Unschooling in action: Taking a walk with my kids
A fantastic no-cost homeschooling activity
Unschooling is learning from life. And you encounter life everywhere. You don't have to travel far or spend a lot of money.
A great unschooling activity is just taking a walk. There are plenty of things right on your block that will capture your children's attention and spark their curiosity.
One nice thing about living in Southern California is that the weather will rarely hinder you from taking a nice family walk.
This page chronicles some of the learning opportunities we find just walking around our Los Angeles neighborhood. It's a part of my set of web pages about homeschooling cheaply in Los Angeles.
(Photo of Passiflora caerulea)
Educational things you can do when you're taking a walk with your kids
Look at plants while you walk!
During walks with your kids look at the plant life around you. Can you identify the trees you see? Try taking a picture of one of them and maybe snagging a leaf. Take it home and look it up.
Maybe the flowers in your neighbors' gardens will capture their fancy more than the trees. You might want to find out which ones are native flowers and which ones might have exotic origins.
I have to confess, the plants that interest me the most are the weeds that lurk at the edges of lawns and flourish in empty lots. When I see one that I haven't met before, I'll pull off a piece of it and head for my computer. I've even made web pages about some of the ones that are edible: Edible weeds in Los Angeles.
The plant in the photo here is puncture vine, Tribulus terrestris, that was growing on the sidewalk between our house and the corner store. We see a good bit of puncture vine in the summer where we live. I pointed out the nasty barbed heads to my sons.
Look at animals while you walk!
You don't have to go to the zoo to see wildlife! The animals on your block may be small, but they can be fascinating nonetheless. My boys and I love looking at bugs. Ants, butterflies, moths, spiders and spider webs.
And maybe if you're lucky you'll see a hummingbird. Not to mention plenty of pigeons.
Are there dogs in your neighborhood? We have plenty of them in our 'hood. Your walking time could spur you to learn more about dog and cat breeds.
Look at the landscape while you walk!
Can you see any cool geography? If you're in the Los Angeles area, do you have a view of the Santa Monica Mountains? Or perhaps the downtown skyline? If you're really lucky, maybe you've got a view of the ocean. Observe these landmarks in real life while you walk, then look them up for more information when you get home.
Another interesting thing to observe here in LA is the air quality. If you look up, you see blue sky. But if you look straight ahead, you may see a brownish haze of air pollution. Notice how the amount of smog varies in different kinds of weather (you've probably noticed how much clearer the air is the day after a good rain).
Look at the streets while you walk!
When my boys were younger, we had fun doing reading practice while we walked. We would read the manhole covers (and talk about what was underneath them), read street signs, store signs, billboards. Reading stuff that's related to real life is way more fun than reading about Dick, Jane, and Spot.
And sometimes there are PEOPLE on the streets, too! My guys love to watch construction workers and utility company servicemen do their thing on the streets. We've even had conversations with some of them, which gives my kids a chance to learn more about how their community works, AND to practice their social skills by conversing thoughtfully with an adult. (I love homeschooling socialization!)