We have found that the key to getting our girls to enjoy their homeschooling is to make it fun. And it has worked, because every morning as I crawl out of bed they are asking me if they can do their homework. We have also found that not being stuck on “core” and allowing them explore through play has allowed our girls to develop beyond their age groups. We are not UBER strict with the homeschooling, the girls will do schoolwork most days, but there are some days where it just doesn’t fit into the “schedule”, but that doesn’t mean that they are not learning on those days too. We have found some good toys that allow us to sneak education in there without them realizing it.
With the holidays just around the corner I figured I’d share some of the fun stuff that we use to “Teach Through Play”.
|While on island we go to the library, A LOT!|
Our girls wake up earlier than I do. We encourage them to stay in bed until a certain hour (with the help of the OK to Wake clock which lights up when they can get up). Once they are up, and I am still in bed, they are allowed to play with their toys until the whole family is up and moving. I am always so happy to open my eyes to see both of our girls working away at building their very own creations. There are a plethora of toys out there encourage kids to use their engineering/math/science skills. Yes there are Lego, which are fun (but those tiny pieces all over the place sort of drive me crazy). And toys have evolved so much and there are some great new options out there (that won’t get lost in your bilges). We have found that Ellia gravitates towards Magnatiles. These tiles are not too magnetic (yes that can be a problem for a 3 year old with limited strength) and get her building all sorts of castles and homes for her various ponies and dolls. Castles seem to be her favorite building design. We have the 100 piece set and that gives her more than plenty tiles for any of her creations.
|Building while on a very calm passage|
Arias, on the other hand, prefers the stronger magnets in the Magformers. She also likes the versatility that the magnets in motions give her. She is also a princess castle builder, but with the extra moving pieces, her towers often have obstacles that the evil dragons have to overcome, protecting the princesses. The girls create all sorts of stories to play with their blocks. These magnet blocks get pulled out and played with daily. And even though the girls are fully capable of playing with them on their own, they are so much fun that Eben and I are often sitting side by side with the girls, creating structures of our own.
|Look at that face, can you say “Happy kid”!|
GoldieBlox is another family favorite that gets our girls’ creativity flowing. We have several of their different sets. Their Craft-struction set gives you 245 different pieces that allow for a ton of building option. With the kit comes a poster with instructions to several designs, and then once a week they upload a new instructional video online for the kids to enjoy. I love that this company goes beyond just making toys to creating apps and videos to keep the girls hooked. Their toys are geared towards inspire girls to explore engineering (only 14% of engineers are women), but are fun for all types of kids. Their other sets include storybooks and action figures to go along with the building fun.
|I knew Eben would love these toys just as much as the girls!|
It’s not like you need a ton of extras to do “cooking classes” with your kids. Eben does most of the cooking on our boat and our girls love to stand on the settee and watch him at work, sometimes getting to participate in the cutting and cleaning of veggies, and most of the time participating in the food tasting. The girls also love to help with measuring ingredients for baking. Although this may seem basic, teaching the girls about healthy eating, and the basics of cooking, is important so that they don’t turn into twenty-somethings that eat ramen for every meal.
I know they recommend that kids should not spend time on tablets, and such. But we have had nothing but success with using these electronics as teaching tools, and as a way for the girls to have some alone time while playing educational games. Arias uses the Bob Books app to practice her reading skills, while Ellia loves the Bugs and Buttons app to do everything from practicing letters, to sorting, to counting. A great website that we have found is the Smart Apps for Kids site. They have a “free app of the day” section, where everyday they seek out a fun new app that is free, and most of the time they are educational. Definitely worth checking out.
Not only does the ipad offer all sorts of apps where kids can learn while playing, but we also use Osmo, which is a really neat gaming system that lets our girls interact with the ipad in a whole new way, making it even more “hands on”. This game has the girls playing with letters, numbers, art, and spacial concepts, using their brains and hands, so they aren’t just sitting and watching the ipad. Check out the video we made to get a better look at how it works.
|Hanging at a friend’s house. (This is not one of their educational shows, just entertainment).|
Of course our daughters also have a ton of other toys (mostly small ones) that are meant purely for fun (like their little ponies, baby dolls and such) because we don’t need to be constantly “secretly” bombarding their brains with education. “Free-play” is a great way for them to grow all on their own. And you should see their backyard (beaches and ocean) where not many toys are required!