Throwback Tuesday: Learning Through Life And Play

Originally written November 10, 2014  (when my boys were 10, 8, and 7) 

There are so many days that I think we're just not going to learn anything at all.  But then as our day progresses I can't help but notice all the little ways in which my boys are still learning.

Anyone who has spent any time around children know that they can learn a lot through play.  Play is the real work of childhood and while I do find the need to balance their learning with actual homeschooling lessons, I know I don't need to stress about every day that we take off from planned lessons.

My boys learn a lot through life and play.  Sure the lessons aren't always intentional but that doesn't make them any less valid.

They may not be learning lessons I planned on teaching them. 

They may not be learning lessons that will help them in their everyday lives. 

 However, I can not deny that they are learning everyday.  

Sometimes the smallest little thing the kids pick up on can become great learning opportunities, like when Alec started asking the lady at the counter at Burlington Coat Factory all about the little bands they put on the hangers for sizing.  He noticed her taking them off Ian's hanger and he had a bunch of questions for her.  She so patiently explained it all to him too.  He learned that someone puts all the little tabs on the hangers, that they take them off when they sell the products, that they have to sort them back out at some point before putting them back on the hangers, that all the different sizes have different colors too, that the tabs snap on or slide on and that they're important to helping customers shop quicker.  While not a huge life lesson it was certainly a lesson. 

I love using our days off to see where the boys interests take them.  I know by watching what they are interested in that I can use their interests on other days to help make other subjects more interesting and relevant to them. 

Today, my boys did a lot of reading and art.    

We spent our time in the car listening to our new book on CD, Dragon Rider.  We're on the second CD and into chapter 10 or so and the boys seem to be enjoying it.  While listening, Ian was working on some drawings of trucks and excavators.  Alec was working in his color by number book.  He finished up one page and worked a bit with some various colors on two other pages.  I'm always struck by how pretty the finished products look.  I also know Alec often incorporates math into these coloring pages.  He often counts up how many spaces he has to color in for each color he chooses to use and then keeps track of them as he's coloring for some real basic math practice.

Alec's completed picture

Ian's drawing (mostly finished)

Can you spot the elephant?

Another one Alec just needs to add a border to

The boys applied some life skills today too.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and so we got in a bunch of our usual life learning at the grocery store.  The boys helped pick out items, looking at prices, and do some comparison shopping.  We talked about why we were shopping (we have a local homeschool family we're preparing meals for while a few of the family members are in the hospital-- yeah, I said a few of!).   We talked about what we're going to make them, about food allergies and sensitivities, etc.  The boys read my list out and crossed off items we bought. They helped me remember things we needed for ourselves at home that might not have made it onto the list and they talked to the bagger all about a new video game that will teach you how to play guitar.

Once home Ian and Evan went to play outside while Alec sat at the table working on his coloring pages some more.  He eventually headed up to his room to read some more of Warriors.  He almost done his second book in the series and he's just as enamored with the series.  He practiced his math facts and came down to take his math minute before lunch. 

They find fun ways to cover the subjects we'd be working on if we had a regular school day.  

Evan came in and asked if someone would do a Mad Lib with him.  He had chosen to bring them in the car with him this morning but without anyone to write his answers for him he wasn't able to use them in the car.  I offered to sit down with him and write his answers.  It was lots of fun and, of course, it's great English practice.  He's still trying to remember what verb, noun, adjective, and adverb mean.  When we were done with the Mad Libs we went on to read another Piggie and Elephant book.  We read Pigs Make Me Sneeze! and had a good laugh together.  While his reading definitely needs more work he's got such great expression and enjoyment when he does read that I just love listening to him. 

We try to spend lots of quality time together; even on our days off we're always building on our relationship.  We made lunch and sat down to read another chapter and a half in Harry Potter.

As soon as lunch was over the older boys asked to pull out paints and work on their paintings.  Ian added a few more details to his camping picture and Alec added some feathers to his peacock.  They worked for a good hour or so and decided they had had enough for one day.  They cleaned up and set their paintings aside for today.

Finally back to working on his peacock painting

While they were painting we were all also watching Disney's American Legends movie and learned about John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, and Casey Jones.  Evan said he didn't want to watch it but spent the afternoon sitting on the rug staring at the screen.  Alec pointed out that Casey Jones was the same name as the guy in the Ninja Turtles.  We've talked before about how all the Ninja Turtles are names after famous people too.  They thought it was a cute movie and we learned quite a bit about history and tall tales.  We talked about why they're called tall tales and how they were started.

   Disney's American Legends

We decided to head out to the library at the end of our day.  All of our movies were due back and a few books we had requested came in.  Alec read his Warriors book the whole way there, while we were at the library, and the whole way home (and even at home until I started cooking dinner).  Ian and I had a great discussion about town taxes and what all of our money goes towards.

Once home, Ian and Evan went to play outside.  Ian called me out to look at his new job site.  He built two new housing development areas, has an area to screen dirt, and made quite a few roads with all of his trucks.  He's really been having lots of fun working on developing his new area for a few days now and was happy to show it off.  I'm always amazed at the work and details he shows me.  When I look at it all I just see a clump of dirt with piles here and there but as he explains I can see it forming already.   It will be so neat to see how he puts all of skills together one day in the "real" world. 

Linking Up With: Spread the Kindness, 


  1. I can see how kids´ natural curiosity would be a great springboard for discussion and ultimately education. Enjoyed this post!

  2. Great post, you certainly can learn through life and play! We never missed an opportunity to turn the ordinary into a learning lesson.

  3. Amazing as always- love all of the outdoor time!

  4. Asking questions is the best method to learn I always think. In a way it makes you vulnerable to admit you don't know something, and then you are in a teaching moment. That's a life skill for sure!

  5. Learning happens everywhere if we take the time to look. Thanks for sharing this lovely post, Joanne!

  6. The boys with their housing development reminded me of me and my younger brother back when we were kids. He had the ever so rugged Tonka trucks, bulldozers, and end loaders. We'd play for hours building roads and such. Yes, I was a tomboy but loved every minute of it. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedLinkParty 137. Pinned.


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