Saturday, January 2, 2010

Finding the Fun in January

Holiday fun is over. Homeschooling families return to the task of home education. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably facing a bleak winter landscape with little sunlight to brighten your days. January yawns at you like a dark void at the end of the bright lights and joy-filled music of Christmas. What’s a homeschooling parent to do when no one feels like doing school? Let’s add some fun to the day!

By fun, I mean activities that you and your children can enjoy and include as part of your homeschooling day. Think of activities such as art, games, and winter science projects.

What can be made from twigs and pinecones collected outside? Challenge the kids to make natural sculptures. Have them trace collected objects and make pictures from them. Have them sketch a winter landscape or paint a crackling fire. If you have a camera, allow them to snap pictures for art projects such as collages, note cards, or posters. If your children enjoy creating works of art, you can discuss how God must have felt when He created the world and all of the things in the world.

Add game time to your day. I used to collect educational games for my children. We had games for every subject: English, math, science, history, geography, and even art and Bible. However, I’ve recently realized that any game can teach good sportsmanship as well as following directions. Let the children choose the game(s) to play. One new game that I bought last month is Scrabble Slam. It’s a card game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. Players take one word and try to make many more words from it by slamming a new letter card down. For example, say the word is “BACK.” Slap an “L” card over the “B” and you have “LACK.” Slap an “R” over the “C” and get “LARK.” Because the words are only four letters long, one needn’t be an expert speller to play along. We took this game to the airport and spent an hour playing it while we waited for a delayed flight. We enjoyed ourselves!

Science projects can be fun as well. Do your winters include snowfall? If so, you might want to keep some black construction paper in your freezer. When it begins to snow, you can take your frozen paper outside and allow snowflakes to fall on it. Using an umbrella to keep more snow from landing on the paper, and using a magnifying glass to see better, your students can study the shapes of the snowflakes. Storing black paper in the freezer means that the flakes that fall on it won’t melt while you all get a close look. You can talk about how God makes each snowflake different. Another idea is to collect some snow in a container. Bring it indoors to melt. Did the volume change? Did the weight change? Have your budding scientists evaluate the changes. Your students may take time each day to observe what kind of animal activity occurs during the winter where you live. They could keep a journal of their observations. How do birds, dogs, and cats warm themselves? What do wild animals eat when it’s cold outside?

January’s dreariness doesn’t have to drift inside your home. With a little forethought, you can make each school day a day to learn something while having fun, and that’s a day to look forward to!

Happy homeschooling!

(also published in Christian Online Magazine)

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