The TV was NOT on. Sammy (my 6-year-old) got out his large box of Legos and started building. Then he asked Maddy (my 9-year-old) to help him, and she said "yes"! They worked together to build several structures and creations and create stories around them. When they were done, they cleaned up the Legos (wow, right!). Then they pulled out some board games and played together, learning about space travel and about spelling and number placement. They took turns choosing the game or activity.
What did I do to produce such a great day? Nothing! Well, not quite...
First of all, I had already created the right environment. Our house is filled with lots of accessible games and activities that promote learning in all areas. My kids have immediate and easy access to several games and activities, and they have a variety of choice. Periodically, I rotate what is out and available (I keep other games & activities put away in storage closets, so everything is manageable). I keep paper, crayons, glue sticks, and scissors accessible. I keep puzzles and math manipulatives accessible, and I allow my kids to use them as they see fit (not as the curriculum instructions demand).
Next, I simply stay out of the way. I am available to my kids if they need help, but I try not to interrupt them if they are happily doing a project or playing a game. I keep an eye on the clock and on our appointments, so that they have plenty of warning, rather than suddenly needing to stop what they are doing, which can be quite upsetting at this age.
What if I have something I planned to teach this day? If I can catch them between activities and work with them, then great. I never pull them out of their own creative endeavors to submit to my curriculum. There will always be time later. Otherwise I wait for another day. Of course, this is why it is important to have big chunks of time when you can all be at home...so you aren't trying to squeeze in "learning" between hectic appointments and outside lessons.
So, decide how you can turn your home into a learning environment, and then sit back and enjoy the good days!