Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Taking the crazy out of packing the workboxes.

So apparently I am not bright enough to delete photos on my new camera and can't find my memory card. So we'll have to go without visuals on this one.

I try to make packing the kids' workboxes as hassle free as possible.

Some of the kids' assignments are on the computer. For those, I laminated cards that say "Reading Eggs - 30 min" or "Teaching Textbooks, next lesson."

For the rest of the stuff, I have a general order for each kid. I wrote it out on a piece of paper, laminated it and keep in the front of their desk apprentice.

For example (keep in mind that Bible/art/history/science are all being done together):

Luke's Boxes

1: All About Reading
2. Critical Thinking
3. Handwriting
4. Singapore Math
5. Hands on (I try to pick one hands on math assignment here, like using C-rods or counting bears or another math manipulative)
6. Blank
7. Blank
8. Reading Eggs

So, the ones with dedicated assignments are easy. I just put that book into the folder or magazine holder. For the others, things are more complicated.

On Sunday evenings I go over our TOG and science plans for the week. If there are any worksheets or projects that I want to do, I assemble them and put them in folders in my desk apprentice. I have a folder for each child. Some things may be appropriate for just the older kids or just the youngers, so I just print out as many copies as I need. I also spend a lot of time perusing Pinterest and other hs sites, so when I see a project or worksheet that any of the kids might like I print it and put it in their folder.

So each night as I pack the next day's boxes, I just go to that child's folder and choose whichever worksheets/projects I need to fill their boxes. I have a stash of logic puzzles I can use to fill boxes in another folder as well. And, of course, all the file folder games.

Doesn't take me longer than 10-15 minutes at most. And as I pack their boxes, I check the previous day's assignments.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Our new homeschool system

So, as we've added pupils to the school, organization has become more and more important. When educating more than one child with a learning challenge, it becomes vital. This year, we began using a modified workbox system.

She suggests dividing the work into 12 boxes per child, per day. Since we do unit studies, all the children are studying the same science, history, Bible and art. This means we begin our day on the reading carpet and listen as I read from our various "living books" (we try to choose more real books and fewer textbooks). We pray together and if we have an art project for the day, we complete it after carpet time.

This year we put up a reading tree. Every time we complete a read-aloud, we add a leaf to our tree. Our goal is 1000 books between 10/11 and 10/12.

This is the whole school room:

You can see my desk on the left there, with my filing cabinets. The desk on the right side of mine faces the children's area and its drawers hold all of our colored paper and supplies. I also have a desk apprentice on that side with my stuff in it.

Yes, that is a dishwasher rack sitting on the left side of my desk. It is perfect for book storage. It allows me to flip through our current or future read-alouds easily. My file cabinet is full of file-folder games for the children's workboxes. These are easy to make games that reinforce skills the children are learning. Most include a key so the child can self-check.

Here are Luke and Abby's desks:

Each child's area has a desk apprentice, a bookshelf, a desk, chair, and a light. Sue Patrick suggests using all plastic shoeboxes for the workboxes but we found that to be unwieldy. So we use a combination of magazine files, plastic shoeboxes and file folders.

Each day I pack the children's boxes/folders with their assignments for the day. If it is a workbook, I put a sticky note on that day's workpages. They begin with #1 and work through #8. As they complete each box/folder, they remove the number from the velcro and place it on their docking station.

Then they place their finished work in their worktub. (See the white tub to the left of his desk apprentice?)

I begin with Luke and work around to Nate. So I try to stack the older kids' boxes with assignments they can complete on their own in the early boxes. If they get stuck on a box, they can simply replace it in their folder and wait for me to get to them.

Each child has his/her own space to be responsible for. I tried to design cute docking stations for each child's numbers as well.

Here is Abby's desk:

And docking station:

Nate and Anna share the other wall of the school room:

The giant board up on the wall is our All About Spelling/All About Reading board. I am in love with this O-G based phonics/spelling program and have seen all four kids growing in their spelling and reading since beginning this fall.

When we use the board, I just pull it down from the wall and set it against the end of the table on the floor. We do our assignment and then put it back up. This keeps Leah Claire out of the letters.

Here is Anna's docking station:

And Nate's (those are supposed to be Legos, no mocking the art skills):

You may have noticed a couple of extra squares on each child's station. Those are for "bonus boxes." Usually a board game or fun activity that they may choose to do when they finish school.

So there you have it, the Pfanstiel school system. Love to help anyone out or take suggestions!