Using your child’s favorite book to create a great homeschooling experience

Does your child need a break from his or her virtual classroom? Or does your family prefer learning resources that engage kids in multisensory and hands-on ways? I know that my first grader doesn’t yet have the attention span to complete all of his online assignments even if there’s a pet dragon prize for him at the end. From what I’ve noticed as his mom, he often thrives when lessons are multisensory, when he gets to think in big picture ways, and is given the freedom to explore multiple routes to completing an assignment. His world doesn’t fit into a worksheet. Lucky for me, his love for books and storytelling creates many opportunities to help him grow academic skills in ways that make sense to him.  Currently, one of his favorite books is Octopus Stew by Eric Velásquez. He quickly identified with the main character, Ramsey, who also loves telling stories and whose vivid imagination has enough ingenuity to visualize a giant squid coming to life. Favorite books often facilitate bedtime routines and create much needed moments for family respite. But, they can also open a lot of opportunities for project- based learning. Here’s a list of lesson ideas to match the book, Octopus Stew:

  1. Developing composition skills by writing a story and sharing it during family story time
  2. Growing money math skills through setting up a pretend grocery store in your home
  3. Practicing fractions by using family recipes to make your favorite stew 
  4. Exploring marine life through building habitats using art, home, or backyard supplies
  5. Discussing fact vs. fiction (or the 5 Ws + H) by creating your own mythical creatures 

You can take any of the items on this list and create a project by beginning with a challenging problem or question and outlining the steps necessary to solve it. I’ve tried small daily projects but you can also design more comprehensive weekly projects.  Use your state’s curriculum standards to ensure you are targeting the appropriate level of challenge or to set objectives for multiple age groups. Let your child’s interests guide this experience, don’t forget- voice and choice are key. May the power of books be with you new-stay at home- working parents. We can do this!

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