Mario School

One of the main reasons I love homeschooling is because you can gear the learning to something your child is greatly interested in. If not all the time, at least a good portion of their education can be "their idea".  When they are interested in the subject, you'd be amazed at how much they can learn and retain!

We already mainly do (my take) on child led learning.  For us it looks something like thematic unit studies with a whole lot of role playing.  But we also do the "oh come on, Mom!  This is so boring!!" school too.  Otherwise known as math and penmanship.

I don't always choose things that he wants because then we might not find things that he would have never chose on his own.  Like the story of Lentil.  So we do a mix of  "mom-guided" and "child-led".

Learning can (and should!) be fun.

When we were nearing the end of our regularly scheduled school I let Connor know that he could pick out a few things he'd want to learn about over the summer months.

His choices were:
  • snakes
  • bugs
  • star wars
  • Mario
I'll be honest.  I thought I'd be doomed coming up with something productive with Mario.  In Connor's head, he was maybe envisioning gaming marathons - in the name of school.  Yeah right.  No chance.

Coming up with lots of productive Mario based learning was much easier than I thought.

Let me introduce you to my son, "Mario".

Connor is a very head-strong and independent little guy.  From about age 3 he was very much into assuming various roles and just diving right in.  He began to draw on himself (we only own washable markers), and I figured.... what's the harm?  He's only a kid once, and it's washable.  Lets see where this takes him in life. 

Since he kept drawing Mario mustaches on himself, I figured we'd embrace it and use it as a chance for some expanded learning.  For starters, I just simply used my good friend, Google, which led me to the Wikipedia page all about Mario.  There we learned the game designer is from Japan - Connor's favorite country.  He also created Connor's (and my) top two games:  Mario and the Legend of Zelda.

Here's what we came up with for "school":

Social Studies:

  • New York -  Mario is said to be from (or placed in) New York.  Your child could locate this on a map.  Maybe check out a book from your local library on New York.
  • Italian American - Mario's ethnicity is said to be Italian (living in New York).  Little Italy! 
  • Italy - you could chose to learn about Italy instead of, or in addition to, New York.  We painted an Italian flag and "travelled" on our map from Italy to New York.
  • Japan - you could focus on the game designer and learn a bit about Japan.  (We also made a Japanese flag)
"Italian American" reminded me of pizza.  Pizza reminded me of Little Nino's Pizzeria, with FIAR volume 3.  This is a book about a family owned restaurant.  The little boy helps out until dad grows the restaurant and changes it to "Big Nino's".  Maybe Mario was just like this little boy before immigrating to New York.  ;)

  • plumber - Since Mario was always going down pipes he was made to be a plumber.  We checked our local library and they had a couple books on plumbing, in the kids section.
  • sewerage - a yuck topic, but it is a fact of life.  You could talk about all the city's sewage system, how it works - or the septic systems, if you have that instead of city sewage.  At our library we checked out Peter Kent's City Across Time, which shows how the underground system changed and evolved over time.  We also watched Flushed Away
  • Mario is always in rescue of his beloved Princess, enduring many obstacles and then battling a much bigger bully (Bowser) to rescue the Princess.  For us, we tied Mario's courage into bible lessons.  We listened to Seeds Family Worship, Seeds of Courage.  We are also reading through Little Pilgrim's Progress: From John Bunyan's Classic, (as a read aloud).
  • Family - Can't forget Mario's brother, Luigi!
  • Friendships - talk about the importance of friendships, like Mario's pals Yoshi, Toad, and the Princesses (Peach and Daisy)
  • enemies - we talked about bullies and we read Enemy Pie .
Language Arts:
  • Italian - you could learn a little of the Italian language if your library has books. 
  • stories - with Connor I had him draw stories and then write them out using his primary Composition Book.  For us it's the easiest way to get in some writing practice because he's so excited about the topic.
  • cartoon animation - if interested you could show your child how an animation is created
  • how about this Mario Craft!?  I can't even tell you how excited Connor was for this.  He very happily colored and cut out his Mario, but he wasn't happy until we cut off the arms and legs and added brads so we had a moveable Mario.  Then we printed two more because we also had to have fire Mario and Luigi.  He loved his craft so much, Mario got a front row seat to our movie night.

  • mustache tattoos - Connor is always coloring himself a mustache, so when I found tattoos at the dollar store, we had to have them.

  • music - there is always background music in the games, and when Connor is role playing he is usually humming the theme song.  I can't often get him to happily listen to music, but this piano cover had him running over to me, and he sat thru the entire 10 mins.  I don't let Connor on YouTube by himself, but together we then listened to so many really neat and talented versions of the Mario theme song.  It was a great chance to introduce a variety of instruments to Connor.  My favorite was the tuba and string melody.
  • if you have a younger student, then this Mario printable pack is perfect to get in a little math learning (and language arts).
  • Golden coins - for us, we used our "pirate gold" (those gold coins you can find at the dollar stores) and from there, just do whatever your child needs to work on, mathematically.   Group them by 2s, 5s or 10s;  add them, subtract them.  Make up little word problems like "If Mario collected 16 Gold Coins and Yoshi ate 7, how many does Mario have left?"
  • building - we spent lots of time building our versions of Mario castles with blocks and wedgits.
  • puzzle - we found this awesome puzzle at Target.  It was great family time.  Connor hummed the theme song each time we worked on it.

  • dinosaur - Yoshi is a dinosaur.  You could have a huge rabbit-trail just from there.  We had already spent 2 weeks just on dinosaurs, before, so we didn't touch on this again.
  • turtles - Bowser and the rest of the Koopas are turtle-like.  You could take some time to learn all about turtles.
  • I found this perfect book to tie in Mario, realistically. Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants (an easy reader, level 2)
  • grooming (health) - anyone with a mustache knows that you're going to have to spend time grooming and shaving.  (we used a kids shaving kit by Alex Toys)


Get out in the real world and play!  Use your child's love of being lost in the video game world (sitting idle on a couch or bed), and bring into real life.  Get lost in imagination.

We went to the park and found Mario pipes!

We also found "Bomb-omb Battlefield" (a small ditch area of the park to slip and slide down) and we found "red-hot log rolling" (from Mario Galaxy). 

Dress-up!  Connor was always putting on his snow pants to be Mario's overalls (or coveralls), add a ball cap and your transformation is complete.  A backpack on Connor's back would transform him into Bowser.

The possibilities are numerous! 

Linking up with:

Weekly Wrap-Up
 Hip Homeschool Moms


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