In an effort to bring more organization to our homeschooling I’ve decided to use workboxes. This has actually been in the plans for ages, I’m just finally getting around to doing it. I’ve noticed that a lot of homeschoolers are using workboxes and a google or pinterest search will bring you plenty of ideas. It was originally thought up by homeschool mom Sue Patrick for her autistic son, using a lot of the visual components used by TEACCH. From what I’ve seen on the web a lot of people have seen the idea and taken it and made it work for them but haven’t read her book. Now I think anything that works for you is great, but the book really does explain why she feels you should use certain things (shoeboxes versus say file folders) and it also has a some good homeschooling tips. It does have some religious talk in it but it is very minimal. So if you are interested in using workboxes I highly recommend you read the book and hey, it’s now available on the Kindle.
So, for those who have no idea what workboxes are I’m going to give a quick overview. They have nothing to do with what type of homeschooler you are (eclectic, Classical, Charlotte Mason) or what curriculum you are using. Workboxes are just a way to organize what you are doing. The parent fills numbered boxes with each bit of school work that the student is to do, and the student can go from box to box on their own (eventually), following the numbers. You can put other signs on the boxes like “do with Mom” for work that needs Mom’s supervision or help. They help the student learn independently– it’s already laid out for them, rather than finishing one bit of work and having to get Mom to find out what to do next.
At this point there is no independent work going on here in the Woolly Dragon’s Lair. MBS can’t read and is just beginning to learn his numbers. Almost all of our “work” at this point needs my direction and help, but I can see where that will change and I like the idea of him being able to move independently from assignment to assignment.
I’ve read 2 big complaints about using workboxes. Number 1 is the actual boxes take up a lot of space, which I can see, especially if you have more than one child. I want to store our boxes on a rolling cart but so far haven’t found one I like, so I’m just putting them out on top of our cubby bookshelf. Complaint number 2 is that it’s too much work for the parent. And honestly I don’t get this at all. Yes, it does take a little bit of time to choose what bit of curriculum, book, game, that I want in what box each day but I’d still be picking out all of these things for him each day. And if eventually he’ll be able to learn more independently that will save me more time. Of course I might change my mind, today was only day 2 of using them.
Right now we are doing a two week study Ants, Beetles (ladybugs), and Caterpillars and I am planning on using the workboxes every day. I thought it would be fun to put a “what’s in the workboxes” post up every day of this unit. Hopefully this will encourage me to blog more too.
So for day 1 we had six workboxes, four were shoeboxes, and I had one cookie sheet, and one larger lower plastic box that I’m using for a sensory bin.
In box number 1 we have some books and an action card (this one says, “March like an ant.”). I ended up only reading two of the books to him, his glazed over eyes told me that one science book was enough. We really liked the book I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd. Except for the last couple pages that had spiders, well, he really like that it had a spider but Mommy was completely annoyed because a spider is NOT an insect.
In box number 2 we had several different worksheets, all the supplies he’d need to do them (pens, glue stick, dot marker, scissors) and another action card.
Workbox number 3 wasn’t an actual box. It was an alphabet sheet and our magnet box on a metal cookie sheet, oh, and another action card.
Number 4 was the sensory box with dyed rice and with letter A pictures hidden in it. And an action card.
Box number 5 had a blank card, pens, a sticker sheet, and an action card. He “wrote” and decorated a card to my Grandmother. She lives for mail and he happily obliges. He loves to make and send cards, especially to people who send back (and often include stickers).
Our final box of the day had our counter bugs, a die, bug jars (both counting and sorted by bug type), and an action card.
What was his favorite part of the day? The activity cards we did after finishing each box. Getting up and moving like a certain critter just cracked him up, especially since Mommy was doing it too. Were the workboxes a success? It really is too soon to tell but I feel that the answer is yes. Our day moved smoothly and MBS was very motivated to find what was in the next box. An hour after we finishedÂ school MBS came up to me and asked if we could start school all over and do more boxes! That is a good homeschool day!
Printouts used in these boxes were from these great sites:
Wow, last school year I managed a whopping 3 posts! Lets hope I can be a better blogger this year, not necessarily for blog readers but so I can keep a record of how our school year was.
Mr. Blue Sky is now 3 years 8 months old. He knows most of the alphabet letters but not the the sounds, he REFUSES to sing the alphabet song– just not his thing, finally knows most colors (last year everything was “green”), doesn’t count well– right now every number is “6”, he’s really good with shapes, and is a wiz with the iPad!
I still feel that what he really needs at this age is time to play so our “school” will remain pretty casual. Things I want to work on this year:
Potty training, please, please, please let him become interested in using the potty chair. I am so sick of diapers!
Picking up after himself. He actually used to be better about this but right now he seems to be going through a defiant stage– right now he has out his Legos, Duplos, and trains– even though he’s only supposed to get one out at a time. Plus he has dumped his drawing and music drawer’s contents on the floor (just for the heck of it!). Sigh.
Temper, temper. This is for all of us. Sadly we all have bad tempers and need to work on them.
Counting, number recognition, grouping, and sorting.
Beginning reading, reading readiness–I don’t want to push so I’ll follow his lead. HE really wants to read but on the flip side still doesn’t want to sit and practice letter sounds. I think later in the school year he’ll be more ready.
For math I’ve gotten some bug counters and pattern blocks. So far he loves just playing with the bugs– not doing any of MY suggested activities– but he does enjoy doing the pattern block picture cards. I’m hoping to get a bucket scale, geoboards, and cuisenaire rods later in the year.Oh, and don’t forget just learning by playing games. He loves to play chutes and ladders!
For science we’ll continue reading non-fiction books, watching nature movies, and I hope to do a lot of nature walks. He loves reading about animals, digging in the dirt, collecting rocks and pine cones.
Art– he draws all the time. What I need to do is get out the paint and messier projects more often. He loves them, I just cringe about the mess.
I’ve got more ideas and plans for the year but my brain has stopped working so it’s time to stop blogging.
When I was a kid I remember that school started the week after Labor Day weekend. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, but I like the idea of knowing when school would start up again. We plan on homeschooling year round, with breaks as we need them but for records we need a school year start and end time. We decided to set our school start date as the autumnal equinox, I like that our homeschool goes with the seasons. It just feels right to me.
As I’ve said before I’m not big on much “school” at this age. I feel that play is what Mister Blue Sky should be doing. The school work we are doing is more for me, to keep me focused and force me to introduce him to new books and activities instead of just getting, well, lazy, and doing nothing. There’s being a relaxed homeschooler and then there is just being relaxed.
Our theme this first couple of weeks is A is for apple and celebrating Johnny Appleseed’s birthday (September 26th). Today we made an alphabet apple tree and then MBS matched his magnet letters to the apples. He had fun helping me draw the tree and really seemed to enjoy matching the letters.
After that we walked up into our orchard and picked some apples and berries.
I had planned on us doing some painting after lunch but I got stung by a yellow jacket so we took the afternoon off. Looking forward to a new school year with MBS.
We have a new addition to our family. 8 week old Worf. He is a rottie-mastiff-English shepherd mix (aka mutt) and we’re expecting that he will be a giant compared to our other dogs, Poppy Seed and McCoy.
Most of our learning right now is focused on how to play nicely with a puppy. MBS and Worf love each other but right now they are not good playmates, as they both play much too roughly. We’re working on it. For the most part Worf is getting along well with his canine siblings, they both enjoy and find him annoying– just like any little sibling.
We’ve been reading books featuring puppies. So far MBS’s favorite is
Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. This is a very simple book about a mother dog looking for her pup. MBS loves lifting the flaps.
Happy Birthday, Biscuit! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by Pat Schories features Biscuit the dog celebrating his birthday. It has cute pictures and the text is nice for a beginning reader.
A Little Puppy by Jane Feder & illustrated by Amy Schwartz is a very short and simple board book. Perfect for my little toddler, he loved seeing the cars in several of the pictures.
Love is You & Me by Monica Sheehan is a book about love showing a dog and a mouse. I think older kids might enjoy this but MBS was not interested at all, the only part of the book he liked was when they were in a car.
Dog Biscuit by Helen Cooper is a wonderful story about a little girl who eats a dog biscuit and then believes she is turning into a dog. It was a little long for MBS but I just loved this and I’m sure he will too when he’s a little older.
The Best Thing About a Puppy by Judy Hindley & illustrated by Patricia Casey is the perfect puppy book, listing all the wonderful things about a puppy and all the not so wonderful things too. The puppy in this book is so cute! We’ll definitely be reading this again.
Other tot activities have mostly been car and train related. Inside the house MBS really likes lining up all his vehicles in a row. Outside he likes to cover the cars in dirt and then wash them in his pail. On our few sunny days that is how he has spent his time– digging in the dirt with his cars while the dog pack races and wrestles around him.
I’ve seen several other blogs with a summer bucket list. I really like the idea of a summer goals list but I cannot be the only person who finds calling it a bucket list (as in “to do before I kick the bucket”) just creepy. So instead we have an empty sand pail and we are going to fill it up with fun things this summer.
We had a chicken massacre on our little farm this week, the neighbors dogs dug under the fence and killed 5 of our 7 chickens. Mister Blue Sky was with me as we searched for chickens and saw one of the corpses. He really cares for our chickens, wants to feed them and pet them, but he didn’t even seem to care about the dead chicken. It was like he didn’t see the body as one of the chickens. He didn’t try to pet it or ask why it wasn’t moving, nothing. Okay, not totally nothing— he thought all the feathers on the ground were neat and wanted to collect them all.
He’ll be 28 months on Sunday, is this a normal reaction at this age? He did catch on that I was upset (crying hysterically while talking on the phone with my dh) but he just didn’t seem to understand why. I thought about putting some picture books that deal with death on hold at the library but if he truly doesn’t get it at this age maybe that’s for the best and I shouldn’t dwell on it with him.