I like to call it homeschooling, but my homeschooling is limited to these four little activities that I've been using for over two years now. Once every few months, I set the kids table in the kitchen and we go through our work. This was Fern's first time to join us.
Details: I set the activities in a line on the counter and we get one out at a time, so the children see which is next and we put away each thing when we're done. See, homeschooling. I put them in order of how much they like them-starting with the least liked and working up to the dessert of the bunch.
1. Sort the beans. There is a small bowl of pinto and black beans that the kids sort in bowls. Each child had their own technique on how to do it, which I was obsessed with watching.
2. Clipping and Unclipping clothes pins. Fern was able to do this right away, where Burl had so much trouble the first few sessions we tried this (granted he was younger than Fern was when we did it). Again, I was fascinated with their differences. Now that Burl is older and is able, I made it harder by having them put them on dots that I made. Then, he made different shapes and setups with his.
3. Pouring noodles and rice. The kids had a blast with this one. We started with a simple back-and-forth pouring, then added scoops and spoons. To make it harder for Burl, I gave him a small glass where he had to learn to stop pouring and not over-fill the cup.
4. Playing with Squishy Foam. This was by far their favorite part and they were very focused. In Burl's words, "Mama, we're very hard workers." He pulled his toolbox out for them to use and they worked for a long time. They do very different things when they're focused: Burl explained everything and Fern was very quiet, but they were both very focused.
The whole process lasted over an hour and half. They operated mostly independently, so I was able to write letters, cook, pack a few things, and take pictures, obviously.
While I'm great at finding woods to explore or free stuff to do around town, I'm not great at developmental activities like this. This is my entire bag of tricks, and I pull it out rarely. Every time I do, the kids just love it. Apparently, it's educational too, but don't quote me on that. I just focus on the fun part.