Play and Learn

People seem to think that teaching kids at home is hard. It's not. It's incredibly time consuming... but then, so is a long night of homework. The thing about homeschooling is that you get to be more creative about how your child learns. You can adapt lessons and material to teach your child in a way that he or she best learns. If you can't homeschool, however, you can still creatively reinforce lessons at home.

Memorizing is Not Learning

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about learning is that success as a student (and as learning institutions) is memorizing and regurgitating information to pass a test. We believe this because that's the way we learned when we were younger. But stop and think... can you recall those memorized facts now?

As young students, we were taught about our states and capitols by memorizing a list of all the states, in alphabetical order along with the name of the capitol (probably in parenthesis) right next to it. You might have learned about their crop or industry or football team. You most likely didn't learn where it was in relation to other states or that the crooked edge on one side was there because a large river was used as a natural boundary. You didn't need to worry about those details. Your success as a student was measured by how many states and capitols you could recall. Period.

Is that really learning?

Learn and Play

Many days, I teach my kids with hands on play. Experiencing a lesson in a way that they enjoy helps students learn far more effectively than simply memorizing lists.

One of the first "toys" I used to teach them with was a large floor map. Kids don't see putting floor maps together as learning. They think it's great family fun time crawling all over the place with mom or dad. And it is! The best part is when they recall the information with a smile on their face because it sunk in along with memories of the fun. They recall the colorful art on the pieces and tell me which animals or plants or industries are in certain states. They even remember which states surround each other because they had to manually connect the pieces.

When we travel, the kids refer to road maps as well as age appropriate historical texts about the areas we are driving through or flying over. Months later, when we're revisiting some story about the Great Plains or the Mississippi River, they remember seeing, reading, and hearing all about that part of the country.

My kids aren't special. Well, I mean... they ARE... but they are just your average students. The reason they love learning, though is because they started learning thinking they were playing! Floor maps were actually one of their favorite toys.

Melissa and Doug Floor Map

I love Melissa & Doug! I wish they were my neighbors!! I would have them over for dinner every night! Well, maybe once a month. Anyway...

If you've been into any toy, book, or teaching store, you've come across Melissa & Doug products. Their products are high quality, colorful, and fun. Early learners enjoy playing with these educational toys without any persuading from Mom or Dad. And look... they have a great floor map, too! It's perfect for early learners getting familiar with the world around them.

Whether you homeschool or not, it's a great way to reinforce geography and history lessons in a fun and playful way.

Want one for your little student?? Buy now at my OpenSky shop!