Summer Unschooling

Whether you consider yourself a homeschooler or an unschooler… or somewhere in between, you know that the Summer is FULL of educational opportunities.  So guess what?  The learning never stops!  Take advantage of the beautiful days, nature, extra time, and travels… and consider it SCHOOL!

Learning opportunities through the summer are organic, meaning they naturally happen.  All you have to do is take advantage of them.  It’s pretty easy to facilitate this kind of learning, because kids naturally LOVE the summertime and aren’t resistant to exploring it.

Trees & Flowers  – You’re taking a walk, and your child points at an unusual tree.  BINGO! Allow your child to draw or take picture of the tree.  Then use either the internet or the library to look up the name of the tree and interesting facts about it.  Read a book or watch videos/movies about them.

child's drawing - sprig of mimosa

History/Cultures – “Mom, I’m hungry.  There’s nothing to eat.”  Sounds like a learning opportunity!   Look up a fun recipe from a different culture, and prepare it.  Look up and discuss the culture, its people, language, geography, religion, and more.  Read books or watch movies/videos about this culture.


Butterflies – They are everywhere during the summer months.  Find some milkweed (or other plants that caterpillars like to live on).  Create a homemade “observatory” (like a large pickle jar with netting over the top), and watch this amazing take place throughout the summer.  Again, take pictures or draw them, and use the internet and library for great books about them.


Birds – Create a bird watching journal – The SKY is the limit (get it?  Lol)!  All you need is a field guide (many are available free online) and a notebook.  Add pictures (photographs, clipart, drawings) and interesting facts that you learn.  Use the library or internet to find fascinating information to include in your journal.  You may also want to make edible treats for your bird friends.  There are many recipes online, but one of my favorites is this:  Just take a pine cone, and cover it in a thin layer of peanut butter and then roll it in birdseed.  Then hang the pine cone on a in a tree with some string.  Sit back and watch the birds snack on your creation!  This is a great time to snap some awesome photographs for your journal!

Frogs – Many local parks have small ponds, and that is perfect for this activity.  Let your child use a net to scoop up a few tadpoles, and take them home.  Set up a small aquarium, and let the learning begin!  Allow your student to draw pictures or take photographs of each stage of the tadpole’s growth.  It’s amazing to watch this transformation happen right before your eyes.  Use the internet or library to find more information about this process.

Music – Does your student love a particular band or music group?  Let him do some research on the group and make a journal of the findings.  Where is each member from?  What languages do they speak?  What other accomplishments have they had?  What countries have they visited?  What instruments do they play?  What are their favorite foods?  What religion are they?  Do they have pets?  The list could go on and on.  Your student can learn so much by researching someone that he is interested in.  You may be surprised what he will learn along the way!

Zoos – These are obvious places to learn during the summer, but take it a step further by having your student create a diorama or journal about the adventure.  Look up information about the native countries for each animal, and let your student explore those countries and their other animals online or through books.


Museums & Markers – These are also obvious places to learn.  Remember that when a student has the opportunity to actually TOUCH something from history or to STAND in an exact location where a historical event  took place, then he is MUCH more likely to be interested and commit it to memory.  Take advantage of those roadside signs that you see along any trip that you take.  It will only take a few minutes to stop and check it out… and your will be so very glad you did.

Lapbooking -  It’s a FUN way to document what your student is learning in ANY subject.  It’s especially good for challenging subjects because it breaks up the challenging topic into “bite-sized” pieces that are much easier to understand.  Booklets in a variety of colors and shapes also help to keep the student’s attention.  Summer would be a great time to try this learning technique!


There are SO many ways to learn in the summertime.  Just be on the lookout, and don’t limit yourself.  Absolutely ANYTHING can become “school” but doesn’t have to LOOK like school.  Allowing your student to create journals as keepsakes of this learning is important, because he will look back on it for years to come… and every time he does, he is reviewing and cementing the information into his memory even more.

Aplogia Flash Cards

Apologia Vocabulary Flash Cards

by Knowledge Box Central

Flash Cards have been around for what seems like forever.  The very first Flash Cards were actually the hornbooks, which were brought to the American colonies by the English settlers and widely used until the early 1800′s when paper became more readily available.  They have been proven for many years to be a great way to help students to memorize certain facts.  When these facts come from really challenging curriculum like Apologia Science, Flash Cards are even more valuable.


If you have ever used any of the Apologia middle and high school science books, you know how important the vocabulary words are.  These vocabulary words are truly the KEY ingredients to doing well on the tests.  Once the student has mastered the vocabulary words, he is able to better understand all of the concepts within each module.

There are SO many benefits to using Apologia Flash Cards:

*They are portable!  You can take Flash Cards with you ANYWHERE!  When you have 5 extra minutes while waiting in line at a store, riding in the car to the bank, waiting at the doctor’s office, or waiting for a commercial to be over, you can be learning with them!

 *They are reusable!  Once you have a set of Flash Cards, you can use them over and over.  Take them to your co-op, and share them!  Keep them for next year!

 *They are FUN!  Who doesn’t love a game, right?  Turn up the fun value in any subject with a little competition.  Students can create a simple question and answer game or a full blown Jeopardy-style game show!

*They WORK!  Flash cards provide the repetition that your student needs in order to master these vocabulary words.  Your student will also increase his comfort and familiarity with the material, which makes it much more likely that your student will do well on the tests.  Another reason that Flash Cards work so well is because they are something that you student can actually TOUCH, which is very important in increasing information retention.

Let Knowledge Box Central help your student to improve test scores and information retention with these Apologia Vocabulary Flash Cards.  You may choose from Flash Cards for General Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Marine Biology, Human Body, and Physics.  Let the FUN and improved test scores begin!



Lapbooking with Special Needs

Lapbooking With Special Needs Students

Every child is special, from their freckles to their toes.  However, some are extra special for other reasons, and that creates challenges when it comes to learning.  These may include children with vision or hearing impairments, fine motor deficits, ADHD, FAS, Autism, Dyslexia, and more.  Some of these children require visual aids, specialty equipment, one-on-one teaching, or other methods to ensure that they comprehend homeschool lessons.

Hands-on projects seem to be all the rage right now in the homeschool groups.  It’s often difficult to include children with special needs in the more intricate hands-on projects, so quite often they miss out.  Well guess what?  Lapbooks are different!  They truly can be used with any age group or topic, and there are many fun ways to include special considerations for children with special needs or challenges.

What are the benefits of lapbooking with special needs children?

  1.  Lapbooking offers alternative documentation methods.  Just because a student has trouble writing or spelling doesn’t mean that he can’t lapbook.  Consider alternative methods.  Students may dictate to you, and YOU write his responses in the booklets.  You may print out text boxes of with the answers, and allow the student to glue the boxes into the booklet.  Or, you may purchase recordable buttons (I have purchased these from scrapbook stores in the past) and allow the student to speak/record his answers and glue the button into the booklet.  If the student has severe language delays, consider allowing the student to glue pictures into the booklets as their answers.
  2.  Colorful booklets of different shapes actually help to keep the attention of the student.  They also help to stimulate memory.  Most of us can remember where things are on a page and find ourselves saying, “I remember it was on the upper right hand corner of the page.”  Well it works the same way with lapbooks.  Students will remember, “It was on the orange circle.” L_AR_Cal
  3.  Students with challenges regarding fine motor skills, such as dyspraxia, get some very good practice with lapbooks.  They can work on their hand-eye coordination as well.
  4.  Visual prompts are built into lapbooks.  Students can see exact steps in picture format so that they have more confidence in carrying out the tasks.
  5.  Lapbooking provides an avenue for working on their social skills.  Students learn teamwork and cooperation by building lapbooks together.
  6.  Students who do NOT have these special needs learn patience and tolerance for those who do by working in cooperation with them to complete these projects. girl shares, gives or feeds boy with her ice cream in studio iso
  7. Students take a lot of pride in their work.  They are so proud of being able to complete a project that other children seem to do so much easier.  They love to show these off to friends and family.
  8. With many special needs issues, the KEY to learning is to integrate the senses.  This is EASY with lapbooking.  Try these ways:
        1. Touch (Tactile):  Use different textures in your booklets, like felt, feathers, sandpaper, fabrics, and puff paint.
        2. Sound (Auditory):  Use recordable buttons, audio books, Velcro (use as a closure on a few booklets).
        3. Smell (Olfactory):  Use scented markers, scratch & snff stickers, spices, essential oils, cooking (related to the topic).
        4. Sight (Visual):  Use brightly colored paper, fun shapes, puff paint, different mediums, and embellishments (ribbon, metal brad fasteners, sequins, etc).
        5. Taste (Gustatory):  Allow the student to eat snacks during the lesson, cook from different countries or time periods, incorporate herbs and spices.
  9. Lapbooks allow you to take a very challenging topic and break it into bite-sized pieces so that the topic isn’t so intimidating.
  10. Lapbooks can be used for EVERY subject:  Math, Grammar, History, Science, Music, Money, Character, Literature, and MORE!
  11. Lapbooks can replace testing and assessments.  They can be used as review or as an evaluation tool.

I’d also like to suggest some special tools/supplies that might make lapbooking with special needs students a bit more successful.  Try helping with the cutting.  You may also want to use glue dots as opposed to traditional glue.  Also, consider using double-sided tape.  Label makers are a great help as well, since you can create the answers on a label and let them stick them inside the booklet.  Allow students to use colored pencils and markers, as well as scrapbooking embellishments.  Remember to work in small time segments so that you can keep the student’s attention better as well.

Lapbooking with special needs students can be very fun and rewarding.  However, it does take some up front preparation, not only of supplies but also of your mind.   DECIDE that you are going to be patient, teach in small time frames, and help in areas where needed.  I promise you that the smile on your student’s face and the price he feels in the completed project will FAR outweigh any frustration that you may feel during the process.  ALL students can create a lapbook.  The limitations come from ourselves.