Leaving Worksheets Behind – Creativity in Your Homeschooling
Make room for creativity in your homeschooling curriculum
At the end of each academic year, I would always ask my students, “What were your favorite assignments and projects this year?” In all my years of teaching, I never heard a student respond that his or her favorite assignment was a textbook assignment or worksheet. Rather, students always selected memorable projects like:
- Pioneers Day (we dressed up like pioneers and did role play for the entire day),
- Gold Rush Day (we dressed up like gold rush folk and panned for gold in the sandbox where students found gold nuggets),
- Railroad Day (we dressed up like railroad engineers and built the transcontinental railroad with popsicle sticks on the school field with an east coast and west coast team competing to see who would get to Promontory Point first … and, yes, we nailed a gold spike into the school field to mark the spot where the east and west railroad met), and so forth.
Additionally, the students also mentioned that they loved performing plays and skits. Now, lest you think my classes were all fun and play, please note that students also mentioned their favorite novels (e.g., Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe; Patty Reed’s Doll; Around the Great Horn Spoon, and Island of the Blue Dolphins), but they never mentioned their reading textbooks!
My students also told me they loved when Mr. Hetzel (my engineer husband) taught them about electricity (of course, the robotic arm he built and demonstrated for them was a great hit … something I could never do!). Students took great delight in recalling their favorite activities, but they also remembered the content associated with these creative endeavors.
Well, if you’re tempted to get in a rut with textbooks and worksheets, it’s time to get creative with your homeschool curriculum. Why not deviate from worksheets periodically and invite your children to demonstrate their learning differently. For example, your students could:
- Create a cartoon that teaches a math concept.
- Draw a picture that shows how an equation works.
- Utilize the math formula you studied to build a model.
- Write and illustrate a story to be included in the family library.
- Perform a puppet show for their siblings and neighbors to retell two short stories they read. (Make the afternoon more interesting by having your child also include poetry, jokes, and intermission … with refreshments, of course. And, have your child write and illustrate the invitations to the event.)
- Write a letter to Grandma and Grandpa instead of writing the “friendly letter” required in the textbook. (Always have an audience for your writing assignments … it’s much more motivating.)
- Write and perform a song or poem to communicate a concept.
- Draw a map.
- Build a diorama to illustrate a biome, historical time period, or scene from a book.
- Craft a clay model as a relief map of a geographic area or biome studied.
- Put away the books and go on a field trip that relates to your studies.
- Argue an issue from a completely different point of view than what you believe to be true. Then, present your own view with convincing rationale for your opponents.
You can eliminate the drudgery of worksheets by allowing children to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways, capitalizing on fun and creativity. This is the joy of creativity in your homeschooling!
- Lord, help me have insight into how to make the school day more fun and creative.
- Lord, help me be increasingly attentive to the joys of childhood.
- Lord, help me to know you more and to know my children more and infuse activities that become entry points to learning.
Lord Jesus, Maker of Heaven and Earth, how creative you are! You threw the stars into space to light up the night sky. You designed the planets and at your word they flew into their orbital patterns. You created the depths of the sea and the heights of the mountains. You designed countless plants and animals to make me stand in awe of your workmanship. You designed the clown fish and the porcupine to make me chuckle. You created color and beauty and humans with countless personalities.
I am always interested (and never bored) because I am surrounded by your creativity. Lord, let me revel in who You are and revel in how you designed my family. Let me relish each child’s unique interests and infuse creative endeavors into their daily studies so that we all might bend our knee in awe to your awesome creativity. Amen.
June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education