Looking for ideas to spark interest in science and history/geography - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 5 Old 10-18-2013, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to find some fun and interesting ways to spark my son's interest in science and history/geography. He has very consistently rejected all formal curricula for those subjects, and while I think it's great that he follows his interests and learns and explores the world around him as things that fascinate him come up, I can't help but worry that we're going to leave some big gaps here by not following any kind of curriculum. Up until now, I've pretty much made him do the lessons that I had planned, but as he's getting older, this seems to be counter productive, so I just recently quit!

Right at the moment, he's extremely fascinated with London, and England in general to a certain extent, to the point that he seems to think he wants to live there when he grows up. I know, that will change a bunch of times as he gets older. I have to admit to having a bit of a fascination with London myself, although I don't think he was aware of that, I don't recall ever telling him that. I grew up in Belgium and came pretty close to moving to London at some point, but then ended up in the US.

He's been reading books about England and London, watched videos, knows exactly where to find it on any globe or atlas.

He loves to look at things through the microscope. He loves animals, but doesn't seem to have any interest in reading about animals at all! We have 3 pets at home, an old German Shepherd, a parakeet and a cockatiel, and he loves all 3 of them, and is pretty good about helping with their care. But reading about animals, or even those particular animals as pets, no way!

He likes learning about anything related to space, so long as it doesn't involve reading.


I know this makes it look like he doesn't like to read, but that's the weird thing, he does! He is having a great time reading an abridged version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Early Start Classics I think this series is called), and has been enjoying reading about England and London. He just doesn't seem interested in reading anything science or history related.


Does anybody know of any websites that help kids discover those subjects (at an age appropriate level; he's 8.5) in a fun way? Maybe ipad apps? Free or not too expensive if possible... Or maybe DVDs? I've considered getting him the Kids National Geographics magazine, but when I suggested it (they had it at a book store we went to recently) he didn't want it. He doesn't even seem to like the website much!


Any thoughts? Should I just quit worrying about it? Seems like my daughter is learning more at public school now about those subjects than he is at home, or at least in a more organized way! I'm also a bit worried about his non-fiction reading comprehension, or lack thereof. Although he has been reading about England and London quite a bit, and seems to remember an awful lot about what he reads too, in detail.





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#2 of 5 Old 10-19-2013, 08:21 AM
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Child led homeschooling can seem a bit random, I will admit.  Kids can be light years ahead of their peers in some areas, and far behind in others.  What's difficult for a parent is when the complete reject anything in a whole subject area.


I would keep science hands-on then, if he doesn't like reading about it.  Easy to keep it hands-on.  If he loves the microscope, start there.  Bugs are amazing under the microscope.  Rocks are amazing under a microscope.  You can find tiny fossils in dirt with the aid of a microscope (sorry, not sure where you get the dirt!)  Reading about science can be boring for many kids.  Playing with it is a blast.  Bill Nye videos are classics, though they can take some getting used to the silliness of them.  "Do It Yourself Science" episode has a lot of experiments to play with at home, but all of the episodes do as well.  Especially fun if you are available to work on them with him.


My girls got a boost of geography from watching the Olympics.  They know more about flags than I'll ever know, nd they are forever reading their clothing labels to see where things were made.  TakeOff! is a fun game.  


But geography isn't just learning about other countries.  Making a map of the backyard, orienteering, geocaching, planning hikes and trips, taking tours with Park rangers, all are part of the "geography" umbrella.  No reading required!

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#3 of 5 Old 10-19-2013, 03:13 PM
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We recently got the app "Stack the States" on my kindle.  My kids like it.  You answer questions about the states and stack them up to reach a goal line.  Each time you reach the goal line, you earn a state.  Earning a certain number of states opens up more games.  It is fun but obviously educational.  You can't be sly with that game. 



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#4 of 5 Old 10-20-2013, 07:28 PM
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There is a set of books written by Jaqueline Mitton and illustrated beautifully by Christina Balit that feature constellations and planets, but in a more storybook style.  Short on factual information, long on the mythological stories behind the naming of them.  "Zoo In the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations", "Kingdom of the Sun: A Book of the Planets", "Once Upon a Starry Night" and "Zodiac: Celestial Circle of the Sun".  They absolutely do not come across as "science" books, and the lush illustrations sparked an interest in Greek mythology for us.


I also love browsing http://earthsky.org/ on a regular basis.


Free sky maps for kids.

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#5 of 5 Old 10-20-2013, 11:47 PM
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edith at 8.5 he should be in 2nd or 3rd grade in regular school. that means he is not really behind coz they only start social studies in 3rd grade. 


since he is not interested in those subjects thru traditional sources of learning, i'd take an unconventional route. 


i'd do family history. tell stories. i mean after all history is a story. is he a harry potter fan? you can totally use that as a basis. 


science take him to the public library. there are other great science magazines he might enjoy. some of them have wonderful games he might like. 

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