Do you give your boys outside fun? Where are they spending the bulk of their day?
Are you giving your boys outside fun throughout their school day? Or do they spend most of their time sitting inside with their noses in books, staring at the TV and watching a computer screen?
Remember being a kid and riding your bike all day long? Or building forts out in the woods? Or picking berries and being gone for hours until we finally had to go home for food or we thought we’d starve!?!
Today’s generation of children is growing up differently than we did. According to the CDC, children are six times more likely to play a video game on a typical day than to ride a bike. This type of behavior is having an impact on their bodies and on their brains.
One of the great things about homeschooling boys is that we have complete freedom in how we spend our time throughout the day. And not just during the summer, either.
There are several great ways to give our boys outside fun and active learning throughout the school year.
Biking is a wonderful activity to incorporate into your homeschool gym class. As a child, I remember playing dodge ball, climbing ropes, and doing lots of other activities in gym class which I couldn’t easily do at home. Either they required specialized equipment, like parachutes or expensive sports gear – or they required a lot of kids!
I feel strongly that a good homeschool gym class should train our sons to enjoy activities which they can continue to do for a lifetime – and bike riding is a wonderful example of this kind of activity. Riding bikes helps your sons to stay healthy and it’s a great way to give your boys outside fun, as well.
There are many wonderful lessons which you can integrate into a family bike trip:
- Art – Have your son draw pictures of wildlife, flowers, and other interesting sights that you encounter.
- Character Building – Teach your sons to be courteous to cars and other bikers on your journey. Your family can also participate in many different biking fund raisers to help the less fortunate.
- Deductive Reasoning – Try out geocaching or letter boxing while on a bike ride. You can find out more about these activities by doing a Google search.
- Geography – Be sure to teach your sons about the area they are travelling through. You can also put up a large map on the wall and track your various trips on the map. If you often bike the same routes, take a virtual trip. Pick a faraway destination, log the number of miles you bike, and draw lines between your city and your “destination” city. Teach lessons about the geography you’re “passing through,” so that your sons become familiar with the world around them.
- History – Explore different historic locations throughout your trip – your sons can also research the history of the specific bike trail you plan to take.
- Mapping Skills – Let your son be the navigator both beforehand, while determining your route, as well as during the trip.
- Math – Let your son estimate how much time the ride will take, as well as calculate the mileage and the finances for the trip.
- Photography – Let your son take photos along the way.
- Science – Document wildlife that you encounter along the way. Some adventurous sons will even want to collect road kill that they can dissect later.
- Writing – Have your son write in his journal about the experience.
Take a family bike trip and your sons will enjoy their homeschool gym class – and they will also start down the path to a lifetime of physical fitness.
Field Trips for Homeschool
Going on field trips are some of the most thrilling real life lessons that we can give to our children. Taking a field trip is an awesome way to give boys outside fun.
I will never forget the excitement, when I was a child, of watching a bunch of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes moving down a conveyor belt and then getting to taste a box of fresh cereal at the end of the tour. Or going to the fire station and getting to spray their big hose. Field trips taken with your children will stay with them for many years to come.
If we want children to engage in meaningful learning experiences that connect with their real lives, we need to make education relevant for them. Schools are somewhat limited in how much they can get children outside of the classroom.
Homeschool parents have much more freedom in this area. Since book work only consumes 2-4 hours per day, depending on your curriculum, we have a lot of time left over to get our boys outside.
Fieldtrips for homeschool are a fun way to incorporate real world learning into their day.
There are so many types of places to visit:
- Nature centers
- Local Factories and Businesses
- Doctor’s Offices and Fire Stations, etc.
- Historic Locations
Talk to everyone you know to see who would be willing to allow you to come visit their place of business – or allow your son to job shadow him for a day. The more you allow your boys to experience a variety of job situations, the more accurately they will be able to determine what type of career they might like to pursue as they get older.
Gardening for Kids
If you’ve never actually planted a garden with your children, this year is the perfect time to start. Gardening is one of the best learning opportunities that you can give to your child. Obviously, your child will learn scientific principles of horticulture as he plants a seed and watches it grow.
But there are so many other things that you child will learn while gardening:
- He will learn perseverance as he goes out to the garden day after day to pull weeds and water the plants.
- He will learn patience as he waits for the plants to grow – and then waits for harvest time when he can finally taste the fruits (and vegetables) of his labor.
- He will learn planning and math skills as he helps you to come up with a plan for your garden – including properly spacing the plants according to their differing needs.
- He will learn where food comes from and all of the different processes it takes to go from the seed packet to the table.
- He will learn ingenuity as he comes up with different ways to prevent pests from getting into the garden and ruining the crops.
- He will learn how to appreciate good, honest hard work
And the list goes on and on. Even if you don’t have a big yard, you can still find room to garden. Try making a container garden on your balcony or deck. Investigate community gardens in your area. Ask about planting a garden on your rooftop deck. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
Plant a garden with your child. It’s too amazing of a learning experience for you to let it pass your family by.
Hiking and Nature Walks
If you find that you have a hard time keeping your children interested in their studies once the weather turns warmer, take your boys hiking. A few hours of outdoor education is a great way to exercise their bodies while learning an amazing amount of things about the world in which we live.
Things for boys to learn about while on a hike:
- Animal tracks – identify which animals make which tracks
- Botany – identify flowers, trees, grass
- Geology – identify different rocks, minerals, soil
- Insects – identify which ones would be edible in an emergency situation
- Biology – identify mammals, reptiles, birds, etc.
Before you go, you may want to consult a trail map for the area you’re planning to take your boys hiking. Hiking trails vary in length as well as difficulty level. You don’t want to end up halfway down a difficult trail, miles from your car, without enough energy to get you back safely. Look for trail maps in field guides, on-line, or at the visitor’s center of the park you’ll be hiking.
Things to think about bringing with you or wearing on a hike – depending on the season:
- Water bottle or canteen
- Healthy snacks like nuts, trail mix, or granola bars
- Insect repellent
- Rain jacket
- Hat to keep off the sun
- Tennis shoes or hiking boots
- Long pants and long sleeves (to avoid poison ivy if you will be wandering into the woods)
- Warm layers of clothes, warm hat, mittens
- Nature journals or cameras
Be sure to hike in a variety of terrain, so that your boys will become familiar with different types of habitats:
- Coastal and beach areas
- Inside abandoned mines or caves
- Forest or Jungle
- Mountainous Areas
If your boys are already avid hikers, you can spice up any journey by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Make up lists of things that you can see, hear, touch, smell… and (for the very adventurous) taste. You can even award prizes at the end of the trip for the person who found the most items, the biggest item, the dirtiest item, etc. Boys love variety, so the more twists you add to the hunt the more they will enjoy it.
Taking your boys hiking and giving them some outside fun is a great way to keep them interested in learning over the long haul.
Homeschool Camping Ideas
Do you need some great homeschool camping ideas? Are you planning a camping trip and have no idea what to do with your sons while you’re out in the great outdoors?
Camping is one of the best ways to teach your sons without them even realizing it. Homeschooling your sons while out in nature is lots of fun – but you’ll want to be prepared with lots of camping ideas before you go. The most natural way to learn is to teach from situations as they present themselves and not to try to force specific events to happen.
While camping, it will be obvious to you that you aren’t in control of the weather or your environment. If you are prepared with many possible homeschooling ideas beforehand, you’ll be ready to teach your sons regardless of the circumstances you might encounter.
Here are some great camping ideas that you can try with your boys on your next family trip:
- Animal Tracks – Finding animal tracks can be so much fun. Identifying them is even more gratifying. Depending on your own skills, you can attempt to follow them and see how far you can track the animals. Be careful which animals you attempt to locate. Obviously, raccoon and deer would be safer to track than coyotes or bears!
- Bird Watching – You can identify birds by sight – or sit quietly and try to identify them by sound.
- Campfires – Roasting marshmallows and hot dogs is a favorite past time for our sons. Also, take this opportunity to instruct your sons in the proper art of campfire building. They’ll love it!
- Field Guides – You can get amazing field guides on everything from mammals to birds to flowers to frogs – and you can get guides that are specific to your area! We have found the guides by Stan Tekiela to be helpful. Get the guides with the audio CDs if you can. You will be amazed at how quickly your boys will learn the sounds of the frogs and the birds. And they’re great to listen to in the car on long rides.
- Fishing – What little boy wouldn’t want to learn to fish? Whether you cook your catch or throw it back, he will learn a lot from this experience. And let him hunt for his own bait as well.
- Hiking – When you choose your camping location, be sure to pick one which has hiking trails. Most state parks and national parks have many trails. Pick up trail maps at the office so that you can explore them all.
- Maps – Speaking of maps, let your sons be the navigators when you are hiking. Bring along a compass and let them learn how to use that as well.
- Mushroom Hunting – Depending on where and when you camp, you may be able to hunt for mushrooms. If you decide to give this a try, make sure you know what you are gathering before you eat them!
- Nature Journals – At the end of every day, have your sons write about their experiences and draw pictures in a sketchbook as well. If they are interested in photography, they can leave room for any pictures they may have taken throughout the day as well.
- Scavenger Hunts – Boys love scavenger hunts. They help them to practice their reading skills as well as their deductive reasoning. Write your clues so that they will help them to practice many of the other skills they’ve learned while camping as well.
- Sports – Bring along Frisbees, baseball gloves and balls, footballs, and other sports equipment that your sons enjoy. Downtime at the camp site can be a wonderful time to practice these skills as well.
- Stars – Bring along a star map for your area and for the proper season. The more remote your location, the more easily you will be able to see the stars.
- Survival Skills – Boys love to learn survival skills and camping is a great time to try these out. Some of the more useful skills would be:
- Making a fire without matches – Try a flint and knife, first, and once they have that mastered let them try it with two sticks. There are several methods for making fire this way. This will be an adventure for the whole family!
- Looking for edible plants and bugs
- Tying knots
- Signaling for help
- Purifying water
- Building shelters
- Drying out wet wood and grass
- Swimming – If your boys haven’t taken formal swimming lessons, this is a great time to teach them. At the very least, teach them how to tread water and how to float on their backs. That way, if they ever find themselves in water over their head, they can hold their own until they are able to be pulled out of the water.
- Tents – If you and your sons are going to get the most learning out of a camping experience, you need to use a tent. Leave the RVs and trailers at home. Also, leave behind the TVs, hand-held video games, and anything else that might distract your sons from nature. Yes, this type of vacation is less relaxing for the parents, but you need to remember what your reason was for getting your sons outside in the first place!
- Weather Wisdom – Identify the clouds and what types of weather they usually precede.
Nature is the best classroom for your sons – and homeschooling is something you can do with your children whether at home or on vacation. I hope you try several of these homeschool camping ideas with your family – to give your boys outside fun. When you make lessons relevant and enjoyable for your sons, you will be amazed at how eager they will be to learn.
Physical Education at home
When developing a homeschool gym class for our children, we need to keep in mind that many of our kids today seem to work hard to avoid physical activity. They prefer playing video games and watching TV to running, jumping, and active playing.
Most kids would also rather eat junk food than anything nutritious. This explains why 13% of 7-12 year olds have at least 1 risk factor for heart disease. How can you make sure that your sons aren’t part of that 13%? Make sure they get at least 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week.
When I was a child, I attended public school and gym class was something I dreaded. I was terrified of being the last kid picked for the dodge ball team, I couldn’t hit a softball very far, and I would rather be reading than running. My best friend and I made a point of getting out of gym as often as possible. The emphasis in our gym class was on performance rather than on learning physical skills which could be continued for a lifetime. And was it really necessary to require communal showers in middle school?!?! Talk about embarrassing!
We all know it is important for children to grow up learning how to eat properly and exercise – and we want to make sure our sons benefit from this type of training.
Many parents focus on team sports with their children and these are great. We should also try to also work in some individual activities such as swimming, running, biking or hiking because these are things our kids can continue to participate in well into adulthood.
And whether or not a child is skilled in sports, it is still important that they engage in physical activity of some type. When given a broad enough range of choices, all kids will find activities that they enjoy.
Nothing can replace some unstructured time spent outside digging in the dirt, exploring a creek, riding a bike, etc. Boys love to explore and this is an activity that should definitely be encouraged. With a little bit of thought, you can enhance your son’s education by giving your boys outside fun and incorporating active learning into his day.
Have any other ideas for some fun, outdoor learning? Which of the above activities do your sons enjoy? Please leave a comment below.