Explore Technology

Children love technology, so you may wonder how I would encourage you to allow our children to explore technology in their free afternoon activities, when they naturally gravitate toward it anyways.

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Explore Technology

Technology can be a big waste of time for anyone, including adults, however it doesn't have to be that way. Technology has many opportunities that are only a click away, and can provide hours of free afternoon activities to further a child's interests or even help them overcome struggles or find new interest.

One word of caution about technology: do not hand over a device that has internet connection to a child without safeguarding them from the dangers of the internet. I recommend using Covenant Eyes to protect their innocence and to keep an eye on their online activities.

Learning apps are always the first step where parents introduce technology to children, from learning letters, sounds, numbers, counting and much more.

There are far more opportunities that can interest a child and benefit them when using technology.

Here are a few of them:

My best advice about how to explore technology is to take their current interest, and their enjoyment of technology for a way to grow their interest and further their skills on technology. Of course, you will need to decide how to balance their time on technology with how they spend their free afternoons, and how they spend it.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

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Explore Home Decorating

There comes a time in a child's life that they out grow their room decor that has always found them enjoyment or even comfort. Allowing a child to explore home decorating when that time comes would be a great way to introduce this fun way to explore free afternoon activities.

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Explore Home Decorating

We have been a family that has always enjoyed watching home improvement shows, so it was only natural that our children would develop the interest to explore home decorating, as well.

As a family, we seemed to always have a home project going on, and we would encourage our children to fully participate with several of the wood projects, even roofing, flooring, complete gutting of the kitchen and bathroom, and the fun of shopping for the remodeling on a budget.

When my older child reached this age to explore home decorating, and we gave them the opportunity to choose colors that appealed to them for accents in their rooms, while keeping the paint natural.

Our son wanted to just accent with black and grays, where our daughter really explored home decorating with projects like making her own head board out of 100 year old barn wood, and refurnishing her desk for the second time.

Here are some ways that we encouraged our children to explore home decorating:

  • Find ways to add functionality to small spaces, often times with organization being the focus
  • Encourage color schemes to be what is used to accent a natural room color, to allow their personality to shine through
  • Bargain shop at yard sales, or even Good Will to find furniture that they can refurnish to meet their needs and desires
  • Encourage sewing projects to add a personal touch to their home decor

Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

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Explore Marksmanship

Our children have loved to explore marksmanship in their free afternoon activities. Of course, the first step of this activity started with safety guidelines when our children proved responsible and obedient.

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Explore Marksmanship

When our children proved to us that they were responsible with their belongings, and obedient to our guidelines for other things, we entrusted them to several tools that would provide them the opportunity to explore marksmanship.

Some of the safety guidelines that we provided to them would include how to properly hold any weapon, how to care for it, how to use the safety and the proper way of using it by keeping the space between their target and their weapon completely clear.

Tools for exploring marksmanship:

In addition to the tools, you will want to invest in some kind of targets, like paper targets or targets for archery practice.

We like to be sure our children enforce what we have taught them about the safety guidelines and help them work on the skills to using each of the tools to master marksmanship.

Once we know they have the key things, we step back and allow them to work on having fun and improving their aim.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Yarn Work

Our culture is losing the hobbies and skills they provided to children not so long ago. When looking for free afternoon activities for your children, consider adding the joy for them to explore yarn work in different ways.

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Explore Yarn Work

Our daughter was the only one of our children to enjoy learning to explore yarn work, because our boys were more interested in exploring nature, wood working and whittling, but you may find that for your family, both your daughters and sons may enjoy it.

To explore yarn work, you may want to focus on one skill at a time for a period of time, until it is learned and enjoyed, before adding another thing to do with yarn.

Crocheting

If you don't know how to crochet, but would like to have your children learn, you may want to start with a beginners kit and you all learn together. If you would rather learn by DVD for those visual learners, I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting can help. It is important to have a good set of different size needles to learn different stitches.

Knitting

When my daughter started to learn to knit, she loved using a knitting loom to create hats and scarves, and she made some of the cutest baby hats for every new baby we knew. If you would rather just learn the skill of knitting with needles, this beginners kit may be just want you need.  You may want to learn with a DVD for this skill as well, I Can't Believe I'm Knitting is a good option.

Needle Point Crafts

Children would love to learn how to create colorful art with the Needle Point crafts that use yarn, instead of thread and turn out beautiful. This is a great gift for any little girl interested in sewing and yarn work.

Pom Pom Puppies

Children love puppies, and this yarn craft is adorable and easy for a great afternoon activity. They would also love to create other fuzzy friends with the same techniques.

Weaving Looms

We all remember making loom pot holders, but this weaving loom uses yarn to create some great looking ones that your children will love doing!


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Journaling

Does your child like to write? Expand their enjoyment with the opportunity to explore journaling in their free afternoon activities, and even if they don't enjoy writing itself, they may learn to like it when give time to explore it on their own, in their own way.

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Explore Journaling

Some children just love having a pen or pencil in their hands, and can write for hours. Our daughter was this kind of child. She loved to write to friends, create her own stories and write down her thoughts in her journal.

As any of our free afternoon activities, we would inspire the idea, find the tools needed to explore the activity and then leave the child to explore the activity for hours of fun, and journaling is no different.

We loved to buy our daughter gel pens, pretty journals and leave her alone in her room to see what she may write next. Often times, we were shocked by the skills her pen brought out, not just in writing but creating beautiful pages that popped around her handwritten work, often times coming in her homeschooling assignments for journaling.

There are many ideas for different types of journals, all of which will inspire young or old writers to take time to journal:

  • Events of day
  • Quotes, Inspiring Poems or Verses
  • Lessons from Bible Reading
  • Creative writing
  • Life lessons – what they learned from a situation
  • Prayers

This list can easily go on to include all kinds of journaling, a series that would be cherished for years to come and provide hours of free afternoon enjoyment, especially when adding elements of scrapbooking to them.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Scrapbooking

Children love to create and make things with their hands, and it doesn't matter if they are a girl or a boy. Explore scrapbooking is a great free afternoon activity that your children will love for hours, while creating keeps sakes they will cherish for years to come.

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Explore Scrapbooking

Explore scrapbooking for kids will look different than what you would expect from an adult, who usually only scrapbooks photos of their family.

For children, they may want to scrapbook letters from friends, flyers from field trips, or create fun scrapbooks with cutouts from magazines (I have so many memories of doing this as a child). The options are endless, and often times, children just need a little inspiration from an idea, tools to create and time to implement.

What I love most about scrapbooking is that you don't have to pay a lot to have them get started in this enjoyable crafting, as you can use ‘scraps', hence the name, from sewing projects, card making or anything else that would results in scraps.

A few things that have made this free afternoon activity enjoyable is having fun scissors to create shaped paper, paper cut outs, and stamping things.

I like to provide my children with a quality scrapbook, organized supplies, organized scraps and hours of free afternoon time to explore scrapbooking on their own, once they have been inspired and ready to create a keep sake that will be cherished for years.

I love how once they learned this skill of scrapbooking, their homeschool assignments for binder books and journaling become more enjoyable and even more amazing, as they implement ideas from their scrapbooks.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

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CURRICULUM EVALUATIONS

Explore Nature

Growing up in a Charlotte Mason filled homeschool, our children were surrounded with nature walks and talks, but to explore nature in their free afternoon activities is a whole other things and often times overlooked even in a homeschool that has nature as one of their weekly or daily activities.

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Explore Nature

To explore nature like I'm talking about, a child first needs to be taught to observe, and then to be left alone to see what they can discover on their own.

When my older children were younger, and I was working to implement the concept for them to explore nature in their free afternoon activities, I wanted to provide them with tools to do that. These tools were exactly what was needed for them to build a relationship with the nature in our backyard, without me being their teacher of what they would find in their own time of exploring.

One of the best investments for tools for our children to explore nature were field guides. My favorite series for younger children is the Fun with Nature, and More Fun with Nature, plus the others in this series.

I also love having a series of field guides that our children can learn a little more information from, and my favorite is the Smithsonian Handbooks series.

The hours my children would explore nature in their free afternoon was mind blowing to me, and the creatures that they caught, learned to use the field guides to identify and then learn how to build a habitat for the creature, work to feed it and then let it go. I always expected my oldest son to follow his love of nature and use this love in his adulthood, as a career choice, but his love of golf won out.

In addition to the field guides, we would purchase fish tanks at yard sales and even large plastic bins for our children to put their creature finds in them, so they could identify them, journal them and even observe them close up.

I can't promise you that you won't find your child bringing snakes, salamanders or even fish into these tanks, if they are anything like my sons, so you will want to do due diligence and be sure your children have a state's guide for snakes or anything else that may be venomous and dangerous to catch.

Our state's Department of Game and Fishery mailed us free guides that we still use today, almost 14 years later. The snake guide was my son's first grade science book, because it identifies the snakes, one on a page, with green across the top for non-venomous snakes and red across the top for venomous snakes. They all have learned or are learning to identify these snakes because safety comes first!


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Sports

If you have children, then you may be thinking that this is a natural things they do, explore sports, but I'm not talking about them being on a team for a season. What I'm talking about is allowing them to explore several kinds of sports in their free afternoon activities that will allow them to learn the rules of the game, see if they can figure out how to play with family and some friends, and how they may enjoy the different sports.

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Explore Sports

As our older children were growing, we were often pressured for them to join different youth teams because they seemed to have talent in one area of sports, or in our son's situation, most sports he tried.

Our philosophy for children and how they explore sports may seem more old fashion than what you may expect today, but it holds true to the Charlotte Mason method that our family has loved to implement into our homeschooling and it has proven to be crucial for out oldest son.

When I first began to focus on providing options for our children's free afternoon activities, I looked for tools, like I would curriculum, for them to use and learn skills with, in order to further their love of learning and encourage independent learning. Sports was no different.

When we found tennis rackets at yard sales, we bought them and would spend a few weeks learning what we could about tennis through books, and then we headed to the tennis court to see how to actually implement how to play this sport.

We did the same for football, softball, basketball, golf, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, canoeing, paddle boating, fishing and anything else that would come to our mind.

The memories of our family heading to the ball field, with a picnic in toe, to improve on skills for a sport that caught our attention, to only see our children working on it during the week on their own are priceless.

One of these sports caught on to our oldest son, Micah, and he would continue to grab the used golf clubs we would find at yard sales, along with the balls we collected on our hunts as well, and practice this skill.

Book after book were brought home from the library, and my struggling reader turned non-lover of books, would pour hours over golf books to learn the techniques for the different types of strokes needed for this sport of golf.

He began asking to record a show called the Golf Fix and watch one in the afternoon, followed by a few hours outside practicing what he just learned from the show.

Next thing we know, he wanted to take all he learned to the golf course to see how he did with his independent learning, and although my husband wasn't a golfer, he took him happily and invited a friend that did golf, and his son.

When they returned, my husband told me that our friend was so impressed with Micah, who did better than his son who has been coached and in lessons for a while. I shouldn't have been shocked by this, knowing how much I trusted the Charlotte Mason method of education, but we are talking about sports here and it still worked.

Right after that, my son wanted to go to the golf course as often as our budget would allow. After about a year of our family going to the golf range to enjoy just hitting the ball and getting Micah more practice within our budget, he told us that he wanted to be a Professional on the PGA tour.

So at age 16, we looked for him to begin competing with youth his age, to see if this ‘dream' was something we backed up or if his interest would die down when he would lose a few games.  Although his first few competitions were hard, as he was working on his nerves and the stress of competing, we continued to spend a season of Saturdays on the golf course watching our son learn how to compete.

During the two years of the competing season, Micah placed first many times, several second and third places, even a few with out metals, while competing against others his age that he coaches and were on golf teams, getting far more practice on the course than he did.

He was hooked, and so were we, but we knew we needed to do something to get him even more practice because golf isn't a cheap sport. Once he was ready for a job, he applied for a job at the course of his desire and he got the job. Now, he plays for free and can work on his game anytime he wants to and that includes teaching us, as a family, for free as well.

We know that his goal is to play in the PGA, and we know that if he continues to work hard on it, he can and will be successful at it, however we also see that if God has a different plan for his life that he is very skilled at being a golf instructor and the course he works at would be thrilled to have him fill that position for them.

We had no idea what life had in store for our son, when we added sports to our free afternoon activities and that first time, I picked up some golf things from a yard sale and said, “Golf may be fun for the kids to play around with.”


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Instruments

Does your child love music? Explore instruments with them during their free afternoon activities and watch how their skills can flourish, even without lessons.

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Explore Instruments

Not all children will be able to explore instruments on their own, and teach themselves to play the instrument of their choice. I have one daughter that has taught herself how to play three instruments and my sons have yet to learn one, mostly because they have different interest.

There are always lessons that you can add to your child's free afternoon activities to help them learn an instrument of their choice, but I'm going to tell you about how my daughter used the hours of free afternoons in our home, and the tools we provided to teach herself how to play the recorder, the piano and then the violin.

We first started by learning music theory, which I knew was very important for her to really learn an instrument. My older two children both went through one year of music theory, but only my daughter took that knowledge further, even though both were given time and tools, and even offered lessons.

While they were going through the course for music theory, we had given them each their own recorder and the Nine Note Recorder Method book.

She mastered that instrument and wanted to learn the piano. Since both my husband and I had some music experience, we decided that with how quickly she learned, we would just continue to give her time and tools, using Alfred's Piano lessons to give her some time to learn what she could and see where her interest lead her.

After a while, we started taking piano lessons and she didn't like them at all, so after a few weeks, we stopped them. She enjoyed just learning at her pace and playing the music she like, feeling the lessons consisted of twaddle music and I agreed.

It didn't take long for her to pick up on playing by chords and she took off!

The next instrument that caught her attention was the violin, and just as the other instruments before her, she picked it up quickly. We did invest in a violin for her, and a few books. Her grandmother gave her a few lessons, along with her cousins who was learning to play and next thing you know, she was playing away.

I love that she would spend so much of her free afternoon activity time filling our home with music that she learned by just taking her time because of the interest she had and the time was hers to do with it as she please.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Clay Molding

Children have grown up playing with play dough and they love it, but have you had your children explore clay? It is a great way to continue the enjoyment of creating figures out of their imagination.

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Explore Clay

Play dough has been a big hit in our home, and there has been many times that my old children will sit and create with our youngest. There is just something enjoyable about rolling, forming and creating with it.

If you child loves playing with dough, like ours have, the next step would be to explore clay!

Playing with non-harding colorful clay is such a joy for children, giving them hours of fun without worrying about the clay drying or becoming brittle to use during their exploring time. A great way to keep their creations on display until daddy comes home, or even trying their hand at doing a slow motion animation with their creation.

Your older children will love having this fun activity, as well. In fact, air dry clay is a great way to explore during free afternoon activities. As the name implies, the clay will dry in whatever form it is made into, without having to bake it. You can add fun to this activity by using the plastic clay tools for sculpturing.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Cake Decorating

Children love seeing their desserts looking decorated, but they would love it even more if you encouraged them to explore cake decorating and learning how to make all the fun designs with different tips and their favorite colors.

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Explore Cake Decorating

My children have grown up enjoying cookie decorating for Christmas time, but it took me a while to get my children to explore cake decorating. It amazes me that I didn't have them do this earlier because I had taken cake decorating class and even made two wedding cakes for family members, so I had all the stuff and knowledge to let them have fun and explore.

My daughter was in her teens before I got out my supplies and let her join me in decorating a family birthday cake. She loved it… of course!

Next thing I knew, she was creating amazing Christmas cookies that surpassed anything that we have ever done before.

She perfected how to make Wilton's Buttercream frosting, the kind that I used to make the wedding cakes and got a large amount of comments, and now she is hearing the same thing from others.

I would recommend a few simple supplies to get your children started in exploring cake decorating.

  1. Tips – I love using Wilton's tips, but you may a different brand that works. Having at least 5-8 different tips is a great place to start.
  2. Decorating Bags – I prefer the disposable decorating bags, because frosting is difficult to clean out of the plastic ones, and the food coloring will stain the bags, as well.
  3. Couplers – Regardless of the types of decorating bags you use, you will need couplers to hold the tips into place in the bag.
  4. Decorating Book – You can't go wrong with this easy to follow book with how to use the tips to make great decorating on cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

Explore Pen Pals

If you have a child who loves to write and always has a pen in their hand, you really should encourage them to explore pen pals.

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Explore Pen Pals

Our daughter has always loved to write. I would have hear write our grocery list that I would narrate to her, she loved to write my to-do list for the day, our packing list for traveling, our booklist for the new school year and anything else I could come up with to give her for her love of writing.

I helped her explore calligraphy, card making and journaling to foster this love of writing.

However, when I opened up the world of exploring pen pals, she was so excited for this new way of using writing to grow relationships. She still keeps writing to those that she had as childhood pen pals and has added a few more, and she is 21 years old.

Here is how we encouraged her to explore pen pals at an early age:

We first found a few pen pals that we knew would be a great fit for her. Although we trusted these pen pals, we still read every letter she wrote (not correcting anything she wrote unless it was not appropriate and that only happened one time) and every letter she received, to be certain that the letters were good for her to continue.

Then for one of her birthdays, we created a pen pal birthday, where we purchased her a full book of stamps, stationary paper that was pretty, gel pens and a box to store them in.

After she went through the box of stamps, she would work to earn more stamps to keep up her writing to her pen pals. She also used her cards that she created as ways to send special letters to her long distant friends.

I highly recommend you to explore pen pals long before putting your child on social media or giving them an email.


Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series

31 Days of Exploring Free Afternoon Activities Series - Includes 30 Hands-on Activities Perfect for Handicrafts or Hobbies. | www.joyinthehome.com