Exploration Station :: how we’re surviving the homeschool ‘winter blues’

It’s January! – and for our homeschooling, this usually means a bit of a slump after the holidays.

Bad weather doesn’t allow for much outside play, we’re all indoors more and everyone gets a little antsy.  Every year, right about now, we lose some of our steam.  So this year, I decided we needed a plan!

Something to look forward to while we pass the winter.  Something to motivate everyone towards regular academics, but that would also provide newness to our routine.

My answer?

Exploration Station!

{I was so excited to think up the title Exploration Station, and then decided to Google it right before posting.  Turns out, several children’s museums carry the same name.  It’s true folks – there’s nothing new under the sun. :)}

Anyway…

The idea is that once a week, I pull out a variety of games, books, and other resources on a particular topic or subject.  It could be as broad as ‘science’, or as specific as ‘land animals’.  

I offer all of these in a Montessori-style setup on trays settled in various stations around the room.

For about an hour, the kids then have freedom to explore and play at a station (or center)  — no teaching from Mom, no lesson plan, just exploration and applying what they’ve already learned.  This was a BIG hit!

I’m talking HUGE.

{affiliate links below}

Our first week of Exploration Station focused on all things MATH.  Out came the manipulatives, geoboards, dominoes, counters and calculators, rulers…

…pentominoes, geometric solids, play money, weighted numbers, learning clocks and MORE!  I also put out a few worksheets or printables.

Mom had a chance to declutter some of our stash (after 11+ years of homeschooling, you collect a few things!), and the children had a blast with it all.

Several times I heard ‘oh, I forgot we had this!’ – and off they went into making up their own games, problem solving, or coming up with questions for the other to answer.

All in all, it was a fun hour, and no one wanted to end it.  But end it we did because there is always next week!  Everyone felt refreshed, and ready to tackle our regular academics.

It’s not everyday you come with an idea that goes over really well, in fact, many of mine have flopped.  This one?

SO grateful for it.  I do believe it will carry us through this winter. 🙂

 

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9 comments

We’re doing a similar thing this week, just with math though: substituting games to really get those facts in solid, instead of the regular curriculum. We really needed the change of pace, and they are loving it. I love your expanded style, however. Perhaps we will try that in February. Seventeen years of homeschooling for us, and my younger ones have likely never used some things the older ones did. Thanks for the fresh inspiration!

Great idea. We are in the same boat with the cold, snow and our no spending challenge this month, it has taken on a life of its own! Going a little cray cray here! Great ideas! Enjoy your week.

That’s a great idea. It might help my stir crazy kids!

Rachael

Can you please tell me what game the boy in the red top is using. Thanks

HI Rachael – we’ve owned our set for a while, but they are Pentominoes. Here is one, with an accompanying puzzle book as well: http://mcruffy.com/HandsOnMath.htm

I’m so happy to have found your blog! We just made the decision to homeschool our oldest children, and I’m a bit overwhelmed (but excited too!). Anyway, just thought I’d say hello and how much I enjoyed this post. I’ll be back to read more! =) Bethany

Welcome Bethany!! 🙂

Love this idea! It’s so fun to have a big pile of things on the same topic. Thanks for sharing on my page STEM Tuesday!

This looks like a lot of fun! What creativity you have in your homeschool.