Friday, February 12, 2010

Finding the Fun in February

It’s another cold, gray (or white) month of winter—if you live in the northern hemisphere away from the equator. You and the kids are probably feeling restless. If only you could bask in the warmth of the sun, you’d all feel better! However, spring will be a long time coming, and you need to find a way to motivate yourself and your kids to buckle down and move forward with their education! Your first course of action should be to pray and ask God what He would like you to focus on this month. Ask Him to send teachable moments for all of you.

Ideas for activities often come from holidays. February gives us Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are in the same week as well. Even if you don’t observe those last two dates, you can study the history for all of them.

You might consider throwing a Valentine’s Day party for your local homeschool group. Activities could be simple: tell a story, perform a skit, talk about God’s love for us, and then have the children make Valentines and decorate a cookie or cupcake with icing and sprinkles. You might also include a game like this one I made up: Find the Heart. I had a stuffed heart that I hid. Then the kids had to look for it, and the first one to find it was the winner. For a group of very young children, I helped by making the sound of a beating heart whenever someone got close to the hidden heart. If you have a lot of rooms and don’t mind kids everywhere, you might play “Fill the Sweetheart Box.” In this game, one person hides, and everyone has to seek for that person. However, upon finding the hidden person, the seeker hides too! Soon a pack of giggling kids will be hidden together, making it easy for the last seeker to find them.

Even without a party, you can enjoy Valentine activities and games. Consider making cards to take to the children in the local hospital. Make heart-shaped cookies or special candies to share with friends or neighbors. Find a book about the legend of St. Valentine and read it together.

There are so many children’s books available in the library for Presidents’ Day. You can find books about Washington and Lincoln at all age levels. Maybe your children would enjoy acting some of the stories out. Do you enjoy trivia? There are books and websites that are filled with presidential trivia. You might set up your own living room game show with your children as the contestants. Which president was never married? Which president died after one month in office? Which president was the tallest? Which president was married to Dolly Madison? Make it fun!

Plan a garden – veggies or flowers. This can be a fun and educational family activity. It will give everyone something to look forward to. Let this be the year that a garden is more than a passing thought, even if it must be a container garden. If you wait till the weather is warm, you may not get the ground prepared and the seeds, bulbs, or plants bought in time. (I speak from experience.) Let the children study up on various plants and report back on the months that each kind of plant produces blooms or ripe fruit. Let them figure out which plants need full sun, which ones prefer shade, and which ones are the hardiest. Let them draw up sketches and blueprints of gardens and see how they would organize flowers or fruits and vegetables.

 What if you’re just too tired and restless to plan these kinds of activities? Then take your children down to the nearest fast food restaurant with an indoor play place. Order a few things from the dollar menu and let your kids loose on the play equipment. They’ll get some exercise and enjoy themselves. You’ll be out of the house. It will do you all good. Maybe, while you are sitting and watching them, you’ll become motivated to plan some February fun. That would be even better!

Happy homeschooling! (also published in Christian Online Magazine)

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