I am determined to do better about incorporating more hands-on activities in our school day. I seem to go through real peaks and valleys in this area, and the valleys come when I am sick (usually pregnant) and when we have a new baby around. I am actually okay with this – I think it’s important to ride the waves of life when you are homeschooling, but after a while, it’s time to say, “This baby is not new anymore!” and stop being lazy! That time is now.
So I decided to start with a baby step. Last night, I made some chocolate playdough with my five-year old for our special one-on-one activity. (She and I try to have one-on-one time every Monday night.) And this morning, I made some beautiful green playdough. I used to swear by cooked playdough (you can see my old favorite recipe that I blogged here), but I have recently discovered that the easiest way to make playdough is to do the non-cook ones that start with hot water and throw all the ingredients in my bread machine on the dough setting. Five minutes later, perfect playdough and no green hands or sore arms for me! So, for this batch, I tweaked this recipe for the green and this one for the chocolate.
I pulled out our Alphabet Island characters and the cover of the Alphabet Island workbook and challenged the five-year old and the two-year old to make their own Alphabet Islands. (I am planning to review this curriculum soon. We are in our second year of it, and I really love it!) They both love play-dough, but it’s always been a free-play activity for them so I didn’t know how well they would respond to my promptings. They loved it!
The older two girls are participating in NaNoWriMo this month, and both of them have been pretty tight-lipped about their story ideas. Before I knew it, they had both wrapped up their school work for the morning and came to join us with the play dough. They both decided to make maps to go along with the stories they are writing, and at least one of them plans to use the picture she took of her finished play dough map as the cover for her story. It was fun for me to glean a few details about their stories while they played!
We talked a lot about various geologic features like hills and mountains, valleys, lakes, and islands. The younger ones had just read about these in our Berenstain Bears science book so this was a very simple and fun way to see how much of that they had absorbed.
All in all, a very fun activity and encouragement for this mama to keep taking baby steps in making more of our learning hands-on.
How about you? Do you excel at creating hands-on opportunities for learning? Do you go through valleys and peaks in this area? What are your favorite first baby steps to get back in the groove?