My Top Ten Lists of our Favorite Unschooling Fun in 2011

by ChristinaPilkington on December 28, 2011 · 18 comments

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Frequent readers of this site know that I love lists. I guess it’s just the way my mind works, but I love the way lists summarize things and present them in a simple, easy way to read.

I’ve spent some time thinking about our past year. I feel blessed beyond anything I could have hoped or dreamed for this year. I feel like pinching myself sometimes that I’m able to stay home with my kids and learn with them in a way that embraces life and freedom. 

We love learning those things that interest us, and even though my kids are still young, it’s amazing to see how much they learn when they can concentrate for hours on those things that hold their attention.

To celebrate our year and remember all the learning and fun that took place, I’ve put together a top ten list of the top ten categories of things we’ve done this year. I’ve included links (not affiliate) so you can check out resources or places if you’d like.

 Books Read

 1. A Street Through Time

2. The Tempest for Kids (Shakespeare Can be Fun series)

3. The Elephant Dancer: A Story of Ancient India


5. The Scrambled States of America

6. Archaeologists Dig for Clues

7.Around the World in 80 Tales

8.Adventures with the Vikings

9.The Captain Underpants series

10. Vacation Under the Volcano (A Magic Treehouse book)


 Computer Games/Websites



3. Travel the World with Timmy

4. History Explorer (DK)

5. World Explorer (DK)

6. Explorapedia

7. Angry Birds

8. Google Earth (this is pretty huge at our house)

9. Wikipedia

10. (Alexa likes looking up vacation houses in other countries)


 TV Shows/Movies

1. Spiderman and his Amazing Friends

2. The Harry Potter Series

3. The Indiana Jones Series

4. BBC Animated Shakespeare Series

5. Liberty’s Kids Series

6. Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Greek Myths series

7. Scooby Doo Seasons 1-3

8. Pompeii: The Last Day

9. Around the World in 80 Days

10. Swiss Family Robinson


Places We’ve Visited

1.  Mojave Desert in Nevada

2.  Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan

3. Conner’s Prairie (A Living History Park) in Indiana

4. Point Loma in San Diego, CA

5. Laguna Beach in CA

6. The Magic House (a children’s museum) in St. Louis, MO

7. Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, NV

8. Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO

9. Our vacation house by the lake in San Marcos, CA

10. Hiking around the pond outside the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City, MO


 Sciencey Stuff

 1. Magic School Bus Human Body Kit

2. Magic School Bus Germs Kit

3. Density Experiments at homeschool co-op

4. Petting a skunk, field mice and a bald eagle at a nature center programs

5. Watching the dolphin show at the zoo

6. Magic School Bus Volcano Kit

7. Visiting the Whale exhibit at the Field Museum

8. Watching the IMAX Tornado Alley at the Museum of Science & Industry

9. Nature hikes in the woods

10. Science Arts


Around the House Play

 1. Building with Legos

2. Swimming in the next door neighbors’ pool

3. Playing the ant goo game (it’s pretty complicated, but it involves Jared being Spiderman, me being Venom, and spreading dough filled with biting ants all over Spiderman, which is him trying to withstand me tickling him)

4. Hide-and-seek

5. Board games

6. Drawing

7. Painting

8. Reading

9. Singing

10. Horse Land (another complicated, on-going pretend game)


Favorite Games

 1. Candyland

2. Scooby Doo Make a Match Game

3. Wrestling

4. Cariboo Island

5. Mousetrap

6. 5 LittleMonkeys Jumping on the Bed

7.  Don’t Break the Ice

8. Junior Monopoly

9. Don’t Wake Daddy

10. Smashed Potatoes



1. Watching the Nutcracker at a theater

2. Playing on the keyboard and drum set at home

3. A Christmas Carol musical at Silver Dollar City in MO

4. The Three Little Pigs (musical) at the Beverly Arts Center

5. 57 kids greatest Halloween songs, games and stories

6. Greece: A Musical Odyssey (CD)

7.  A Muppets Christmas Carol (it has the best songs!)

8. Music of the rainforest pygmies (CD)

9. Alice Through the Looking Glass musical in St. Louis, MO

10. Skippyjon Jones musical at College of DuPage


New Experiences

1. Exploring a 19th Century ship

2. Going Bowling

3. Watch glass being made

4. The kids steering a boat by themselves

5. Swimming by themselves without a life jacket

6.  Hiking dunes in a desert

7. Seeing the inside of a casino (we tried to walk through very fast J)

8. Seeing a tortoise in the wild

9. Feeding a squirrel by hand

10. Riding their first roller coaster



 1.Kaleidoscope in Kansas City, MO

2. Sculpting clay animals

3. Making a bowl out of potter’s clay

4. Shrinky Dinks

5.Crayola 3-D Sidewalk Chalk

6. Stapling and hole punching (creating pictures just using staples)

7. Painting with colored shaving cream on the bathroom tiles

8. Lots of playdough creations

9. Making a cardboard treasure chest

10. Painting with marbles


Photo Credit: Ell Brown

What were your top favorite activities from this past year?

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  • Unschooling Blog Carnival

    Thanks for participating with the Unschooling Blog Carnival! I tend to be a list person too!
    Looks like 2011 was a lot of fun. :)

    • Anonymous

      I knew I’d have a great time this first official year they kids have stayed home from school, but I didn’t realize how much fun! And now it’s the beginning of Feburary and I think we’re set to have an even better year!

  • Frank

    Fun lists!

    • Anonymous


  • Karen Terry Cagle

    YAY! One of my favorite things…Christina Lists!! Can’t wait to peruse all of these!

    • Anonymous

      Have fun!

  • Jenn

    I love your lists! I do something similar every year, but your lists are much more organized:) I like your headings- art, music, new experiences…and I think I’ll try to organize my highlights of 2011 in the same way. Thanks for sharing:) I always leave your blog feeling inspired.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Jenn :) I hope you do a post about your 2011 highlights. I would love to read it!

  • Krista English

    Fantastic idea! It is motivating me to get more organized in my own portfolios for my kids activities. So much learning going on all the time makes it hard to keep up and then there is the issue of the cobbler’s kids never have shoes (as I help others do this too!) LOL Your list is fun to read especially since it’s for younger kids than my own and it just shows how unique everyone is in their own learning adventure! I look forward to linking up more through our blogs in 2012! I wish I had your wisdom when I was starting out earlier! Actually I did start out that way, then lost my way (as I mention in my latest post is a common trend) then learned the hard way by going down that road before getting my groove back.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always loved reading posts where people share what their lives look like. I’m facinated by the ways other people learn. I just wish all children had the same opportunity to be free with their learning throughout the day. I’m glad you eventually came back to interest-led learning. It’s so easy to get off track and worry that our kids aren’t “up to grade level” or not learning the same thing as other kids in school. I’ve always tried to remind myself that I don’t want my kids to be like everyone else. It helps.

  • Monica Vandeventer

    I also wanted to say that you might consider making those links open in a new page. I hate navigating away from your site. Just an idea!

    • Anonymous

      I didn’t realize it was doing that. Actually, I’m not sure how to set it up where it opens in a new window. I’ll have to look into that.

  • Monica Vandeventer

    Love this list. I am rather new to the interest led learning and unschooling network. My kids are very young (2&4), but I want to start being mindful of their interests and encouraging them in any way I can. I just wanted to add that we love There is a free and paid version. I used the free version for months, but the paid one is well worth it.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the website suggestion! It looks really fun. And I think it’s great you’re thinking about following your kids interests while they’re still young. It really does put them on the right path towards self-directed learning.

  • sarah in the woods

    I love these lists and they give me some great ideas. I think I would like to do a post like this too.

    • Anonymous

      You should do it! I had a fun time writing it and thinking back to some of the great things we did last year.

  • Jessica

    This would be a very fun thing to do with my girls as an end of the year activity. I did it last year in the early summer as a way to wrap up our “school” year, but I love the idea of extending it into travel, arts, music, etc. I always look forward to your new posts because they give me so much to think about!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! I hope you do this and then post it on your blog because I’d love to read it!

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