As we began kindergarten this year, I was testing out the whole idea of homeschooling and truthfully had one foot in and one foot out. Sonlight was recommended by someone I trust, so I decided to give it a try. It has turned out to be such a gift to our family! It has made homeschooling a great experience. I absolutely love the literature-based curriculum. We built a model of a volcano using the Hands on History box for History / Bible / Literature A. The box has been amazing! It has deepened our learning and infused fun projects into our year. ” —Beth T. in Chesterfield , MO
It’s a glorious feeling to dive completely into a story, build memories around it with your children, and finish the book, feeling like you have fully experienced the tale. Extension activities are a fantastic way to make the most of the learning that happens when a homeschooling family enjoys a Read-Aloud together. These sorts of activities aren’t an absolute necessity for every book, but they can add zest to your learning experience.
1. Keep Reading Journals
Reading journals can be worked on either during Read-Aloud time, or afterwards, providing an opportunity for your child to respond to and engage with the text. Reading journals can be as structured or as unstructured as suits the nature of your homeschool and the grade levels of your children. Here are ideas for your reading journals:
- Questions that your child has about the story
- Predictions about what may happen next
- Details about the historical setting that your child found interesting
- Particularly memorable quotations from dialogue
- Sketches of family trees/relationship maps for characters
Pre-writers can use illustration, simple diagrams, and pasted in pictures instead of writing their thoughts in words.
2. Research the Setting of the Book
We homeschoolers are known for our fondness for everything hands-on, nature-oriented, and low-tech, but don’t underestimate the power of an online image search for a quick extension activity.
A search for photographs or videos related to the setting of the story you’re reading can help bring to life a tale that’s set far from your child’s own experience of the world:
- Help your child visualize desert locales, beaches, or snowy regions.
- Help your child picture activities like tapping maple trees for sap, sledding snowy hills, or scaling canyon walls.
3. Create Art Inspired by the Story
Allow your child to create artwork inspired by the events of the book you’re reading. Alternatively, you can combine the introduction of a new art technique with this deep-dive into the chapters of the book.
Kaarina enjoys making a butterfly life cycle mobile in Sonlight Science D.
We love the hands on experiments and engaging books in Sonlight Science. It’s so helpful to have all the materials and helpful extra ideas in the Instructors Guide. It equips and frees me to have more engaging and creative moments with my children as we continue the journey of learning!” — Lois B. Sonlighter in Alberta, Canada
Possible art projects, inspired by the pages of a Read-Aloud:
- Shoebox diorama
- Hand lettering
- Comic strip
- Interpretive sketch of an illustration from the book
- Portrait of a character
Out of all the subjects and activities Isaac enjoyed, his favorite has been the Hands-On History kit. He has loved building the different projects. His favorite was building this awesome little car.” — Julie K., Sonlighter of Tomball, TX
4. Re-Enact a Scene from the Read-Aloud
Turn Read-Aloud time into an impromptu theater performance by grabbing a couple props or costumes and re-enacting a particularly pivotal scene in the story. Consider practicing the scene a few times in order to perform later for other family members who weren’t present for the original reading session!
5. Make Food Mentioned in the Book
Serving meals that are mentioned in the Read-Aloud is an classic extension activity—one that’s so old and has been mentioned so many times that you may be tempted to disregard it as a little too much work for too little learning. But don’t underestimate the power of food when it comes to memory-making.
In my early childhood, when I was being homeschooled in the Michigan countryside, we occasionally tried different things to eat that were tied to the stories we read and the places we learned. To this day, I distinctly remember attempting to eat rice with chopsticks for the very first time, along with the first time my mom bought a papaya and a starfruit for us to try.
(Little did we know that life would later take us to a land where we used chopsticks more often than forks and a papaya tree grew in our backyard!)
Besides, homeschool students tend to require feeding at least three times a day. Let your Read-Alouds help with the meal-planning to get you out of a dinnertime rut. Who knows? You may discover a new family-favorite recipe or discover a dish that you’re quite certain you never want to eat again.
6. Have “Imagine if…” Discussions
One of the most fantastic parts about homeschool is that it doesn’t have to end when you close the Instructor’s Guide. If you’re reading a book as a family, consider having “Imagine if…” style discussions around the dinner table:
- “Imagine if you were a character in this book…what choice would you make?”
- “Imagine if you could give the main character one piece of advice…what would it be?”
- “Imagine if you could talk to the author of this book…what would you ask?”
7. Map The Locations of the Read-Aloud
This one ought to be assumed, as Sonlight’s Markable Map is a much-loved tool in learning geography through literature, but just in case you’ve been skipping out on finding the locations and mapping out the journeys mentioned in the book you’re reading—let this be a reminder of what an easy and valuable learning extension this can be!
Building map skills and placing stories in their real location in the world with help your child begin to make crucial connections between geography, culture, and story.
Extension activities can begin to seem a little less overwhelming and a lot more doable as part of the average homeschool day when we begin to build a mental library of go-to activities that mesh well with literature-based learning and our own family values.
Sonlight is a complete, literature-based, Christian homeschool curriculum with every subject for students from Preschool through high school. Our curriculum uses a variety of materials to deliver an engaging and complete education that extends beyond textbooks and memorization: literary fiction and nonfiction, biographies, illustrations, and hands-on experiments. These resources come with thorough lesson plans and notes, so that you can enjoy successful homeschooling. Customers who buy from Sonlight enjoy a liberal arts education that produces critical thinkers who are ambassadors for Christ with a heart for the world. Visit us online and request a FREE catalog today!
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