Celebrating the Seasons at Home

By Joshua Greer

Have you ever taken your kids grocery shopping and then had them tally the purchases by food group and spend the rest of the day making a full-color chart? As homeschoolers, we are always looking for ways to make everyday events educational. It takes some intentionality to pull this off, but the result is kids who are immersed in education and see learning opportunities everywhere.

It’s fortunate, then, that nature provides such a great classroom, and some of the greatest opportunities for learning come four times a year when the seasons change. Why not make the most of nature’s cycles by setting aside a special day of learning every three months? Following are some ideas for celebrating and discovering each new season with younger children.      

Summer 

Math

On the first day of summer, track the temperature every hour throughout the day and use the data to create a line graph to show how the temperature rises and falls. Explore why this occurs and whether there seems to be any pattern to the temperature going up or down.

Science

Prepare for a bug hunt by marking off a small section of grass and having your child predict how many insects can be found there. Then get down on hands and knees to look for critters. For even more action, turn the soil over and check for worms and grubs below the surface. Keep track of the number and types of insects found. You may also have to keep track of any bugs that your kids try to convert into pets.

Music

Listen to the second movement (Largo) of Summer, by Vivaldi. Practice keeping the beat throughout the piece. For a greater challenge, try this activity with the faster first and third movements.

Art

View The Poppy Field by Claude Monet. Discuss what clues the painting gives about the season and the emotions that each color reflects. Have your child create a similar brightly colored painting of a favorite summer scene.

Language

Read The Berenstain Bears Go on Vacation by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Even younger readers can try this one on their own, and it has a typically strong message about enjoying family and making the best of difficulties.

Sometimes less is more. As I’m sure you noticed, none of these activities costs a great deal of money, and there is just a small amount of preparation involved in obtaining music, books, and basic materials. However, these special activities will add depth to your homeschooling experience and give your kids something unique to look forward to with each changing season.

Autumn

Math

Record the high temperature on the first day of the season. There are many clipart thermometers that can be printed for this activity, but find one that has both Celsius and Fahrenheit, so you can compare the systems with your child. Practice this concept by giving a temperature in one system and having your child estimate its equivalent in the other system.

Science

Take a walk through the neighborhood or a park and search for leaves, collecting as many different kinds as possible. Once home, sort the leaves by size, color, edge, and structure. Have your child find at least three different ways to sort the leaves into groups. If you have a little more time, determine the leaf type using a botanical guide.

Music

If you complete the activities throughout this article, you will be sharing all four sections of the brilliant classical piece, The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, so this is a good time to introduce or review the instruments in an orchestra. A wonderful website for this is www.sfskids.org, which was created by the San Francisco Symphony. There you can see and “play” every instrument in an orchestra. Then listen to the first movement of Fall and have your child try and pick out the instruments that can be heard within that movement.  

Art

View The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Have your children explain why different people are dressed in unique ways and how the people are treating each other. While our understanding of early Thanksgivings is forever changing, this painting does have a lot to teach about the early colonial period.

Language

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