Posts Tagged by planning

Our Work Notebooks


I know that many homeschooling families love workboxes.  I even used workboxes for a little bit in our homeschool, but ultimately decided they weren’t for me.  I was not a big fan of having to refill them every day.  I also didn’t like that our schooling was truly limited to our school room.  We like to be mobile.

See…there is a picture of our workboxes from October of 2011.

Last year, I ditched the workboxes and moved to using notebooks. I had a notebook for each boy, although Thing 1 is the only one who did school the entire year. In each notebook I had a  folder for each week.  Then in each folder I would paper clip together the work for each day of that week.  This allowed me to have 4 weeks of work all in one notebook.  You can read more about it {HERE}.  This was a great fit for our family.

These notebooks allowed me to put our entire homeschool in a bag and take it anywhere.  You can read more about it {HERE}.

However, this year was going to be different.

  1. I was going to be working with all three boys, which meant I would need three different notebooks.
  2.  Thing 1’s materials (workbooks) are a lot bigger than they were last year, thus there was no way they were going to fit in the little notebooks or the little bag.
  3. I wanted Thing 1 to become a little more independent in his work since I would be working with all three boys.  I wanted him to know what to do next, if I was busy.
  4.  Thing 3 was going to be joining us, but some of his materials would be smaller and cut up, thus they would fall out of the folders that we had.
  5. I was planning the entire year before the year started, instead of 4 weeks at a time.  Thus the way in which our folders were used, was not going to be applicable anymore.

So, this year I have modified our notebooks a little bit.

Each boy has a 3 inch notebook.

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Inside each notebook, are 8  to 12  clear 1 inch expandable, resealable folders, depending on the boy.

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Attatched to each folder with velcro dots, are a number and a label telling the boy if this is an individual assignment or something they do with mom.

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Inside each folder is the weeks worth of material for that subject or the workbook for that subject.

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Also, inside the notebooks I have placed a small whiteboard.

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A pocket containing markers, pencil, and dry erase marker.

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I also added in a few blank sheets of notebook paper.

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Along with a notebook, each boy has a small bucket that I put anything that is too big for the notebook.    When we are home and can quickly go and pull out what I need.

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If we are on the move, I pack up everything in the Large Utility Bag from Thirty One and head to our location.

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If we are going to be gone long-term I can also take my smaller tote that I used as our schoolroom in a bag (picture above) that is now filled with hanging folders that contain any printouts I would need for our entire school year and head out.

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What do you use instead of workboxes?


Gathering Materials Weeks at a Time

Every since I started trying to do a school at home, I have been in search of a way to gather my materials without it taking over my house.  I have also been in search of a system that will allow me to get together more than a week at a time.

I am a planner, and I like to be ahead. Over the past month I have been spending a good portion of my Sunday printing, laminating, gathering all the “stuff” for the upcoming week of school.  I am tired of using that time gathering school stuff when I would rather print, laminate, and cut during the week, while my husband isn’t home. 

The Sunday routine also, does not allow me to get ahead.  Ideally I would like to get weeks ahead so that if something comes up during the week, and I can’t get everything planned/printed/cut I don’t feel rushed or stressed about it. 

I have finally found a way to get this done.  A way to gather all my stuff weeks in advance without it taking over my house. 

Enter my file box.  We have had this box forever and I repurposed it to hold our school stuff.  In this box, I have 5 folders in a bunch of different colors.  Each color represent one week.  Each individual folder for a color represents a day of the week. 

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My file box, that allows me to gather materials up to 8 weeks ahead of time.

As I am planning the upcoming themes, I can immediately print off the papers that I am doing to need and get them filed, eliminating the need to spend every Sunday printing the stuff out.  It has also allowed me to get several weeks ahead.

As the week rolls around, I spend less than 10 minutes at night, pulling out the following days folder from my file box and dividing out the day materials into the designated folder for each boy.  So we are ready to rock and roll the next morning.  There is no looking for materials or having to print off anything that day.  It makes our day run smoothly.

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The folders for each boy for the day.

This method has really made my desire to plan weeks at a time a reality without having to worry about losing papers or my mind. 


The Best Laid Plans

I had the best plans laid out for the month of September, however, as I sit here tonight, exhausted at only 10pm, I realize that they are going to have to change.  Between being out of town for two weekends in a row and having two short weeks at home, I just have not had the time I needed to get everything done.  I have not printed out one thing for our lion theme for next week. 

Thus, instead of stressing out and staying up way to late, I am going to push our real school start date back one week.  We will start our letter of the week stuff on Monday, September, 12. 

I know the boys might be a little disappointed that we are not doing “official” school stuff this week, but I will have plenty of things for them to do.  This week will be our “get ready for school” week or maybe some snazzier title if I can think of one. 

I will get my planning done and we will start September 12!


Recent Question

I have had a couple of people ask my why we were going to usual A then B then C route with our letter of the week themes.  So I thought I would explain myself.

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Thing 1 can write all of his letters so that you can read them, however, they are not always formed well and with certain letters he will only write either the upper case or lower case, no matter what. 

Thing 2 will just be turning 3 at the end of September, so I want to make learning to write his letters as easy as possible and hopefully avoid some of the issues that I am having to overcome with Thing 1.

Therefore, I am starting with the easiest letters to write first.  This will allow me to help Thing 1 become more comfortable with writing all of the letters, upper and lowercase.  I am hoping that this will allow Thing 2 to develop his fine motor skills a little more, keep him from getting frustrated, and make handwriting less of a chore. 

I am not concerned with him knowing alphabetical order, because he can sing the A, B, C Song.  There is alphabetical order.  I am more concerned that he develop confidence in his handwriting and by starting with the easier letters first, it will help him build that confidence.  I think we would all agree that writing a T is much easier than writing an S.  

Like I tell my husband, there is a reason behind most of my madness, just ask! 🙂

Pinterest– An Awesome Planning Helper

About two months ago, I discovered Pinterest.  It has been the biggest help in my homeschool planning. 

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Pinterest is basically a social site, that allows you to post pictures of the activities as well as a link to the site where that activity is located.  When you find things that you want to be able to find later, you can “pin” them onto one of your “boards.” 

Pinterest has become a major component of my homeschooling adventure.  Since we are not using a “boxed” curriculum, it is on me to come up with our lessons each week.  Which means I spend a lot of time on the internet looking for great ideas that go along with our theme for the week. 

For example, as I was planning our pirate theme that is coming up in a couple of weeks, the first place I went to was Pinterest to start gathering ideas.  There are many other homeschooling moms out there who also use Pinterest to gather ideas.  Many of them have organized there “boards” the same way that I have, by themes.  So when I log in, I check out my boards and the boards of others that I follow to see what activities others have found for a pirate theme. 

Next, I start searching the internet to look for more pirate ideas.  If I find something I like, I can “pin” it to my boards, but using a shortcut that is installed on my computer. I don’t even have to be logged into Pinterest to “pin” and idea.  It takes a pictures and adds the link to whatever board you wish to “pin.”

Having all the different ideas, with pictures and the links in one spot makes my planning go a lot quicker.  I can easily sort through the ideas and decide which ones to do which day of the week. 

Honestly, with Pinterest, I have been able to cut my planning time down from a couple of hours to about 30-45 minutes.  It has been a timesaver.

Do you Pinterest?

Planning Our Year : 2011-2012

One of the things that I have come away with in our first month of more formal homeschooling is that I needed a plan.

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I needed a plan so that would help me stay on track.  A plan that would make sure I covered everything I want to cover.  A map that would make sure we reach our destination.

So, the last two days, I made a plan for the entire year.

First, I started by outlining goals for for the year for each boy.  I wrote down what I want/think the boys to accomplish and what I think they want to accomplish.  They are still only in preschool, so I want it to be fun, but I want them to have seen the basics.

From these objectives I set out planning our year on an Excel spreadsheet. 

I numbered each week (row.)  In the past I have tried to plan things by the date, for example the week of August 1-5.  However, if something happens that week and we didn’t get to do the things I had planned, I would get frustrated because of the way it was labeled.  In some ways I would get stressed because we missed a week of activities.  Instead, by just numbering by weeks, if we miss week 2, then the following week we would do week 2.  There was no having to re-label, or remember that we so many weeks behind.

Then the following items listed below are my various column headings.

Items I included for Thing 1 were:

    • Sight words
    • Word families
    • Numbers

Items I included for Thing 2 were:

    • Letters
    • Numbers 1-10
    • Shapes

The items that will apply to both boys:

    • Letters {Thing 1 will work on his handwriting based off of the letter that Thing 2 is learning that week.}
    • Spanish Word of the Week {We live in Texas, so this will be beneficial to both boys.}
    • Theme of the Week {Our theme of the week will be based off Thing 2’s letter of the week, but I had to get pretty creative in order to keep the boys interest in mind.}
    • Field Trips/Special Activities {Based off of each weeks theme I hope to have a special field trip or activity that ties the week together.  I have almost every week covered.}

Each of the items above are the objectives that I want to cover every week.  There are obviously other things to study and that are important to learn and those will be covered within the various themes.

I have only planned for about 40 weeks, which allows me some off weeks and some summer fun.  Although, I know my boys will probably want to continue school longer than that.  So I made sure that I left room on the spreadsheet to fill in more, if we need it.

Obviously, there is always room to move/edit/change anything that doesn’t work for us.  That is one of the great things about homeschooling, there is freedom.

This morning, once I finished this planning, I felt a sense of relief.  I feel like I have a solid map of where we are going in our school.  I think this plan is also going to make the weekly planning go a lot smoother for me.  Which benefits everyone.

I can’t wait to get started.



Our Schedule

I feel like I am always looking for some way to schedule everything and stay on schedule.  I have made some super pretty schedules on Excel.  I have used white boards, notebook, my phone, you name it and I have probably tried it.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are also getting to the point where they like to know what we are doing that day.  So I have been trying to find out a way to get them involved.  However, I was struggling to find a way that they would be able to understand since they do not read or tell time.

Recently, on many of the homeschool blogs that I read, people have been posting there schedules.  Well, yesterday, I saw the schedule that I hope will be the answer to my prayers. 

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I bought this desk top pocket holder thingy at Target in the dollar bins.  Last night I spent time making cards that contain a picture and word of things that we typically do in a day. 

This morning I unveiled our schedule for the day to the boys.  I had it standing on our breakfast nook table.  Thing 1 immediately asked all about it.  He thought it was pretty cool and was really excited about it.

I place the picture cards in the pocket holder thingy in the order that we are going to hopefully be completing those tasks.  As we complete that task, we turn the corresponding picture card over, to let us know that it is completed. 

I have no idea how many times Thing 1 came to the table to check out what was next.  There was also a lot less whining about wanting to do things because he knew what was coming up.  I think it helped him be patient because he knew what was coming up next. 

As I reflect this evening on this schedule, I also realize that it works well for me.  For one, I don’t try to schedule every minute of the day.  Also, since there are no times on the pictures, I don’t get stressed if we were to fall behind schedule.  It becomes more like a to do list and less like a set schedule.  It allows me a lot more freedom and to be honest I got just as much done as I usually do with a lot less anxiety.  It also helped that I did not have the boys fighting me along the way since they knew what was coming next.

I am hoping that this may be the answer to our scheduling dilemma.  I have plans to possibly use this type of system a few other places in our house.  We will see how it goes.

If you would like a copy of my cards click {HERE}