud. But sometimes an activity is the best, or a good solid alternative way to present, reinforce, or evaluate learning. Homeschool activities can also break up a school day focused largely on verbal material and be a great approach for a child who learns well by doing. Here are some suggestions for activities in various subject areas.
- Reading to a sibling is a great way to practice reading skills. Usually, this situation will provide a devoted (and forgiving) audience and the older child can read from a printed book or a story s/he has written him – or herself. In the absence of other children, one can read to relatives on the phone or in videochats, to dolls or teddy bears, or to parents.
- In fairly simple computer programs, such as GarageBand, you could help your child record the reading of a story and then add music and/or sound effects.
- Turn a well-loved family story into a play or a puppet show Extend the activity by making the costumes or puppets yourselves.
- With a supply of sliced vegetables such as carrots, celery, and peppers, as well as olives, raisins, nuts and other ingredients that would make a good salad – give the child a plate covered with a layer of lettuce, and have them write their name or other words they’re learning. Then they can eat their words . . .
- Take time every day to read together and/or tell stories.
- When traveling for an extended period – whether walking or driving – you can play the alphabet game. Players work together to find the letters of the alphabet in the environment (for example, on billboards, storefront signs, license plates), working through the alphabet in alphabetical order. If K, Q, X, and Z are too frustrating, they can be skipped.
- Play the “A My Name Is . . .” game. Each player says the following verse, substituting for the items in brackets, an example of the category beginning with that letter, and alternating turns while working through the alphabet. An example follows the generic form:
<Letter> my name is <Name>.
My husband’s/wife’s/partner’s name is <Name>.
We come from <Place>.
And we sell <Item>.
So, for A this might come out:
A my name is Alison.
My husband’s name is Andy.
We come from Alabama.
And we sell armadillos.
Whereas for L it might be:
L my name is Leonard.
My wife’s name is Lola.
We come from Louisiana.
And we sell leftovers.
The game can be made more specific with requirements such as where the places are (all in the US? all in Africa?) or a category of items (all rocks or gems? all musical instruments? all foods? all animals?).
• Purchase or make a set of refrigerator magnets and make sentences, poetry, etc. on the refrigerator door or another suitable place.
- Use cooking as an opportunity to do real-world math. This could range from searching for recipes that use 2 cups of broccoli to measuring the ingredients for gingerbread to thinking about portion size and calculating calories.
- Comparison shopping can offer interesting math problems. Using Internet resources, one could, for example, discuss ordering a new school book and compare the base price, shipping and handling cost, and tax from a variety of sellers to find the best deal. In addition, shipping time could be factored in.
- Children can use a calculator to keep a running total of items in a shopping cart, either on-line or in a store. Alternatively, you can have them start with a budgeted amount and deduct as the money is spent.
- Determining correct postage is another area in which a child can do math with both addition and weighing, if you have a postal scale.
- Home water use – for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and gardening – can provide an interesting science study. Electricity and/or gas use can also be tracked and analyzed.
- Pet care can lead to lessons in zoology, while gardening – both indoor and outdoor – can be considered in terms of botany. If you have neither pets nor a garden, local wildlife, parks, and arboretums can provide a place to observe and learn about plants and animals.
- Playing music (played by parents, or from CDs, television, radio, or the Internet) can provide an opportunity to walk or move to the beat, to sing along, or to guess the composer.
- Finger paints, play clay, crayons, pastels, pencils, acrylic paints, colored paper, and glue can provide opportunities for exploring art concepts.
- Building materials such as wooden blocks, Legos, and other structure-making toys allow students to work in architecture and design.
- Music and art software can provide children with opportunities to make art, even when certain supplies are not available. Software is often available at educational prices for homeschools.