Friday, April 19, 2013

Unschooling Ideas for all subjects

       After the boys had a break from one another in their rooms on Friday afternoon, they all piled into my bed for some snuggling and cuddling.  We talked and just enjoyed one another for quite a bit.  Once they all started tickling one another, feet were flying and wrestling ensued I decided to sneak out and spend some time on the computer coming up with a plan of activities.  It seems our weeks go best when I have activity ideas already in my mind when the week begins.  If we don't get around to them it's not a big deal, but it seems to work best if I have suggestions for some fun learning games and projects.  Typically I only plan enough activities to last us until lunch and then they're on their own for actual unschooling.  I don't force anyone to participate in any lesson or activity;  I suggest things to do that I hope they'll be interested in.  On rare occasions I will have the older two boys write in their cursive books or do a lesson in their math book but it's very rare that I ask that of them.  Lately, I've made the mistake of not having ideas at the ready and it seems like we're all floundering for things to do.  I started out trying to make a list of 5 activities for us to use for the week and ended up deciding to make more of a master list of ideas for me to pull from when I'm short on time and ideas.  Perhaps I'll even add to the list as times goes on. 

       I started at our library's on-line catalog and found a few books I'd like to check out: 
1.  Better Late than Early: A New Approach to your Child's Education
2.  Family Math
3. The Great Number Rumble: A story of Math in Surprising Places
4.  Spilling Ink: a young writers handbook

     While we're waiting for them to come in we still need a plan.   I've decided over- planning works best for us so if they don't like something I've chosen they have other ideas to choose from.  Here's our plan so far: 

For math:
1.  we'll play board games like monopoly, life, phase 10, battleship, connect 4, chess, etc. 
2Read books like Seeing Symmetry and then looking for it in real life
3.  We'll play Estimate It, Addition/Subtraction/ Multiplication Tic Tac Toe, and other games found in the book Games for Learning or Games for Math
4.  Complete lessons in McRuffy
5.  Continue working on extreme dot to dot and color by number books in the car

For Reading and Writing:
 1.  We'll continue to listen to Magic Treehouse books on CD
 2.  Try out 10-minute writing, silent conversation, and story sharing in the book Games For Learning
 3.  Pick a family read aloud book each week (or bi- weekly depending on length)
 4.  Write in our cursive book
 5.  Continue to encourage each boy to read at least 15 min. before bed each night. 
 6.  Play board games like Scrabble, Words with Friends, Scattegories, boggle
 7.  Visit library, Boxcar Children's Museum, children's book clubs
 8.  Teach them games like MASH, how to make a Cootie Catcher
 9.  write a recipe and try it out-- we've done this in the past and they loved it!

For Arts and Crafts: 
1.  We'll make glue resist t-shirts (If I remember to buy dye!).  Instructions here
2.   Paint pictures on watercolor paper, decorate clay pots, make mother's day and father's day gifts
3.  Continue to explore with shaving cream, play doh, goop, etc and make them glittered, glow in the dark, smelly or even magnetic
4.  Visit art museums and craft fairs
5.  Have photo scavenger hunts & encourage kids to use their cameras more. 
6.  Try out crafts found in The Big Book of Kids Crafts, What Shall I Paint?, Year Round Crafts for Kids, etc.

For Science
1.  Watch movies like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Beakman's World, Magic School bus, How it's Made, Disney Imagineering, etc. 
2.  Carry out more science experiments like those in our book Super Science Book or on Pinterest.
3.  Go on Nature walks/ hikes
4.  Visit Zoos, nature museums, science museums, factories,
5.  Read non- fiction books about nature, animals, etc.
6.  Plant a garden/ container garden
7.  Experiment with liquids-- dancing goop, magic milk, colorful bubbles, experiment with oil/water/vinegar/baking soda/ etc like they did here

For History/ Geography:
1.  Watch movies like Liberty's kids, drive thru history, how the states got their shapes, School House Rock, Travel with Kids, etc.
2. Read more historical fiction books (I find my kids don't object to these kinds of books nearly as much as actual history books)
3.  Read more biographies
4.  Make crafts from other states, countries and times in history
5.  Visit places like Mashantucket pequot museum, old Sturbridge village, Plymouth Plantation, Higgins Armory Museum
6.  Play games like Scrambled States of America, GeoBingo, Ancient History memory, & American Trivia.

For motor development/ Exercise:
1.  Continue Trampoline Lessons
2.  Participate in organized sports like basketball/ soccer
3.  Ride bikes, swim and play sports in the yard at home
4.  Try out new parks and playgrounds for a variety of climbing, jumping, running, etc
5.  Fly kites, Use Frisbees, jump rope, etc
6.  Read books about the human body, sports, exercises, health, germs, nutrition
7.  Visit Zoinks, Parks & Playgrounds, roller rink, ice rink, Doctor's office, try to see a few live games of different sports
8.  Teach them games like leapfrog, mother may I,
9.  Play Twister, Wii Fit/ Wii Active/ Wii sports, hopscotch (with words/math facts/ etc for learning and activity!)

Phew! I think that's enough of a start for now... still have to narrow down to which activities I have supplies for on hand that we'd like to try this week but I think I have plenty of great options to choose from.  Please feel free to share more activity ideas as we're always looking for fun things to do. 


  1. Cooking, as you already know, is a fantastic math lesson. I always did well with fractions in school because I've been cooking since I was a young kid and being able to envision the measuring cups in my head while adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions helped tremendously.

    It's also a great science lesson. What does baking soda do? baking powder? why does yeast like sugar? what happens when you freeze food? how does an egg go from goo in a shell to scrambled eggs or a souffle?

    It's a little intense for the kids, but maybe for you, read "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee, then you can develop science lessons once you understand the workings behind it all.

  2. I can't believe I didn't think of putting cooking on our list! I call it "kitchen science" and it's the boys favorite way to learn fractions. They also have to read the recipe and have even really enjoy writing their own recipe and trying to make it. Thanks for the reminder and the book suggestion.