Things have been really busy around our house now that school has started back up. First grade is off to a good start!
We have a new desk from Ikea. Adrianna and I share the desk, which has been working out great. Although I do look forward to the day when she will be able to do more independent work.
We switched up some of our curriculum this year. Here is a sample of today’s workboxes:
For Math, we are using Abeka.
For History/Geography/Social Studies, we are using Sonlight again. Their Usborne books are still on my favorites list and Adrianna really enjoys them too. She has really been getting into the Peoples of the World book shown below.
For Reading, we are trying out Bob Jones (BJU).
Spelling, Phonics and Handwriting are also BJU. Here is a sample of the spelling.
For Bible, we are using Sonlight. When I sat down on the floor to read this to Adrianna today, Bree spotted the book in my hand and immediately backed up her little hiney and plopped right down into my lap. She loves colorful books.
For Read-Alouds, we are also using Sonlight. Their read-aloud selections are another reason I chose to use them again this year. This is the poetry book we are reading out of. (Warped after a quick stint in the water table, courtesy of Bree.) We are also currently in the middle of Charlotte’s Web, which we usually read at bedtime rather than placing in a workbox.
I found this next book at the homeschool conference in June and, knowing Adrianna’s keen interest in maps, I thought it would be a great addition to our year. It has really been a hit so far and she likes coloring the maps after we are done.
For science, we are going to try out Real Science 4 Kids’ Chemistry curriculum. Hopefully it will arrive in the mail soon!
Bree is pretty good about entertaining herself during school, at least part of the time. Since our school room also doubles as the playroom, she happily toddles around pulling toys and books off of their shelves and generally creates a big mess. My little tornado.
I really enjoy seeing samples of what others are using in their workbox system. It was blog posts by other homeschool moms showing how they used their workbox system in their school day that inspired me to want to give it a try. I also am hooked on seeing what curriculum and creative ideas others use with their kids.
So, here is my first “What’s in the box Wednesday” post. Except the day I took the photos was Thursday and I am posting it on a Saturday. Oh well, it still will provide a glimpse of our school days this past week.
The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: I love this history book and its illustrations. Even I feel like I am learning as I read it out loud to Adrianna. This week, we read about “Chinese Ways” from 500 years ago.
The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia: Like the book above, this is another amazing book from Usborne. It contains science and history. This week we read about Ming China around 500ish years ago. This book also has a website with many linked resources to supplement and enhance whatever subject you are studying. Adrianna and I used google to search for images of the Great Wall of China.
I Can Read It! Book 1: This particular subject (reading) tends to be one of our most difficult to complete each day in terms of motivation on Adrianna’s part, so I always try to put it towards the beginning of our day, basically so we can get it over with. I also try to sandwich it between two books that I read out loud to her so that the subjects before and after are easier for her.
She is doing well with her reading and can read or sound out consonant-vowel-consonant words pretty easily when she wants to.
The Light at Tern Rock: A fiction read-aloud book that we read through this week. She wasn’t as into it as some of the other read-alouds we’ve done in the past with the Sonlight curriculum.
Explode the Code 1: Our writing curriculum which basically is a workbook of activities to get her thinking, reading and writing vowel-consonant-vowel words. She usually does very well with these.
For math, one thing we are currently working on is learning how to tell time on both regular and digital clocks. So far we have worked on the full and half hours. These worksheets I found for free online and are not part of our normal curriculum. We also practice identifying the time using a whiteboard, on which I write a digital clock time, and by moving the big and little hands on some clock faces that came with our Saxon Math curriculum as a manipulative.
Weather: For science right now we are learning more about the weather. This week we discussed how animals adapt and survive different weather by their fur coats changing color or by migrating.
National Geographic Kids Magazine and Great Migrations Map from the National Geographic Magazine: We recently subscribed to National Geographic and also National Geographic Kids. I was so excited to see the first kids magazine that we received talked about animal migrations since that lined up with what we talked about in our Science class. And even better was the fact that one of our recent National Geographic magazines included a map of animal migrations as well. Love it! So these made it into a workbox to expand upon animal migrations this week.
Arts/Crafts: I try to include some fun projects or even small dollar store toy incentives in our workboxes from time to time. Adrianna loves to paint, so these new paints and brushes were a big hit.
With our new paint, we painted Adrianna’s hand and made a turkey out of it. I found the idea on Itsy Bitsy Learning. My little girly-girl decided to add a crown, a bib, and jewels at the ends of the turkeys feathers.
For more workbox ideas, you can visit Confessions of a Homeschooler every Wednesday.
As a new homeschool mom, I have been frequenting many homeschool blogs for ideas, tips and any other helpful information I can find. One thing I have noticed is a lot of buzz surrounding the “workbox system”.
Our first six weeks of homeschooling went well overall. But although our Sonlight curriculum breaks everything down daily/weekly for me, I was still feeling a bit disorganized. It doesn’t help that we are currently on Week 8 for History and English, Week 5 for Reading (our most difficult subject), Week 3 for Science (which we added after we’d already started our school year), our Math isn’t broken up in the same way by weeks and I enjoy adding a lot of supplemental worksheets and tasks I find online.
After reading this great post on workboxes by Confessions of a Homeschooler, I decided I wanted to give the workbox system a try. So a couple of weekends ago, Greg and I visited one of my favorite stores, The Container Store, to see what they had that could be used for a workbox system. I ended up deciding to get some elfa metal drawers similar to the ones that we had bought earlier this year to organize our large Lego collection.
We ended up buying two more of the elfa metal drawer systems. The one on the left with the 10 shallow drawers will be used for our homeschooling. Since our school room also doubles as my office and the playroom, the drawer set on the right is going to house popular toys, such as dress-up clothes, Duplos (yes, we have a lot of Legos AND Duplos), kitchen set supplies and toy animals.
We decided not to buy the particle board tops to the drawer systems that The Container Store sells. Instead, Greg made me one out of some leftover wood, stain and varnish he had in the garage from when he made me my kitchen island. I love that the top he made me is one solid table top instead of two separate ones like the store had because I can easily put some school supplies and my printer on top.
Using our new drawers, we started our own version of the workbox system last week. What a difference it has made in our school day already! I am able to easily plan out our school day the night before (using a spreadsheet) and put each subject or task into its own drawer. When we start school, my daughter and I can both see how much schoolwork we have left before we are done for the day. Another bonus: we are actually getting more done in the same amount of time we had spent previously on our school day. I love this system.
Right now I am only planning one day at a time and that seems to work fine for us.
An additional benefit I hope to glean from this system is for my daughter to become more independent with some of her schoolwork. The Sonlight curriculum is literature based and since she is only now learning to read (she is in Kindergarten), that means that much of my time is spent reading to her. When we do have worksheets or other work that she could do on her own, she often wants me to sit with her and basically look over her shoulder as she completes the assignment and asks me lots of questions instead of trying to figure things out on her own. What I am working toward is have her work on her own, when it makes sense to do so, and turn in the assignment for me to grade later. I will be available for questions but I don’t want to be her crutch; I want her to try to figure things out on her own.
Here is a picture from our workboxes today. You can see that we have already finished our first two assignments, as the drawers have already been emptied.
I do not do the subjects in the same order each day. My only loose guidelines (so far) are that I put reading near the top since it is our most difficult subject and I try to intersperse independent or fun activities so we don’t feel too bogged down by too many read-alouds in a row, etc.
The beauty of the workbox system is that it is so customizable. Do a search for the workbox system and a lot of homeschool blogs will come up, each with their own version of the system. I have also joined some Yahoo groups that are just for workboxes and sharing ideas and free printables. How in the world did people homeschool before the internet?
Do you use the workbox system or another organization system in your school day? Link me up in the comments; I would love to come check out how YOU do school.
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