My oldest child is logical and practical. While my husband insists that our oldest is practically a replica of me, this is one area where we are as different as night and day. I am a creative person who loves not only the result of learning, but also the process of learning.
With the exception of glitter, which I loathe, I generally thrive in the messy moments of education. Cutting, pasting, and drawing make my heart happy, and if my kids need to spread out on the floor amongst piles of construction paper and magazines, well, it’s all the better!
So, early in our homeschooling journey, I tried to add projects for my son. To my great surprise, he hated them all. He would do them because he is a pleaser, but I could tell that his mind was perfectly satisfied with the information we just covered and was now focused on the trampoline outside. Over time, I lightened up on my hands-on projects, and I found that it was actually a blessing in disguise that he disliked the extras so much. When more little babies came along, there just was no time.
But then, those little babies grew up, and it was time for them to begin school. Once again, I learned that I needed to adjust my approach. They were all about the process. I should realized this fact about them much sooner
- When they were two and one years old, they used a pair of misplaced safety scissors to cut my bedsheets into shreds while they were supposed to be napping.
- There was also the time that they got their hands on a ball of crochet yarn and proceeded to make a laser course through the hallway. The knotting was so tight that I had to cut it just to get to our living room.
Oh yes, there were many early signs that these two were girls after my own heart—creative, crafty, and hands-on.
You can imagine that when they began school, they longed for hands-on projects. And of course, being a homeschool mama, I obliged! My heart sang at the visions of piles of construction paper and magazines. While I learned with my first child that Sonlight is absolutely complete without any add-ons, I have thoroughly enjoyed providing creative extras for my two daughters. Here are a few of my favorite ways to extend our learning.
1. Art Projects
Art is such a great way to add interest to a particular study. I especially love to focus our art projects around countries. This year, we went through HBL F and HBL B, so we had plenty of art inspiration!
Each time we began studying a new country, civilization, or continent, I would search Pinterest for art projects inspired by that region or time period. This year, we crafted a mosaic for our study of Rome, and we made savannah silhouettes for our HBL F study of Africa, just to name a few. I keep a Pinterest board for each HBL that we go through, and save pins when I see art that would fit the program. I love keeping things simple, so I rarely ever do an art project that requires more than basic supplies. Sonlight's new History Project Kits include art and hands-on projects so you don't have to spend time researching them.
2. Lap Books
Lap books are a great way to record of your studies so you can go back and review! If you aren’t familiar with lap books, they are usually made out of a file folder and include several pictures and cutouts which the child uses to record information about the topic of study. Like many of my fellow Sonlight mamas, I am thrilled to see that Sonlight has now included a lap book option for some of the HBLs. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!
For your more kinesthetic learners, games are a great way to add to your Sonlight course of study. Simply do a quick search of kids games in the region or time period you are studying, and go out and try out the game. You may even find some YouTube videos of kids playing the games if you’re lucky!
4. Rabbit Trail Research
I can’t count the times that a Read-Aloud sparks one of those infamous, “I wonder…” questions. While research generally isn’t something that is exactly welcomed by my kids, research that is not required, but simply born out of curiosity, fits into a completely different category.
Rather than shutting down the rabbit trail, go with it for a while. Many times, my kids’ rabbit trail research has turned into a collage, a report, a booklet, brochure, or speech. These are the best kinds of projects because since they are intrinsically sparked, your children will retain even more of the information.
5. Extension Projects
An extension project is simply taking the ideas presented in the literature and extending them to learn more about a topic. Living books are the best for extension projects. They are written in such a way that extension is a logical outflow of the child’s natural curiosity.
Sonlight's Read-Alouds and Readers invite stellar project opportunities for kids who like to do crafty learning. For example, this year we read Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? (from HBL F) which led these projects:
- We researched the stock market crash of the 1920s
- We explored the current stock market.
- The kids used an imaginary budget and pretended to purchase stocks, keeping track of their investments daily.
- We researched the most recent recession in 2009.
One thing is sure: my oldest child who is practical and logical has had an excellent education with Sonlight even without adding extras. My youngest children also have had an excellent education with Sonlight, adding lots of projects and opportunities for creative expression along the way. Sonlight is great as is, and it’s great to add to. It flexes for you and your kids!