I have always found it challenging to get into a winter homeschooling routine. We take the majority of December off from our traditional studies, so starting back to school in the new year is not met with excitement. Throw in the social restrictions of the Pandemic and I’m ready to complain right along with my kids.
Winter homeschooling has always been the season I’ve needed to add new activities. Regardless if it’s a new class, craft, or change in schedule, we need something different to spur us on. Our most consistent change over the years is having a Friday game day.
Each of my kids has their own schedule of assignments for the week. Friday has always held lighter assignments and the knowledge that the weeks’ work must be completed by day’s end. The winter schedule is even lighter on Friday. Once work is complete, we break out games, puzzles, or other activities.
Although we love games and have a huge list of favorites from over the years, for winter schooling I’m encouraging games to help with our lessons. We’ve been practicing math drills with Math War. It’s a simple card game that is designed to improve the speed and accuracy of math facts. The game is available in multiplication, addition and subtraction.
We added Trekking the National Parks to our game shelf as a family Christmas gift. We’re still learning to play, but finding it fun and educational.
Any kind of strategy game is very popular with my kids. Ticket To Ride remains an all-time favorite. We have the United States version which connects trains from Canada to Mexico. We cover some geography while planning our trains courses.
Bananagrams is a fun game to practice spelling. We create our own rules at times like setting a theme where all the words have to be food-related or from bible stories. While playing a classical game, extra points are awarded, or at the very least bragging rights, when someone uses a word from their week’s spelling list.
Along with games I like to encourage construction activities. As my kids are getting older they are playing less with Leggo’s or K’nex. Still, a forgotten K’nex Roller Coaster set was recently rediscovered and a plan was mentioned for assembly.
This week my daughter dug into the back of a closet and pulled out our Marble Mania Galaxy. I found this crazy 400+ piece construction set at a thrift store years ago. My boys used to spend hours of their winter break assembling it to hold some exciting marble run races. I don’t know if they make the set anymore, but there is a comparable 200+ piece marble run that looks just as complex. I’m hoping my daughter gets our old one built before we need our school table on Monday.
Puzzles are another fun activity I add to our winter homeschooling. Larger count puzzles are good for working on together while engaging in conversation. Ravensburger is one of my favorite brands with quality pieces and images, but they can be a little more expensive. I’ve had wonderful luck finding puzzles at some thrift stores and yard sales. Occasionally there will be a piece missing, but more often than not all the pieces are there. Stores like Tuesday Morning or Marshall’s are also good places to find discount games and puzzles.
When we need to move and the weather keeps us indoors, I look for games offering movement. Twister is always good for some laughs. A portable ping pong set can be easily attached to a table and offer some fun indoor exercise.
Field trips are my final activity to encourage winter homeschooling. In years past I’ve sought out science centers and children’s museums. As so many locations are providing limited service or have closed, I’ve had to get creative. We haven’t had a lot of snow in our area this year, but we have experienced rain and very cold temperatures. When the weather is tolerable, I make the kids bundle up and get out. Even if we’re just walking the dog. Recently we enjoyed an outing to an aviary. As the weather allows I am locating and planning small hike outings using Hiking Project.
Winter homeschooling does not have to be cold and boring. By adding games, puzzles, and outdoor activities, kids will be engaged and more encouraged to get back to a school routine.
If you are considering an interest-based course, be sure to look at SchoolhouseTeacher.com. They have a wonderful list of electives to get a fresh start to any winter homeschooling schedule.