21 Unschooling Activities You Haven’t Tried Yet
Good unschooling activities are not easy to come up with. After some time, you get the impression that you have seen and done everything.
Many unschooling activities you may find online are a collection of tasks, games, and assignments that you may do with your child, but they’re not necessarily effective or fall under the category of “unschooling.”
Keep reading to learn what unschooling activities really are and explore 21 unschooling activities for preschool through middle school that you can easily adapt to your unique family situation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Preschool Unschooling Activities
- Kindergarten Unschooling Activities
- Elementary Unschooling Activities
- Middle School Unschooling Activities
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What Are Unschooling Activities?
Unschooling as an approach prioritizes your child’s interests and passions, offering them the opportunity to learn in a way that feels engaging and exciting. It also provides you, the parent, with an opportunity to learn alongside your child.
Even though you might not follow a traditional curriculum with this method, it will be helpful to know what skills and knowledge are common at different stages of development, such as early math and reading skills in kindergarten and a basic understanding of the world around them.
Ultimately, it’s about finding balance. You want to give your child the freedom to explore their own passions and interests, but also keep in mind the broader educational goals necessary for their development. You can do this by considering what you want your child to be able to accomplish and using that as a guide for the activities you do together.
The role of agency, or “the ability to identify valued goals and desired outcomes and to pursue those goals and outcomes proactively, purposefully, and effectively,” is crucial to promoting confidence, self-awareness, and self-regulation.
Here are 21 unschooling activities best suited for specific educational stages. Still, every child is unique, and you can adapt an activity you like to your child’s age or interests.
Preschool Unschooling Activities
The younger your child is, the more options you need to provide them with. Young children may show a lot of interest in different topics at different times, but they may not yet have acquired enough life experience or knowledge to know what they truly enjoy.
This is the best time to encourage your child’s early interests and hobbies and use them to teach them important skills and facts. At the same time, it’s important to give them new and different experiences to help them find new passions and opportunities.
Here are some ideas:
1. Make a cardboard vehicle
If you buy anything online, you most certainly have some spare cardboard boxes. Upcycle them to make vehicles with your child and have a race. Not only do you cover different types of vehicles and explore hands-on visual arts, but you also get some crucial exercise time in!
2. Go to the local library
Do you remember how Matilde, the main character in Ronald Dahl’s book, would run away every day to the library and read all the books there? And she was free to read whatever she wanted?
Your child too can have this same sense of excitement and freedom in their own learning journey. By allowing them to explore their interests and passions at your local library, where they have tons of different genres at their fingertips, they are sure to develop a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.
3. Make a sandwich
Cooking is a fun and rewarding activity for both kids and adults. While making a sandwich isn’t necessarily “cooking,” it still requires basic skills of culinary assembly. This is a great way to give your child something to be proud of. It may be a sandwich, but the final product is a delicious and unique meal created by them.
Let your child’s creativity and imagination shine, and enjoy the sandwiches they create without any judgments, keeping in mind that it’s the experience that counts.
4. Visit a farm
Visiting a farm is a good unschooling activity because it gives kids a chance to learn about farm animals, where they live, and how they affect our lives. It’s not just about the animals themselves, but also about how farmers take care of them and what role farms play in the ecosystem. By teaching kids about the animals before they go to the farm, they can have a better understanding and appreciation of the animals and their individual traits.
It’s also important to remember that animals have their own personalities and feelings, and we should treat them with compassion. Instead of only talking about how animals help people, you could talk about the animal’s own needs, wants, and right to live without being hurt. This can be a great way to teach kids to care about animals and to make them think about how their actions affect animals and the environment.
A trip to a farm can be a great way for kids to learn about different animals, as well as how to have more compassion and see the big picture of their relationship to farms and farm animals.
5. Make a herbarium
Have you ever tried making a herbarium? You can collect different plants during your walks, dry them, and glue them in a special notebook. You can teach parts of a plant, endemic species, common flowers, and more. You can also make a map of the area and mark the locations where you find your treasures.
Kindergarten Unschooling Activities
Kindergarten kids are still small, but every day they seem to have a bigger thirst for knowledge. They are more aware of the world, and this is when the real fun of learning also starts for you.
6. Virtually adopt an animal
Through virtual animal and plant adoption programs, like the one mentioned in the Smithsonian Magazine, students can also learn about conservation efforts and the importance of preserving endangered species.
7. Clean a beach or a park and create a piece of art
No matter where you go, you can always combine learning with some community service.
Take your child to clean an area near your house. Apart from social work, you can teach about types of trash and recycling and later do a sculpture or another piece of art with the items you find.
8. Play the board game Hedbanz Junior
Board games can be a great unschooling tool. Hedbanz Junior is wonderful for kindergarten kids. It not only teaches about animals and where they live, but it also improves logical thinking, and the whole family is sure to enjoy it.
9. Go on a bus trip
When was the last time you went on a bus? Your kids have probably never used public transportation, but you can change that!
Take a bus with your child next time you plan a field trip. Make it an experience by making your child count the money for the ticket and buy it. Teach how to read a bus schedule. You’ll see how excited your kid will be!
10. Send letters and postcards to family members
With digital communication being so common, children may not know how to write letters. But it can be a fun and interesting thing for you and your child to do together.
Imagine how exciting it would be for your child to pick out postcards from your area and send them to your family members. Not only is it a fun way for you and your child to spend time together, but it also teaches important skills like how to write a letter or postcard and memorize your own address. To make it even more fun, visit the places on the postcards you send and make it an opportunity to learn more about the local area and its history.
Reviving the tradition of sending letters through the mail is not only fun and educational for you and your child, but it also creates a more intimate and personal way to connect with loved ones through the art of written communication.
Elementary Unschooling Activities
In the elementary age range, kids can do more independent unschooling activities, and they learn to push the boundaries of the world they know. At this point, you can slowly introduce your child to social media and teach them how to use online resources safely.
11. Create a YouTube tutorial
What does your child know well? Any particular skill? Do they make great cookies? Are they super efficient at organizing shoes? Do they know a neat trick for folding t-shirts? Can they share creative ways to wash your hands?
Teaching others can be a rewarding experience, not just for the person receiving instruction but also for the teacher. By teaching your child the art of giving clear instructions, you are equipping them with a valuable skill that will serve them well in the future. One fun and engaging way to do this is by having them record instructional videos.
Encourage your child to create their own instructional videos, such as those teaching a recipe, a game, or even a simple DIY project. Once the videos have been made, put them on a private YouTube channel that only family members can see. This allows your child to share their creations with a larger audience without compromising their privacy. Not only will they be thrilled with the positive feedback from family members, but they will also be proud of their ability to teach others.
12. Imitate the movie ‘Yes Day’
Have you ever seen the movie Yes Day? The story revolves around parents who, for a day, choose to fulfill all of their children’s wildest wishes. But, they make some rules, like not asking for anything dangerous or against the law, having a set amount of money to spend, and only doing things that are within 32 kilometers.
You can do it too! Set some basic guidelines that can’t be broken and enjoy the crazy day ahead of you.
13. Watch Emily’s Wonder Lab and do an experiment
Emily’s Wonder Lab is a science show for kids on Netflix. The experiments are truly inspiring for kids, and the content provided is a great way to teach science at home. Have you ever dreamed of having a slime pool? Well, Emily can show you how to do it.
Watch a few episodes and let your child discover what they want to create at home.
14. Buy seeds and plant a garden
Having a small garden, even on a windowsill, is a great unschooling activity.
First, determine what grows best in your climate and at the time of year you intend to begin the activity. Go to a shop and choose seeds together. Watch tutorials on how to make your own garden and get a science journal to document the process. Later, see what you can cook with what you have, and enjoy the process!
You might like: 10 Creative Ways to Teach Gardening in Your Homeschool
15. Fix something that’s broken
Do you have a dripping sink? Shoes that need gluing? Do buttons need to be sewn?
Repair it with your child! If you don’t know how to do it, look it up and give it a shot—you can learn to repair this thing together. The fact is, it’s a crucial lesson in environmental conservation and independence that not everything that is broken needs to be thrown away.
Middle School Unschooling Activities
Unschooling activities for middle school can be really fun and a great teaching experience for you.
16. Collaborate on the creation of a documentary
Use Milanote to plan the creation of a documentary with your kid. Encourage them to choose a topic, ideal actors, a location, and a soundtrack; design a storyboard, and more.
17. Build a real-life fort—outside
It may sound like a kindergarten activity, but you can take it to a whole other level with your middle schooler by building a fort outside, especially if you plan to sleep in it.
You can incorporate camping and survival skills into this activity by watching survival shows like Bear Grylls beforehand.
Explore the great outdoors and help your child learn survival skills by teaching them how to identify edible plants and navigate the forest using natural landmarks. After that, have them read the classic novel “The Hatchet,” where they can relate to the main character’s journey and experiences in the wilderness, to supplement their learning.
18. Design a clothing collection
Through a variety of educational activities, introduce your child to the exciting world of textiles and fashion. Find resources that explore the different types of fabrics, including natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool, and synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon. Be sure to cover the unique characteristics and properties of each fabric and how they are used in different types of clothing.
You could also explore different types of clothing, from traditional garments like saris and kaftans to modern attire such as jeans and t-shirts. This will give your child an understanding of the diverse cultural influences on fashion and how clothing has evolved over time.
You can also teach them about the design process, from sketching and creating patterns to selecting fabrics and colors. This will give them an idea of how designers come up with ideas and how clothes are made. Lastly, you can cover the subject of color theory and show them how different colors and color combinations are used in fashion.
19. Plan your next vacation together
Motivate your middle schooler to assist you in planning your next vacation. After you choose the destination together, have them plan the itinerary, the typical food you’ll eat, and how you’ll move from one place to another. Let them calculate the costs too, and how much you should save every month to reach the take-off goal.
20. Find an NGO effort to support
Enhance your child’s understanding of global issues and their role in making a difference by exploring the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Watching documentaries, researching online resources, and researching local organizations and their efforts are all examples of this. Help your child learn empathy and social responsibility by getting them involved in a campaign to raise money or gather signatures for a petition.
21. Cook dinner for the family
Help your child take on the challenge of making dinner for the whole family. Cooking can be hard and complicated, but it’s a great way to learn new skills and feel more confident. You can make it even more fun by giving them specific instructions, like making a dinner with an Italian or Mexican theme. This will not only add a challenge, but also introduce your child to different foods and cultures.
You’re Already a Master at Unschooling
As you can see, unschooling activities provide high-quality, hands-on learning experiences as well as opportunities for children to explore and discover their interests. While coming up with activities that truly embody the principles of unschooling can be difficult, the key is to look beyond traditional assignments and tasks and focus on activities that allow children to learn and discover in a natural and organic way.
Keeping this in mind and being open to new, creative ideas will help you choose unschooling activities that will help your child learn and give them a love of learning.
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