If you have been here for a while, you’ve heard me talk about “the Big 4” that I try to place within each homelearning day (or each lesson plan I create when I teach). Those big four include: imagination, encouragement, education (the actually content of the lesson), and enjoyment.
Instead of going through what that has looked like for us so far this week, I want to share with you how I’ve “repurposed” some ideas to keep things fresh– and therefore, fun– for my kiddos this week.
Last week, I introduced a scouting game for my kiddos, incorporating fox walking with stalking/tracking. The basic premise is this: someone stands in the middle of a yard/space with a blindfold (or promise of keeping their eyes closed <<good luck with that one, ha!>>) while the other players spread out several feet away from both each other AND the person in the middle (who is the animal being observed/stalked). The observers must quietly walk closer and closer to the person in the middle, and the first one to read and tap the person wins.
However… if the person in the middle hears a sound but can’t identify WHAT they heard, they turn towards the location of the sound, and people in that area have to freeze. If they make a sound while they are supposed to be frozen, they have to go back to their original location. Once the person in the middle hasn’t heard anything for a few seconds, they turn back around. If the person in the middle hears a sound and CAN identify it, they turn towards the sound, and say exactly what they heard (a stick break, a nose sniff, whatever), and the person has to go back to their original spot.
I played this with my kids as a part of their nature study last week and they LOVED it! We played it several times, and whoever tagged the middle person got to take their place. Since we played it, they have asked SEVERAL times to play it again.
That led me to thinking… how can this game be used in other ways?
Right now, we are concentrating on the Revolutionary War in history and have recently studied Francis Marion– aka “the Swamp Fox.” If you are familiar with the warfare of the South during that time, you know that it was not the traditional “line up in a battlefield nicely and all agree to start marching and maiming each other at the same time” kind of warfare that had been popular up until that point. The Southern Theater did NOT have the manpower or resources that the British in the area had… so they got creative.
I think you might be able to guess how this game evolved from science to history.
Yesterday, we went out into the yard… but the center player wasn’t an animal being stalked. It was the British in a swamp in the South, hoping not to be bombarded by the rumored Swamp Fox. The “stalkers” were now Continental militia… sneaking up for a surprise attack.
The kiddos LOVED the variation… and it made incorporating enjoyment into the day easier to be able to tweak a game their already knew instead of finding a new activity to introduce and have them learn from scratch. (More time playing + less time explaining = more fun.)
(Bonus: the game can be played practically anywhere with no equipment. )
The second thing that I started doing a few weeks ago and did again this week was not be afraid to make my own videos to simplify our routine. We absorb a lot of literature and also believe in the benefit of committing things to our memories. In an ideal day, we’d be able to cover the memory work altogether with the original books… but that’s not the way things are sometimes. Instead, I make playlists on youtube and also in Amazon music that I can connect via bluteooth in the car or can pull up to play/review while waiting somewhere.
In making playlists, I’ve realized something. A pet peeve of mine is not being able to find brief recordings that make playlist making easy. I don’t want someone speaking for 10 minutes about a poem before getting to the recitation of it. And I also don’t want someone reading the poem in a flat voice, as I want my children to love the listening of it.
Recently, I’ve found some poems and info harder to find… so I’ve made them myself. These videos are completely amateur. No fancy movies or graphics. Just me, sometimes only me, reading. Sometimes, I’ve drawn little pictures to go along with my words. The key for me right now is for them to accomplish the purpose I have for them without taking a lot of time.
This is hard for me, friends.
Because when I want to do something, I want it to be my absolute best. I do.
And these videos that I make just aren’t.
BUT they serve the purpose, and they are a tool that I can actually use– versus waiting on all the time and energy it would take to do them “right.”
Maybe I’m beginning to see (and agree) with G.K. Chesterton more, the older I become: that “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a short little poem for your young children to memorize and just need a simply reading of it, feel free to use this 30 second version of A Child’s Song.
It won’t win any production awards, but it might just help you get the “job done.” 😉