I want to share with you some really cool things we’ve been doing with our unschooling group this year! We spend a lot of time with our group. Two days a week we meet up, usually in a natural space, and the kids just play and play and play for about six hours. Most of our meetups are solely unstructured free play, but we’ve also been doing some specific events too.
As the oldest kids in the group grow, the group naturally changes to meet their needs. Right now, here’s what they’re loving…
Our unschool group has markets seasonally and the kids really love it. They spend ages preparing things they think their friends will like. In the past they’ve made things like: wands, jewellery, cupcakes, flowers, minecraft necklaces, lolly bags, lucky dips, toys, perfume, balloon animals, felt purses, slime. They’ve also done face painting, games, painted nails, temporary tattoos and more!
It’s always lots of fun and so great to see the kids supporting each other and sharing their creations. And it’s not as hard to organise as you might think! You can find more details on how we run our markets here.
2. Project Fair
The kids in our group all have such unique interests and project fair is one way they get to share them with each other. Every few months we get together and the children bring along something that they’ve been interested in or working on lately that they are keen to share with others.
We set up at a park, just like the markets, with everyone bringing a small table or mat to put their things on. The kids then go around to each person as a group and listen while they talk about what they have brought. It’s also totally ok if you don’t feel like talking of course!
So far the kids have shared documentaries, presentations, art, experiments, played instruments, told us about languages they are learning, and things like that. It’s just SO cool to see them sharing the things they love. They are often inspired by the other kids and come home wanting to know more about something a friend has shared.
3. Talent Show
We recently had our first talent show and it was a BIG hit. As soon as we got in the car to leave I was already being asked when the next one would be. The kids had the absolute best time with this one.
For our talent show we hired a hall with a small stage, sound, and lighting. It felt so professional for the kids and didn’t cost us much in the end because we were splitting the cost between many families. It was well worth it!
One of the creative Mum’s in the group put together a program of the kids performances including the name and photo of everyone in the show.
There was singing, comedy, piano, harmonica, poetry reading, ballet, tap, a magic show, Polynesian dance, and a lot of freestyle dancing. They had worked so hard practicing their performances and their proud faces and huge smiles up on stage were so beautiful! Watching them cheer for and support each other was just so awesome.
After the performances had finished they all jumped up on stage together to sing and dance to their favourite songs. I think it’s a childhood memory they will keep forever.
4. Book Club
The kids listen to a lot of audiobooks, and some of their friends do too, so they were pretty keen on the idea of a book club. We started late last year and it’s been a huge success. Do you ever read a book and you just want to talk to someone about it? I guess it’s like that! They get to share what they think of the story with people who know exactly what they’re talking about!
Book club meets monthly in a park. The kids sit together, have some snacks, and chat about the book they have read. The first time we did it we weren’t sure how it would go. Would we need to help them get the conversation started? What would they talk about? Would they need suggestions? Would they even be interested in talking? We just left them to it to see what would happen, as this experience was totally about them and whatever they wanted to get out of it, not about us having any goals for them other than to enjoy something together. Well, just as unschooled kids do, they took charge completely!
They sat in a circle and one person would ask a question like ‘who was your favourite character?’, or ‘what was your favourite part of the story?’ and then they would take in turns going around the circle and answering. Things go pretty much the same way every book club now. The questions change depending on the story. The kids often bring along art they have created inspired by the story to share too.
How do we pick the books? Generally the adults find books we think the kids would like. We have an ongoing list we add to. Then we pick some each month, read the descriptions to the kids, and vote on which one to do next! We try to choose books that are available on Audible because that’s so much easier when you have a time limit to finish by, especially if you also have younger kids who aren’t yet interested in novels. So far the kids have enjoyed: Harriet the Spy, The Jungle Book, The Land of Stories, How to Train Your Dragon, Nevermoor, and The Adventures of The Wishing Chair.
5. Poetry Teatime
Something else we have been doing monthly is poetry teatime. We also do this at home once a week. We share treats and hot chocolate and read poems together. The girls really enjoy it and love doing it with friends too!
They all sit together and read any poems they have bought along or written. Sometimes they talk about what the poems mean or why they decided to write a poem. This is such a simple one to organise! The kids spend a bit of time together reading and then head off to play for a few hours just like a normal meetup.
If your kids don’t yet love poetry, or you are looking for some good poetry books for children you can find more info here.
Some other things…
No forced participation
We are an unschooling group! That means no one is ever forced to participate in any events. And no one is excluded either! Miss 3 even did her own solo dance at the talent show which was brilliant. The younger kids learn so much from watching their older friends.
These events are meant to be fun, and for the kids, and I just don’t ever see the point of forcing anyone to participate if they’re not feeling it. That’s not real learning and it’s not respectful so I would never recommend that! We always welcome those who aren’t participating to come along and support friends and watch and see what it’s all about too. Sometimes you just want to watch from the sidelines for a bit before joining in, right?
No time limits
Of course, there’s no set amount of time people have to talk about a book, or read poetry, etc. Everything is child-led and finishes when they feel finished! Most of these events don’t take up a whole meetup so we come together at the start for whatever we are planning to do and then after that everyone plays just like normal.
Ask the children
Before you organise anything, ask the kids if they’re interested! We came up with all of these events in collaboration with the kids, their interests, wants, and needs. That doesn’t mean it’s not ok to suggest things though! How will they know of things if you don’t share? Just be authentic, tell them of your ideas, and get their thoughts on them.
What events do you enjoy with your homeschool/unschool community? I’d love to hear if you try any of these!