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Figuring out how to make homeschool fun is a perennial problem. Every year, you’ll reach a point where learning just seems like a slog. Some new homeschooling parents hit this first wall and panic, thinking homeschooling was a huge mistake and they need to ditch all their plans.
If you’ve hit a homeschool wall recently, know that there’s plenty you can do to change things around. One of the easiest ways to lighten up the mood and make learning enjoyable is to inject some fun activities. I’ve got a huge list of ideas for you, so let’s dive right in.
General principles for a fun homeschool at any age:
Keep it real.
Kids at every age want to know their lessons are connected to reality and the great adult world beyond. Focus on actual problems in your communities, tangible experiments or manipulatives, and people they know.
Follow their passion
If your child is obsessed with Frozen or Minecraft, lean into that. Or if you have a kid who is a talented musician, athlete, or coder, let them use those skills to gain new ones. Kids are much more willing to attempt hard or “boring” lessons when favorite characters or activities are involved.
Think outside the workbook
Who says you need textbooks and worksheets to learn? Start looking around your daily life for lessons to jump out at you. Nature walks,
It doesn’t take a wizard to figure this one out. It could be review games like flash cards, trivia or trashketball. You also can make homemade versions of monopoly or chutes & ladders where game pieces and spots require subject knowledge. Of course, there’s also actual board games designed to teach certain lessons, plus plenty of learning apps with games.
Related article: 10 FUN Geography Games for Kids
Get those energetic kids moving! Children need to move for their bodies to be in tip-top shape of course, but there’s more, too. Especially for children with “kinesthetic” learning styles, doing physical activity while learning can help tremendously in imprinting knowledge in a child’s brain.
Field trips have been a teacher’s saving grace since schools were invented. Not only will it mean fun learning ON the trip, but you generally get students very motivated to work hard leading up to the trip, too. Museums, natural spaces, historic landmarks or cities, and special events are all excellent opportunities.
How to make homeschool fun for kindergarten (and pre-k)
- Count with hopscotch or a number line written in chalk
- Plant beans, peas, sunflowers, or squash
- Give out stickers for hard work
- Finger paint letters & numbers
- Act out social scenarios and role play appropriate behavior
- Visit the fire station
- Play dress up when discussing storybook characters
- Get magnetic letters and practice spelling sight words on the fridge
- Go to the park and encourage them to ask questions about what they see
- Do some activities to build fine motor skills
How to make homeschool fun for elementary students
- Do work in strange places: under the table, upside down, on the stairs, etc
- Do a work race! Set up a course around your neighborhood, yard, or park. Each checkpoint has one worksheet/assignment. The child who finishes the race first/fastest with the least number of errors wins.
- Put on a puppet show about a history lesson, book, or scientific concept
- Get a pen pal! Bonus points if they’re from a far away place or even another country.
- Learn a second language. Bonus points if you pair it with another, related activity like learning taekwondo.
- Actually, learn any foreign language. Go around your house with a label maker and write the second language’s word for everything.
- Participate in a Reading Challenge like this one from Scholastic.
- Learn about area & perimeter using Cheez-Its
- Hold a lemonade stand and count money
- Learn to play an instrument like the recorder or xylophone
- Grow a garden
- Have a “dress up like your favorite book character” day
- Encourage them to illustrate scenes from history or a book,
- Sign them up for clubs at the library
- Host reading parties! Grab all the pillows & blankets from all over the house & pile up in one room, then lounge around in PJs reading
- Use faceprint on each other to answer questions
- Play mini-golf, where they need to putt only into the holes with the correct answers (You could do “a, b, c, or d” multiple choice over and over or make your own, more complicated course.)
How to make homeschool fun for middle schoolers
- Learn fractions and ratios with culinary projects: cut pizzas into eighths or sixteenths, convert measurements, and make a double (or half) batch of cookies
- Grab a telescope and a star chart. Have them identify and track different stars.
- Learn to sew historically accurate outfits for dolls or stuffed animals
- Have them make a lego stop motion video as a final project for a literary or history unit. Lego guys are the main characters!
- Create mini books with stories they write and photos they take
- Take a roadtrip (either to a different state or just to the grocery store) and have your middle schooler calculate miles per hour, miles per gallon, gas costs, and distance.
- Print out giant timelines to put around your walls for history lessons or to track the plot of a novel
- Create dioramas
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter and chat up the vets about animal biology
- Take a giant piece of butcher paper and trace your child’s body. Then have them draw and label organs, bones, and/or systems
How to make homeschool fun for high school kids
- Help them join or start a team for debate, academic decathlon, Odyssey of the Mind, or robotics
- Teach them basic car maintenance
- Practicing budgeting by planning out a real (or imagined) vacation
- Let them get an internship or apprenticeship in a field that interests them
- Have them write their own songs, where the lyrics are subject matter
- Build bottle rockets with a mini air compressor
- Do a job shadow for a day
- Try doing fun creative and academic challenges that also double as college scholarships, like the duct tape prom attire contest.
- Set out to solve curriculum-related problems in your local community, and pull together a team of teens to help with the solution
- Eat dinner with your teenager and ask questions with a philosophical, ethical, or moral bent
- Let them take their books or laptop and work in a coffee shop, bookstore, or other public place
- Go to an amusement park and calculate angles, trajectories, speed, etc for all the roller coasters. (Then ride them, of course.)
For more reading on this topic:
- Learn from Apps- The Best of EdTech
- Executive Functioning Activities: 50 Skill Builders for Kids of All Ages!
- 10 Great STEM Games for Kids!
Hillary is a former teacher who went rogue and became a freelance writer. When not offering support and advice to homeschooling families, she tends to her own garden, family, and cat. You can connect with her on her website, homegrownhillary.com.