Unschooling ideas can include hitting the books, hopping on a computer, joining a class, doing hands-on activities, or a combination of activities. The key to unschooling is making sure it’s child-led learning. Here are some fun learning ideas that we have enjoyed (or are planning on trying out!) to help you get creative! You can modify them based on children’s ages. Keep in mind, anytime you start forcing anything, even something fun, it stops being fun for everyone. Just do what they love, and the learning will happen.
This post contains affiliate links. We receive a commission for purchases made via these links.
Outdoor Unschooling Ideas
Go on a scavenger hunt in the woods
Also known as hiking, but the kids will think a scavenger hunt in the woods is way cooler.
For older kids, be specific on what you are looking for: American Holly, Red Maple, Red-headed woodpecker, metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks, etc.
Build a campfire
Discuss what is needed to start the fire, the chemical reaction that occurs, what keeps it burning, etc.
Modify depending on the age of your kids.
Start a fire with a magnifying glass
Did it work or not? Either way, discuss what happened and why it happened the way it did. Not sure; use Google to get your answers.
Take a night-time walk and identify constellations.
Nothing makes astronomy more fun than experiencing it. We have a small constellations guidebook that the kids enjoy. We don’t take it on our walks, though, because we need to keep it dark to see the stars. Pick up some filtered flashlights to make sure they don’t mess with your night vision!
Study a thunderstorm
Observe it, take notes, take videos/photos, talk about it!! It’s also a great time to learn about safety!!! Being from Florida, our kids know a lot about lightning safety. They are the first ones to take cover anytime they see lightning or hear thunder.
Have a beach day
The Beach is the perfect place to search for shells, starfish, jellyfish, crabs, etc. It’s packed full of natural learning that sticks. We have never had a beach day where we only played in the water; it was an all-encompassing day of discovery and exploration.
Video and Boardgame Unschooling Ideas
Minecraft is more than a game. It’s a learning experience. The platform has various packs that have different.
With the Plastic Pack on, build a house, and decorate the walls with paintings. Review the paintings and discuss them. Minecraft paintings are versions of real, famous works of art. It’s Art History for all ages.
Use the Bedrock edition and do some chemistry. It allows you to combine various compounds to get some results. Some work and some don’t, but it’s always fun.
Bam – there’s your math lesson for the day.
It can also be an introduction to real estate and investment properties. Take it as far as your kids’ interests!
It’s all about strategy and reading coordinates! After playing, take it to the next level by talking about, reading about, or watching a documentary about battles at sea.
Play Words with Friends
Have you ever played with your kids? Again, lots of fun and lots of learning going on.
If your kids aren’t ready for an online game like this, try the Classic Scrabble board game instead.
Art and Music Unschooling Ideas
Have an art gallery day
Everyone paints on mini canvases and then displays them. Think outside the box and display them outside! You can even invite others to participate too by contributing artwork or browsing the artwork!!
Go to a concert
You and your kids can talk about the logistics and planning related to putting on a live concert. And of course, talk about the music!!!
Outdoor concerts are a better choice for families with:
- Less restrictions on seating
- Extra room for active kiddos
- Free or low cost offerings
Go to Art shows
Art shows are a lot of fun and allow your kids to see different art forms and artists. Another bonus is that the artists are right there at the show. Your kids can talk to them and find out more about their inspiration, techniques, etc. If you have a budding artist in your family, you can encourage them to submit their artwork to an art show.
Reading and Writing Unschooling Ideas
Write Haikus together!
Oh, this is so much fun! Our family has done this. It’s a great way to learn about poetry while having a good laugh. If you don’t know where to start, do an online search for “Haikus for Kids,” and you’ll find tons of examples and information.
Here’s one by yours truly:
Daffodils are great
Yellow, happy, and bright too
Full of hope, they are
Take a notebook with you everywhere and encourage your kids to draw and write down whatever they see. I recommend you do the same. It’s always more fun when the entire family journals together. On occasion, everyone can share what’s in their journals, unless it’s personal stuff, then it’s all kept secret.
Join a book club or start your own.
Book clubs are a fun way to get your unschoolers reading. It can be a book club just for the kids or multiple families. I know a mom and daughter that have a mini-book club just for them. It is an excellent way for them to bond.
Travel Unschooling Ideas
Listen to Podcasts/Audiobooks on road trips
You can learn so much while driving!! It’s also an excellent way for the whole family to be involved and encourages discussion and bonding.
Just make sure everyone is interested in the topic. Otherwise, it can go all wrong and make that road trip seem way longer than it is.
Take a scenic train ride
Learn about trains, follow the train route, take photos/video, encourage the kids to draw what they see, and discuss where you are going.
Get to the airport early and watch planes
We did this before we had kids. After we had kids, it was only natural to make it a family affair. Some airports have special parking/viewing areas just for this activity.
Not only can you take terrific photos/videos of airplanes taking off and landing, but you can also talk about the logistics of it all.
- they time all the flights
- fast are the planes going
- planes land during bad weather
Nature drive anyone?
Nature drives, like this one, are a great option when weather conditions are iffy for a hike, but you don’t want to be stuck inside. You drive slowly on designated nature drives, so everyone can unstrap and get a good view of the local wildlife and flora/fauna.
Unschooling Ideas for Foodies
Make gourmet cookies together
Not only does your foodie unschooler get to eat delicious cookies, but it’s an easy way to learn math and science. If you are doubting the science component, watch this TED-Ed video about the chemistry of cookies.
Go to a hibachi restaurant
Do you remember the first time you went to a hibachi restaurant? Wasn’t it the coolest? Well, take your kids and let them ask the chef questions! You can follow up on the experience by reading more about the history of hibachi and/or watch a documentary about it.
Shop at a Farmers Market
Farmers’ markets are unique. Not only do you get to see and buy lots of interesting fresh foods, but you can talk to the sellers! Find out how they got their start, what makes their items unique, and how their foodstuffs can be used to make delicious meals.
Visit a local farm
Learn about where food comes from!! Kids can learn about farm animals, produce, farmers’ responsibilities, what it takes to run a successful farm, etc.
If the farm has a store, make sure to check it out. Nothing better than seeing what the farm can produce and how they can market it.
Unschooling Ideas for Cinephiles
Seriously any movie can provide an excellent intro to a new topic. We watched Doctor Strange and ended up talking all about fractals and special effects.
An American Tail introduced the kids to immigration.
Don’t shy away from fictional/entertainment movies. There is always something to discuss – special effects, cinematic style, costumes, character development, etc.
Make movies together
Take what you saw in the movies and apply it to your own films!
Let the kids film, edit, record audio, create backdrops, storyboarding, etc.
Once completed, watch it together. Have a projector? Make it a movie premiere and show it outside and invite others to join you!
Unschooling Ideas for Gardens, Museums & More
Go to a butterfly garden
You can learn about the different kinds of butterflies and what their favorite plants are. Sometimes, you may even get the chance to feed the butterflies. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History has a butterfly garden, and it was a hit with our kids.
Hit up a botanical garden
Botanical gardens are a lot of fun and a great way to learn about plant life. Many have a special children’s garden where children can explore and run and play.
Go to a museum
There is something there for everyone at the museum and there are plenty of museums out there covering everything: art, music, history, cars, natural history, fashion, etc. If you have young children, though, make sure that the museum is appropriate for your child. Call ahead and see if they have special children’s events or activities.
Visit an aquarium
Who doesn’t love learning about freshwater and marine life? If your kids are into it, make sure they talk to experts at the aquarium. That way, they can get their questions answered while they are there.
If you can, get on a behind-the-scenes tour for even more access to experts and animals.
Go to a military aviation museum
Military aviation museums are impressive, usually free (or cheap), and they are very family-friendly! It’s an excellent experience for the whole family, even those that may be pacifists. The entire experience is thought-provoking and opens up many discussions about warfare and what it really costs (in the way of lives).
Science Unschooling Ideas
Go to a nature center
If you have been reading about our homeschooling journey, you will know that we love nature centers. They have a museum and lots of outdoor hikes. Sometimes they have classes/camps. It’s a great way to learn about the local ecosystem and local environmental concerns.
Do a little Birdwatching
The easiest way to find a place for birding is to search for Audubon parks. You are bound to find one in your area, and they are always free. If you know your kids aren’t quiet, go during the off-season or in the middle of the week. Bring binoculars and just have fun with them.
We have been doing this for years. Both our kids enjoy setting up the kits and then seeing what crystals they grow. It’s a lot of fun and an easy way to learn about how they are formed.
Dig up dinosaur bones
Yep, you and your family can go on a real dino dig!! We all know that paleontology sites are all over, but most folks never actually get to visit them. Imagine how much fun you and your kids can have on a dig? We haven’t done one yet, but I can’t wait. I know it will be a big hit for our family. Click here to get started.
Random Unschooling Ideas
I couldn’t box these into a neat category, but they are still worth including.
Visit a Historic Downtown
Historic downtowns are fantastic!! Find and explore the local museum and art gallery. You just covered both history and art in one shot. They tend to be free or inexpensive, and there is plenty to see. On occasion, you might be able to meet the artists while visiting a local art gallery. What a fantastic opportunity to learn from the artist!!
Go to the mall
The mall is a great place to see and discuss consumerism, capitalism, etc. Depending on your child’s age, you may be able to discuss the decline of malls due to online retail.
Keep a measuring tape handy!! Nothing more fun than measuring snowfall levels, rainfall levels, branches, chairs, etc.
I hope this gave you some ideas on taking everyday life experiences and learning from them. Your kids will enjoy these activities, and so will you. Something I didn’t expect from our journey was how much I would learn too. Make it a family experience and enjoy the journey!
If you are thinking about taking your unschooling journey on the road, check out my roadschooling articles by clicking here.