When you combine our homeschool’s classical focus on all things ancient with the fact that we don’t watch the nightly news in our house for a variety of reasons, you end up with kids that might not be supremely aware of what is happening in the world around them. (I do intentionally tell them about major events, updates with people they are following, etc.) I also noticed a weakness in our learning regarding the use of technology for things other than writing essays or playing silly games online. Also, I wanted to continue out learning throughout the summer, but definitely wanted a break from our textbooks.
To meet the need of all three factors, I assigned my big kids a weekly current or historical event presentation. The kids would find their topic by browsing approved and reliable websites, research it, and plan for a simple lunchtime presentation. They have the option of writing a short essay, creating a slideshow, or whatever creative style of presentation they want.
So far, we have learned about the secret treasure that was buried in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago, a tiny sea horse that was discovered off of the coast of Africa, the endangered pangolin and it’s recent victory in gaining more protection, locating a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, an introduction to the astronauts who recently went to the ISS aboard the SpaceX, and a tour of an elaborate LEGO model.
Some of the websites that my kids find interesting are www.smithsonianmag.com, www.npr.org, www.wsj.com, and of course, Wikipedia.com. The kids have enjoyed researching for more information on their topics and are learning how to ask themselves deeper questions to further investigate their topic. Also, they are nailing the slick transitions available on PowerPoint. (And I learned that we call it a “slide deck” now, rather than “PowerPoint slides”.) Initially, this assignment was just for my big kids. However, my younger one wanted to participate as well. In fact, he wanted to participate so much that he requested daily presentations. I rejected that idea and now remind him that we anticipate lunch on Fridays even more than before.
What are fun ways you have found to keep the learning fresh during the summer, while not feeling bored from the typical schoolwork? Also, what ways have you found to navigate the messiness of today’s media streams while also raising your kids to be concerned citizens?
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.