How to add more play to your homeschool (and not feel guilty)


Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies

From history to language arts, math to music, and everything in between, don’t miss Cait’s full list of games for every subject!

week before Christmas, my husband turned to me and asked, “So… have they been doing any math?”*

I felt myself bristle at his words. I sat up straighter, jaw set, defensive. “Of course we’ve done math!” I sputtered.

We had done math, just not much traditional math because it was the holidays.

My mind raced:

  • We had read piles of math storybooks
  • The kids had followed a recipe for bird cookies independently, tripling the recipe so they would each have plenty
  • There had been lots of baking
  • The children had done some holiday shopping
  • We had watched a favorite DVD
  • And, of course, we had played countless board games

How to Play More in Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty) How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool (And Not Feel Guilty)

But there was nothing tangible, no proof.

And that happens a lot with homeschooling.

Despite the intangible nature of our pre-Christmas mathematics, I was prepared to defend my case. After all, I know how well my children learn when I combine fantastic read alouds, experiential learning, and educational games.

I need not have worried; he believed me. There were no further questions. The doubt had passed.

* Now this is where I need to pause and tell you that my husband is my biggest homeschool supporter and cheerleader, but even the most amazing homeschool dads fall victim to occasional doubt and second-guessing… especially during holiday chaos!

The truth is, I used to doubt this approach to learning. 

  • Is it okay to set curriculum aside and pick up a book?
  • Can games be considered curriculum?
  • Does this really count as homeschooling?

Thankfully, this doubt has passed, too. I’ve been homeschooling long enough to know when we are doing something well.

I even have a name for it: gameschooling.

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Science in a box for ages 9 and up

Science in a box for ages 9 and up
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

Just a few years ago, everything for homeschoolers began to arrive in a box.

You could get crafts in a box, geography in a box, history in a box, preschool in a box, and more! They’d arrive in the mail once every month, and voila: something easy and educational to do that day with the kiddos, leaving you feeling like a homeschool parent champ.

Of all the monthly boxes/subscriptions we tried over the years, Little Passports ended up being our favorite. (Those of you who have read Give Your Child the World probably won’t find that too surprising!)

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Each month we traveled–via mail–to a different country. I loved that these packages weren’t overwhelming. They didn’t force me to spend hours preparing anything; they contained just enough to help us learn and to keep it fun for both the kids and me.

Over the years we visited more than two dozen new lands. But then something sad happened.

My children kept growing up.

And they slowly aged out of all these cool monthly boxes–Little Passports as well. After all, most monthly subscriptions are geared toward elementary aged kids.
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Curricula bliss: 8 resources we couldn’t live (or learn) without

Curricula Bliss: 8 resources we couldn't live (or learn) withoutWritten by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

How is your homeschool year going so far? Usually by this time we begin to sense what’s working well and what isn’t. What we want to continue–and a couple of things, perhaps, that we’d like to drop.

Two years ago I wrote my first curricula bliss post, in which I shared the curricula bringing joy into our learning atmosphere at that time. Because sometimes you want to smile instead of sigh when you pull something off the shelf, you know?

Now that my kids are a little older I’m back to share the new resources we’re loving most this homeschool year. I hope they give you some helpful ideas and point you in the direction of joyful learning as well!
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How to use Give Your Child the World in your homeschool

How to use Give Your Child the World in your homeschool
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool 

What a beautiful ride it’s been since Give Your Child the World came out a few months ago!

Thank you, thank you for all the support. I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to hear that so many of you find the book useful and inspiring, exactly what I hoped for during the five years I worked on it.

Some of you have written with another question as well:

What’s the best way to use Give Your Child the World in our homeschool?

Glad you asked! I purposely made the book so it could be used several different ways, and I’d love to describe those for you here. (And for anyone wondering: Yes – the print above is THE Eiffel Tower I mention about in Chapter 2 that meant so much!)

What’s this all about?

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Photo by Luke Price

Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time is a reading treasury that guides you to the best global children’s literature (over 600 hand-picked titles!), allowing your family to read your way around the world. Perfect for the book and travel lovers among us.

All the hard work has been done for you, so you can get right to the fun part! I organized the reading lists by region, country, and age range (ages 4-12). Each listing includes a brief description of the book, its themes, and any content you might want to have a heads up about.

For the cost of a single paperback, the book gives you a geography/history/literature resource you can use for up to 8 YEARS with multiple kids. Read an excerpt here.

Check out the three main ways I imagine families putting it to good use:
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What’s so great about Life of Fred?

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What's so great about Life of Fred
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

If you’ve been homeschooling for long, you may have run across a math curriculum called Life of Fred. All of a sudden it seems to be taking the homeschooling online world by storm!

Here’s a short description of it:

Life of Fred is a series of math books that break the old pattern of drill and kill. Instead of nothing but dry exposition and endless exercises, they contain fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius.

During his hilarious adventures, he encounters natural situations that call for solving math problems. Children actually want to read these books!”

I first mentioned Life of Fred on this blog back in 2012, and what I said then I still agree with:
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