Returning to a homeschool routine can be challenging after a summer full of relaxation and fun.
To make the transition easier and more enjoyable for your students, we suggest incorporating lots of fun, educational activities to jumpstart learning.
With all the planning and preparation you already have on your plate, you may not have much time to come up with exciting things to do during the first few days. Not to worry! We’ve got you covered with five back-to-school homeschool ideas to start your year on the right foot.
1. Review Scavenger Hunt
Before you dive into new content, it’s a good idea to take some time to review previously covered topics that you’ll build upon this year. To determine what topics you should reteach or review in greater depth, consider doing a review scavenger hunt.
Use some blank index cards or make your own cards out of colorful construction paper. Then, choose some important topics from last year and come up with questions to assess understanding. You can either stick to one subject area or include topics from various subjects for your scavenger hunt.
The number of cards you pick will depend on your student’s age and ability level. If you have several students spanning in age and ability, use different colored cards for each one so you can tailor your questions.
Once your cards are ready, hide them around your home or outside if the weather’s nice. Then, provide each student with notebook paper and pencil to write down their answers at their own pace. You can even add to the fun with some small prizes or a special snack afterward.
2. Bingo Boards
Another way to ease into learning is to make your own bingo boards. To start, you’ll have to fill in a blank bingo board with 25 simple learning activities to promote whatever skills you’re teaching or reviewing.
For example, here are a few activities you could put on a bingo board if you’re working on measurement:
- Find three different writing utensils around your house and measure them all with a ruler
- Estimate the length of your foot in inches, then measure it to see how close your guess is
- Find something in your home that’s 24 inches long
Feel free to add a mix of topics and skills if you want more variety.
Your student can complete whichever of the 25 activities they prefer to get five in a row on their bingo card. As they complete each activity, they should write their answer in each square or use stickers to mark the ones they’ve completed. Don’t forget to provide a prize for getting bingo, even if just a glittery pencil or fun-shaped eraser.
Pressed for time? Here’s a prefilled back-to-school bingo board full of learning activities for preschool and elementary school-aged children!
3. Time Capsule Letter
Want your students to start the school year with a fun writing activity? Have them write a letter to put in a time capsule!
Explain to them that a time capsule is like a buried treasure for someone in the future. Imagine that 200 years from now, an archaeologist is digging through the ruins of your neighborhood. The letters and items in your time capsule will provide them with valuable information about what life was like in the twenty-first century.
Before your students write their letters, work together to select additional items that should go into the time capsule, such as:
- Handmade crafts
- Ticket stubs
- Books or magazines
- Small toys
Once you have all of your items, you’re ready to start writing letters! First, review the parts of a letter, if needed. Then, explain that the point of the letter is to share about their life. Ask them what they’d tell a new friend about their family, favorite things, and hobbies, and encourage them to include that information in their letters. If they get stuck, they can explain why they chose which items to put in the time capsule.
To make this activity extra special, you can have them write letters to themselves and explain that they’ll open the time capsule when they graduate high school. When everything is ready, find a container for your time capsule and put it in a special place, whether it’s buried in the backyard or hidden in the corner of your attic.
It might be tempting to hop back into the main subject areas after a long summer break, but don’t forget to make time for art! If you’re looking for an exciting art project for back-to-school, we suggest having your students create a self-portrait.
Most parents snap a photo each year on the first day of school. It’s a great way to look back and see how your child has grown and changed. So, go ahead and take your annual back-to-school portraits, but then start a new tradition of having your children make a portrait of how they see themselves.
Keeping age in mind, you can provide a specific medium for them, such as acrylic paint or colored pencils, or you can experiment with mixed media. Provide yarn for hair, scraps of fabric and felt for clothing, and other items like ribbons or pipe cleaners for accessories. Giving your kids time to be creative is a great way to kick off a new school year.
5. Field Trip
One of the best benefits of homeschooling is having the ability to teach anywhere. You don’t have to stay within the confines of a classroom for your children to gain knowledge—the world is your classroom!
So, go explore an educational attraction in your area instead of doing a traditional first day of school! Field trips can provide valuable context for concepts taught last year and build background knowledge for upcoming studies. For example, if you plan to teach about the solar system this year, visiting a local planetarium will give your student an exciting introduction to that topic.
Other ideas for field trips include:
- Historical sites
- Zoos or aquariums
- Geographical landmarks
If you’re unable to travel, many museums and facilities throughout the world also offer virtual field trips and tours on their websites!
Homeschooling allows for great flexibility, so don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun on the first few days of school. We hope these five back-to-school homeschool ideas are helpful as you ease into a new year.