Unschooling During A Heat Wave

With temperature in the mid to upper 90's, high humidity levels and heat indexes in the 100's we have had a serious case of the blah's this week.   I haven't felt like doing anything!

Even in our house with the A/C it feels sticky and we feel lethargic.  But the boys sure have been having fun.  We fell back into an unschooling routine these past few days.  I got a new shipment of manipulatives in yesterday and so this morning they pulled out two buckets of pattern blocks and created with them and used our new geometric solid blocks to build a town.

We know that when the temperatures are high our schooling will look vastly different.  That's OK.  It's still learning!   Here are 10 ways we're still schooling through a heat wave:

  1. We focus on life skills-- learning how to stay hydrated, learning how to swim, learning how to protect ourselves from the heat and sun are all valuable skills my kids will need.
  2. We focus on nature-- spending time outside in the lake and near the water we're able to observe a lot of wildlife.  These nature studies often lead to discussions and further reading to learn even more.
  3. We focus on social skills-- we love spending time with friends and since many of the boys friends attend school summer is a perfect time for us to focus more on social play. 
  4. We read-- reading is one of those fun subjects that is just as enjoyable on a hot summer's day as it is during a cold winter's night.  We find a shady spot (or an air conditioned building) and read together.
  5. Go on a field trip-- when temperatures are really high we often look for fun indoor places to explore.  Museums can offer great hands on learning opportunities and tend to be nice and cool inside.
  6. Visit the Library-- This kind of goes hand in hand with numbers 4 & 5 but we enjoy spending time at our library.  The temperatures are nice and cool inside, we can look for books, and enjoy a quiet afternoon inside.  We have even brought board games with us to play in the past. 
  7. Try out new Cool snacks--  We've made homemade ice cream, made our own frozen pudding pops, and experimented with different ways to make Popsicles before.  Often when it's hot out we'll look up some new recipe to try that involves a nice cool treat and some learning along the way.
  8.  We play inside-- I have found that even though it's nice and sunny out we're spending more of our day inside.  We have air conditioning and sometimes the best way to beat the heat is to hide out from it.  The boys have started playing with toys-- like the new manipulatives mentioned above-- and that always leads to new discoveries and learning. 
  9. We watch movies!-- We love movies for learning and summer heat waves are a great time to take advantage of them.  Whether we take a trip to the movies, watch some we own, or rent some new ones it's a fun way to learn in the summer.
  10. We focus on science-- Summer heat waves offer a unique opportunity for some fun science experiments; making our own solar oven, melting old crayon stubs together to make new crayons, trying to see if we can fry an egg on the sidewalk, etc.  There are some very neat ways to use the heat for learning! 

These past few days we've swam-- a lot!  It seems like everyone flocks to the water when there's a heat wave, yet the water everywhere is so warm from the extreme heat it's barely refreshing.  But hey, it's better than nothing!

The fish Ian caught
One of the duck families we've been feeding

We were invited to a "new" lake and visited with some old friends while cooling off a bit.  The boys were amazed that there was a lake so near to us that had such clean water!

They also rode bikes and Evan tried to ride on a scooter; never giving up until he figured it out.  They quizzed each other on addition and multiplication facts.  I was amazed when Evan told everyone that 100 + 100 is 200!  They counted rocks and how many times rocks skipped.  They pretended they were star wars characters and started quizzing each other on all the names (I impressed them with my own knowledge of the characters).

The boys look for fish

We went to the local "beach" at our own lake for a homeschool group meet up yesterday and again enjoyed swimming and playing in the water.  Evan can now swim pretty far and pretty well without using anything!  I brought his life jacket with us the last two days and he hasn't used it at all.  He has also figured out how to swim to the bottom of the lake and collect rocks for skipping.  He skipped one rock at least 6 or 7 times before it sank.  I was pretty impressed.

Alec asked me to watch him do the dead man's float yesterday and he really looked like he was dead-- the mom standing next to me remarked about how long he could hold his breath for.  Ian has been fishing-- with bread and a net and had caught a lot of fish!  He tried this off our dock one afternoon while we were feeding the ducks and he caught a few rather large fish as well as some much smaller minnows.  He was so enthralled with this idea that he has spent the last two days teaching everyone else how to do it too. 

We also have done tons of errands-- Kmart, the grocery store, a few trips to the library, and the boys all asked to go to Game Stop and use their own money to buy some new games.  We've gotten ice cream, eaten tons of Popsicles and ran through the sprinklers to help keep cool.

We have read and listened to a ton of books too!  We have started reading aloud to the boys at night before bed (again!-- I was so glad to get back to this routine as I have missed the snuggles and stories at bedtime!!).

We typically start out in Evan's room where he'll pick out a book or two then we move to Alec's room and read another book or two then finally we all end in Ian's big bed reading a chapter or a book from his pile.  It's great and I love knowing we're reading up a storm.

We've read (or listened to):

Not all the boys have listened to all of the books, but they've each listened to most of them.  When our summer reading program started at the library last month we set a goal for each of the boys to read 50 books.  At first they thought I was nuts to even suggest they try and read that many.... well as of last night Alec and Evan have already read OVER 50 books in just under a month and Ian is pretty close to 50.  He's a bit bummed that they've beat him but I keep explaining that their books are much shorter so he's really reading more.

Alec sat and recited all the addition facts to make 11 today.  We were talking about the book 12 ways to get to 11 and Alec started listing off (in order!) 11+0, 10 +1, etc. right through to 0+11.  I was pretty impressed especially since we haven't done much formal addition with him.  I know he understands the concept of adding and can even add two digit numbers in his head but I'm always unsure if he understands all the in's and out's of math and the relationships between the numbers... but I guess he does! 


  1. It's great to hear that education continues regardless of the weather and actually becomes a focus point.#TwinklyTuesday

    1. Absolutely! We all learn something every day; plus I find small vacations here and there work so much better for us than long stretches of time where we loose all semblance of routine.

  2. Wow! You've been busy and also been learning as you go. I think that's the best way to spend summer. Thanks so much for sharing your great post at Together on Tuesdays :)

  3. wow you've been doing loads! I love how play always creates so many opportunities to learn :)! #TwinklyTuesday

    1. I love how play leads to learning; it's great!

  4. Fab that you can use the weather to actually come into the schooling topics! We had a couple of days last week of a mini heatwave (plus no air conditioning) and I can't imagine having to have focus on still getting Zach to learn (he's only little anyway so it doesn't matter yet!). Well done! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Thankfully we do have air conditioning; it's supposed to be in the mid 90's all week this week too. I'm thinking lots of indoor field trips this week!


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