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Afternoon projects

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My boys finish their school work before lunch and spend the rest of the day playing video games. I would like them to spend more time in the afternoon on some projects, but my ideas are limited. I would like both one day and several day projects. The only ideas I have are homemade bottle rockets, a Rube Goldberg project,  a science fair experiment, or build a giant catapult (we have ten acres of trees to roam about). They are 12 and 14 years old. Any other ideas to fill the time? 

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ISome kind of robotics?

I know a homeschooled family with three boys who just built a fort on their land. I’ve not seen it, but a boy at church tells me it’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Eta: and 2 of those boys are in the range of your kids. 

Edited by emba56
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Do they have their own ideas? I'd ask them to brainstorm a few ideas, write them on a white board and require them to work on the project for a certain amount of time like at least a few days before switching if they happen to not like it, depending on the scope of the project.

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Just a thought, but I'd consider adding some school work for the afternoon, esp. for the 14yo -- finishing before lunch suggests it's only taking 3-4 hours to do school, and the average 14yo (usually doing 8th or 9th grade), is working closer to 5-6 hours a day. Ideas for some subjects that could be added to your day:

- LA = 1 hour of reading good books; vocabulary program
- Math = add a supplement to solidify math thinking: Zocarro Challenge Math, Life of Fred, Jousting Armadillos, Patty Paper Geometry, TOPS Probability, etc.
- Typing = learn touch typing, which will help with writing papers
- Foreign Language = add learning a language to your day -- studies show ages 12-15 are the BEST time for new language acquisition!
- Geography = study a country each week; at end of week give an oral presentation about the country, or make a page to add to a notebook
- Fine Arts = filmmaking, digital fine arts (animation, web design, etc.), theater, art, music (instrument), etc.
- Science/History = add documentaries regularly to your schedule
- Computer = learn to code, or other computer topic
- Home Ec = cooking, cleaning, budgeting/personal finances, home/auto maintenance
- Health & Nutrition
- Current Events

Also, perhaps limit video/computer gaming to just a few hours on the weekends? (That's what we did all the way into high school.) If gaming is not an option on weekdays, it helps to prompt children to figure out ways to entertain themselves in other ways, lol.

Some ideas to help your DSs think of ways to fill the hours after school productively:
- writing = set up a blog and write weekly articles; work on creative writing (stories from own imagination); create their own comics or graphic novels; participate in NaNoWriMo
- book club = involvement with a community or after school book club
- gardening = set up a garden and keep it going
- involvement in an after school activity = after school bowling league; public school club such as chess, robotics, STEM, etc.
- involvement in a sport; swimming; running; kayaking; biking; hiking; skateboarding at a skateboard park; etc.
- lessons for a physical activity = martial arts; fencing; dance; horseback riding, etc.
- electronics = learn to solder electronics kits
- volunteering = do weekly volunteer hours
- filmmaking = use Legos to make animated films
- hand crafts = learn a hand craft, such as wood working, whittling, weaving, jewelry making, 
- mentorship = grandpa or other trustworthy adult willing to teach auto maintenance, home repairs, or general wood projects, etc.

Edited by Lori D.
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I think asking them what they want to do is a good idea, though they might also like some suggestions to pick from if they’re not naturally project minded. I also agree that limiting electronics after school would help achieve your goals here.

also, some things we had to do in school - bug collections and leaf collections. With all species identified, of course. Seed collections could be done too.

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diy.org - it's a virtual merit badge site with tons of ideas.

Honestly, the best recs I have found are to limit the screen time (either not at all on weekdays or not until after 3pm) and go to the library weekly.  Teach them how to use the non-fiction section to look for books and expect them to come home with 4 non-fiction each week.

Edited by HomeAgain
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My oldest is 12 and he rarely is done before lunch, but he is usually done in time for free time before evening. I don’t assign him anything to do, but he isn’t allowed on screens during that time. Some things he does include writing and illustrating books, playing board games, doing puzzles and logic games, doing something on wheels (bike, ripstik), or something with a ball. He also still loves creating with cardboard and makes all kinds of stuff with that. Maybe to start have some suggestions of projects they can work on, but see what they come up with on their own. My son does lots of stuff on his own that he would balk at if I assigned it. I agree with the suggestions of a little more work and free time with no screens in the afternoons. 

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