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5 Easy And Inexpensive Ways to Keep Kids Entertained at Home

5 Easy And Inexpensive Ways to Keep Kids Entertained at Home

Fall is here and close behind is winter. For many of us, that brings the beauty of the changing of colors around us and then winter sports and snowmen. This also means colder weather which often for kids means more time inside. It gets darker earlier and is pretty chilly and their desire to stay outside doesn’t last long. More time inside means more quality time with the kids, but it also means more chances for bickering between them and the incessant, “I’m bored, Mom.”

As a working parent on a budget, keeping them occupied and happy without breaking the bank can be a bit stressful. We also don’t want them sitting in front of the television for hours at a time either. We want our children to explore their imagination and enjoy themselves.

Finding time to be able to spend time with them while they have fun is important. With that in mind, here is a list of creative adventures that my family enjoys in the cold months. I hope yours does too! These can all be adopted for in and outside play.

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1. Camping

The kids are ready for an adventure! Time to travel to Neverland. After awhile, nobody wants to be cooped up inside and never growing up sounds like the perfect solution to everyone in my home. What better way to create the feeling of distance and adventure than camping?

Grab your tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, and if you are really feeling ambitious, any extra blankets and old Christmas lights to create an extended blanket fort. Let’s get creative. Dress up in your favorite costumes and let the giggles and games begin, in your living room or any room you have the extra space. The added bonus of this idea is that the kids can you use this fun space as their quiet reading or coloring camp. You get peace and quiet and they are using their imaginations and are happy too.

2. Bath paints

Mermaids and pirates alike will enjoy this next adventure and moms rest easy, this is easy to make and affordable. Just take some shaving cream and food coloring – you have bath paints!

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This can be used in an outside pool or for bath time. After the treasure hunt or under the sea adventure, when the little ones are wrinkly and ready to get out, simply rinse the tub out and be on your way. Simple cleanup and the little ones go wild. Be aware that this is not edible, though for the toddlers and young children that are still putting everything in their mouth, this not an option.

3. Bowling

If your neighborhood is anything like mine, children travel in packs, like tiny little wolves. Tame the pack with a fun game of glow in the dark bowling! You will need to save 6 water bottles, any size of your choosing and a few colorful glow sticks each.

For smaller children, smaller bottles will work best. The water will keep them fairly sturdy. Grab your basketball, soccer ball or volleyball you already have lying around and you have glow in the dark bowling!

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4. Edible Painting

Picasso lookout, we have greatness in the making with this one. Use instant vanilla pudding, a bit of food coloring and a clean paper plate as a canvas to create beautiful and edible works of art.

This can get a little messy so I suggest putting something down before the kids begin creating the next Mona Lisa.

5. Silly Snack Time

Being able to make our kids get all the necessary micronutrients without them putting up a fight can be a struggle at times.

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Now that you have their imaginations running, bring their lunch and snacks to life as well with lunch made of “bugs” of fruit and veggies and simple PB&J’s cut into any shape their little heart’s desire. Cookie cutters are best for this. It’s a win-win. You get them to have fun and EAT fruits and vegetables which they wouldn’t typically dare touch and they are entertained.

There you have it. From voyages to Neverland to painting the sea, you are bound to make some waves with the kids with some or all of these fun, simple, affordable adventures and the cleanup is minimal. Let their imaginations run wild.

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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