Workbox Wednesday

Day three of our new workboxes did not get off to a good start. MBS was very excited about starting school and wanted to get going as soon as he was up, but like Tuesday I told him it had to wait until after our regular morning routine. However when I came in after feeding the animals I found out we had no power, and that just set everything going downhill. We actually did our first box, the books, fine but MBS was too amped up sit for anything else. He was full of explanations about why we had no power and ideas about how to fix it. So I just called a halt to school for awhile. The power came back on before the hour was up but the MBS was deeply involved in his play so I just let school wait until he was ready. Once he was ready school did go pretty well and any problems were just Mommy’s grumpiness and nothing to do with the actual schooling.

Box one had our books and an action card.

Box 1: Books
Box 1: Books.

Our second box of the day had several worksheets, letter finds, tracing the number 1, cutting, and another color find. He enjoyed them all and did well, though the cutting one was torturous for me to watch– he really needs scissor practice and I was terrified he was going to cut himself.

Box 2: Worksheets.
Box 2: Worksheets.
Tracing the number 1. Love the tongue!
Tracing the number 1. Love the tongue!
He really enjoys these sheets but he wants to put an X through any of the wrong color even if it's on the same picture as the right color. I could not convince him that it didn't matter.
He really enjoys these sheets but he wants to put an X through any of the wrong color even if it’s on the same picture as the right color. I could not convince him that it didn’t matter.
Please don't cut your finger!
Please don’t cut your finger!
He likes to get really goofy while doing these, pretending to put the dots on the wrong letter.
He likes to get really goofy while doing these, pretending to put the dots on the wrong letter.
We interrupt your school day with mail! He was so happy to get a card!
We interrupt your school day with mail! He was so happy to get a card!

Our third box was the cookie sheet with our pattern blocks, he immediately just wanted to play with them. At first my stress level started to rise and then I reminded myself that he is 4 and I want school to be fun, I need to be flexible! I decided to just have him do one pattern sheet. I let him choose which and then I took the other and we did the sheets. Then we just played with the blocks. He kept making different dragons. He asked what I was making and I said I didn’t know. He kept pestering me but I really had nothing in mind and told him so. After a moment he shouted, “you’re doodle building!” I just LOVE that term.

Box 3: Pattern blocks.
Box 3: Pattern blocks.
Happy over my butterfly.
Happy over my butterfly.
Adding "wings" to my doodle building to make it into a dragon.
Adding “wings” to my doodle building to make it into a dragon.

We did patterns again in box number five. I used some bugs to do color match, thinking that manipulative would make it more fun for him. No. He still does not like this and really doesn’t seem to grasp it, which I don’t understand, I mean it’s just an ABAB pattern. Is it really that he doesn’t see it or is it just that he doesn’t want to do it, like singing the alphabet song?

Box 4: Ant patterns and caterpillar manipulative.
Box 4: Ant patterns and caterpillar manipulative.

Box number five was a huge hit! The printout is actually for spinning and graphing but what I did was use a matching color dice for each ant and then we “raced”, I used a different color pen for each race. MBS loved this, he just wanted to go again and again. Strangely even though we would switch who was doing what colors the yellow ant won most of the games, I wonder if the die is weighted wrong.

Box 5: Ant race.
Box 5: Ant race.

Our final box for the day was based on a project in Janice VanCleave’s Play and Find Out about Bugs: Easy Experiments for Young Children. It was to build an insect. Obviously the modeling clay called for in the book is much lighter than Play-Doh, my ant’s chenille stem legs couldn’t hold it up but it sure was cute! MBS had fun making his ant and then attacking mine. After that he spent another hour just playing with his Play-Doh and having a blast. The day got off to a bumpy start but it ended well.

Box 6: Build an ant.
Box 6: Build an ant.
Building ants.
Building ants.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday’s Workbox

Day two of using our workboxes went well. MBS woke up wanting to to do school, not that Mommy was ready to go that fast– coffee, shower, animal chores, and food, all had to come first. Once that was done we started our school day. I started a stop watch to see how long we actually spent on school, pausing it during snack time and his bath, but kept it running as we switched between boxes and while we did our action cards. Our whole Tuesday school time took an hour and ten minutes– I don’t plan on recording the time at this point but it was nice to know about how long it will take if we’re doing well and I feel that is about right for a 4 year old.

Box number 1 was filled with books again and probably always will be, I like starting our day with reading. All the boxes contained an action card, just like Monday.

Box 1: Books.
Box 1: Books.

Our second box of the day had two different file folders. One with a ten piece puzzle, which he really enjoyed doing and he practiced saying the numbers. The other folder had a game to add ants to an ant hill and while he was excited to use dice for the first time the game itself just bombed, he just kept saying, “I’m done now”. Oh well.

Box 2: File folder games.
Box 2: File folder games.
He was so proud to get the strips in the right order.
He was so proud to get the strips in the right order.
Action cards still a big hit!
Action cards still a big hit!

We had the cookie sheet with magnet letters and the rest of the capital letters today. He actually enjoyed it more today until he found a foam letter J instead of a magnet. Then there was a meltdown. Sigh. 2 sets of magnetic letters and the darn J was missing from both!

Box 3: Matching the letters.
Box 3: Matching the letters.

The little cup next to the cookie sheet held a card that said “snack”. In Sue Patrick’s Workbox System she recommends having a schedule strip where you put the order of the boxes and include the other things you’ll be doing like snacks, chores, exercise– so that they have visual clue as to what is coming up. I didn’t have any velcro dots when I was setting things up so I put my schedule cards in the little cup in the box to let him know what would be happening next.

Box number four had a capital and lower case letter A sort. This was way too easy for him (and sadly I have it printed up for several more letters!) but he seemed to enjoy being really good at it. In  the same box we had my index cards from The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise. I have an index card for each letter with their sound and the little poem that goes with it. He’s learned all the vowels soft sounds, so we reviewed them first, and then we went through the first several consonants. He does say the sounds and some of the poem but not all of each verse but what he does say he says LOUDLY and with great enthusiasm.

Box 4: Letter size sort and sound reviews.
Box 4: Letter size sort and sound reviews.
Big A little a.
Big A little a.
A is the first vowel we will say.
A is the first vowel we will say.

MBS has been waiting to do what was in box number five for a while now. It is an ocarina whistle that you can paint, he received it as a gift. He was so happy to finally paint it.

Box 5: An Ocarina and paint, his smock, and a schedule card that says, "take bath".
Box 5: An Ocarina and paint, his smock, and a schedule card that says, “take bath”.
"What color should I use next?"
“What color should I use next?”

We had a break in school while he took a bath and when he got back we dove right into our last box. He was surprised to find a new pair of socks in it. Ant and beetle socks! It also had ant pattern cards. He really has trouble with patterns and does not enjoy it so we’re just doing little bit at a time.

Box 6: Ant pattern cards and a new pair of insect socks!
Box 6: Ant pattern cards and a new pair of insect socks!
Socks! And yes, he really does like getting new socks.
Socks! And yes, he really does like getting new socks.
Patterning the ants. This happy face is over the coolness of the ants, not the activity.
Patterning the ants. This happy face is over the coolness of the ants, not the activity.
I love this look of concentration as he tries to do the pattern.
I love this look of concentration as he tries to do the pattern.

Our second day of using workboxes over. We had another good day. After lunch we watched A Bug’s Life. This has not been a favorite of his and usually he says “no” to watching it but this time he sat and watched the whole movie. And I mean watched, not played with lego’s and occasionally glanced at the screen, he really watched it and enjoyed it. Still was scared by the grasshoppers but not enough to ask me to turn it off.

Thanks for stopping by. (all printouts are from the same sources as yesterdays blog post)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workbox Week

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.

Our workboxes up on top of our cubby bookcase.
Our workboxes up on top of our cubby bookcase.
MBS was super excited about the workboxes. Here he is being goofy when I asked him to point to the first one.
MBS was super excited about the workboxes. Here he is being goofy when I asked him to point to the first one.

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.

Box 1: Books
Box 1: Books
Spider!
Spider!

 

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.

Four work sheets.
Box 2: Four work sheets.
"It has an X! I have an X!" MBS has an X in his name and is very excited to find it other places.
“It has an X! I have an X!” MBS has an X in his name and is very excited to find it other places.
After pounding down for most of the dots he started sliding the marker along and said, "This is drawing. When you draw with a dot marker it's not so bangy."
After pounding down for most of the dots he started sliding the marker along and said, “This is drawing. When you draw with a dot marker it’s not so bangy.”
Circling everything that was brown and putting an X through anything that wasn't. We'd never done anything like this and he absolutely loved it! Was so proud of his X's and circles, "this is a perfect circle!"
Circling everything that was brown and putting an X through anything that wasn’t. We’d never done anything like this and he absolutely loved it! Was so proud of his X’s and circles, “this is a perfect circle!”

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.

Box 3: Match the alphabet
Box 3: Match the alphabet
Checking to make sure the magnets really stick. This was not a favorite activity but he needs work recognizing letters in different fonts.
Checking to make sure the magnets really stick. This was not a favorite activity but he needs work recognizing letters in different fonts.

Number 4 was the sensory box with dyed rice and with letter A pictures hidden in it. And an action card.

Box 4: Colored rice with hidden pictures.
Box 4: Colored rice with hidden pictures.
He enjoyed the activity but mostly he enjoyed the rice and has asked to play with it several times.
He enjoyed the activity but mostly he enjoyed the rice and has asked to play with it several times.

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).

Box 5: Make a card.
Box 5: Make a card.

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.

Box 6: Bug counters.
Box 6: Bug counters.

 

See that smile? It had nothing to do with the actual activity, all he wanted to do was make the bugs fight.
See that smile? It had nothing to do with the actual activity, all he wanted to do was make the bugs fight.

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 finished  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:

I apologize if I have shown your printout and not included a link, not my intention just my tiredness, please let me know so I can update the page. Thank you for visiting the site.

 

And We’re Back

I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. I love reading peoples blogs and seeing what other families are doing in their homeschool. And I love the idea of sharing what we’re doing with family and friends and having a record for us, but I hate the actual writing of a blog post. I am just so bad at this. Oh well, practice makes perfect.

So, what’s been happening with us since last post. On Halloween my dh had a surgery that has had a very long recovery period (it’s been months and he’s still on a lot of pain!).  Thankfully my wonderful in-laws came over to help out for the first 2 weeks of his recovery. Then there was Thanksgiving, a visit from my eldest brother, Christmas, New Year’s, my father died, and on the same day as my father’s death we got the wonderful news that my sister, who has been fighting melanoma for several years, is officially in remission, and finally MBS turned 4. It’s been a very busy few months!

We did get schooling done during this time, some organized units and a lot more casual learning. Here are some highlights.

In October we had done eye drop painting of coffee filter leaves and in early November we made tree trunks from paining MBS’s arms and then made fall tree scenes with the leaves.

Carefully adding glue.
Carefully adding glue.
Our fall trees, mine pre-storm and MBS's after a windstorm had blown all the leaves down.
Our fall trees, mine pre-storm and MBS’s after a windstorm had blown all the leaves down.

We made snowflakes using masking tape and then painted over it. We liked this so much that it was the basis for our Christmas cards, though I soon got sick of making tiny snowflakes so most of the cards were just MBS’s paintings.

Our snowflake painting.
Our snowflake painting.

He drew an amazing Jack Skellington!

Wow! He was 3 years and 11 months when he drew this. Of course his next drawing was pure scribbles but this IS Jack Skelllington!
Wow! He was 3 years and 11 months when he drew this. Of course his next drawing was pure scribbles but this IS Jack Skellington!

We got some snow.

Which meant snow dancing!
Which meant snow dancing!

We put together a lot of Lego’s.

And this was just Christmas, he got even more on his birthday!
And this was just Christmas, he got even more on his birthday!

And train tracks!

He got 2 sets of expansion Thomas tracks at Christmas and then a Chuggington track set for his birthday. He has recently fallen in love with Chuggington and thankfully we kept them both wooden so they can use the same tracks.
He got 2 sets of expansion Thomas tracks at Christmas and then a Chuggington track set for his birthday. He has recently fallen in love with Chuggington and thankfully we kept them both wooden so they can use the same tracks.

Okay, I think that brought us up to date. Now onto what we’re doing now but that has to be another post. Thanks for stopping by.