Regardless of whether you participate in a traditional scouting style program or you use industry patch programs or online digital badges, badges are a quick and easy way to supplement your homeschool curriculum.
How to Homeschool With Badges
by Kerry Cordy
When I was a kid, I loved scouting and earning badges. There was always something thrilling about learning new things and receiving a physical reward and reminder of what I learned. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and closure as I completed each badge and turned my curiosity toward a new topic. Going back and looking through my badges also brought up fun memories and sometimes reminded me of how much I enjoyed a particular subject and spurred me on to learn even more about it.
As a result of this love of badge work, when I started homeschooling my children, it was natural for me to use badges as a starting point for unit studies in our schooling. I ran an active Frontier Girls troop at the time and since Frontier Girls has thousands of badges to choose from, which are now also available through Curiosity Untamed, it was easy to find badges to support any topic we were trying to cover in school.
My first year of homeschooling I tried using a purchased curriculum, but soon learned that for us it was a waste of money. We didn’t end up using more than half of what came in the kit. My kids’ curiosity always led us down strange and unusual paths and so Google and the Internet became our main source of information. Using badges gave us some sense of structure to each topic we chose to study. Badges provide the basic outlines of a unit study with very little effort on my part to figure out what to learn about.
Choose A Badge (or two…or three…!)
For example, if we were supposed to learn about pioneers that year, I might start with the Pioneer badge which required we learn about Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and Kit Carson as well as things like the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Mormon Trail and the California Trail. These requirements led to more badges like U.S. Geography or Biography badges to learn more about the people and places we were studying.
The Pioneer badge optional requirements include suggestions for activities such as learning how to sew a sunbonnet or other piece of pioneer clothing; learning to make a corn husk doll or other pioneer toy; and even learning to cook a pioneer meal. Badges help get kids out of just textbooks and workbooks and get them actively participating in hands on activities. These activities spark their interest and curiosity into even more topics.
For example you may choose to complete the requirement to sew a sunbonnet, but to do so requires you learn to sew. The sewing badge will walk you through what you need to learn. If, during that process, your child discovers they love sewing, they can look into other badges like Stitchery, Costume Design, or Quilting. Badges help guide children into areas they may never think to try on their own. One young man I know never thought about learning to sew until he had to make a shirt while earning the Renaissance badge. He fell in love with sewing and now, as an adult, makes Renaissance costumes for sale in his spare time.
There’s a Badge for That
Many homeschoolers follow a very strict curriculum and only learn the subjects the state mandates, but badges can turn every activity into an educational opportunity. Take a break for lunch and earn the Sandwiches badge to learn about different sandwiches around the world. Take it step farther and earn the Garnishes badge or Food Presentation Badge as well to make your food presentation spectacular. Need to get moving and find a unique way to get your PE hours in? Try the Hula Hoop badge or the Obstacle Course badge.
Traditional scouting style programs such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts have variety of badges in various different categories. The key to using badges in your homeschool is to first go through what badges are available to you. Then divide out the badges into different school subjects they can help with. For example, if you are studying water for science, you can work on the Soil and Water Conservation badge from Boy Scouts or the Water badge from Frontier Girls. Work in side interest badges such as Waterfalls, Fishing or Water Safety. See where your curiosity takes you and then find a badge to suit. If the badge program you are using doesn’t have a badge for what you wish to learn about, find one that does. Curiosity Untamed offers thousands of possible badges to choose from. If the badge program you use does not offer physical badges you want a badge for your display, just contact us and we will be happy to make a custom badge for you.
Badges, Badges Everywhere
Over the years I have become passionate about finding badges of all kinds. In addition to the thousands of badges through Curiosity Untamed, I have collected every other badge book I could find over the years from Girl Scout Handbooks dating back to the 1920’s to old Boy Scout handbooks, to modern day books like “You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Book for Grown Up Girls”. Badges have become my passion. Traditional Scouting style programs are not the only ones to offer badges, there are also a wide variety of individual badge programs on line such as the Water badge from Triangle Land Conservancy, the Pollinator patch program from Cabot Farms or the Cards For Kids patch from Making Friends Don’t be afraid to mix and match programs.
For homeschool purposes, you may find yourself earning badges from a variety of sources. Some may be traditional patches, others might be pins or magnets, and still others may simply be digital badges. Find a fun way to collect and display the badges you earn. Keep badges for a specific scouting program on your uniform while other badges might be displayed on a jacket, backpack, wall hanging, bulletin board, or shadow box. You can sort your collection by the date you earned them, by various categories such as science or art, or by the program they were earned through.