These last two weeks can be defined as thinking outside of the box. To be honest, I don’t usually think it is my style. I like to go down the checklist and get it done. But I’m finding my children are much more receptive, interested, and quick to learn when I’m more loose about finishing things, especially because it is so beautiful outside during springtime!

“Playing School”

Thinking Outside of the Box

First, with the gorgeous spring weather that has finally arrived, we’ve played outside, doing math problems and spelling words in between swinging and running. A few times I’d give my son the math problem orally (a word problem) and he would do it in his head. My daughter still liked to write it down. A few times I’d bring out an assignment and he’d have to answer 2 or 3 questions every 5 or 10 minutes. It was infrequent enough that he was okay with it. My daughter loved the outside way to do spelling words: she had to write them in cursive with her finger in the grass. Not every day will we do finger handwriting practice, but it is a nice change from the copy work and spelling practice we normally do.

I’m trying to make an effort to help my youngest learn things too. I was doing all kinds of fun enrichment with my older children when they were preschool age, but I feel I don’t do as much with my littlest since I’m always helping out the others now! We got out the play dough, the paints, and the color-with-water books (my absolute favorite!).

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Strawberry loved “dressing” the girls on Life Over C’s play dough seasons mats. Her favorite was the winter season scene, because then could add boots and gloves. She also put “glasses” on all the girls’ eyes.

We’re still reading about shapes and I’m (obviously) introducing seasons and colors as well. It is so exciting to me to see my little one learning!

That’s not to say it’s not exciting to see my older child learning too. He is getting more comfortable with math and spelling. He is loving learning about everything else too! I simply feel he is enjoying school, and that is how it should be. No more tears.

More Outside Learning Ideas

What do you do to “think outside the box” once weather gets nice and warm?

Here are some other outdoor activities.

We keep track of our summer bucket list inside of our Summer Fun Passport. More than 80 colorful stamps fit right inside, and we can even design our own activities stamps.

Summer Fun: Summer Activities Passport

One of the fun things I have done for my kids this summer to keep track of our summer fun was create a simple summer activity passport for her!  It’s a way to keep track of the fun we’ve had this summer as well as encourage the kids to decide which activities we want to […]

Summer Fun: Mud Painting

When I think about summer, I think of the sudden increase is dirt and mud everywhere! Baths are a frequent necessity. Strawberry and Kitty love to dig, apparently only encouraged by their brother, who is on a new emphatic hunt for “rocks” hiding beneath our lawn and play set. The only way to get by […]

After our indoor animal tracks measuring activity, we went outside to see what tracks we saw! We measured them to help us determine what animals' tracks we found!

Animal Tracks Measuring Activity

Since learning about various animal’s footprints was a fun activity before, we decided to go further and investigate animal tracks a bit more in depth. To practice my daughter’s measuring skills, I made a simple animal tracks measuring activity to help us better understand the sizes of the animals’ tracks we learned about before. Measuring […]

Our moon surface was just a tray of flour, but stepping and making our own moon footprints was a fun sensory play related to our lessons on the moon.

Footprints on the Moon Sensory Play

With the upcoming solar eclipse, we’ve been learning about the moon and sun. For this week’s activity, we learned about the surface of the moon, especially the 1969 moon landing. Of course we had to recreate the moon landing. Strawberry (and toddler Kitty) loved to walk on the moon by making our own footprints on […]

Our pool noodle "covered wagon" was a fun way to make learning about history a movement-based activity.

Pool Noodle Covered Wagon

In honor of the recent Pioneer Day (the Utah holiday that celebrates the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to Utah in 1847), we try to do something pioneer related each year, since my husband’s family is from Utah and it’s a part of our Mormon heritage as well. This year (to go along with Strawberry’s […]

Making a tower of ice is not as simple as it looks! My preschooler wanted to be the ice Queen, but without much luck. Nevertheless, outside ice play was a simple and quick activity that kept the attention of my toddler and my preschooler on a hot summer's day.

Summertime Outside Ice Play

On a hot summer day, what does one do for “Princess Preschool”? We play with ice! Building with ice is not easy. My daughter wanted to make an Ice Princess’ castle (as my daughter intended), but it sure is fun to try your hand in stacking the sliding blocks during an outside ice play exploration! 

Our backyard circus let us have outside imaginative fun while still getting exercise and enjoying moving our bodies!

Backyard Circus

  I’ve mentioned before that my preschooler loves to move! Well, when I suggested we do a circus when we were at the playground  last week, she was eager to get started! We did another “circus” in our own backyard circus on our play set and inside as well. 

Writing in the Snow Picture Book Lesson

In the book In the Snow by Huy Voun Lee, Xiao Ming and his mother walk in newly fallen snow and his mother shows him Chinese characters by writing them in the snow. They discuss how the characters look like the items they are describing. Despite our lack of snow in Chicagoland this season,we made our […]

Chocolate Painting with I’m a Hungry Dinosaur

Last spring, we read a fun book called I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, in which the illustrations were created with actual mud. Of course, we had to make our own mud paintings! The same author has another book, I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, in which the illustrations were created with cocoa powder, chocolate, and sprinkles, so of […]

How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World Activities

As I mentioned before, we’re following Jamie from Simple Homeschool in her #GiveYourChildTheWorld book club this summer. How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman was one of the first picture books we picked up for this book club.  We’ve had a lot of fun doing some activities to go along with […]

Here are some more springtime activities.

Practice Spelling and Vocabulary with Word Ladders

I’ve fallen in love with word links (also called word ladders, word golf, or doublets): games that change just one letter at a time to get to a completely different word. The game of word links were created by Lewis Carroll in 1877. My son, although a very strong reader, did struggle with vocabulary as a […]

Rain Water Cycle Activity

I have always been fascinated by how marvelously the water cycle works for us on earth. Even the Lord recycles! He takes water that has rained on to the earth and given life to the plants and trees (and us too!), then He lets it collect and evaporate into the air, where it is condensed […]

Learn about the animals of the forest with a woodland animals themed unit! Great fiction and nonfiction books, forest animals pattern mats, and track identification clip cards make it fun as well as educational.

Woodland Animals and Temperate Forests Habitats Unit Study

After our participation in the Chicago Wildlife Watch project, I decided to use woodland animals as our nonfiction topic for my story times at our homeschool co-op this week! We began with some great books (both fiction and nonfiction) and then jumped in to forest animals activities in science stations!

A Picture Book Lesson to Teach Metaphors in Poetry

I’ve been creating units for kindergarten using picture books to introduce the poetic concepts of rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor. Today I thought I’d write about another picture book that would help in teaching older children about metaphors in poetry: Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.

Use a party blower as a proboscis in this whole body butterfly life cycle gross motor imagination game.

Whole Body Butterfly Life Cycle

Strawberry simply loves butterflies right now! As we prepared a report about butterflies for our recent project fair, we took the chance to act out the parts of the butterfly life cycle. This whole body gross motor play is just how she learns! I know she’ll not forget the details we discussed: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, […]

Sort the pictures on each flower into the correct word family flower pot. We used mini-flower pots to make this word family picture sort even more hands-on for spring.

Flower-Themed Word Family Picture Sort

Now that Strawberry is becoming more and more aware of words and sounds and even starting to sound out consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, she was very excited to try a flower-themed word family picture sort. Strawberry loves flowers. The beautiful springtime is finally showing us tiny green buds and she cannot wait to see the blooms. For […]

Spring is the perfect time for this kindness picture book lesson.

A Spring-Time Kindness Picture Book Lesson from Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine

Everything about the book Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine by Allison Wortche and pictures by Patrice Barton is Spring-y, from the names of the children to the plants the children grow with their teacher. Overall, it is a book about selflessness and overcoming jealousy. As we read the book, five-year-old Strawberry and I discussed the feelings we […]

Go, Cubs, Go! Early Reader Freebie

I have a one track mind this week: Cubs baseball! My maternal grandparents lived most of their lives in Chicagoland. Grandpa always expected a Cubs World Series victory was eminent. Whenever they lost, it was always a refrain of “Better luck next year!” My grandmother’s father made her sit and write scores as they listened […]

Learning about vegetables can be fun.

Vegetables Learning Activities

My daughter has fallen in love with VeggieTales, which is now on Netflix! She loves that each episode ends with a reminder of God’s love for each of us, and I must admit that I like that too. We also happened to read a number of fun books about vegetables (named below), so this week […]

Review Area and Perimeter with a Flower Garden Plan

We are working on multiplication a little bit each week these days. I also discovered this week that my son could not remember the difference between area and perimeter! This week, I decided to give him a design challenge: plan a flower garden. It turned out to be a fun way to review area and perimeter!

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