• HOMESCHOOL

    Learning Through Play – A Day in the Life of Our Unschooling Homeschool

    Welcome to a peek into our homeschool/life! The weather was finally warm enough that we were able to spend a lot of the day outside, I’ve been waiting for this weather for six months!

     

    Learning Through Play - A Day in the Life of Our Unschooling Homeschool

     

    I would love it if you would take a few minutes and subscribe to my channel and leave a comment on the video!

     

     

    RESOURCES MENTIONED

    heatless curls video

     

    OTHER LINKS

    curious about unschooling? I have a free online workshop on the topic.
    my monthly-ish newsletter
    homeschool newsletter
    personal instagram
    homeschool instagram
    our foster care timeline

  • FOSTER CARE,  HOMESCHOOL

    A Day in the Life of a Homeschool & Foster Mom

    Welcome to a day in my life! I share a bit about our homeschool and foster care journey. If you want to see more videos like this, please let me know!

     

    A Day in the Life of a Homeschool & Foster Mom - An Unschooling Day in the Life

     

     

    If you found the video interesting and/or helpful and would like to see more in the future please let me know!

     

    RESOURCES MENTIONED

    dairy free hot cocoa recipe
    Lego Gadgets book
    line a day journal

     

    OTHER LINKS

    curious about unschooling? I have a free online workshop on the topic.
    my monthly-ish newsletter
    homeschool newsletter
    personal instagram
    homeschool instagram
    our foster care timeline

  • HOMESCHOOL,  PARENTING

    Escape Room Style Easter Scavenger Hunt

    I had so much fun making an Escape Room for the kids a few weeks ago I knew I wanted to use what I had learned during that process and make an Escape Room Style Easter Scavenger Hunt.

    I didn’t take any photos during the hunt because I was having so much fun watching them figure everything out but I’ll explain exactly what we did. I’ll even share all the clues we made and you can use them as is if that works for you/your home or you can change them or use different clues but using what I share as a guide.

    One of the ways I know the Escape Room Scavenger Hunt was a success was because Ephraim said “It feels like Christmas!” I always want to put more emphasis on Easter but we are often busy with so many family gatherings and gathering with the church that there just isn’t much time (or energy) to do it, but thanks to COVID-19 this year was different!

     

    AN OVERVIEW

    We knew we wanted to keep the clues to Bible verses since so we thought of a few different ways to use different verses about Jesus’ death and resurrection as clues.

    Each clue (we gave them five) lead them to a small chocolate egg that had a number written on it. At the end we gave them an additional clue that told them the five numbers unlocked a lock where they would find a surprise. For this we had a combination locking closing a cupboard, the combination lock had five digits, hence the five clues.

    After the five clues but before the clue to unlock the surprise we let them look around the house for additional little chocolate eggs we had randomly hidden throughout the house.

    It was a little funny to watch because they did so great with the clues (some of which were kind of tricky) but the eggs that were hidden pretty much in the open they struggled to find.

     

    DIY Escape Room Style Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for Kids

     

    THE CLUES

    I just had all the clues and gave them to them one at a time instead of hiding the actual clues. Three of the clues needed them to use their Bibles so I made sure they had those out.

    Because they were finding eggs with numbers on them and they would figure out the number order later and I was just giving out the next clues it didn’t matter which number went in which spot. This made setting this up so much easier than a traditional scavenger hunt where you have to make sure to hide the next clue in the right spot.

     

    CLUE #1

    The first clue we gave them was:

     

    Matthew 27:24-26: So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took _________________________________ before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

     

    They needed to use their Bibles to look up the passage and fill in the blank. When they did so they realized it says he “took water and washed his hands”. The egg for this one was hidden in a bathroom sink.

     

    CLUE #2

    For this second clue we used a different kind of code, we still had a Bible verse (I just removed the reference so they didn’t get hung up by looking it up in their Bible and missing the code), but we did something different for the clue. What we gave them looked like this:

     

    As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

    24-2, 35-3, 55-1, 67-4

     

    We just told them that everything they needed to solve the code was right there on the paper. Ephraim actually figured out that the numbers at the bottom represented word-number. So, the first one was the twenty-fourth word and the second letter (L), the next one was the thirty-fifth word and third letter (E), etc, until they had LEGO. We hid one of the eggs amongst their Lego.

     

    CLUE #3

    For the next clue we did another fill in the blank they needed to look up in their Bibles.

     

    John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am ____________________; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

     

    For this one the answer was “the Bread of Life” so we hid an egg by our bread.

     

    DIY Escape Room Style Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for Kids

     

    CLUE #4

    We picked out a long verse for this clue so we could hide a word throughout the verse.

     

    1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance. Or you at the first: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas. That is, Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

     

    The bold letters spell out the word microscope which was where the next egg was hidden.

     

    CLUE #5

    And the last clue that held a number was another fill in the blank.

     

    John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the _________’.”

     

    The answer for this one was “Life” and we had the last clue in the box of the Game of Life.

     

    EASTER EGG HUNT

    Before giving the kids the final clue that would tell them the order of the numbers and let them in to their surprise we gave them a few minutes to look for chocolate eggs throughout the house. We didn’t want them to do this earlier and accidentally come across eggs with numbers.

    For some reason they were pretty terrible at this, I think the toddler did as good as the big kids.

     

    DIY Escape Room Style Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for Kids

     

    DECODING CLUE

    The last clue the kids needed was the one to unscramble the numbers for the combination lock. The kids had gathered the numbers: 5, 2, 1, 2, 1. If you use your own combination lock obviously you’ll need to make your own clues to work with your numbers but here’s what we did:

     

    To unlock your surprise:

    1. Two of the same number go together.
    2. The sum (adding total) of one of the numbers is 7.
    3. The single digit goes last.
    4. The sum of the first number is 2.

     

    So, the code for the combination was: 11, 25, 2. I was very impressed with how well they did with this part.

    Inside the cupboard that we had locked with the combination lock was a chocolate bunny for each kid and bubble guns.

     

    The kids had so much fun with the hunt, I just loved watching it! I am already planning to do another escape room type scavenger hunt soon. (Ephraim’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I am thinking of trying to figure out a Lego themed Escape Room/Scavenger Hunt.)

    Have you made an Escape Room or something similar for your kids before? I would love to hear if you have! You can also check out the first Escape Room I made for them here.

  • HOMESCHOOL

    20 Educational (Mostly Science) Videos We’ve Been Watching in Our Homeschool Lately

    During this time of sustained social isolation we’ve been turning to YouTube more than usual.

    We’ve always enjoyed a good (usually educational) video on YouTube but now without the ability to really do much outside the house we’ve definitely increased our YouTube consumption.

    I don’t really feel too bad because 1) these are weird times we are living in and 2) most of the videos are educational (and a few of them are just watching people make giant candy, which is educational in its own way).

    I thought I would go through our YouTube watch history and share some of the videos we’ve been watching lately in case you are looking for some good videos to watch.

    If you have some good videos or channels to share, I would love for you to leave a comment below so we can check them out!

     

    20 Educational (Mostly Science) Videos We've Been Watching in Our Homeschool Lately - Videos Kids and Adults will Enjoy

     

    20 Educational (Mostly Science) Videos We’ve Been Watching in Our Homeschool Lately

     

    Let’s start with some self isolation tips from a guy who knows what he is talking about:

     

    I already don’t like the idea of devices listening all the time, and this video gives a good explanation of why I’m on the right track:

     

    Mark Rober’s videos are always a hit, and a hot tub full of sand is no exception:

     

    We have also watched a number of pandemic/Coronavirus videos:

     

     

    Ephraim’s been asking questions about black holes so we watched a couple of videos:

     

     

    My kids love Lego, so it was cool to watch how it is made:

     

     

    Sometimes you just want to see things dropped from up high:

     

     

     

    I made a DIY Escape Room for my kids a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been talking about doing a family escape room tome time, and now we’ve got all the tricks to solve it:

     

     

    This will make you never want to go in a pool again:

     

    Mark Rober is currently having live science classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday:

     

     

    And then there were just a bunch of fun candy-related videos:

     

     

     

     

    What are some of your favorite YouTube videos and channels to watch with your kids?

  • HOMESCHOOL

    Homeschooling While Social Distancing

    Even though we’ve homeschooled for years there is a difference between regular homeschooling and homeschooling when social distancing. Personally, I like to make sure we have an even balance of days at home and days out an about to be able to help out both my introvert and extrovert. So while we are used to having an entire day at home, we are not used to doing it for days on end.

    I want to do a little post later this week on how life is different right now as a result of COVID-19 because I think that will be interesting to look back on years from now.

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    OUR HOMESCHOOL WEEK IN REVIEW

     

    For reference, here’s the low down on the kids:

    Raeca – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    Ephraim – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    R2D2 – he’s 18 months (he came to our family via foster care in February)

     

    HERE’S OUR WEEK IN REVIEW:

     

    + Since our recent switch to unschooling I’ve been paying extra attention to all the learning opportunities that come up each day and I’m always blown away and wish I would have been able to make this switch long ago. One day Ephraim asked me the difference between continents and countries and while I’ve told him this before, it was always on my terms, now he was curious because of something he had heard so we went over to the map and I showed him the difference. When you are interested in a topic you can learn so much more and retain that knowledge.

    + Games are always a big part of our homeschool (you can see some of our favorites here) and with everything that is going on I thought it seemed fitting to play Pandemic: The Cure. We were unable to find the cure for all five diseases and therefore we lost and everyone in the world died. Good thing the real world isn’t counting on us to find the cure for COVID-19!

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + Raeca has been working on typing out a fantasy story, she’s been making notes about her different characters, what they look like, their interests, etc and then has been typing out chapter one.

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + Raeca is reading a couple of different books right now, including Rain Reign, she’s reading that one for the Read Your Bookshelf March challenge.

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + We also started a family game of Lord of The Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth. This one Jared and I usually play together without the kids but they wanted to do one together.

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + Rae and Ephraim have spent so much time playing together in the last week, it is such a blessing. They spent a lot of time playing with this DIY car mat with cars and Lego people that they created out of strips of the paper rolls from Ikea. They have also been playing hours and hours of Lego.

     

    A Look Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + We spent a good amount of time watching some of Mark Rober’s videos, it started out with the germ one and then we just continued on. The elephant toothpaste one was one of the kids’ favorites. One thing I liked to point out to my kids as we watched his videos is how often he says “But first we need to go back six months/a year from now.” And show how long his videos take him to make and that it’s a good thing to be able to put a lot of work into a project.

     

     

     

    + We are still listening to the same audiobooks together as the week before.

     

    And that’s just a brief look into our homeschool week!

  • HOMESCHOOL,  PARENTING

    An Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

    At the beginning of last week I had a random-middle-of-the-night idea to make a DIY escape room for my kids.

    I’m not normally big into planning activities for my kids, Raeca often asks for a scavenger hunt for her birthday and that’s about the extent of it. But for whatever reason the idea came into my head and I got really excited about it.

    I searched on Pinterest for ideas and of course I got a few ideas but there was no ready-made escape room, it was a lot of getting little ideas here and there.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    I wanted to keep the escape room simple (for me) and didn’t buy any materials. The only real “necessity” for the room I made was some kind of lockable box/cupboard/etc. We have a lockable medicine box with a three digit lock that I used. Though if you want to make your own escape room you could use a combination lock or even make your own faux lock, kids just love the idea, they can use their imagination if needed.

    I just used our small office as the escape room, not much space is needed for this.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    THE START

    Of course an escape room needs a purpose, and since I was listening to the first book in The Land of Stories at the time I decided to use a general idea from there (though I did have to switch it to fit what I had available).

    To set the mood I had an app running for sound effects. The app is free and one we use for the game Fuse, it is a 10 minutes countdown timer where you are on a ship and you need to defuse the bomb before it blows. I made sure to tell my anxious girl that we weren’t paying attention to the time, it was for effect only, after it went off at 10 minutes I just restarted it (which is how I know this room took them approximately 45 minutes to escape from).

    When the kids entered the room they immediately saw this written on a paper that gave them their instructions:

     

    ***ALERT!***

    You’ve just broken into Queen Snow White’s Royal Room of Display and the alarm is going off. The room will self destruct (aka BLOW UP!) if you do not deactivate the alarm within 30 minutes.

    You’ll need three numbers to turn off the alarm which you’ll find hidden in clues around the room, their decoders are hidden here as well.

    Once you have deactivated the alarm grab Snow White’s famous apple and get out of there!

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    In the room I had taped up some yarn to act as the “lasers”, they had a lot of fun trying to not touch them but had they been real they would have been in pieces within a few minutes. It was a fun added element for them though.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    They also quickly saw the locked box with “Snow White’s apple” – because the goal was for them to find the clues for the lock box digits I didn’t feel the need to hide the actual box (plus there weren’t really any other places where I hadn’t already hid the clues and decoders).

     

    CLUES & DECODERS

    So, then it was time to start finding the clues and decoders (there were six in all; three clues and three decoders).

    I just hid these around the room, one in a drawer, one taped to the bottom of a table, one was put inside a balloon I blew up, one was under a keyboard, one wedged between two objects and the trickiest one was on my husband’s computer screen – the screen was on when they came in but they didn’t realize it was a clue and then the screen went to sleep as they searched so they needed some help finding that one.

    It didn’t matter what order the papers were found in because each clue had a different decoder and I purposefully didn’t put the numbers in order, after they got the three numbers they needed to figure out the order.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    CLUE #1

    It didn’t matter what order they found the clues and decoders in, each clue had it’s own decoder and I thought they could figure out pretty easy which ones went together.

    The first one they found was a number line decoder. I got the printable 1-20 number line here (though you could easily make your own) and then made the clue using addition and subtraction questions (sneaking a little bit of math in there).

    The first clue read: Rhymes with you. The number for that was 2.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    CLUE #2

    The next clue I wrote in pigpen code that I got here. This was a fun code they enjoyed.

    The clue I wrote for this one was: The number we were before R2D2. The answer is 4.

    (For the record, R2D2 is our currently little foster boy.)

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    CLUE #3

    This one was not only the hardest clue to find it was also the hardest for them to decode. I used the binary alphabet for the code (I found an image here), but in the future I would skip the binary alphabet and probably use Morse code (here’s a printable).

    This clue read: The number of one of your ages.

    So, for this one they had the option of either 6 or 9. But once they realized the other numbers were 2 and 4 it was easy for them to quickly jump to 6.

     

    Easy DIY Escape Room for Kids

     

    OPENING THE BOX

    So, once they had the numbers they decided right off the bat that 2, 4, 6 seemed like the best order and they were able to open the box! Under the apple I had put some extra secret code papers I thought they would enjoy. They were Star Wars themed, I found them on this site, though just a heads up: one of them has an error as Raeca figured out, so watch for that!

     

    All in all the escape room probably took me about two hours to plan (from scratch) and put together. Next time it will take me way less time since I have a bit of an idea how to do it. I thought it would take them less than 30 minutes to do the room but it ended up taking closer to 45 minutes so that was a bit of a bonus.

    The kids had so much fun looking for clues and doing the decoding we are totally going to do it again! The plan was for them to invite a few friends over and I would make a bigger one but now with COVID-19 changing life that will have to wait for a bit. I’ll definitely be making another one for them again soon, I may actually plan one and then save it for a day when we’re all feeling a little cooped up.

     

    Have you ever made an escape room before? If so, I would love to hear how you did it! If not, I hope this will help you plan yours out!

  • HOMESCHOOL

    The Best Homeschool Week We’ve Had in a Long Time

    Wow, what a difference once week can make! And I mean that in so many different ways.

    In the middle of last week I made the decision to officially switch to unschooling my kids. I know the term unschooling is a terrible name, it’s not really as hippie as it sounds, I promise. And it was like a weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders. We ended up having the best “homeschool week” we’ve had in a long time.

    Also, a week ago we were hanging out at one of our local museums where we have a membership and now they are all closed.

    A week ago many of our friends and family sent their kids to school and by the end of this week they are all going to be at home. I honestly can’t even wrap my mind around that.

    If you are one of those who are finding yourself suddenly homeschooling and in need of a few tips and suggestions you can check out this post also, seeing our weekly homeschool reviews like this one may be helpful as well.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple and Relaxed Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    OUR HOMESCHOOL WEEK IN REVIEW

     

    For reference, here’s the low down on the kids:

    Raeca – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    Ephraim – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    R2D2 – he’s 18 months (he came to our family via foster care in February)

     

    HERE’S OUR WEEK IN REVIEW:

    Actually, the week is starting on Thursday here, that’s when I decided to officially switch to unschooling and somehow that’s when our learning actually took off for the week.

     

    + we spent a morning at a local museum that we have a membership for, it is set up like a 1910 boom town and the kids love it. We just hit up all the places that looked interesting to them and skipped the parts that didn’t. I didn’t have any ulterior motive or things I wanted them to learn but they were chatting about which job would be best suited for their personalities and my nine year old even decided to take her own notes as we walked around. My favorite part about her notes was “Old jail cell and toilets are really bad. Trains are creepy.” 😂 She’s not wrong!

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + I am not the kind of mom who plans an activity for her kids to do each day but with the pressure of feeling like I had to do something I suddenly felt inspired to plan some activities (I’m a rebel through and through). One of the activities I had planned was a DIY mini escape room. It was simple but they had so much fun. I am planning on having a post up later this week where I share exactly how I set it up. (It’s up! You can check out our DIY Escape Room here.)

     

    The Best Homeschooling Week Ever - Unschooling

     

    + at one point one day I gave R2D2 a wooden spoon to use as a drumstick and some cereal boxes to pound away on and of course the big kids wanted to play along. So, I asked them if a cereal box with stuff in it sounded different than an empty one. They were surprised to find that it did and they went off seeing how different materials made different sounds (in a controlled way, they weren’t tearing the house apart with a wooden spoon though one did break . . .).

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + my six year old loves all things STEM, sometimes I search on Pinterest for ideas for him and one day I came across this idea: I gave each kid 15 plastic cups, 20 popsicle sticks and they they were supposed to see how tall of a tower they could make and have it sturdy enough for a Lego mini figure to stay on top. All varieties of structures were created! Then, when they were tired of it I set up a bunch of towers and they flew some paper airplanes they made into them.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + we spent a little bit of time this week talking about their interests and strengths and what future careers they may be interested in. Now, I don’t expect my kids to have this figured out right away but I do like to pay attention to both their strengths and interests so I can provide opportunities in those areas and help them grow. As a jack-of-all-trades who would love to be really good at at least one thing I want to help my kids have a step in that direction.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + we are so fortunate to have really good homeschool friends who live on our block (and a couple of blocks over), one afternoon the kids were creating potions of all sorts of spices and things from my cupboard. I mostly gave them spices I don’t use and it was a good wake up call to the number of expired spices I have. 😂

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + one day the kids were a little antsy so I gave them each a handful of mini marshmallows and toothpicks and let them have fun. I didn’t give them anything specific to do with them but they made houses, stick/marshmallow people and a snowman. Plus, they got to eat the marshmallows afterwards. My six year old got so attached to his stickman that he made another one the next day – though, not so attached that he refrained from eating him.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + when choosing to unschool kids are left with more downtime than if you try to follow a structured school-esq daily schedule and I love seeing what my kids do with that time. This week my daughter spent a lot of time looking through the Maps book and looking at all the different flags and she also read a lot of WWII history from a visual encyclopedia I got from the library.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + our audiobooks are still The Warden and The Wolf King at supper and Wonder at lunch.

     

    VIDEOS

    We also like to make use of YouTube for education. Here are some of the different videos we watched this week:

     

    Ephraim enjoys some of this channel’s videos, this week he learned about color mixing (by watching monster trucks smash together, right up his alley!).

     

     

    Raeca and I were talking about something and I mentioned someone being Mormon and she asked what that was so we watched about half of this video to answer her question (half because she felt like her question was answered in the first half).

     

    Both my kids love Lego and knowing how things are made, they thought this video was interesting!

     

    Ephraim asked something about how you don’t get burned when you quickly put your hand through a candle flame and the conversation evolved into fire walking so I show him this MythBusters video I remembered:

     

    And there you have it! That was the majority of our week! (Well, Thursday to Sunday anyway), I felt stress-free, the kids learned about things that interested them and we had a lot of fun together. I am sold on this unschooling thing and can’t wait for the weeks to come!

  • HOMESCHOOL

    How to Entertain Your Kids & Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year – Suddenly Homeschooling

    Well, as with a lot of the world my province is officially shutting down schools by the end of this week.

    And I know there are a lot of people who are suddenly homeschooling that were not prepared for it at all. As someone who doesn’t like people telling me what to do I am sure I would be annoyed with that. But as a homeschooler I am excited for all these other families to get a chance to try it!

    I was public and semi-private schooled for my school career, went to college, went to university and worked and taught in schools for years before homeschooling. My time in school wasn’t terrible but I am very pro-homeschooling, I love it and it suits our family so well.

    But for those who are finding themselves suddenly forced into homeschooling I think there are probably two major trains of thought going through their minds right now:

    #1 How do I entertain my kids all day?

    and

    #2 How will I make sure they are ready for next year if they’ve missed months of school?

    I know there are a lot of homeschoolers addressing similar questions now for their not-previously-homeschooling friends and I thought I would add some of my thoughts out into the interwebs.

    I know that my approach will not work for all families. I like to be flexible, follow my kids’ (and my) interests and explore topics that may help them in their future careers. If you are looking for a lot of structure I would suggest clicking away and looking elsewhere. If you want your kids to know how to learn and take initiative in their learning, read on.

    I’m going to work on answering the questions in reverse order and then after I have shared my answers I am going to share some of our favorite resources.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids and Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year when you are Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    HOW WILL I MAKE SURE THEY ARE READY FOR NEXT YEAR IF THEY’VE MISSED MONTHS OF SCHOOL?

    During times when we’ve chosen to follow a more structured homeschool rhythm we usually covered all we needed to for the school day in about an hour. One thing to remember is that school consists of a lot of extras and wasted time waiting for the whole class to be ready for the next instruction. While kids may be in school for six hours a day they aren’t learning something new the entire day.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that each school year starts by re-learning concepts from the year before. Especially math, elementary math includes a lot of repetition.

    Honestly, missing a few months of school isn’t going to affect next year, especially since everyone else is missing those months too.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids & Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    How do I entertain my kids all day?

    Okay, but how does this look all day? How do homeschool parents keep their kids from driving them crazy? How do they keep their kids off of screens all day and/or their kids from following them around the house? Read on!

     

    Don’t be afraid of boredom

    First of all, let’s just start out by understanding that boredom isn’t something to avoid. Kids that are entertained all the time get bored quickly and if you leave them in their boredom a bit that’s when kids become creative. If your kids are used to being in school all day they are used to being told what to do and where to go and they may need a little bit of direction getting their creative juices flowing. There are some ideas for this coming up.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids & Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    Encourage sibling relationships

    This is a great time to encourage sibling relationships. My kids are 6 (my son) and 9 (my daughter), they are as opposite as kids can get. One is white and one is brown (the world refers to him as “black” but he’s adamant that his skin is brown and that is what he is), one is an extreme introvert, the other an extreme introvert. One prefers words and books while the other prefers taking things apart and playing outside. One is (usually) quiet and the other is (always) loud.

    And yet my kids are best friends. Being forced (and encouraged) to spend so much time together has created a bond that I know wouldn’t have happened if they went to school (my daughter’s one year of school proved that).

    It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, they argue, they pout, but they have also learned how to get along with someone that is so completely different then them (at least some of the time).

     

    Invite them into your hobbies and day

    Kids love being included, a simple way to entertain them is to include them in whatever you are doing. And if you are worried about the school they are missing, pay attention to what they are learning as they join you. Are you making food in the kitchen? They are learning life skills and when dealing with recipes they are working with fractions and sometimes addition and multiplication, as well as reading and science (if you make a cake you’ve turned a liquid into a solid).

     

    Learn what happened on this day in history

    I created a free resource to help you with this, just a simple look into one day in history can teach a child a lot.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids When Your Stuck at Home - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    Set out supplies

    One way for kids to get creative with a little push is if you set out a bunch of supplies they can use, it can be art supplies, building supplies, books, activity kits, etc.

    The other day I gave my kids a bunch of marshmallows and toothpicks and let them go to town. I didn’t tell them what to do, I just let them be creative. They built houses, a snowman and a toothpick-marshmallow guy.

     

    Explore the world from your home

    With physical travel being extremely limited I love that we can still digitally travel! I created an online resource guide where you can explore a number of different countries from your own home, you can check that out here.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids When Your Stuck at Home - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    Create a challenge

    Last week I gave my kids each 15 plastic cups, 20 popsicle sticks and one Lego mini figure and asked them to built the tallest tower they could that they could put their mini fig on top of.

    Speaking of Lego, my kids are big fans so sometimes I will tell them to use their Lego to build me something specific like: a dog, a car, a robot, etc.

    You could also create a scavenger hunt or an escape room. I did the latter for the first time last week and my kids had so much fun. I plan on sharing how I created the escape room later this week, but if you are looking for ideas there are a bunch on Pinterest. (You can check out our DIY Escape Room here!)

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids & Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    Explore their interests

    Like I mentioned in the previous section, you can use this time to deep dive into a topic of interest to your kids. Sometimes they will need a little prodding to figure out what they are interested in, sometimes they will give you a list of ideas and you can just jot them all down so when they finish one topic they can move on to a different one that interests them.

     

    Get them to create their own board game

    My husband shared a bunch of ideas and tips on how to do that here.

     

    Some of our favorite resources

    If you are looking for some great resources to check out, I’ve included a few of our favorites here.

     

    Games

    We love playing board games as a family, you can check out some of our favorites here.

     

    How to Entertain Your Kids & Make Sure They Are Ready for Next Year - Suddenly Homeschooling

     

    Audiobooks

    Audiobooks are a great resource for those who can’t read yet as well as those who can. My kids listen to audiobooks on their own and we listen to some together as a family. My favorite resources for listening to audiobooks are our library apps (Libby and Hoopla) as well as Scribd (this one is a paid resource but you can get your first two months free with my link). We are currently listening to Wonder at lunch and The Warden and the Wolf King at supper (both on Scribd).

     

    YouTube

    There are some YouTube channels that we love to learn from. Some of our favorites include:

    Art for Kids Hub – great drawing tutorials for kids

    A Kid Explains History – the channel title says it all

    The Bible Project – lots of great videos explaining Bible concepts and books of the Bible

    Crash Course Kids – they aren’t making new videos but they have tons of science videos for kids

    Educational Videos for Students – lots of biographies and interesting fact videos

    Flite Test – these guys make all sorts of airplanes out of foam board – and they actually fly

    Free School – videos for kids on every subject

    Mighty Machines – this is an old show (like really old) but it’s all about how machines work and my kids love it (and I remember my brother loving it when he was little too)

    SciShow Kids – another science show not making more episodes but has a lot in the archives

    Smarter Every Day – this guy is so smart and much of it goes over my head (and my kids’) but we still like watching his videos

     

    I understand that our relaxed homeschool method is not for everyone and would probably feel like a shock for those coming out of the school system but I hope this post is able to at least help out a few people!

    If you are interested in learning more about the homeschooling approach we have created/followed for the last couple of years, I have a free online workshop titled Homeschooling as a Lifestyle.

    I hope you are able to enjoy this season and come away with a love for homeschooling.

  • HOMESCHOOL

    Why I’ve Been Scared of Unschooling and Why We’re Officially Switching

    We are close to closing out on our fourth year homeschooling (!!!! How did that go so quickly?!) and it’s time to make some changes, officially.

    There are a variety of homeschool methods, including one I wish I could do but just doesn’t suit my personality and our life. For the past four years I have thought we were in the “eclectic spectrum” of homeschooling, pulling from a variety of different methods but there is one method we always default to.

    That method is unschooling.

    Now, before you start freaking out and thinking I am not going to teach my kids anything, let me just say that it isn’t how it sounds.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    WHAT UNSCHOOLING IS

    First of all, what it is not, is unparenting, our family still has rules, limits on screen time, bedtimes, etc.

    What unschooling is at its core is child-led learning.

    It involves listening and watching your children and figuring out their interests and strengths and diving into them.

    It allows room in the day for boredom for kids to be pushed to find things to do, to be creative, to use their imaginations, to see what interests them.

    It involves supplying them with resources and information on topics they are interested in.

    All in all I’m not a huge fan of the term “unschooling”, I prefer to call to call it homeschooling as a lifestyle (that’s my own made up term), but the well known term is “unschooling”.

     

    A Week in Our Homeschool

     

    WHY I WAS SCARED OF UNSCHOOLING

    I feel like there were two major things holding me back from jumping into unschooling officially, even though I knew it would be great for our family.

    One of the reasons was my own public school education. Do you know how hard it is to get the idea of what school is “supposed” to look like out of your head when you’ve gone to school for 13 years (well, plus a few more for college and university)?! Chances are you do know because you probably went to school as well. Even though I know school is not the most conducive environment for learning it is hard to convince yourself of that when that’s how you were educated.

    Another reason is my love for check boxes. In some ways I would love to follow a completely laid out curriculum where I can check the boxes and know I am doing “the right thing”. There are no check boxes with unschooling.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    WHY WE ARE SWITCHING

    Despite my fears I know that unschooling is such a good way to learn.

    I mean, it’s how I learn! What do when I want to know more about a topic? I research online, read books, ask an expert in the area, etc, the same thing one does with unschooling. So, since I unschool myself, I realized I can unschool my kids as well.

    We naturally default to unschooling in our home. In more difficult seasons, like when we had Buzz and Woody, we tend to naturally fall into unschooling.

    Jared and I both see every question the kids ask as a teachable moment and will often help them to figure out the answers to their own questions – that’s unschooling!

    I have read a lot about unschooling and watched some really informative videos as well (I’ll include them at the bottom of this post) and every time I am just so on board and agree with (almost) everything.

    Honestly, it will look like life.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    HOW IT IS GOING TO LOOK

    You won’t see us sitting down to “do school”, unschoolers learn throughout the day, every day of the year.

    I will look like a lot of free play.

    It will look like us using everyday questions as learning opportunities.

    It will involve finding our kids’ strengths and interests and helping them find books, videos and resources on those topics.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    RESOURCES

    Here are a few of my favorite unschooling resources:

     

    One of my favorite books about unschooling is An Unschooling Manifesto by Marla Taviano.

     

    There are some great videos on YouTube as well, I found myself nodding through this entire video:

     

    You can also see an unschooling day in the life of that same family (these are the only two videos of theirs that I have watched, just an FYI that I’m not endorsing their entire channel):

     

    If you have any questions about unschooling, leave them in the comments below and I’ll either answer in reply or create another post with some FAQ’s. If you unschool I would like to hear about your experience and any favorite resources you have.

    Let the (official) unschooling begin!

  • HOMESCHOOL

    Finishing Our Space Unit – Homeschool Week in Review

    This was our last week in our space unit. It was fun to deep dive into a unit like this and while there was a lot we didn’t cover but our interest waned and so we wrapped up the unit, that’s one of the benefits of flexible homeschooling!

    It seems like every week lately there has been some unforeseeable chaotic element eliminating a day or two and this week was no different!

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - Books and Resources Used

     

    OUR HOMESCHOOL WEEK IN REVIEW

     

    For reference, here’s the low down on the kids:

    Raeca – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    Ephraim – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    R2D2 – he’s 17 months (he came to our family via foster care in February)

     

    HERE’S A RECAP OF OUR WEEK:

     

    + we dove a little deeper into a couple of planets and did some water coloring of planets. To make Mercury have some texture like the real planet we used kosher and table salt on top of the wet water color.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - Books and Resources Used

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - Books and Resources Used

     

    + Raeca is still reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and half a dozen other books. I often read multiple books at a time but she tends to start a bunch and then get overwhelmed by having too many on the go. I’m hoping to be able to start limiting her to two books at a time.

    + one other thing I haven’t mentioned but Raeca is working through a Bible in a year plan which she’s been pretty good with remember each day.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - Books and Resources Used

     

    + little R2 is so easily entertained, he loves music and playing with cars.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - Books and Resources Used

     

    + our audiobooks are still The Warden and The Wolf King at supper and Wonder at lunch.

     

    For next week, and maybe the next few weeks, I am planning on doing a bit of an unschooling experiment and trying it out for a few weeks and seeing what we actually learn. I did one a few years ago and it was great but now my kids are getting older and I struggle with the idea that they won’t learn enough if we unschool even though it’s my personal favorite way to learn myself. I think it’s fairly normal as a homeschool parent to feel insecurities and I definitely tend to go through phases. But I feel like I’ve been attempting to create a plan lately and it hasn’t been working so we’re going to give unschooling a try (again).

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