The Best Electives for Extended Learning

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to providing my son with a well-rounded education, I get hung-up on those “elective” classes.  In my head, those should be the easy ones, the fun ones.  But in reality, my son’s interests are different from mine.  He doesn’t want to learn to scrapbook, cook (although he might not have a choice in this one), or learn the fine art of bargain shopping (please tell me that can be an elective).  So what started out as the “fun” classes end up becoming my “stress” classes because I don’t feel that I have enough knowledge or experience to teach properly the electives he would be interested in.

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One way I solved this was by joining a local homeschooling co-op that meets once a week for elective classes.  This way he gets to choose three classes of his choosing, and I don’t have to become the resident “expert” on all of them!  As part of my co-op responsibilities, I teach a class of my choosing.  This works out great because although my son might not be interested in a topic I like, other kids are. Win-Win!!!  This spring I am teaching a photography class.  Am I a photographer – no.  But I do have a “fancy” camera that I love playing with.  I would say it is more of a hobby that I am continuing to learn and develop for myself.  So what better way to continue my education than by using the opportunity to share my hobby through our co-op group.

Awesome electives for learners of any age

kid camera

When I found Photography Lessons for Kids on Educents I knew this was a resource that could help.  When I had the chance to try it out so I could share it with you – I gave a little squeal and knew this could be the basis of a great co-op class.

The Photography Lessons for Kids resource contains five lessons that can be used in a weekly or daily format for a summer camp or class.  Since my class is ten weeks long, I decided to divide up some of the topics and give the kids time in each class to practice what they are learning.  This is not a comprehensive photography class, but an excellent class for kids who are starting out and wanting to understand photography.  The kids don’t need a fancy camera for this class either.  Any camera can be used, including a phone!

The topics included in the five lessons are History of Photography, Photographer’s Toolkit, Basic Settings on a Camera, Composition of a Picture, ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, White Balance, Lighting and Posing, and Careers in Photography.

What I really love about these lessons is that they include “lesson notes” that are already completed and written in language that is easy for the kids to understand.  Not only does this save me a lot of time in putting together my class, but it will give the students information they can go back and reference long after our class is over.  Here’s an example of the lesson notes:

lesson notes
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I also really like that the class materials include some games and activities that will help keep the class fun and hands-on.

My class starts tomorrow, and I am really excited to get going.  I have 55 minutes each week, and this is how I am going to divide my time.

10 minutes – Each student will bring in their favorite picture from the previous week’s lesson to share with the class as we review what we previously learned.
20 – 30 minutes – Lesson for the week (This will be the lessons from Photography for Kids and also the type of picture that we are going to focus on for that week (i.e. Landscapes, Portraits, Close-ups, etc.)
15-20 minutes – Picture taking time – Students will practice the skill that we learned that week. .
5 minute – Wrap-up – what we learned and “homework” assignment.

If you have a budding photographer or are looking for a fun elective to add to your curriculum, this is a great resource to start with! This is also great for a summer camp or something to help fill a week of school vacation!

Maybe photography isn’t what you are looking for.  No problem!  Educents has lots of amazing resources to help you provide your kids with fun and engaging electives!  Here’re a few other options!

1.  Computer Programming
I don’t think any of us will argue that programming skills are a skill that will be vital in the future.  Let your kids learn these important skills through a favorite video game – Minecraft.

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Learn to Mod Minecraft and Mod Design 1: Learn to Code with Minecraft are two great courses you can get through Educents that make great elective classes for your child.  Play to Learn offers another coding course that is not done through the Minecraft platform.  This program uses cute creatures and a video game format to teach coding.  This is perfect for those kiddos that are not Minecraft players. For me, the best thing about these classes is that they do all the instruction.  This is a really good thing because I know very little about coding and programming.

2.  Musical Instruments

music
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Are you interested in having your kids learn to play a musical instrument?  You can find some great resources on Educents.  Take a look at this Piano Starter Kit from eMedia. This includes everything you need to have piano lessons right in your own home!  It includes a keyboard, CD of video lessons and games.  There’s also this Beginner Guitar Set and Violin Starter Set too!

3.  Foreign Language

A foreign language is another elective that I feel is important, but I don’t feel like I have adequate knowledge to teach it properly.  Thank goodness there are some amazing foreign language courses available that are geared at kids!  PetraLingua offers on-line courses in Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, and French.  There are also these fun Spanish classes by Foreign Languages by Kids for Kids.

Children learning a new language

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I hope you found a class or two that will help you fill in elective classes to your curriculum without causing you stress.  Do you have another idea for a fun elective class?  Leave us a comment and let us know about it!

About the All-Star Blogger

Amy Teaching in Blue JeansAmy is a former kindergarten teacher turned homeschooling mom. She focuses on multi-sensory teaching methods and making learning fun and engaging. Amy shares her teaching tips and resources at Teaching in Blue Jeans.