Word Detectives


I would love to say that my kids enjoy every aspect of homeschooling but that wouldn’t be truthful. Homeschooling is definitely a learning process while our kids are learning reading, writing and arithmetic we are learning right alongside them. We are learning what curriculum works and what doesn’t. Most families choose to homeschool because they recognize that a one size fits all approach is ineffective but this means that we have to figure out what works for each individual child. This process alone can be difficult for kids and parents alike and we have shed our fair share of tears along the way.

One lesson I have learned over the years is that if I want to ignite a passion for learning in my kids I need to keep the process as fun as possible. This doesn’t mean that my kids jump for joy when I announce it is time for school work but I do try to mix in fun activities to help keep them motivated and to reduce not only their stress but mine as well. Two subjects that were constantly causing tears at our kitchen table were spelling and handwriting. I have tried dozens of curriculums and workbooks over the years with very little success. Either the material was too tedious or just plain boring. I have tried to implement copywork in a multitude of ways but nothing was working. I was honestly out of ideas and then with the help of my youngest son, Daniel, a new and fun idea was born.

Daniel loves words and while he doesn’t enjoy traditional copywork or workbooks he does love writing random words and learning what they mean. We have the letter magnets on our fridge and he is always spelling out new words and asking for their definitions.  Whenever he would ask for a definition I would sit down with him and we would look it up in our dictionary. We had an old Webster Dictionary that I had gotten years ago at a thrift store and while it is one of my favorites it’s not very appealing to little ones. One day not long ago, I was exploring my local bookstore and I stumbled across DK Publishings “Merriam- Webster’s Children’s Dictionary” and I knew instantly that we needed to add this to our library.

Daniel fell in love with this dictionary and he started finding words of interest and writing them down in his art journal. At first, I didn’t think about it but a few days later I noticed that many of the pages in his art journal were filled with words and he was actually writing down their definitions as well. That day I went out and bought a hardcover journal for each of my kids. I found fun designs that I knew would capture their interest and I set them down on the kitchen table with our new dictionary. I announced that every afternoon for 10 mins they were going to be “Word Detectives”. The goal was to find a word of interest, write down its definition and then draw a picture or write a story about the word. Not only have my kids learned how to use a dictionary but they are practicing spelling and handwriting all while flexing their imaginations.

I don’t know how long playing “Word Detectives” will keep their interest but for now, it is working and for that I am thankful. I love reading their silly stories and listening to them laugh and giggle as they share those stories with each other. When my kids look back on their experience of being homeschooled I want them to have these precious memories of the time we spent together as a family learning.




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