EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is adapted, with permission, from specialhomeeducator.com, a website devoted to homeschooling.
By Jenny Wise
1. Utilize Technology to Learn about Other Cultures
The website ePals.com is designed to connect students with classrooms around the globe. It gives kids first-hand insights into other cultures and communities. To make the ePal experience even more valuable, choose a classroom from a country you will study as part of a social studies or foreign language unit so that kids can gain an even deeper understanding of the area they will study during the course of the school year.
2. Make Quicksand
There are a variety of hands-on science experiments you can do with your kids to inspire a love for science that will last throughout the year and beyond, and making your own quicksand is one that you can do with some common ingredients and a little bit of time.
Whether you call it quicksand (or “Oobleck”), your concoction is sure to amaze kids and get them asking questions while they learn about physics and the properties of solids and liquids. All you need is water, cornstarch, and food coloring with a large bowl and spoon. If you want it to become an activity kids can really dig into, consider getting a small child’s pool so the kids can stand on the Oobleck to test its properties.
Recipe for quicksand/Oobleck (from instructables.com):
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 to 2 cups corn starch
- a few drops of food coloring
3. Focus on Real-World Application of Lessons
Show your kids how their learning connects to the real world. For example, you may be introducing biology concepts this year and want kids to connect their science concepts to animals, their pets, or a local shelter. Rather than begin the lesson about the biology of dogs, begin by asking kids to describe their dogs or the characteristics of an ideal dog if they don’t have a family pet. Then, compare those characteristics to those people would look for when they visit an animal shelter to adopt a dog. Plan a visit to the local shelter and invite a shelter worker to speak to your kids about the dogs that are available for adoption and the most common questions people ask when choosing to adopt.
You could extend the learning to mathematics and economics by planning a fundraising project for the shelter. If kids are planning a lemonade stand or other project that would involve start-up costs, it is a great time to connect their learning about percentages, costs, profits, etc. to their project.
4. Start a Reading Competition
Nothing excites kids more than knowing there is a friendly competition with prizes at stake. Foster a love of reading for pleasure by designing a reading competition. If you only have one child, you can have them compete against themselves to boost intrinsic motivation. Or if you have more than one, you can have your kids compete against one another for more engagement. Either way, kids will increase the number of books they read if they make a sport out of reading.
Jenny Wise homeschools her four children, including a child living with ADHD. When not teaching, she writes for her blog, specialhomeeducator.com.