Activities That Teach

activities that teach

At some point in your homeschool career, you may find one or more children, dragging their feet, with little shoulders slumped and heads hung. School just isn’t fun. Just think about it. If you were struggling to learn new material how fun would it be? Not much. Especially for a child who has some learning challenges. School can be frustrating. Or for the bright child–school can be boring. So, anytime is a good time to infuse some fun activities that teach, into your day and spark the creative juices.

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There are five important points to consider when creating an environment where activities that teach are fun:

Activities that teachActivities should be fun but have an educational purpose.

There are a ton of science videos out there or blog posts that talk about “fun” activities that will allow learning to take place. However fun without a purpose is, well just fun. There is nothing wrong with having fun, but I will not waste my precious time or that of my children’s having fun during school time if that fun does not have an educational hook. I want my children to be so excited, they want to explore the educational topic on their own. I introduced small little science books to my children. One that caught my son’s eye was a “pond life” book. He loved it. My son took his soon *dog-eared” book out to the pond. He looked things up; he raced inside to get me when something was “SO exciting!” He was about to burst. He put things in categories (sorting), he counted (math), he drew pictures (art), he kept a science journal (art-and-writing), and he learned about the animals that were in the habitat (science). That means he had fun, but it had a purpose.

*A side note here. Sometimes we love our books so much we don’t allow our children to use them to their full potential. I had to let go of my love of books (I truly love them!) and allow my kids to use them outdoors. I had an outdoor copy and an indoor copy to allow myself to let go!

Understand the science behind the fun activities.

“Let’s blow up baggies!” Well, that will spark excitement, but just because you can mix baking soda and vinegar and cause a chemical reaction of expanding gas – strong enough to pop open a zip-locked baggie, doesn’t mean your child understands the scientific principle behind the activity. Do they need to understand the chemical equation? Perhaps not. However, a simple explanation of chemical reactions and how different compounds can create the third compound may be the place to start. My pet peeve is those who say that science is magic. Magic means (to a kid) that there is no answer – it is mysterious. A good magician knows there is science and psychology behind his slight of hand. There is no magic! Don’t fall into the trap of calling science magic or your child will not think they need to discover an answer or a conclusion.

Document your findings.

Did the activity go as planned? Why or why not? If you have a science activity or experiment that did not go according to plan, go back to your notes and figure out what went wrong. Compare it to the instructions. Usually, if you document your activity, you will find exactly where you went wrong. My daughter’s “failed” science fair project won her third place in the Regional Science Fair in chemistry. In science, there is no failed experiments – only experiments that proved your hypothesis was incorrect. This idea works for art projects as well. Often mixing the wrong colors will yield a third or fourth color that can be used. I explain to my children that you can’t mess up art (when painting on canvas) because y
ou can always use white paint over the entire thing and start again … or white out one section and have a “do-over.”

Have the supplies on hand.

How frustrating is it to do an activity and not have supplies on hand? Very! That is why I created “lab” kits with easy to find household supplies. Even some chemistry items are easily found in most home cupboards. In my book Teaching Science and Having Fun (MediaAngels, Inc. Publishing) I list the products and supplies to have on hand to allow your children to succeed. And how wonderful to say to your kids, Please get the “chemistry box” or the “physics box, ” and you are ready to go!

Have fun. Make sure your child is engaged and taking part.

So many times I hear parents say the kids are bored when they do activities. Upon further questioning, I find out that the children are watching while the parent does the activity! No wonder the child is bored. Parents–if you want your children to learn, allow them to be the ones who complete the activities. Stop being helicopter parents. Allow your kids to make mistakes. That is how real learning takes place.

I have a podcast on Wow Science Experiments coming soon. Please look for that on VintageHomeschoolMoms.com as well as the podcast Activities That Teach – Podcast 194.

~ Felice Gerwitz hated science as a child, as a teacher, and as a homeschool mom, but God in His infinite wisdom and mercy gave her two children who loved anything related to science. If he had not started her off slowly with two children (ending with five – and now seven grandchildren), she would not be an author of science-based curriculum nor the owner and operator of Media Angels, Inc. You can find Felice cooking up ideas in the kitchen or on her notepad of ideas for future blog posts and podcasts. Felice lives with four of her children (one is married) in Ft. Myers, Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

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