Now it’s time to start brainstorming and planning for the first week!
Brainstorm with your kids on things they are interested in learning more about.
WRITE THIS DOWN!
This can be manually on a pad of paper or digitally (you could create another collection on Wakelet just for this!) or even on a big piece of butcher paper or a chalk/whiteboard on the wall! You could hash it out on paper and transcribe to digital later. Whatever works best for you. But it’s vital that you show your kids that you are taking their interests seriously.
And SAVE THIS LIST!! You can refer back to it again and again…and tweak regularly as their interests change.
If they can’t think of anything, get them started with some topics that you know they are interested in and see how they respond. Ask them to finish the sentence “I wonder…” Maybe try going through some books on your bookshelf to get some other ideas. If you have any Usborne Encyclopedias, those are fantastic for looking through a wealth of topics.
After they’ve had some time to brainstorm ideas of things they might like to learn more about…or things they “wonder” about…
Now have them choose ONE thing from their list they’d like to start with.
Each child can choose their own different topic to work on separately OR as a family, they can decide on one topic to learn about together. Whatever works best for your family.
Use the Internet to fill the Wakelet stations on that topic they chose.
For example: Let’s say a child chose to learn more about cats.
We can start by looking at Pinterest for books about cats (here’s just a few).
These can come in both hard copy AND ebook format for the “Read Something” station. Try starting with just 2-4, depending on how long they are.
Also, do a google search for interesting articles and websites to share. Like this one: 25 Interesting Facts About Cats You May Not Have Known (site not screened). These can also be bookmarked on Wakelet. But be careful of the websites that they are on…make sure you either supervise or do a careful look over the website in case your child goes wandering.
Pinterest is also a great place to find some assignments that ask our kids to write poems and stories about cats (or just generic assignments we then apply our theme to).
Here are 3 books I really like and used with my kids when they were younger:
- Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring!
- Writing Poetry with Children (Grades 1-6)
- Teaching 10 Fabulous Forms Of Poetry (Grades 4-8)
(These are Amazon affiliate links and I do get a tiny percentage on purchases made through these links, so THANK YOU for helping to support a fellow homeschool family!)
…and the activities from these books and webpages could be copied and printed (pick just maybe 2-4) and would all go with the “Write Something” station…Some things will still be hard copy, so you will want to have a place for things like supplies for writing and crafts and such.
Next, we can see if we can find a couple of interesting and instructional (kid-safe) videos about cats on YouTube. Two is plenty! And then maybe we look to see if there’s a documentary about domesticated cats on one of the streaming subscription services we pay for. Anything we find that is worth sharing will be added to the “Watch Something” station collection on Wakelet.
We can look and see if we can find an audiobook or audio stories about cats. This one is easy, I know I have a James Herriot audiobook of animal stories that has cat stories in it! In fact…it is sold with a version with JUST cat stories! Might also be some podcasts out there that talk about cats and their behaviors. Oh look what I found! Cattitude, the Cat Podcast! (not screened, FYI). Add all that we find to the “Listen to something” station.
We can also look for ideas of games that center around cats…maybe we already have a card (Exploding Kittens?) or board game (Pete the Cat?) at home that has a cat theme…maybe a puzzle! Ooooh, check this out!! How fun would that be during cat learning time? Just 2 or 3 will do. We want options, but not overwhelm.
NOTE: The games don’t have to be educational, per se, games in and of themselves ARE educational.
Maybe we can also find an online cat-themed game? Though that will be a lot more tricky, so good luck with that one. There is SO much garbage out there in the way of free online games that it might not be worth looking at. Depending on the age of your kids, maybe stick with tried and true PBS games online that are based on a show that stars a cat? There are lots of those!
Anything we find that is playful like this will go under the “Play Something” station. There are certainly times when it will be impossible or very difficult to find something in the play station to fit the topic your child is learning about…don’t stress. Just put any games that they like in there…or a new game! It doesn’t always have to fit the theme. It’s just fun when it does!
We can look at Pinterest for craft ideas for projects to make that have a cat theme…These look adorable!! Or a cooking project. How about homemade cat treats? These will go into the “Create Something” station.
You are getting the picture, I imagine!
You may be wondering now how much of this planning you should be doing FOR your kids, and how much to involve them…This is going to depend on your kids…
For younger kids, you are going to do all of the planning for them. For older kids, involve them in this process as much as possible. They can learn a lot about safely doing internet research from you…a valuable tool! Talk them through the process. Explain to them the dangers out there and how to avoid them.
Some kids will really get into helping with the planning and using Wakelet to save info to dive into later. Some won’t. (Mine didn’t.)
If they aren’t digging the idea of doing the research…no sweat. Just do it for them. This isn’t supposed to feel like work for them. Hopefully, once they start to dive into their topic, they may find themselves drawn to do more research themselves. But we want them to come to that themselves, and not force them. They will learn SO MUCH that way.
As the Thomas Jefferson Education people say “Inspire, Not Require.”
DO NOT PLAN TOO MANY THINGS or TOO FAR IN ADVANCE!
By planning too many activities, you can burn yourself out and you can end up giving your kids too many options to choose from. With too many options, kids can end up feeling overwhelmed and end up choosing nothing. And it really is a heck of a lot of work for you, making burn out so easy. 2-4 options are plenty to put in each station each week.
By planning too far in advance, your kids can end up losing interest in a subject long before you run out of activities. So only plan a week or so at a time.
Remember it’s all about CHOICE for them, but not TOO many choices, and not TOO much work for you!
Now, to help you out with your planning, even more, I’ve set up a special page just to hold all the EBL resources that I’ve started compiling. I wanted to keep it all in a safe place so you can easily be able to find it for ideas.
Here it is, the brand-new, the Experience-Based Learning Resources Page. You can also find it in the navigation bar at the top of any page, where it says “HS Resources.”
So, now I’ve covered all of the steps to PLANNING for EBL, Simplified.
- Set up an account with Wakelet and get familiar with it. (Optional: If you use Chrome or Firefox, add the Wakelet extension to your browser.)
- Copy my EBL stations (collections) from my Wakelet account.
- Brainstorm with your kids about things they want to learn about (WRITE IT DOWN and SAVE!)
- Have your kids choose ONE THING from their list that they want to start learning about.
- Use the Internet to choose a few resources for each of your EBL stations on Wakelet, related to their topic of choice.
- Involve your children in the planning as much as is appropriate for their age and personality.
- Don’t plan too much or too far in advance.
Now you’ve got EBL planning figured out…CONTINUE TO PART 4 and I will walk you through how to USE the stations with your child.
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