Non-Book Learning for Your Homeschool

Welcome to Day 4 of my homeschool planning mini-series. We’ll be discussing myriad ways of learning that do not require a curriculum or even a book! This is my absolute favorite aspect of homeschooling. My kids have the freedom to learn in so many ways that could never happen in a traditional school setting.

Here are the topics for the other days in the series:

Day 1: Planning Your Homeschool Year

Day 2: Homeschool Schedules and Routines

Day 3: The Relaxed Homeschooler’s Guide to Picking Curriculum

Day 4: Non-Book Learning for Your Homeschool

Day 5: What Should I Put in My Child’s Portfolio?

This is also part of a blog hop with the Homeschool Review Crew! There is a Linky at the bottom of this post so you can find the other posts.

This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂

Constitutional Literacy by Michael Farris

Note that by “non-book,” I don’t mean living books that you might find at the library. I am talking about using textbooks or a set curriculum. I have nothing against either of those (we use textbooks), but as homeschoolers, part of the beauty of it is that we are not confined to just the materials that we would be using in a brick and mortar school setting.

This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but I hope it gives you many ideas to incorporate into your homeschool.

Tea Time

This is typically called “poetry tea time” and poetry is read and discussed and the authors are also studied. You can make hot tea or iced tea and have little pastries. I want to modify this idea for our homeschool. We would make real lemonade and do a composer study and listen to their music while eating snacks, and aim for once a week. This is definitely going on my schedule for next year.

Morning Basket

This is a basket or bin filled with various supplies for independent or group use. It is typically child-led so ideas for the younger set (i.e., pre-reading) would be an audio book, colored pencils with notebooking pages or coloring sheets, picture books or kid magazines, puzzles, crafts that aren’t too messy, short games, quiet books or busy bags for toddlers. We will be using this in the mornings while I stumble out of bed and get breakfast going. My vlogging friend May at So Very Domestic has some fun ideas that she uses with her kids who are a bit older than mine (older elementary and middle school)!


Do this from your kitchen table by studying other countries and their cultures. You can include maps/geography, history of the country, cooking ethnic foods, looking at pictures of the people there (they probably look pretty similar to you and me), studying native animals and habitats. Join a swap group and do a trade with someone from that country. Send a flat traveler off (Polar Pen Pal is on our list for next year; they are super fun to follow on Instagram also!).

Hands-on Projects

Great for the kinesthetic learner or as a final project for a unit study. Ideas include dioramas, models, timelines, lap books, science projects, weather charts, and calendar boards.


No, not a toddler meltdown or big kid hissy fit! I’m talking putting on skits, holding debates, making up songs, even having your kids make YouTube videos to teach others or share what they’ve learned.

Field Trips

You can take a trip almost anywhere to learn or directly observe: zoos, factory tours, behind the scenes passes, national parks, historic sites or towns, airports, Amish country, a natural area (Audubon parks, beaches, lakes, marshes, mountains), geological sites, preserved Native American sites, famous battlefields, farms…. You can then have them write a short summary or fill out a reflection sheet to reinforce what they experienced.

Experiential Activities at Home

This might look like read alouds, cooking, sewing and handicrafts, physical games like charades, experiments, a scavenger hunt in the backyard, starting seeds and gardening, or purchasing an ant farm or a “grow a butterfly” kit. Insert some silly fun into your days by finding a nonsense “National ______ Day” to celebrate, such as National Ice Cream Day or Sibling Day.

Tech Time

We are mostly non-tech in our home, but we do use an online program for learning to read, we have streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, and we use YouTube (there are some good “how to draw” videos on there) and sometimes video courses. We used to use learning apps but noticed an addictive tendency and increased bickering so we no longer use those, but maybe that’s an option for you.

Pen and Paper

Writing helps people retain the knowledge they have leaned. You could use notebooking pages or have your child write books reports or a reflection on a field trip. Once they are a little older, you can assign creative writing prompts or ask them to write a persuasive piece. Make graphs of various occurrences like precipitation days.

Group Activities

Co-ops and similar groups are excellent for homeschooled kids. These vary greatly and if you aren’t finding one that suits your needs, don’t hesitate to create one yourself! Community sports are great, classes at the local civics center or parks and rec can be inexpensive. Craft stores often offer one-off classes, and different branches of your library system may be super friendly for homeschoolers (our old library offered a homeschool activity day once a month). And again, if there is nothing like that around you, you might want to find out who is in charge or find a suggestion box.

PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….

Non-Book Learning For Your Homeschool - There are so many ways you can #homeschool your child without ever picking up a textbook! Here is a huge list of ideas for teaching your children. #allthehomeschoolthings

Now, what do you do with these ideas? As you plan your homeschool weeks, see what you can plug in for each day, or at least a few times a week to keep things interesting. Ask your kids what they would like to do! Try to make it happen.

You don’t have to do all of this planning NOW. Just look at this list a week or two ahead of time and add some activities as you go. It’s easier to not sit and schedule these all at once, but instead see what you can incorporate into the subjects or unit studies you end up doing

Your download for today is a cheat sheet with all these ideas (plus some!) and a page for you to write down what each of your children want to try (or have them write you a list). These are now available (along with each post and ALL the handouts for each day of the series) in my shop – the Plan Your Homeschool in 5 Days e-book!

Tomorrow is our last day and we’ll be talking about what to keep in your child’s portfolio to show the work they have done each year.

The blog hop with the Crew continues! Please hop on over to visit some of these other homeschool bloggers!