Monday, August 8, 2011

Homeschool Co-Op Ideas

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Many areas of the country now have wonderful homeschool support/educational/or co-op groups. These groups are a great way to share your skills and to learn more from other families around you. A Co-Op means, Co-operative…sharing your passions and learning about the passions about others…for free or cheap! For example, our family is heavily into the hobby of astronomy. We offer observing nights on a regular basis to our homeschooling friends, while they offer their skills to US!

As a family new to this form of sharing-the-love, you might be experiencing anxiety trying to think of something to offer your group. I know the fearful questions in your mind:  Do you have a skill? What are you qualified to teach? What can you do?

LOL…listen, we have all been there. Fear not, you have plenty to offer. Later you will think of things that interest you and that you wish to share with the group. For now, here are a few ideas you might like to borrow, keeping in mind that your children might have ideas of their own!

Homeschoolers are all about field trips, though it can be difficult to think of unique, educational, and fun places to explore as a group. I am certain we have all had our share of trips to the museums, parks, zoos, nature areas, theaters, and cultural events. Although I have created this list mostly from my brainstorming, I have also included wonderful ideas that I have seen or heard of through my own or other homeschool groups. Have you thought about some of these places:
  • Attend civic meetings
  • Use Public Transportation to get around town, use the posted schedules
  • Swimming
  • Creek or Pond Exploration
  • Peterson Guides and Nature Walk
  • Answer the phone for public television or radio fund drive
  • Visit the state capitol
  • Local History Field Trips
  • Our community has some great hobby clubs that have meetings open to the public, including rock club, robotics club, astronomy club, ham radio club, and rocketry club
  • Political Rally
  • Go to the Airport
  • Visit a Nursing Home and Sing
  • Pick up Trash on an Empty Lot
  • Daytrips
  • Attend public lectures at local libraries, community center, community colleges
  • Explore the Library
  • Walk downtown taking pictures of interesting architecture
  • We once visited a control tower at a small airport…very cool!
  • Follow a creek and discuss how it oxbows, erodes, changes
  • Tour the local university or college
  • Mini Golf, create your own!
  • Local tv/radio stations/firestation
  • Tour of a local quarry, water treatment plant, utility company, city hall
I have found that one of the benefits of these unique field trips is that our children become familiar with and interested in the general functioning of our town. Since some of our trips, my kids now follow local news that mentions these place and they have really formed an attachment to our town; they have a real sense of belonging. Additionally, many of the people who work at these places are delighted to have visitors. Something I learned from a friend, if you interrupt a days’ activity at some places, it is such a kindness to bring a platter of brownies to thank them for hosting you!

ART

The Arts:  another place where homeschoolers excel! Parents would LOVE to have the mess at your house instead of their own and children love messy projects…serendipitous for you! There are so many ways to explore the arts. This list is not at all inclusive! In fact, it is only limited by my imagination at this moment. I’m sure that your imagination can come up with many more ideas. Turn your hobby into your next co op class idea.

Art work can be expensive or free. Use the resources available to you within your homeschool co op to find others who are interested in exploring the arts and combine your talents and resources. A clever method of offering good co op classes is working with another family within the co op in order to offer the best of both of your resources!

Here are some ideas for exploring the arts:
  • Preschool Arts and Crafts
  • Guitar Folk Singing in the Round
  • Skits
  • Tie Dye Extravaganza
  • Woodworking
  • Embroidery
  • Study Abstract Art or Artists
  • Visit Local Art Galleries or Local Artists and Artisans
  • Gourd Decorating
  • Beading
  • Mendi, Henna
  • Foreign Film Study
  • Film Noir
  • Paint a Room
  • Weave
  • Make a Movie
  • Play Dress Up
  • Dance With Bollywood (or other cultural music and dress up)
  • Beginning Music Lessons
  • Organize a Dance
  • Photography
  • Explore Poetry Types
  • Sewing/Knitting/Crochet
  • Explore an Artist or Musician or Historical Figure a Month
  • Knot Tying
  • One Family we know has the kids PAINT THEIR CAR!
  • Finger painting
  • Anything with Glitter and Glue
  • Face and Body Painting
  • Teach knitting from yarn purchase to finished product
  • Study 30s films, early films, 50s films, any genre!
  • Friendship Bracelets
  • Make your own soap
  • Design a logo for your co op
  • Design and put out a newsletter or poetry booklet
  • Campfire songs
  • Write and perform a one act play
  • Karaoke
  • Paint t shirts
  • Scrapbooking
  • Creating art out of scraps and junk
  • Make Paper
  • Nature Crafts
  • As for art projects, the sky is the limit!

OUTDOORS

While the weather cooperates, we all love it that we have the chance to take our children outdoors all day. It is a great way to get that sense of “this is why we homeschool” when you are able to find a great destination and give over totally to the outdoor experience. There is more that you can do than just play while you are in the parks! Try some of these ideas for free or very inexpensive co op class ideas at a local park, your home, or other public location:
  • Orienteering
  • Create an Obstacle Course
  • Archery
  • Cooking with Nature
  • Create a Map
  • Bring Binoculars and Microscopes
  • Rock Collecting
  • Hayride
  • Basketball
  • Bike Riding
  • Clean a stretch of road or a favorite park
  • Perform on the stage
  • Scavenger Hunt of nature items (don’t remove them!)
  • Photographing the letters of the alphabet in nature
  • One wonderful woman I know stages a full out Olympics at the park!
  • Power Ranger Day
  • Spy Day
  • Rocketry
  • Group Games
  • Jump roping and Jump rope rhymes
  • Fly Kites
  • Water Play Day
  • Adopt a Family, Adopt a Road
  • Plant a veggie, flower, or specialty garden

ACADEMIC CLASSES

Some obvious classes to offer are scholastic skill building. Classes that might be offered every week for the duration of the semester. Ongoing educational sessions that build on certain skills. Of course these classes require more planning. Some of this type of class might be a reading group, poetry writing, or math tutoring. But have you thought of these ideas?
  • Current Events Review
  • First Aid
  • Homework Help, Tutoring
  • Toastmasters, Public Speaking
  • Bookkeeping, Personal Finance
  • Study the Constitution
  • Science Experiments
  • Babysitting Skills
  • Ethics Discussions, Socrates Cafe
  • Pet Care
  • Learn a President a Week
  • Electrical Circuits
  • Beginning Typing
  • History Chapters
  • Price Comparison Shopping
  • Ethics Discussions
  • Budgeting
  • Creating a Resume
  • Historical Fiction Reading Group
  • Have a pretend Store and use real money
  • American Sign Language
  • Other Language
  • Math Games
  • Measuring
  • Preschool/Early Book Reading with small project
  • Baking Cookies/cake/cupcakes
  • Write and produce a newscast
  • Research a third world country each week
  • Using your PC
  • How Does it Work? AKA DESTRUCTION!
  • Learn about propaganda
  • Show and Share
  • Board and Table Games
  • Rock Club
  • Create a Service Project
  • Explore Southern Cooking
  • Reading Time: Have the big ones read to the little ones
  • Card Games
  • Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh/Other card game day
  • Yoga
  • Volunteer at a local charity or soup kitchen
  • Exercise class

EXTENDED FAMILY

Make sure to get your family involved! Groups of families working and playing together are a part of what makes the homeschooling lifestyle so remarkable. Talk to your relatives and see what skills or hobbies that they are willing to bring to the group as a way to participate in the education of your little ones by sharing their passions and interests. How about planning some activities that include extended family members…perhaps the ones who are curious about the homeschool decision.

Create activities that fit your family, your group, your home. In general, keep it simple and fun! Try some of these fun activities that are family-pleasers! Your family members will find them irresistible and feel proud to be a part of educating their loved ones!
  • Bowling
  • Play Bingo
  • Grandma and Me Tea
  • Make Fruit Salad
  • Tell Family Stories
  • Make Stone Soup
  • Host a formal dinner party
  • Go Caroling
  • Camping Trips
  • Raise funds for the community, donate for a community project
  • Create a garden on a bulletin board from construction paper
  • Have a yard sale
  • Talk about Careers
  • Collect books for your local library
  • Have a car wash to earn money for a charity
  • Manicures
  • Bake Bread

COMPUTERS

As the wife of an IT guy, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some great computer class ideas! There is no doubt that the internet is a wonderful tool for our children. Why not use what is at our fingertips to improve our skills and to increase our knowledge? There are practical and fanciful ways to use the computer.
  • Create or update the Webpage for your Co Op
  • Edit the Co Op Member List
  • Learn how to use MS Publisher or Paint
  • Learn how to create Power Point Presentations
  • Contact a HS group in another state and create a pen pal network
  • News Reviews
  • Robotics
  • Create a Youtube channel
  • Letter Writing
  • General WWW Usage and Safety
  • Contacting Political Figures by mail
  • Creating petitions
  • Surveys for your co op
  • Designing Personal Books
  • Resume Writing
  • Design a Menu for an Upcoming Meal
  • Write a Newsletter
  • Create Origami
  • Learn Photoshop
The key is to keep is simple, make it fun, don’t overburden yourself, and follow your own bliss! Include your children in the brainstorming and planning phase! My children have come up with some wildly successful co op class ideas, from a Power Ranger Party to swimming at the local pool to scavenger hunts across town. Children enjoying getting messy and creating things and most parents would be THRILLED to have these fun events happen at someone else’s house! Volunteer activities promote wonderful growth in our children and are much more fun when done in groups. Check out idea books at the library for even more ideas. If possible, get your hands on Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Girl Scout, or other Scout handbooks for more great ideas, skits, and projects.


Can YOU think of any ideas to share?

2 comments:

  1. So glad I found this site!! Your co-op ideas are sooooo helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. WOW! Great list!

    ReplyDelete

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