Thursday, September 22, 2022

Fall Learning Fun with Activities, Experiments, Crafts, Worksheets!

Fall Learning Activities:

Learn about the Reason for Seasons, Why Leaves Change Colors, and try the experiments on Leaf Colors and more, at these links. Then print some Fall Printables (below) to document your fall activities, too.

Remember to Subscribe (at right) to receive weekly lessons and activities!

1. The Reason for Seasons

2. Changes in Leaf Color

3. Leaf Color Experiment

4. Fall Activities

5. Fall Science Experiments

6. More Fall Science Activities

Fall Printables:

Document Fall Learning by printing some of these activity pages and worksheets.

1. Fall & Autumn Worksheets

2. Fall Crafts and Printouts

3. Printable Pages & Coloring Activities

4. Fall & Autumn Worksheets

5. More Fall Worksheets

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Happy homeschooling!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

50+ Learning Activities for This Last Week of Summer

Summer is coming to a close. Autumn officially begins on September 22 this year. That means we have about 7 days of summer left, and we should all enjoy it to the fullest. Get outside, soak up the last of the Summer Sun, and savor it. Make this last week of summer fun, special, memorable, and educational!

Take the “Classroom” outside! As soon as the morning chores are done, head outside. Pack sack lunches, lunch boxes, a thermos, bottles of water, and snacks. Bring along backpacks, phones, cameras, binoculars, step counters or fitness trackers, books, field guides, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens.

Use your backyard, local parks, nature trails, or any green space for your “classroom” this week. Free your mind from daily worries and embrace the present moments spent outside with your children. Be open to whatever crosses your path as you observe and absorb your surroundings together. Try to visit different areas each day.

Flexibility is key this week – yet learning will occur! If your children are following a specific homeschool program and need to stay on-track, take the lessons with you. Allow them to complete lessons outside. Then engage with nature and let children spread their wings and explore.

As they explore the outdoors, what do they see? What can they do in this space? How do they feel here? What more would they like to do or see? Where else would they like to go? Encourage them to write or sketch these observations and feelings – Language Arts has now begun!

7 Days of Learning, 50 Activities

For 7 days of learning and 50+ activities, try these activities outdoors. You can do one activity per day, or all the activities each day, or variations of the activities every day, all year, rain or shine! And learning will naturally occur, each and every day.

1. Language Arts:
• Go on “Story Walks” along nature trails, in local parks, or in library gardens.
• Create your own “Story Walk” in your backyard or neighborhood green space.
• Read favorite books while swinging or relaxing in the branches of a tree.
• Sketch the scenes and vistas surrounding you, then describe why they're special to you.
• Read signs and plaques describing local areas of interest.
• Discuss things you had never noticed or experienced, and why they’re interesting.
• Write stories or essays about the places you visit and the things you see this week.

2. Social Studies:
• Create a map of your community parks, neighborhood green spaces, nature trails.
• Each day, draw the route you take, using different colors to indicate different days and areas visited.
• Describe landmarks encountered, such as gates or sign posts, trailheads or information displays, boulders or stone formations, waterfalls or creeks, bridges or boardwalks, monuments or memorials, etc.
• Learn the difference between “natural landmarks” and “cultural landmarks.”
• Research these landmark terms: geological landmarks, biological landmarks, architecture landmarks, archaeological landmarks, and see how they differ.
• Discuss how your local landmarks relate to the history of your town or community.
• Photograph, draw, or sketch these landmarks, and write about their history and importance to your area.

3. Science:
• Use field guides and binoculars to identify plants; wildflowers; trees; birds; insects; animals; urban wildlife; rivers, streams, or pond life; ocean, beach, or shoreline life, etc.
• Learn which birds, butterflies, or wildflowers are most common in your backyard or local parks.
• Plant flowers that attract birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your own backyard.
• Build bird feeders, birdhouses, butterfly houses, bat houses, or natural habitats that will draw beneficial animals to your location.
• Plan dozens of outdoor activities by using books such as Outdoor Science Experiments; Backyard Science and Discovery; Nature Smarts; Outdoor Science Projects; and Exploring Nature.
• Observe the sky and clouds overhead. What type of cloud formations do you see? What type of weather might they bring? How has the location of the sun changed since you left your house this morning? Draw or describe these in your Science Journal.
• Write about your favorite places in your Science Journal or notebook, describing why those areas felt special to you, and add photos or drawings of them, too.

4. Math:
• Consult step counters, pedometers, or fitness trackers to tally up total steps and distance of nature walks each day.
• Determine the time spent on each walk, and if using a fitness tracker, determine the number of calories burned per time and distance.
• For comparisons, run around a track or trail, and compare that to walking the same track or trail, in terms of steps, time, distance, and calories burned.
• Create a chart in your Math Journal or notebook, illustrating the daily steps, distance, time, and calories burned.
• Using the map from Social Studies, calculate the distance or miles between your house and the park, nature trail, creek, local store, downtown square, etc.
• Using the construction ideas from Science, calculate the size, dimensions, openings, slats, etc. for birdhouses, feeders, bat houses, and other outdoor science projects.
• Formulate and draw blueprints or plans for constructing these projects, based upon your calculations, then take photos of the completed projects.

5. Life Skills:
• Use decision-making skills on where to walk or explore the outdoors each day, deciding what items to take along, what the weather will be like, and what to wear each day.
• Use critical-thinking skills on how to reach the places you want to go, the best routes to take, the most-interesting paths or trails to follow, the many things you can learn.
• Observe and note everything around you – the good and the not-so-good – and discuss why it's important to observe your surroundings.
• Obey safety rules and “rules of the road” – watching traffic, even on nature trails, exercising caution at crosswalks, and paying attention to traffic signals.
• Be respectful of other walkers, hikers, bicyclists, horse trail riders, and others who are outside to enjoy a day in nature.
• Be careful and aware of the inhabitants of nature, from insects and snakes, to bears and wolves, to alligators and sharks – it’s their home, too, so maintain safe distances.
• Clean up after picnics and science projects, and leave no trace behind – in other words: “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”

6. Art:
• Draw detailed maps of trails or places visited each day.
• Paint or draw colorful sketches of butterflies on flowers, birds in trees, fish in ponds, waves along the shoreline.
• Try urban sketches of landscapers working in the park, tables and umbrellas in an outdoor cafĂ©, shopkeepers opening their doors, delivery trucks outside a storefront.
• Sketch a strolling musician, a plein air art event in the park, artwork in an art gallery, iron or concrete sculptures in the park.
• Learn about famous and not-so-famous artists, painters, sculptors in your town and the artwork they created.
• Try copying one of the artist’s artwork or creations, then try it again, in your own style.
• Take photos of all the artistic views you see on your walks, or outdoors in your own backyard, then sketch, paint, or create them from your photos.

7. Music:
• Listen – intently – to Nature’s Music: the birds singing to each other, the wind in the trees, crickets chirping in tall grasses, dry leaves rustling along the sidewalk, gravel crunching beneath your feet, the creek gurgling over rocks, waves crashing against the shoreline.
• Replicate these sounds of Nature’s Music the best you can, singing like the birds, whooshing like the wind, chirping like the crickets, gurgling like the creek.
• Create your own songs about nature, composing the lyrics and melody to express your feelings about being outside.
• Dance to the music from a concert in the park.
• Learn about the local musicians in your area and try to see their performances.
• Visit music stores and look at new music or instruments you’d like to learn to play.
• Perform a musical or create a play based upon your experiences in nature this week.

Remember to explore nature often, and enjoy the great outdoors, rain or shine, summer or winter, spring or fall – and enjoy it all!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Free Books to Read + Benefits of Reading

Here are 7 important benefits of reading, followed by 12 websites that provide free books for your children to read online.

1. Reading a book or story for 20 to 30 minutes per day is considered “brain food” for your children!

2. Reading stimulates and exercises various areas of the brain, and it enhances language skills and vocabulary skills every day.

3. Reading makes connections in the brain, building upon current knowledge and leading to additional knowledge and comprehension each time a new book is read.

4. Reading fires up the imagination and creativity, opening your child’s mind to greater possibilities, ideas, and inspiration.

5. Reading increases attention spans and concentration, helping children to focus better, stay in the moment, and stay on-task.

6. Reading improves test scores and skills in all subjects areas, including math, science, technology, social studies, art, music, as well as reading, writing, and language arts.

7. Reading is pure joy, taking us anywhere we want to go! Read together as a family, and encourage children to read on their own, to help establish a wonderful reading habit that will provide entertainment and education for a lifetime.

Free Books to Read!

Here’s a variety of Children’s Books for free. Read, discuss, dramatize, draw, explore, experiment - you’ll be learning every day! And you can start right now!

1. Storyline Online: Stories Read to Children

2. Free Children’s Stories: Free Children’s Stories

3. Magic Keys Books: Magic Keys Books

4. Story Jumper: Story Jumper

5. Story Berries: Story Berries

6. Free Kid’s Books: Free Kid’s Books

7. Shakespeare's Plays: Shakespeare Plays

8. Project Gutenberg Children’s Books: Project Gutenberg Books

9. Open Library: Open Library

10. Funbrain Reading: Funbrain Books

11. Epic Books: Epic Books

12. Reading Resources: Reading Resources

Local Libraries: Of course, your local library is one of the greatest free resources for reading! Besides stories and reading for pleasure, here's a few ideas for books on specific topics:

Book Suggestions on Specific Topics:

1. Spectacular Stories for Curious Kids (history)

2. World's Wildest Places and the People Protecting Them (social studies)

3. Super Cool Science Experiments for Kids (science)

4. Math Riddles for Smart Kids (math)

5. Ultimate Book of the Future (technology)

6. Organic Artist for Kids (art and nature)

7. Make Music: Creating, Playing, Composing (music)

Note: Keep a Reading Log, tracking the books and stories children have read. Include the title of the book, the author, and the date read. Have children describe why they liked the story, and have them sketch the cover or illustrations from the book. Tally up the number of books read daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. You'll be amazed at the results!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Unschooling Activities, Curiosity, and Learning!

Children are born with natural curiosity. When their curiosity is suppressed, their learning is diminished. When their curiosity is encouraged with nurturing guidance, their learning accelerates. Unschooling focuses on interest-driven activities sparked by curiosity. Your guidance can help enhance your child’s curiosity, creativeness, and education.

Here are some unschooling activities that have been suggested by our readers. These are just a few of the many possibilities. Each can radiate out into further learning and even more activities. Below this list is additional information on why and how unschooling works so well.

Remember: Playing is learning! These activities and ideas can evolve into a world of learning!

Unschooling Activities Suggested by Readers:

• Daily explorations and play
• Hands-on activities
• Science experiments
• Invention projects
• Construction projects
• Composing or playing music
• Arts and crafts
• Drawing and painting
• Sculpting, clay, and pottery
• Puzzles and sorting games
• Pretend play
• Forts and teepees
• Scrapbooking
• Journaling
• Creative writing
• Writing books and stories
• Reading and researching
• Library trips
• New books or authors to read
• Drama, acting, and performing
• Dancing and singing
• Making videos and animations
• Board games
• Outdoor or backyard games
• Family games
• Nature walks
• Relay races
• Scavenger hunts
• Math manipulatives
• Cooking and baking
• Gardening
• Decorating
• Home projects
• Sports activities
• Recreational activities
• Family activities
• Camping and hiking
• Weekend trips or getaways
• Swimming and skating
• Surfing and skiing
• Gymnastics or wall-climbing
• Picnics and socials
• Field trips
• Museum and zoo visits
• Local tours
• Community courses
• Family discussions
• Family newsletters
• Family businesses
• Apprenticeships
• Internships
• Volunteering
• Life skills
• Interest-driven learning pursuits
• Independent learning activities
• Natural living and learning every day

Curiosity increases activity in specific areas of the brain, helping people to absorb and retain information longer. When you are interested and curious about a topic, your brain becomes more inclined to learn about it. Children who are allowed to ask questions, and to remain curious about the world around them, remain eager to learn.

Children are naturally curious about everything, and because curiosity helps them to learn, it’s a trait that should never be discouraged. Asking “Why?” is an innate part of the way children learn. They should always be encouraged to ask why, and to be encouraged to find answers to “Why?”

Unschooling is one of the most natural ways for children to seek the answers to their “Why” questions, and one of the most natural ways for children to acquire knowledge. You’ll want to keep their curiosity alive and encourage them to follow their interests as they learn about the world around them.

Children gain a huge amount of knowledge and skills between birth and age five, without formal schooling. They learn by experimenting, doing, trying and failing, then trying again. Rarely are they deterred, and rarely do they give up. Young children love to experiment. They enjoy trying things their own way, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll try another way. Just as curiosity is an in-born trait in children, so is the desire to learn new things.

Trying the Unschooling Method

If you’re not sure about the unschooling method, try unschooling during weekends, vacations, summertime, or any time! Watch them play, and you’ll see them learn. Encourage their curiosity, and guide them in finding answers and resources. Follow their interests, and you’ll learn right alongside them. You’ll certainly be amazed at how adept they are at learning through the myriad topics that interest them.

More Unschooling Activities

Children are eager to play, and, consequently, learn. Sometimes, though, they might feel that they’ve forgotten how to play, or can’t think of anything to do. Spend time brainstorming ideas together. Ask your children what they’d like to do if they had all the time in the world to do whatever they liked. Then explore those ideas together.

Revisit fun activities from the past, which they might’ve forgotten about, but which could interest them in new or different ways now.

Activities could include:

• Building simple models or 3D structures
• Performing plays based on books or movies
• Creating new types of board games to play
• Designing video games for handheld devices
• Learning to play new instruments and composing music
• Writing and creating comic books or cartoon strips
• Performing and making videos of scientific experiments
• Using LEGO sets or electronic kits to create new gadgets
• Cooking or baking new concoctions for the family

Every day provides multiple ideas for playing, unschooling, and learning. There’s no limit to what your children can do and achieve!

Happy homeschooling!