Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Beat the Winter Doldrums in Your Homeschool

It's that time of year.  The weather is cold, often cloudy and dreary and you don't want to or can't be outside.  You know the end of the year is approaching and you are feeling antsy and start yearning for your break.  You need something to break up the monotony and to get everyone motivated again.  What do you do?

Take a break -- not from schooling, but from the regular routine of it -- plan a fun day!  Take a day where you simply play educational games for the day or mix it up with some educational games and great pretend.
Here are some examples:  Preschool age children can play games like CandyLand to work on their colors, Chutes and Ladders or Hi-Ho Cherry-O! to work on counting, then break out the toy musical instruments, or better yet, make some (ideas and directions below) and have them march around the house playing the instruments, and, finally, read them a good book from history like Hornbooks and Inkwells by Verla Kay.  You've just completed a day of school, your child learning their colors, counting, playing music, physical education (marching around the house) and history, and you all had fun!

Elementary age children can play games like Parcheesi, Sorry or Yahtzee to work on counting/adding or for more of a challenge, have them roll two dice and then practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and/or dividing the two numbers that are rolled, and that's Math.  Play Scrabble, Boggle, Taboo or Scattegories to work on spelling and language skills, and that's English.  Read a Magic Schoolbus Book for Science and then read something like Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Children of the Covered Wagons by Mary Jane Carr, then you can pile things onto a single bed or the sofa and pretend that's your covered wagon and you can pretend with your children that you are traveling west in a wagon train.  You can pretend to face a pack of wolves, see a rattlesnake, meet Indians, just about anything your child or you can remember from the story or imagine.

Nothing like a little fun to get you motivated again.  It works for us every time.  Other ideas are to simply have an art day where you just do different art projects for a day and do some messy stuff that you wouldn't schedule into a day when you're trying to cover all of your subjects.  Or have a science day and do lots of fun and messy science experiments.  Just change the routine and make it fun!

Ideas and instructions for making some musical instruments:

Take an empty Quaker Oatmeal container and glue some construction paper, or for a longer lasting drum, card stock to cover the open end and your child can hit it with a spoon.

  • Take pie tins or thick paper plates.  You will need two plates for each child.  Punch holes through the rims of one pie plate every one inch or so.  Put the plates together and mark your holes on the second plate.  Punch holes at every mark on the second plate with a standard hole puncher.  You may choose to let your child (ren) decorate the bottom sides of the plates as they will become the outside parts of the tambourine.  Use dry beans to fill one pie plate.  Place the second plate on top and line up the punched holes with the first plate.  Thread yarn or ribbon through a hole and begin lacing the thread over and under each punched hole until finished. Leave some length of ribbon if you'd like, and tie into a knot or bow.  Now shake your tamborine and hear the music!
  • You can also use two pie tins as cymbals.

    Take a rectangular piece of cardboard and cut one end so that it is slanted.  Put some notches in the slanted end and in the opposite end of the piece of cardboard.  Stretch rubberbands in the notches and your child can strum or pluck their harp or guitar.

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