Saturday, March 3, 2012

Work Boxes

This year I was a bit frustrated by my older two girls asking questions like "how much more schoolwork do we have?" etc.  So, as I was browsing around the blog world I came across the blog of Confessions of a Homeschooler and was intrigued by the Work Box System that they use in their homeschool.  This system idea was new to me and it sounded awesome.  Apparently, the system was first started by a woman named Sue Patrick.  So, I read up more on how other people make it work in their homeschools and was then convinced that it would also work well for my girls.

So, that weekend I ran to Costco and got four 10-drawer towers (they were each about $35).  Made my drawer numbers and other labels and got the system set-up.  Here is a picture of our work boxes.  The girls organized the drawers in the color order of their choice.

The numbers are put on the drawers with velcro dots, so as they complete the work in each drawer they move them to a chart and they know when the numbers are all gone they are done with their work.  They actually really love this system and are very excited to see what is in each drawer for school in the morning.  I usually put a snack in each girls' drawer about half way down, so then it gives them a little break.  We do most of the work in the mornings when we can, but sometimes there is work to finish after lunch when Kate (2) is napping.  We also do some of our group activities in the afternoon, especially if it is something that Kate isn't old enough to be involved with at some level.  If necessary, I include a sticky note in the drawer that says "work with mom" and then they know to work with me for that task.  I am always in the school room with them during school time and answer questions and help when needed.

We have been using this system for about two weeks now, so as we keep using it I will update with how it continues to work for us (or any potential problems).


Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: A Fun Week With Dinosaurs

This week we have been working on our dinosaur mini-unit study.  We have had so much fun this week.  There has been a lot of great learning and because the girls were having so much fun they didn't even realize how much they were learning.  I learned so much too.  I am sure that I never learned this much about dinosaurs when I was in grade school.  They are just fascinating creatures and it is sometimes hard to believe that they really walked the earth.

Here are some of the activities we did this week:

 This is a photo from Monday when I first brought out our "dinosaur habitat" aka sensory tub.  They girls were so excited to check out all the items inside.

 Dinosaurs - ROAR!

 This is Eva and Kate with their completed dinosaur unit study binder covers.
Could Kate look any cuter?  And, I just have to note, if you look out the window we still have green grass in March and we live near Toronto, Canada!

 It was at Eva's enthusiastic request that I put together our dinosaur mini-unit study.  She is thrilled that we are working on her idea!

 Kate was sure that her dinosaur wanted to eat a (play) donut for breakfast.  Funny!

 All the girls with their unit study binders.
Pictured from left to right: Eva (5), Abby (8), Kate (2) and Clare (6)

 Working on their homemade dinosaur books.  We used Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Stamp Set and the template for the dinosaur book came from Learning Page.  They made dinosaur scenes and then stamped in the dinosaurs.  The older girls also had to write the dinosaur names and some facts about each dinosaur.  Then we also added in some dinosaur stickers just for fun.

 Kate (2) with her completed dino book.  She was so proud.  She is still her her pajamas...I guess that is one of the benefits of homeschooling!

 Clare - working hard!

 Eva with her completed book!  She is so proud.

 Clare with her completed book.  I love her creative drawings.  

 This is a close-up of Clare's book. 

 Here is Eva with our dinosaur sensory tub.  She said that she set up a "dinosaur family picture" and wanted me to take her picture with the dinosaurs.  Cute.

 Abby with her completed book.

 The sensory tub was getting kind of messy with the pot filler (grassy stuff) that we had in it, so on Thursday night we emptied everything out and gave the dinosaurs and rocks a wash.  The girls loved this activity.  Water + kids = FUN!


Clare with her completed dinosaur puzzle.

So the pictures that I have shown on this post are mainly just the awesome fun dinosaur stuff that we did this week.  But, we also did our math, language and science work from the unit study that we got FREE from Learning Page.  This is a great unit study and it really does cover all the basics.  We are still working on our geography unit study at the same time (I will tell more about that in a different post).  And they also did some work from their regular workbooks as well this week (my curriculum list will be coming soon).

Abby (who had a heart transplant in 2008) had a check-up at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada on Thursday this week and everything is looking really good for her.  So thankful for a great check-up and for the wonderful doctors that we have here.  Some of you may be curious about Abby's life journey and I am working on getting a few posts together on our family, why we decided to homeschool, Abby's heart journey and more.  I am new to blogging and haven't figured everything out yet, so keep checking back and thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dinosaurs have invaded our kingdom!!!

March has just begun and on Monday this week we began a month long mini-unit study on dinosaurs (a dinosaur unit was the enthusiastic request of Eva).  In February, we took the girls to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada and the museum has an extensive dinosaur exhibit.  The girls were fascinated by the huge dinosaur fossils and this prompted a rainstorm of questions.  So, I was more than happy to oblige when Eva requested we study dinosaurs more in homeschool.  That sent me into research and planning mode for the last few weeks of February.  I knew that I could turn this dinosaur science lesson into a full mini-unit study, but I needed to figure out how.  Here is what I came up with...

First, I found an awesome dinosaur curriculum resource that is FREE!  It comes from Learning Page.  To access all the information on their site you need to register, but it is FREE!  For any budget conscious homeschooling family FREE is a wonderful word.  After you log-in on the site you will find so many great resources, but to get to the dinosaur material you click on the tab labeled Theme Sheets and then again at the top on Dinosaurs.  You will find Fact Files, Funsheets (Worksheets), Murals, Cutouts, Lesson Plans, Teaching Notes, and Recommended Reading.  Under the Funsheets Tab you will find the curriculum divided by Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade and Third Grade.  Under each grade there is a section for Math, Language and Science.  Print what you need, grab some great books from the library and you are ready to travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs.

I was very pleased to find a dinosaur curriculum to use with the girls, but I decided I wanted a few more things to aid our dinosaur study.  So, my second step was putting together a "dinosaur habitat" aka sensory tub.  I got the idea for a dinosaur sensory tub from Counting Coconuts.  The author of Counting Coconuts has many wonderful ideas for sensory tubs...they are very creative.

Here is our "Dinosaur Habitat". 
 Here is what it includes - represents:
fake plant materials - food for the herbivores
moss like pot filler - dirt/earth
a square of green turf - grass
rocks (several different types) - rocks or eggs
beads of many shapes and colors - rocks
felted pom poms - rocks or the red ones could be food for carnivores
pipe cleaners - snakes or foliage
mini dinosaurs - dinosaurs
 I found most of these items at a dollar store or Wal-Mart.
 I have several neat learning activities planned for the girls where they will work with items from the sensory tub, but they also just LOVE to play with it.  We also have a few larger dinosaur toys and they get them involved too.  It has been hours of fun so far and we haven't even started doing any of the planned activities.  I will post more pictures as we begin our sensory tub learning activities.

After I got the dinosaur sensory tub put together I still felt that we needed a few more things to use in our dinosaur mini-unit study.  I found some great dinosaur resources from Montessori Print Shop.  These items include dinosaur cutting strips, match-up and memory game, pin-poking and cutting cards, photo and fact cards.  Very reasonable prices and it is nice that I can just print them from my own computer.

I also picked up the Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Stamp Set and Color-A-Mat and a couple of Ravensburger Dinosaur Puzzles.  One of the puzzles is 35 pieces and will be good for all of my school age girls, and the 100 piece puzzle will be appropriate for my oldest two daughters.

Well, that is how we are getting started with our dinosaur mini-unit study.  Much more to come, including photos of the girls as they are working with the materials and learning about the world of dinosaurs!  ROAR!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Here we go...

I have finally decided to jump into the blogging world.  Not sure exactly what I am in for, but I am going to give this a try.  I feel like it might be a nice way to document our homeschool days and an outlet for me.  I am working on getting the blog layout set the way I want and will start to get some things posted soon.  Thanks for stopping by!