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Learning New Skills and Crafts


This summer I added a new section to our children’s weekly to-do lists, a column for a skill or craft.  The craft may be the artsy kind, involving yarn or hot glue guns, but it can also be “a skill in an occupation or trade,” much to the relief of my non-crafty offspring.  This challenge has added a new dimension to our summer, as we are all finding hands-on things to do or learn—useful ones or enjoyable ones; projects that we might not be able to manage at all or skills that need lots of practice; skills that may benefit us for the rest of our lives or ones that have only short-term value.



In the last few weeks, we have begun, learned, or practiced these hands-on activities:


6 year old:

-making tuna salad

-sewing a bow onto a swimsuit

-mending a hole in the same swimsuit


9 year old:


-selecting, preparing, and arranging vegetables on a vegetable tray

-helping prepare and serve a restaurant style meal


11 year old:

-coloring, using shading, blended colors, and contrasting colors

-selling eggs

-planning, preparing, and serving a restaurant-style meal

-designing a restaurant menu using Word


14 year old:

-using black plastic mulch for watermelons

-completely dismantling a very dirty fan to clean it

-setting up computer tables for data

-walking on hands under water


16 year old:

-working away from home on a robotic dairy farm

-using tractors and other farm implements

-flying independently

-living semi-independently



-designing a new set of daily to-do pages to meet the goal of becoming more organized

-blogging and reviewing

-altering a gluten-free corn cake recipe successfully

-tracking down a nibbly mouse sound in our furnace duct work (It was actually the chickens, outside, clawing on a piece of metal!  Phew!)



For the next school year, we plan to keep a small  focus on hands-on skills.  In the future, I don’t want my children to echo the thoughts of a friend of mine, “I wish I had learned some real things rather than always having my nose in a book!” 


What’s more, I will give myself the same challenge as I’ve given my children:  learn a new skill, try something intimidating, go for it! 


I challenge you, too.  Just do it!  Try to learn a new skill this week, or dare to tackle something you would rather not.  It need not be a big thing, just something that you would not ordinarily do.  Over time, such small accomplishments will give you a sparkle in your eye and a spring in your step. 


Yes, you could sign up for a course, and make this a big project.  But most of us homeschool moms do not have that kind of time.  Choose a little thing that needs or wants doing, and do not burden yourself.  This is very important;  busy homeschooling moms do not need any extra weight to drag around.  Perhaps your new skill could even help remove burdens, as my organizing project is meant to do.  Eventually you will find yourself learning and practicing all sorts of little skills that meet some larger goal you have. 


This need not cost money either.    In fact, learning new skills can save money and can, eventually, lead to making money.  Good pies sell.  So does Canada Girl’s rhubarb drink.  Learning how to cut hair saves money.  So does being organized.


Are you up for the challenge?  Please leave a comment about something you have accomplished or plan to try, so we can inspire each other.  



  1. jenn4him says:

    First, I must thank you for leaving me your kind comment. I really like the intention of this post. I appreciate the lists for each age group as well. I think this would go over well at my home. One thing I am going to do this week is to make applesauce from the apples my daughter picked from our apple tree the other day. They have been sitting on my kitchen counter mocking me!


  2. AnnieKate says:

    Wow! To us applesauce is an October project! At our house it's a great hands on activity for everyone. We plan to try that rhubarb drink of Canada Girl's, if we can get our hands on some cheesecloth.

  3. 2boysmom says:

    I think this is a great idea! This could even fall onto one of your new organized sections in your planner, like those goal sheets that list all that you want your kids to focus on for the new school year.

  4. AnnieKate says:

    That would be a great idea, but our kids prefer their own little planners in duotangs, and are fairly good at not losing them. We work all week at filling out their to do lists, and put in fish stickers for anyone finished by Friday noon.

  5. solidrock says:

    We have always had time in our school schedule for what we call life skills. Some of our favorite to date: sewing, knitting, quilting, baking, porch repair, house painting, fence building, pump repair, window installment.cleaning for others, meals for others. Its a good thing to make it part of your school or as we call it our life!

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