Creative Teaching Methods without Using Textbooks

Are you tired of spending all day with books, trying to push more information into your child’s overstuffed brain?

Do you want to keep your child’s love for learning alive, or revive that love?

Are you tired of textbooks and looking for some creative teaching methods?

Let’s talk about creative teaching!

What does creative teaching mean?

Simply put, it means finding creative, alternative, fun ways to teach your children.

This kind of learning reignites the natural love for learning that kids are born with and that too many textbooks tend to kill.  

Consider this scenario:

As I bent over to look at a little wild flower growing next to the pathway, my six year old son was beside me in an instant.

“They’re not the same, Mom.”

He proceeded to point out four or five differences between the two plants I was looking at. They were very similar, but not the same.

Dumbfounded, I looked at him with new respect. Where did he learn that? I hadn’t pointed out the differences to him, and I was pretty sure his dad hadn’t either.

A boy with a keen eye for detail – whether telling a story, drawing a picture, or knowing exactly what’s going on around him – he had noticed these two plants and observed the differences.

As he showed me the differences between the two plants, I realised this was science at its best – observation, classification, and recording (verbally – to me).

Not only had my son learned something, but it would stick because the learning came naturally. If I’d tried to force that information into his brain it would never have stuck!

While I wanted more of this kind of learning in my homeschool, I also realised that there wouldn’t always be natural opportunities for this kind of learning.

So why not create some?

Creative ways to teach

Here are some creative teaching ideas that will keep your kids’ natural love for learning alive:

Creative ideas for teaching math:

For preschool age children it’s important to use manipulatives since they are not yet able to process math mentally. Primary age children are more able to process math mentally.

  • You can do lots of math while in the car: count cars while travelling. Choose a colour or type and count only those. Note speed limits, distance to the next town, street numbers etc. Younger children can count the cows in the field or look for the tallest building. Older children can read road maps (yes, the old fashioned way) and compute mileage.
  • When you have visitors get your child to add up how many people there are and set the table accordingly.
  • Use beads or stones or ice cream sticks to make sums. Three stones and two stones makes five stones.  
  • Learn fractions in the kitchen while cooking. Let your children measure ingredients, mix the cookie dough, and eat the cookies afterwards! Later you can learn to multiply fractions when doubling a recipe. Make their textbooks relevant by applying what they learn to real life.
  • Count the cans of baked beans you buy in the grocery store.

Creative ideas for teaching geography:

Geography is fun! It’s all about observing the world around you!

  • Put a world map on your table and cover it with transparent plastic. While you eat (or any other time) you can “travel” the world and talk about places, people, climates, and history. We enjoyed this very much.
  • Whenever our family travelled we observed changes in vegetation and what crops were growing.
  • Visit interesting geographical sites such as caves. Learn about how they were formed. We visited an open pit diamond mine and watched stones being sorted.
  • Watch creation vs evolution videos on YouTube.
  • Watch nature videos on weather, climates, volcanoes, earthquakes etc. Make your own volcano using baking soda and vinegar.
  • Learn about contours and how maps are made.

Related: How to teach using incidental learning

Creative ideas for teaching science:

Science involves a lot of observation. Make use of the many learning opportunities surrounding you.

  • Discuss the difference between baking soda and yeast while you’re baking (if you don’t know, learn). Make your own sourdough yeast from scratch.
  • Ask your local vet if you can watch him perform operations. We watched our vet do a post mortem on a dead cow. He pointed out the organs – kidneys, heart, and stomach. He removed the lungs and demonstrated how they work by blowing into them (I know, ick!) He also allowed us to observe a few operations on cats and dogs.
  • Grow vegetables. If you don’t have garden space grow something in a pot on your windowsill. Plant a bean in a glass jar with soil in it. Put the bean under the soil but against the glass so that you can see what happens as it germinates and grows roots and leaves. Take pictures and record what happens each day.
  • Get a pet for your child. Give your child the responsibility of caring for it. Learn all you can about the animal. Get books out the library.
  • Observe the weather and create a chart where your child can record each day’s weather.
  • Bird watch or collect butterflies. We did both. My husband is the “birder” and he got all three kids involved with birdwatching. It’s great for teaching observation skills and developing concentration. It teaches self-control and patience (waiting for the bird to reappear or sitting dead still so as not to disturb the birds.)

Related: How to homeschool multiple kids at once

Creative ideas for teaching reading:

  • Print out words and stick them on articles in the house. Fridge, door, chair, pot, pan. Practice reading them.
  • Make words with magnetic letters on the fridge.
  • Read to your kids. A lot. Every day. As they get older start pointing out words and help them to recognise them whenever they occur. Pick out words on the page that start with a letter you choose.
  • Write the alphabet in large letters on an old sheet. Teach your child letters by getting them to jump onto the one you call out. Use this method to spell three letter words as well. This works well for a child that struggles to sit still.
  • Print words onto large flash cards and place them on the floor. Get your child to stand next to the word you call out or let them go from card to card and read the word.
  • Talk about rhyming words. Pot, hot, got. Sad, dad, mad. Show how changing only one letter makes a new word.

Creative ideas for teaching language:

  • Write a sentence on paper and cut each word out. Jumble up the sentence and then “read” it. Keep moving the words around until the sentence makes sense.
  • Learn about “doing words” (verbs) in a fun way. Call out a word and get your child to do the action. Run, hop, crawl, sleep, sniff, pant, howl. This can be lots of fun!
  • Learn about adjectives. Adjectives are words that describe nouns. “hot” stove, “tired” dog, “happy” boy. Mix it up and make some funny ones: hot dog, tired stove, funny chair.
  • Learn about adverbs (words that describe verbs). Get your child to do an action – run – then add the adverb – slow, fast.
  • Play “I spy with my little eye”.
  • Make a game of learning about synonyms and antonyms: one person picks a word and the rest come up with either synonyms or antonyms. Do this while driving, waiting at appointments, or pulling weeds in the garden.

Kids learn loads of stuff by creating, inventing, exploring, observing, reading, and let’s not forget, playing!

Get creative and enjoy the learning experience with your kids, and keep the textbook-blues at bay.  

What creative ideas do you use for teaching your kids?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer homeschooled all three of her kids-with no teaching qualification. Her kids are grown now but she is still passionate about homeschooling. She lives in South Africa.

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