Today's tip to reduce clutter in your homeschool is a simple on, but I know from experience that it has big results!
None of my kids ever really liked coloring books, but they all love to draw. From a young age, they would raid the printer for fresh white paper and get their crayons, markers, and pencils and draw. When it was time to clean up, they would put away their drawing supplies and give me their drawing as a gift. Since I can't just toss a gift the second I get it, a pile of drawings would grow. Eventually, I would toss the pile, but it always reappears.
I love when my kids draw. It's a quiet, creative activity. I love that all three of my kids like to draw together. Drawing is an activity that my 4, 6, and 12 year old do together regularly. But with three kids, the loose papers pile up.
At the beginning of this series, I talked about giving my oldest son a sketchbook. This school year, I gave my other two kids a sketchbook. I got my kids their sketchbooks at Target. They aren't artist quality, of course, but they are just fine for drawing.
My four year old still works on an elaborate, scribbly doodle that ends up being a robot or spaceship. When he's done, he never looks back.
My six year old has already figured out that she can come back to her work. She no longer quickly scribbles in some color when her hands get tired so she can be done and move on to another activity. She takes her time, does a good job, and leaves a little for the next day when she starts to get tired of drawing.
I really like that she is learning to take her time and spread her work out over multiple days so that she can do a good job.
My oldest works out ideas in his sketchbook. He has a large chunk where he drew dragon after dragon. He also draws castles and fortresses and various characters for the stories that he writes in his spare time.
And as for me, my mind has a bit less clutter as a result. I no longer have to decide what art to toss and when to toss it. I don't have to decide what to keep and how to store what I keep.
Wait, But Isn't it More Cost Effective to Let Kids Draw on Printer Paper?
Page by page, printer paper is way cheaper than sketchbook paper but as I mentioned before, my older kids are taking more days to finish their drawings, so they are using less paper. My youngest seems to be going through pages at the same rate, but he is more likely to use both sides of the paper in a sketchbook when he draws with markers. Even with the extra cost, I do think that it is a good trade in the end to have better quality work out of my oldest kids and less mess from my youngest.
Read the Rest of the Homeschool Clutter Buster Series
Tip #1: Reduce Throwaway Projects
Tip #2: Workbook Management 101
Tip #3: Buy Each Child a Cheap Sketchbook
Tip #4: One Notebook to Rule Them All
Tip #5: Corral the Small Stuff
Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks
I write this post as I look at too many barely used workbooks flopped over on our school shelves. (Why can't they stand up straight?) The truth of these underused educational materials reminds me that I chose workbooks in years past unwisely.
This post is the first in a series on reducing homeschool clutter. Read the first post here.
A Workbook that is Mainly Busywork will Flop on Your Shelf
Workbooks promise ready made, open and go curriculum. However, very few deliver on that promise. Many workbooks contain mundane tasks that don't really do much except leave a paper trail, both literally and figuratively. Many grammar books are mainly busywork. Do you really need the extra practice math book when there are a few apps out there for math practice that your kids won't cry over. Though I love Costco, most of the workbooks they throughout the summer sell are cute, colorful, and worthless.
I have many workbooks that I've started my kids on and realized that they are actually busywork. I've kept them out of guilt, thinking I can use them for another child. But I finally realized a workbook that was worthless for one child will be worthless for the next because it is simply a low quality product. As I write this post I'm am making a pile of the workbooks I don't use so I can dump them. Or I may let my preschooler scribble on them first, then toss them.
Choose Workbooks Wisely
Only buy the workbooks that you will likely use 85% of the pages.
The advice is simple, but it is easier said than done, especially during the first year of homeschooling
I used to buy a workbook for every possible topic, figuring that I could just pick and choose pages to teach and reinforce topics as I needed them. Of course that lead to a lot of waste and a lot of clutter.
I now buy two workbooks for my 7th grader. I've learned that a Math workbook is a necessary, though floppy, evil. I've also learned that Writing and Rhetoric is a valuable curriculum that has workbook sections. It not only covers writing, it also covers reading skills, critical thinking, memory work, a little grammar, and vocabulary. It is the core book for my son's language arts curriculum. In addition to Writing and Rhetoric, we read literature together and work on a few custom spelling lists on the side and language arts is done. I call that a valuable workbook!
Any workbook that is an integral part of a curriculum or that teaches a valuable skill that I cannot teach on my own is worth keeping on my shelf.
There are a few free, online workbooks that I have links to, just in case I need a page or two. I also go to sites like education.com when I just need a workbook page for extra practice.
My daughter has a math workbook,spelling workbook, and a handwriting workbook. Our charter school adds a couple others which I politely keep on my shelf. They do come in handy when she needs just a little extra practice, or when she feels like doing a workbook (she's funny like that!) Her workbooks don't sit nicely on a shelf, which is where the next tip comes in...
Corral Skinny Worbooks in Magazine Holders
Magazine holders are the best solution to floppy workbook syndrome. Go from this:
To this in about 5.2 seconds.
I have used the file boxes pictured for three years and they are in great condition! (Follow this link to the exact magazine holder shown.) I also use the large size to hold art supplies and sketchbooks together.
If you missed the first post in this series, be sure to go back and read how I have been reducing clutter by eliminating throwaway projects.
I wish I could say that I had mastered the clutter, but I haven't. I'm in the clutter filled homeschool trenches alongside you, but I have a plan to reduce the homeschool clutter as the school aged kids in my house increase.
The first thing on my list of cluttery things to eliminate is any project that will soon be thrown away.
What is a Throwaway Project?
A throwaway project is any project that you have no intention of keeping. These include cut and paste worksheets, anything made with Do a Dot Markers, or paper plates, salt dough maps, or most of the cute little things that you found on Pinterest and are loosely related to your history-science-or-literature theme.
Throwaway projects are are done for the process or to achieve vague goals like improving fine motor skills or reinforcing concepts.
Throwaway projects are busywork disguised with construction paper and glitter glue. They entertain your kids and keep them busy, but have little educational value.
Most importantly, throwaway projects increase clutter because as parents, we have to leave them around until the child who created it kind of forgets about it and is also out of the room.
But Don't Fun Projects Make School, Well, Fun?
Of course, it is fun cut, paste, glue, and paint and stuff is leaned along the way...but sometimes it is a bit much to have tambourines, frogs, bats, and fraction pizzas all made out of paper plates scattered around the house and a barely used package of cheap paper plates in the back of your cupboard. Once a project like this is made, its value has already come and gone.
Replace Throwaway Projects with Long-Term, Meaningful Projects
Children need meaningful work, just like we adults need meaningful work. Instead of investing in construction paper, paper plates, glitter glue, and googly eyes, why not invest in a sketch book for each child and a quality set of colored pencils, pastels, and art markers? Or journal with nice paper and pens that just feel good to write with? These books can contain your children's artistic and written responses to what they are learning.
When I switched away from loose worksheets and throwaway projects and focused on helping my kids make quality books, I ended up getting higher quality work from them. Check out this entry in my daughter's science notebook:
I wrote "jellyfish" for her because she was stressed about copying two long words correctly, but she did the rest with her textbook and a nice set of colored pencils, a mechanical pencil, and a crayon. She loves mixing medias. Oh, and did I mention that she's barely six?
When I handed my oldest son a $4 sketchbook and told him, no more typing paper, he began doing drawing that took him multiple days to do. So instead of working quickly on a drawing while he waited for dinner and tossing it, he started making more complex drawings of castles, dragons, and spaceships because he knew that he had multiple days to finish it. My favorite drawing of his are a series of moody dragon scenes inspired bythe illustrations in this book.
With the time that it takes to get out, make, and clean up a cut and paste project, you and your kids can develop lifelong skills. I taught my daughter to sew, even though I didn't really know how with this book. You can read how I did it here. My oldest son works on coding and writes stories in his spare time. I teach all of my kids to cook, drawing inspiration from our history lessons and literature,
I Still Do a Few Throwaway Projects
I have let my kids make maps out of dough...play dough. Then the monsters or pirates destroy the state and we put everything away. My kids make models of architectural masterpieces...out of blocks. We use sticks, rocks, and vines to build castles, fishing poles, and crowns, and then leave them outside until my husband blows out the backyard. Some projects become a part of the landscape, like our resurrection garden. Then we rake them up and toss them in the greens bin.
I do require cut and past projects from my kids, but I limit the size of the completed project to 8-1/2 by 11, and they must lie flat when completed. (History Pockets are great for this type of flat project.) This way, everything goes in a notebook. I wrote a whole post about the project books I use for the Middle Ages, with more details about how I use History Pockets.
Thanks for reading! This is the first in a series of reducing homeschool clutter. Next up, I'll be giving tips on reducing the clutter created by multiple floppy workbooks.
As I mentioned in previous posts, we are using Mystery of History for our history spine this year. I thought that I'd share some of the supplementary resources that I will be using to round out our history studies and to adapt them to my younger kids.
This post contains affiliate links.
History Pockets: Ancient Rome
I bought a couple of History Pockets at a used currriculum sale and they were so easy to use that now I have almost all of the series. Here's a sample spread from the book that shows what the pockets look like and what goes in a typical pocket.
I don't actually make the pockets. I usually just glue the activity to colored paper to stick in their binders. This torch from last year's Ancient Greece unit from History Pockets: Ancient Greece. The bottom part of the torch is a booklet about the history and symbolism of the torch. These are not your usual fluffy cut and paste activities. History Pocket activities actually contribute to kid's knowledge base.
History Pockets:Ancient Civilizations
This book is geared for 1st through 3rd graders and it includes units on Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and the Aztecs.
Here's a sample project from the Aztec unit. There's another page, not pictured that has the pieces to finish the calendar.
Here's an example of a completed project from The Mesopotamia unit we did last year. The ship sails up and down the river. My kids love the interactivity of some of these projects.
I found this book through our library and it has tons of activities and cultural facts about the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has recipes, dress up ideas, games, and educational activities from each era. We did a handful of the Greek activities last year and we will start the year off with a few of the activities from the Romans section. Some of the activities take planning to do but others are quick and easy like this one that explains Roman measurements:
Days of Knights and Damsels
This is by the same author of Classical Kids and has the same variety of activities, but geared towards the Middle Ages.
History Through the Ages
My middle school aged son is using this for his current cycle of History and is very proud of what a nice looking timeline he has.
Geography Through Art
This book has art projects from around the world and helps fill in some of the gaps. For example, I can't find an activity book for ancient Australia, but this book has a lesson for Aboriginal art. It also has lessons for African, South American, and Japanese art from the time periods we are studying, too.
I just showed you a lot of supplemental activity books, so be sure to read how I organize all of these materials inHow I Plan Mystery of History for the Year.
Recent Posts from Freely Learned
Mystery of History is a BIG program to sort through. I have found that it is easier on me if I do the majority of my planning and preparing before I read the first page to my kids.
This Post Contains Affiliate Links.
Step 1: Make a Lesson Planning Grid and Fill it Out
For me, the first step to planning is to print up a simple grid to use as a planner. I used Google Docs to make a four column grid and included enough rows for two weeks worth of lessons per page.
As I glanced over the lessons, I took notes for each lesson. In the first column, I wrote the title of each chapter, lesson number, and page numbers. The second column is for writing additional readings. I also used it to jot down map activities and quizzes I planned on doing. The third and fourth columns are to jot down notes on narrations and activities I want my kids to do. Most of the activities come straight from Mystery of History, but a few come from Story of the World Activity Book 2.
After going through the book and filling out the grid, I jotted down the titles of relevant library books at the top of each page so I can quickly go to our library's website and reserve the books I need. I found most of these books by browsing through the literature recommendations at the back of the book and in the Story of the World Activity Book 2. I also checked to see if our library had the books I wanted before writing the titles down.
I used the bottom margin to jot down notes on lessons that I want to include. I plan on doing a lesson on William Tell, because he is part of my heritage. I also plan on adding lessons on ancient Mexico, because that is a part of my husband's heritage.
I still have to write in my son's additional readings, which will be from books like Adam of the Road and the Adventures of Robin Hood, but I don't have all of those books in my hands yet.
Step 2: Make Copies and File Them Behind the Relevant Planning Page
I hate making copies. Since I hate making them as much on busy school days as on lazy summer days I decided to put on a podcast and make all the copies that I would need for history for the year.
It actually took a few podcasts to get the job done.
After making copies, I filed them behind the relevant lesson planning page.
Not all of my copies were from the Mystery of History book. Some I found online and some of the other supplement books I drew from were:
Amy Pak's History Through the Ages Timeline Figures
History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations
History Pockets: Ancient Rome
History Pockets: Native Americans
Story of the World Activity Book 2
Days of Knights and Damsels
I reviewed some of these supplemental activity books in this post and discussed how I used them.
Step 3: Pick a Storage System and Put Everything Away
I store my copies and plans in colorful folders and a file box. I include 12 lessons per folder. This is what my finished folders and file look like:
You could just as easily store everything in a binder and pull out pages as you need them.
Whenever I pull out a set of copies, I usually just put them in my Mystery of History book at the relevant chapter, so I have them ready to go the minute I open the book.
That's it! Since I'm already familiar with Mystery of History, once I got started, it only took a few hours to plan my year and a couple more hours to make copies and file them.
If this is your first year using Mystery of History, you will probably want to take a couple more hours to read the introductory chapters and familiarize yourself with the book.
Here's everything, shelved and ready to go! Here is a link to my exact small file box and large file box. Both are super sturdy and I've used them for years.
Be sure to read my next post in this series: Activity Books to Use With Mystery of History, Vol. 2
Back to school shopping is a little different for us homeschoolers, but not that much different. Here are my must buys at this year's back to school sales.
This post contains affiliate links
Besides buying packs of cheap Crayolas, packs of paper, and pens, some of the things I always get at back to school sales are:
Mechanical Pencils--I used to hate mechanical pencils, but we recently tried out these Paper Mate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencils and converted from our beloved Ticonderoga Pencils. The leads are sturdy and hard to break. With an always-sharp-point, my dysgraphic son's handwriting is a bit easier to read. And I'm less likely to have to clean up pencil shavings when someone drops the sharpener on the floor.
Graph Paper Notebooks--These are for my oldest son. Read why they are a must for his handwriting issues here and here. He currently uses one for math and one for science. I am adding one for his history narrations this year, too. These notebooks are pricey and don't go on sale outside of back to school season.
Composition Notebooks--The bindings never come apart, they are super portable, the smaller page size not intimidating at all, and some even have a sturdy cover. I get this one with room to draw for my first grader's journal. I get stacks of the plain college rule ones for myself and wide rule ones for my oldest son who likes to compose stories in his. I prefer the Mead 100 page composition books and will pay an extra quarter for them over the off brands any day of the week.
Permanent Glue Sticks--If you don't want anything your kids glued into their notebooks to fall out after a few weeks, get the permanent glue sticks. These are my favorite. Oh and be sure to put them away, unless you want a permanent collage on your daughter's door. Ahem.
Back to School clothes shopping is a lot more relaxed for us homeschoolers because we don't need quite as much to start the school year. It's easier on my budget to spread out clothes shopping throughout the year. That doesn't mean that I don't take advantage of the sales. A few things that I always buy at the back to school sales are:
Jean Sales--Jeans never go cheaper than at back to school time and my kids manage to get holes in the knees of their jeans before they outgrow them, so I stock up.
BOGO Shoe Sales--Usually the sales are buy one get one half off. I always try to hold out for BOGO shoe sales.
Packages of Socks--The only clothing item to get holes quicker than jeans. I stock up on the cute packs for kids when they go on sale at Costco.
A Few Fresh New Shirts and a Couple Pairs of Shorts--Where I live, we have HOT weather through October. I don't even look at jackets and sweatshirts until they move to clearance.
How About You?
What are your must buys for this year's back to school sales? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear how you approach back to school shopping!
More to Read
After a few weeks off from school and blogging it's time to start thinking about next school year. I just ordered the last of our curriculum and thought I'd share what my 7th grader will be doing next year.
This post contains affiliate links!
For math, we are departing from Singapore Math to do a year of Saxon Math before starting Algebra in 8th grade. I wrote about my options on what to do after Singapore 6 in this post if you want to read about other 7th grade math choices.
The core of my son's language arts program will be Writing and Rhetoric books 7 & 8. He will also be doing a formal spelling program this year just because I am noticing some spelling errors in longer, vowel heavy words. Read my review of Writing and Rhetoric.
For literature, he will be reading historical fiction, biographies, stories, and legends that go along with our history studies of the middle ages. So far he have King Arthur, Robin Hood, Beowulf, Arabian Nights, selected Viking legends, and Adam of the Road on his reading list. I am also looking for a couple of biographies to round out his reading list. I also plan of listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on audiobook in the car as a family.
This year, we are studying the Middle Ages as a family. My son will be going through Mystery of History 2 as his spine. Last year, we started with MOH 1 as a family, but it just didn't work for us and our age spread. The second book in the series seems to be a lot stronger, and I think my son will enjoy it.
I'm sad that this year I need to have my son do his own science curriculum, independent of the rest of the family. However, I am excited to start Apologia's General Science along with him. We will only be using the textbook and tests. Even though it looks like a fabulous supplement, I have opted out of ordering the Notebooking Journal because my son is dysgraphic and there seems to be a lot of unlined writing space. I will be using graph paper notebook pages like these in lieu of the notebooking journal.
He will continue to make entries in his nature journal.
This year, my son will continue working on Spanish via Duolingo. A lesson takes about 15 minutes a day, which is just right. Once a week, he will do a lesson in Artisitic Pursuits. He will also be taking golf lessons 1-2 times per week with a few boys from his school.
As a family, we will be reading the book of Acts and selections from Paul's letters together and memorizing the Apostle's Creed.
My daughter is a maker by nature. She makes at least one piece of art daily and if her artwork is a gift, she fashions an envelope to put it in. When she is outside, she weaves twigs and leaves into boats or she makes homes and yards for her rolly polly friends. She is happy for hours creating with paper, tape, glue, and yarn.
She started asking me to teach her to sew when she was three and I would reply that I thought a girl had to be six before she knew how to sew and then I would tell her about the dangers of sharp needles.
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Mostly, I hoped that she wouldn't want to learn to sew when she turned six, because I really didn't know how to sew myself. My inability to sew can be attributed to a lack of Home Ec requirements in school and a mom who didn't really like to sew herself. My husband was the button sewer and stuffed animal doctor in our house because he had Home Ec and a mom who was very talented at sewing. Two months ago, I could thread a needle and sew a clumsy running stitch. Those were the only skills that I brought to the table when I decided to teach my girl to sew.
When I began asking around about teaching my daughter to sew, someone recommended Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make, I checked it out on Amazon and bought it.
Sewing School was one of the best investments I have made in a long time. My daughter fell in love with the book the minute she saw it and immediately asked to write her name in it ...with a permanent marker. That girl knows how to make sure a book is not taken back to the store.
She was so sad that she couldn't start with a project right that very minute because I didn't have the right sized needle and thread that were recommended for the small hands of kids. But that turned out to be a blessing because it did give us time to read the preliminary sections together we could go over the very important rules of sewing, like always know where your needle is and be careful of people around you!
When we did gather our materials, we started with a project or two a day. Since, I don't know much about sewing, I have been doing every project alongside of her. I've been impressed that every project in the book has been useful for work or for play. The first two projects we did, a needle book and pincushion, that we use for future sewing projects. After the first two projects, we made a quiet mouse and pillow, which she uses for play.
We have also made a doll's skirt, a small drawstring pouch, a couple of pillows where she designed the pattern, and many, many more quiet mice.
So far we have only done hand sewing projects, because we don't own a sewing machine. Luckily for us, most of the projects in this book are hand sewing projects. The sequel to Sewing School is mainly projects that require a sewing machine. Someday, when she's ready for a sewing machine, I'll get her Sewing School 2 to go along with it.
Sewing School has taught us everything we need to know. We have learned how to do a running stitch and whip stitch, how to use a needle threader, how to make a bobbin, how to sew two kinds of buttons on, how to add embellishments, how to sew a casing, and how to stuff a toy or pillow.
(One thing that Sewing School doesn't teach as well as my husband taught me is how to tie off a knot at the end of a project. This video will help you tie a knot right where you want it to be.)
What You Absolutely Need to Get Started with Sewing School
What you have in you sewing box may not be appropriate for little hands. These are the materials mentioned in the book that I had to gather together or purchase to get started teaching my daughter and myself to sew:
Chenille Size 22 Sharp Point Needles
Lo Ran Needle Threaders
A Selection of Felt Pieces
Some Fabric (I like buyingpre-coordinated quarter samples)
A Small Pair of Scissors for your child and a Large Pair for you
Of course, don't forget to buy the book: Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make
One thing that was not mentioned in the what to buy section of the book that we have used a lot is a bag of stuffing! My daughter loves stuffing pillows and small toys! Another thing you may want to purchase is a bag of cute buttons.
I'm So Glad I Taught My Daughter to Sew
We both have a lot to learn when it comes to sewing and I hope that someday the student surpasses the teacher. I had a little conversation with my daughter that made me very, very happy that I took the time to teach my daughter to sew:
"Mom, do you know why I like to sew so much?"
"No, Sweetie, why?"
"Because when I sew, I feel proud."
Thank you for reading!
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Abstract: In this post, I will complain about stupid, standardized tests and then I will say why my kids take stupid, standardized tests anyway. Be sure to read the article I refer to in the conclusion. It's a gem.
Today's Standardized Tests Don't Have Standard Results
A standardized test is supposed to have standard results. This means that if a child takes a test year after year, there should not be a large jump in scores between one year and the next. Significant influences like a year of one on one math tutoring or a serious head cold on the day of the test may cause scores to go drastically up or down, but otherwise a child who is performing consistently at school will not see significant score changes.
That isn't the case with the current version of our state's standardized test, aligned to national common core standards. My son has taken the test for three years and his scores have been all over the place. He scored highest on the writing portion the year he basically retyped the prompt than the next year when he typed an original response. He scored better on the math section when we were half a year behind in an "un-common core" math curriculum we were using than when he was in public school working on a common core curriculum math up to 90 minutes a day (not including the 30 minutes of math homework he was doing a night). Did I mention that our "un-common core" curriculum only took us an average of 20-30 minutes to complete? (Read some of my thoughts on Singapore Math)
Knowledge and Academic Competency Cannot Be Reduced to a Test Score
Anyone who knows a kid, a real kid with humor and curiosity and passion, knows that test scores are bunk. Let's move on now.
Standardized Tests Stink, But Here's Why My Kids Take Them Anyway
At this point, I should probably mention that we homeschool through a charter school, so if I want to opt out of standardized testing, I have to go through a process and make a big stink. If I absolutely believed that that there was nothing good at all about state testing, I would go through the process an make the big stink. But I don't and here's why:
I don't know about all states, but in California it doesn't matter if you want to be a lawyer or a barber, there is a standardized test between you and that goal. In my job history career, I've taken tests to be a lifeguard, tests on food safety so I could scoop ice cream, a single subject exam in language and literature to qualify for a single subject teaching credential, a test to prove I had competencies in basic skills like averaging test scores and writing a letter--also to be a teacher, yearly tests in CPR and first aid so I could coach sports, and I passed a test to get an insurance license to help my husband out in a new business start up. And every test that I took, with the exception of the life guarding and CPR exams, seemed to be really odd in the ways they measured competency. (The life guarding and CPR exams were the most common sense tests that I have ever taken. Kudos to the Red Cross for having sensible tests for skills that mean a difference between life and death!)
Since the world isn't spiraling towards a more common sense approach to testing, it's safe to assume that tests will continue to be weird measures of competency. Therefore as a part of my kids "hands on education," I want them to have a real, genuine, bona fide, surreal experience of taking a standardized test when it doesn't really matter, because someday, when they get take the test to get the licence for whatever career they want, they won't be set off kilter by the ridiculousness of what they are doing so that they can get the job that matters to them.
I would like to redirect you to an article by poet Sara Holbrook who wrote an article for the Huffington Post titled I can't answer these Texas standardized test questions about my own poems. It's awesome.
PS: In Case You're Wondering...
I don't do much to prepare my son for standardized testing except teach him a well rounded curriculum full of big ideas and good and useful knowledge. I do use testing as an excuse to make my son practice typing which is a skill he is loath to practice, despite the obvious benefits to a dysgraphic. He does remember how hard it is to hunt and peck through the writing section of a test so he does make the effort to apply himself to his typing practice in the weeks before testing.
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After a couple of weeks of everyone being sick, it was good to have a normal, healthy week. I wouldn't believe that we were almost done with the year if we weren't so ready for summer to come.
After Spring Break, I like to change up what our homeschool days look like. We ease back on learning new math material and focus on short reviews of trouble areas from the year. I drop our formal writing program and and allow for more creative writing and journal writing. If I'm thinking of doing any changes to next year's school week, we practice them between spring break and summer.
This year, most of my post spring break changes have to do with practicing new skills and subjects. My daughter turned six last month, so next year I want add narrations a couple times a week to her daily lessons. This means I am asking her to practice narrating what she read a couple times a week now. Next year, my son will be in 7th grade and will have to do his science lessons more independently, since he is outgrowing our family lessons. I am having him do some science readings independently to get used to doing science on his own.
This week I wrote about how to homeschool when you can't really talk, because I have some firsthand experience in that area. (I had a triple whammy cold-allergy-sinus infection that left me speechless!) I also wrote a few reviews on books that I read last month. If you're a reader, you may want to check it out. Three months ago I wrote about why we keep nature notebooks. My kids now call every bird they see a pelican just to get my goat, but their bird identification skills have greatly increased since the great pelican incident by the river.
This week's Finally Friday header photo was taken in California's Gold Country, outside of Plymouth, California. Normally, the hills have turned gold by this time of year, but they are still green because we have been so blessed with a rainy spring after a season of drought.