Monday, September 20, 2010

How We Get The Party Started

Routines, routines, routines... If there's one thing I learned from teaching in a school, it's the importance of having routines and procedures in place. So much of the way my day goes is dictated by the way our morning begins. I've found that the easiest way to ensure success in our homeschool day is just having a game plan. I'm not talking about a minute-by-minute accounting of our day (though I'm sure that's very helpful for many). For our family, school starts off with "Morning Circle" (which is a complete misnomer as we do not sit in a circle and we occasionally do it in the afternoon). I'm gonna work on a new title, but here's what works for us...

Each of our kids has a binder of their own.
The binders have different tabs. Everybody has "Worship", "Scripture", "Presidents", and "States". The almost five year old also has a tab for "Sight Words" and the older two have "Spelling" and "Homework".
Every school day begins with worship. We try to learn two new songs a week and they follow along with the lyrics in their binders and on the overhead.
This year I have written a "Fruit of the Spirit" curriculum for our scripture study together. It's hardly a new idea, but every month of the school year we take a different "fruit" and memorize scripture that ties to it. The kids also have a "Fruit of the Spirit" Journal that they write in nightly.
The month of September is "Kindness". I tried to tie each fruit to the season, wherever possible, and I tell you it took a certain amount of self-control on my part not to make "Self-Control" the very first one we studied! :) I didn't really think I should start the year off harping on them. The journal questions for this month are: "What did I do to show someone else kindness today?" and "How was someone else kind to me?".
Of course the notebooks look better when they're more colorful and hey, if it keeps the little one in his chair, I'm ecstatic!
Each week I am introducing one or two of the Presidents to the kids. I made the master worksheet, but used portraits I found on I also got the facts from Homeschool Share. The kids have to cut and glue the portrait, color the frame, and fill in the information. I write the four year-old's info in gray and he traces it (sometimes). Here's an example of one of his pages.
Here's another example, this time from my fourth grader.
Since I am as yet unable to sell everything and hit the road in an RV, we are traveling the U.S.A. state by state. First we color the state in on our U.S. map...
Then we do map work on the state. This is what my second grader did. She is required to trace the rivers, label the capital, and major cities. Fourth grader has to label rivers and landforms, also. I love these maps. I got them from YWAM.
I made this corresponding worksheet because I thought the one in the YWAM book was too advanced for my second grader. The kids fill this in while viewing a PowerPoint presentation of the state... definitely a cheap vacation! :)
At the beginning I mentioned the older two have a "Homework" tab. It could just as easily be called "Skills Reinforcement". My daughter usually completes a phonics activity and my son does a reading comprehension passage. They both do a math follow-up page. Whatever we need extra practice with is considered fair game for homework!
Can't believe we've already been in school for over a month now! There is so much work going on and my beautiful school room is atrocious... mostly because a day without art for my kids is like a day without food! Cracks me up since "artsy" is the last word I'd use to describe myself! Love and blessings to all of you!


  1. Hey, that's my state...ALABAMA! (Roll Tide!) Looks great and I think you are doing a wonderful job!

  2. Hey, I was hoping someone from Alabama would weigh in. Do you mind if my little girl refers to you as an "Alabamiamian"? Heehee!

  3. I think you should sell me one of those binders. I love them!!!

  4. I am loving this post, Lins!!! I'll be bookmarking it to refer to when I prepare for next year!!

    I put together and Independent Notebook for my son, but I've never thought of notebooks for the morning stuff we do together ... I'll definitely be doing this (or something VERY similar) when my littles are older and can read.

    Such a lovely idea!! ;)

  5. I can't wait until the little ones are able to sit for longer than two minutes. This looks like so much fun! I love the "Pirate's" picture, it is priceless!
    Miss you friend :)

  6. Hey, Girl! I just wanted to tell you that I linked to this post today! I think it's a fabulous idea!! ;)

  7. LOVE it!!! GREAT idea!! I love starting our day together in a "circle time" but I have been feeling a little guilty for my 4th grader who is singing the months of the year each day. Fantastic idea! When do you have them do the "homework"?

  8. Great post! You have some awesome ideas.

    The first state you did was MINE. ;)

  9. LOL I just saw YOUR comment. Your little girl can call us anything she wants. ;)

  10. I love this! Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. Wow, thanks everybody! Tiffany, it made my day to see your comment. I love your blog and especially your new schoolhouse...beautiful! To answer your question, "homework" is simply the last workbox of the day! Carrie, what can I say? I'm super honored to have received your shout out!