Creative play… what does that look like in my house? 

This was the question I had to think about when I decided to come along and be a part of the Playful Learning blog tour that’s been going on all month. Like I said earlier, bloggers from around the world are getting together on this tour and showing what play is like for their kids. Click here to see the tour dates, to check out the participating bloggers, and to read their stories.

Homeschooling Is PLAY

As you probably already know… I’m a homeschool mom. I love it, but let me just be upfront and honest… it can be a major source of stress for me.

The reason I say that is because I’m new to it, and like most new homeschooling parents, I’m constantly doubting myself and my abilities to teach my kids. There are so many ways of schooling and so many curriculum options out there… trying to weed through it all is enough to make a person crazy! Thankfully, I have a great support system of friends and family who have gone before me and done it or are doing this with me. It’s nice not to be alone in something, right?

My outlook on homeschooling may differ from some other homeschool moms out there, but that’s okay. I like that we can all do our own thing and learn from each other. Cookie cutter molds are no fun anyway, and they don’t always work the same for everyone. Besides… that’s what homeschoolers are trying to get away from anyway, right? Since I’m a total Type-A personality anyway, I have to remind myself of that A LOT.

So for my family and the way we’ve decided to homeschool… at least at this time… is for creative play to be a HUGE part of our homeschooling day. I’m amazed at how much my toddler, kindergartner, and first grader learn from playing… or talking with me… or just listening and watching. Kids are sponges and they take so much in. I want my kids to LOVE learning. I don’t want them to HAVE to learn. I want them to WANT to learn, and for us creative play provides them with that. It creates that desire in them to want to explore and know more, and to do it in a way that isn’t so much work at first.

Creative play to us is our lives. We’re always playing. I bet if you asked my kids what they did all day they’d say, “We played all day!” Now of course they’d tell you about the different things they did, but to them it’s all playing. Even school work is playing. I’m not a huge fan of sitting down and reading chapters out of books, then doing the 3 corresponding worksheets, then taking a test on what we just learned kinda schooling so what I try to do is find ways of teaching my kids what they need to know in a fun way. Not only do they not dread school, but they look forward to what we’re going to learn each day and they actually remember it.

So to give you an example of how we homeschool and how we play, let’s look into one of the Playful Learning Ecadamy E-Courses that I used to teach my kids some Science just the other day. I think this will give you an idea of how we homeschool as well as giving you a glimpse into the Playful Learning Ecadamy too.

Backyard Science Investigations

In Tennessee, Kindergarten isn’t a state requirement so basically when I’m teaching my First Grader something, my Kindergartner is tagging along learning with him.

Like I said earlier, I’m new to homeschooling, and I don’t always know what they need to know when. So what I do is print off this big list that tells me what my First Grader is supposed to know by the end of the year. I mark off everything he already knows, and we start working on the other things… taking them one at a time.

Science is one of those things he’s supposed to start learning about this year. Thankfully on a First Grade level it’s basic things that are fun to him like categorizing certain types of animals and knowing their habitats or learning about light and colors… things like that.

So when I opened up the Backyard Science e-course and started checking out the videos, resources, and worksheets… I immediately knew this was going to be a great supplement to our Science this year. Below you can see what we pulled out of the course and went over in just one day. The great thing is that this course worked for my little kids, but it also had things that would work better for older kids too such as additional reading, websites to visit, varying levels of participation, etc.

Finding & Identifying Bugs

The first thing we did was watch the video on how to investigate. The boys had fun gathering up their investigating supplies… a pair of broken binoculars, a magnifying glass, their bug worksheets, a notebook, and a pencil. Since my kids are small, we kept our first backyard investigation short and sweet. We only focused on bugs. We’ll save trees, birds, and plants for other days.

So off the boys went to all the places in the yard where they knew bugs where hiding at. Every time they found a new bug we marked it off of our list and went off searching for more. This kept them busy for a while, and of course it was fun. I mean… little boys love to look for bugs right?

Exploring for colors

The next thing we did was to explore the colors of nature. We headed back inside to watch the “Colors In Nature” video, we printed off our color wheel, grabbed a basket, and headed back outside to pick as many different colors of flowers and plants as we could find.

As we collected our colors we talked about how light and color work, and I’d quiz the boys on what color was being reflected in each plant we looked at. They loved it, and since we were talking about something they needed to know while actually looking and getting our hands on it, they grasped that concept pretty quickly.

Matching the colors of nature to the color wheel

After we’d found a good amount of different colored plants, we headed back to the porch to match up the colors to our color wheel. They loved seeing how their were so many different shades of colors and how each color sortof blended in to the next color.

Filling out a sound map

The last thing I picked our for us to do from the Backyard Science Investigation e-course was a lesson called “Do You Hear Something” where we used a sound map to map out where we heard certain things coming from.

We all found a nice shady spot underneath the playset to sit and quietly listing to what was going on around us. I’d ask the boys to listen and tell me what sort of things they heard. At first they picked out all the obvious things like the roar of they creek beside us, the bees buzzing around, and the airplane flying overhead, but then they had to get really quiet and focus to hear the softer sounds like the trees rustling in the breeze, the crickets chirping in the field down the road, Mom-Mom’s peacocks at her house, or the chirp of the birds in the tree in the neighbors yard.

As they heard each sound, I’d ask them where that sound came from. Was it above them, below them, in front or behind them, or was it to the side of them. As they identified each sounds position, Judah wrote out the sound on his sound map.

This was probably one of my favorite activities that we picked to do because it had them sitting still and focusing on listening to the world around them. We live in the country and this area is beautiful and full of wonder. I want them to learn to just be still… and listen… and enjoy… and be uplifted.

So there you have it. This is just one way we homeschool and play at the same time. My kids not only learned to listen and follow directions, but to be in control of themselves and sit still. They got practice in writing, they learned to identifying different objects, to match colors, to understand briefly how light and color work together, to figure out where sounds were coming from which helped them with their directional skills, and so much more… all while playing and doing something fun!

We loved going through the Playful Learning Ecademy e-course Backyard Science Investigations, and I can’t wait to dig into all the other classes on there… which are on sale for only $10 each right now. I’m not sure how long that will last, so if you’re interested in getting one or more of these fun courses, check it out now before that offer is over!

Winner Of The Playful Learning Ecadamy Scholarship

Okay, in my last post about the Playful Learning blog tour I told you that they were giving away a scholarship to all the classes in the Ecadamy, so today I’m excited to announce our winner!!

The winner is Jill C (jillsho…@gma…com) who entered on August 2nd, 2013 by checking out the ecourses.

CONGRATULATIONS Jill. You have 72 hours to contact me by emailing me at – meagan (at) growingupherbal (dot) com – so I can get you all set up to access your e-lessons!

Didn’t win? Don’t worry! I’ll be giving away several more prizes VERY soon! Thanks for participating!

Blessings, Meagan