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It is beautiful outside. The sun is shining, the temps are in the 80’s, the birds are singing (right outside the door!) and the squirrels are chasing each other around the yard. And, it’s only February! How can anyone concentrate on school work on days like today?!
Cabin fever can hit at any time, really. Although homeschooling gives us the freedom to school when and where we wish, many of us fall into the habit of schooling around the table or scattered around the living room. Sure, we leave the house for field trips, outside classes, and miscellaneous errands, but it’s usually the same old routine. If you live in an area that is currently snowed-in, you may want to read my previous post on some of our favorite games for combating boredom. If you’re able to get out and about, read on for six ideas to do just that!
1. Visit a Coffee Shop
Coffee shops serve more than just coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ll invest in a flavored hot cocoa drink if the weather is right. I’ve been to a few shops that serve just drinks and a few that also offer sandwiches. Sometimes they even have board games available. Coffee shops offer a great opportunity for your children to practice their “adulting” skills. Take some of their school work along (math or reading is perfect) and let them sit a few tables away from you (provided it isn’t too busy) while they “work” and enjoy their hot beverage. If board games are provided (or if you’ve brought your own) use them as an incentive: when they complete their school work, it’s time to play games.
You may need to remind your children about being courteous and respectful of others. While they don’t need to be as quiet as if they were at the library, they do need to keep their voices down so as not to bother other patrons.
2. Take a Picnic to the Playground
If it isn’t wet and muddy, a day at the park may be just what your children need. Pack up a picnic and head to your favorite park. Give your children half an hour to burn off some energy, while you eat your lunch. Then call them over to have their lunch while you teach a history lesson or read aloud from a book. If the curriculum you use doesn’t allow for multi-grade teaching (workbooks, or computer/online classes, for example), come up with your own lesson to teach. The history of your city, the park, or the person the park is named after can all be made into a short lesson. Don’t plan for them to do any note-taking, but do ask lots of questions and encourage discussion.
3. Go on a Hike at a Nature Park
If the ground is still a bit damp, dress appropriately. Boots may be in order, and remember to pack some old towels–just in case–to sit on during the ride home. More and more towns are adding walking/hiking trails to encourage their residents to get outside and walk around. Often, these trails offer natural landscaping, along with native bushes and trees. Pack a sketch pad and pencil for each child and require them to take note of some of the foliage. Chances are good there won’t be any leaves or flowers just yet, but trees can still be identified by their bark, and plants by their empty seed pods.
Be aware of any animal tracks you come across as well. Nature parks are great places to “play detective” for the day. Draw sketches of the clouds; take photos of moss and stones; record any birds you hear. Just about every curriculum will touch on nature of some sort in science. Find a way to tie the day’s activities into whatever they are currently learning, review what they’ve already learned, or save the memories to bring up again later in the spring when it comes up in their curriculum.
4. Go to the Zoo
This is a family favorite outing for just about everyone I know, and it’s doable in almost any weather. (Tip: If you don’t have a membership to your local zoo, consider getting one. Most memberships are equivalent to the cost of taking your family to the zoo twice a year. When you know you can go for free whenever you want, you’ll find yourself going three, four, or even six times a year!) Take a picnic lunch along and spend the day. Take along your sketch pads, colored pencils, and plenty of sunscreen.
Contact the zoo ahead of time (or check their website) to see if they have a scavenger hunt list. If they don’t provide one, consider making one based on your current studies or find one on Pinterest.
5. Have Lunch at the Mall
I know this can be dangerous for your wallet, but my children and I love hanging out at the mall just to watch people — even when we know we won’t be buying anything. If your weather is still cold, or wet, this is a great option. Take some school work along and park yourselves at the food court or on a bench. See how long it takes you to walk around the entire mall (without running). Do some comparison shopping and see if they can find the best deals (do this on paper, with their budget written at the top).
Take a couple small, pocket-sized notepads along and let your children practice their observation skills. Choose someone to observe: write down their physical description (clothing, hair color, anything unique like a tattoo or wedding ring, etc), who they are with, what store they go into. Then create a story for that person. Are they married? What do they do for a living? What’s their favorite food, favorite color, favorite band? Why are they at the mall? What will happen when they leave the mall? Be sure you are discreet about this activity! The last thing you want is to creep out a stranger.
6. Hold Class in Your Own Backyard
Sometimes, getting out of the house is as simple as putting down a blanket in the backyard. If you usually have school at the kitchen table, go outside to the picnic table. If you don’t have one, a card table works just as well. Do school work, play board games, eat lunch. Take time to check the trees in your yard for blossoms, look at the ground to see if the squirrels have started digging up their nuts, and watch to see how many birds fly by.
Whether your weather is beautiful or still cold, I hope I’ve been able to spark some ideas for you. Don’t let cabin fever disrupt your homeschool day. Get out and do things a little different! That’s the freedom of homeschooling, and one of the reasons you chose this mode of educating your children.
How About You?
Do you have some ideas for curing cabin fever? Leave a comment and tell me about it! And, if you haven’t joined the Facebook group yet, what’s stopping you? I look forward to seeing you there and getting to know you better.