Take a peek inside the homeschool habits of this family in Florida, and see the unique and creative ways they investigated the water cycle.
In this article
By Kristine Wilson
We are the Wilsons, a family of six who have been enjoying the homeschool life for the past ten years. My husband, Caleb is in federal law enforcement, and I spend my days learning at home with my three youngest, Marseille, 11, Dominic, 9, and Adeline, 6. My oldest, Whitney, who was homeschooled for 8 years, now attends high school.
We have an eclectic style of homeschooling with threads of Waldorf, Montessori and Charlotte Mason woven throughout. We especially love learning through hands-on activities and creative work.
Moving to southern Florida has really inspired us to get outside daily, and we have enjoyed spending that time studying nature. I love using nature studies as the vehicle for learning science, and this year we chose The Nature Anatomy book by Julia Rothman as the core structure of our science study.
Our weekly rhythm
The kids and I sit down every week and decide together how we would like to approach the next subject. We use our imagination, different books, online sites, and resources like Pinterest to put together hands-on activities for each subject.
I have found the benefits of hands-on learning to be wonderful for my children. It has made it possible to teach my children, with their mix of tactile, auditory, and visual learning styles, to find not only enjoyment in their studies, but the ability to retain the information that they have learned.
Through presenting the material with group reading, discussion, written narration, and hands-on activities, they have been able to learn through all their senses. Working together as a group also allows the children to foster their critical thinking, communication, and creativity skills as well.
I don’t delve too deep into each subject but touch upon it lightly so as to inspire my children to continue learning about the subject through a deeper personal study of their own.
How we did the water cycle
One of our favourite studies this month was on the water cycle. The children gathered our main books and encyclopaedias, and we brainstormed ways to make the study as fun and informational as possible.
1. We started by flagging pages in the books that we wanted to read and discuss. We then proposed different ideas for hands-on activities.
First, they agreed to draw out and label the water cycle for our homeschool portfolios. My son had been wanting to add LEGO to our studies, so we thought that this was a perfect opportunity to make the cycle with LEGO. My daughters love to cook and create with food, so they thought a quiz on the water cycle with fun foods would be enjoyable.
We followed that up with a few Pinterest ideas such as making a cloud in a jar and chalking out an evaporating puddle.
2. How we used LEGO
We used a 10 x 10cm flat LEGO piece as our base for the water cycle activity. My kids used the LEGO pieces we had at home and built the water cycle according to the pages we had studied. I printed out the vocabulary water cycle words and arrows, and the kids placed them on the project where needed.
3. A delicious twist on the water cycle: representation with food
The kids brainstormed which fun foods would work for the aspects of the water cycle that they needed. After preparing the foods, they put together the water cycle and gave an oral presentation on the project. They chose to make a chocolate chip cookie mountain, jello lake, marshmallow clouds, raining color candies, and frosting for the snow, river, and water evaporation. They used extra colored candies for the greenery and sun as well.
4. Puddle evaporation experiment
For the puddle Evaporation experiment we poured out a bottle of water onto the warm pavement and drew a circle around it with chalk. We continued to draw outlines of the puddle as it evaporated.
5. Afterwards, we drew out and labelled the water cycle in our learning portfolio books.
This year has definitely been one of our best homeschooling years. Not only has it been really fun, but I feel adding a lot more hands-on activities has helped my children focus better, spark their curiosity about the world around them, and engage their love of learning more deeply.
Although every school year has its natural highs, lows, and challenges, homeschooling continues to be an ever- expanding and fulfilling opportunity that I am so grateful to be able to experience.
For those looking for additional reading and experiments involving water cycles and meteorology, check out this article on Angies list. It talks about many different aspects of meteorology, and has awesome experiments at the bottom.
This suggestion was submitted by readers Layla and Maryanne Schmidt. Thanks for emailing in, Maryanne!
Kristine Wilson lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida. She has been homeschooling for 10 years. Kristine enjoys spending time with her family, being outside studying nature, and curling up inside with a great book. She's on Instagram as @creativeandgrowingkids