Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our School Library

After finding this haul of books at the local thrift shop, I decided it was high time I reorganize our little "library" of children's books and learning books.

My first job was to separate our books into piles by subject. James and Juliet helped. : )

Next, I used dot stickers to visual discriminate each subject. I couldn't find inexpensive dots in the variety of colors I needed, so I purchased some plain white dots and colored them with markers.

I created this legend to help James find what he needs. For example, for homework each night, James must read a book to his father. I tell him to go to the classroom and select any one of his readers, which are the green group. He knows where to get them and, most importantly, where to return them!

After a lot of thought, I decided to use one of the bookcases in our classroom. I know this seems like an obvious choice for school books, but I actually had a hard time giving up two of our Montessori shelves. That is, until I determined our new routine and realized we'll be using less of our shelves for tray work.

There are a couple of baskets to hold the smaller collections of books, such as our Nat Geo's for kids.

Our reference books (encyclopedias, dictionaries,etc.), my teaching books and manuals, and any other textbooks are on a bookcase just outside the classroom. James has lots of non-school type books and all of those are on the bookcase in his bedroom.

At the moment, I have no desire (read: energy) to catalog our all of books. I know there are a variety of awesome online resources that would help me do this, but our selection is still relatively small and quite manageable. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our New Routine

I mentioned in a recent post that I have been re-evaluating our curriculum and how we do school. With the help of Jolanthe's Homeschool Planner worksheet, I created this schedule:

There were key subjects I knew I wanted to cover, some more frequently than others (e.g., math, writing, reading). I also wanted a variety of topics within each day because while James is a creature of habit and routine, I knew it was important that I keep our school time interesting and new at the same time. For example, we do an "art study" every Thursday, but the art that we study is different each time.

Every Sunday evening I plan out our schedule for the coming week by writing in specific notes on the template. I refer to this schedule during our school time and I make a check mark as we finish a subject. I do this so that upon review I can quickly see what's done and what isn't. There are days when we may have to skip a lesson here or there, and because it's not checked I'll see that I need to cover that material tomorrow.

After I've planned our schedule, I gather together all of the materials we'll need for each day and I create "daily trays". I place these trays on the shelves of one of our bookcases. This is not unlike workboxes in the sense that the child simply goes to one spot to collect their work for the day. Each morning James goes to shelves, gets the tray of the day, brings it to the table, and knows that everything on that tray is what we have to work on.

On each tray is a clear folder that holds that day's worksheets. I purchased three Kindergarten and 1st grade workbooks and I simply tear out several pages for each day. Occasionally I add in worksheets I've found online, too.

At the end of the day we paperclip the completed worksheets and put them into this folder. My husband really enjoys seeing what James has done, and James is so proud to show his daddy his school work!

I also have a "teacher tray" where I keep books I use repeatedly throughout the week (e.g., our chapter read-aloud, our reading comp. book, etc.). This is really handy as it keeps my materials separate from James'.

At the end of each week I save the completed schedules in my organizer. This is helpful because it serves as a record of what we've done and it also provides me with a clear idea of what we need to cover. By the way, I must mention that I *love* my organizer! I haven't quite decided how to use it to its full potential, but so far it's been a great help. Inside of it I keep a copy of our monthly calendar, notes, ideas, planning sheets, Weekly Reader teaching guides, as well as pouches filled with writing tools and stickers.

That's one other thing that's been a fun new addition to our school time - the stickers! I remembered that I used to love when my teachers put stickers on my worksheets to show they were pleased with my work. I found loads of these little stickers at the local teacher's supply store. James was just tickled when I pulled them out and I've noticed he puts in a bit more effort in the hopes he'll get a sticker!

Many thanks to my wonderful friend, Terri, for this idea. I made this schedule sheet for James and I keep it posted in our classroom next to our calendar so he can see what's coming. He really likes it and often looks over to it and announces what we're doing next. We start school at about 8:30/9am (or later... depends on how motivated we are in the morning!) and the entire routine takes us about 3 hours. This works out well since our afternoons are usually busy with playing, errands, or classes. (BTW, "morning exercises" is just a more grown up way of referring to "circle time". : ) You can read more about our circle time here.)

I'm really, really pleased with our new schedule and learning method. I like that we're still using our classroom despite the fact that much of our work comes from books and worksheets. We have school every day in our classroom and work at the little table in there. Three times a week James does "shelf work" where for 30 minutes he can work on anything on our shelves. Currently, the work on our shelves is from our mini-units. (Side note: I thought we'd move through those MUCH more quickly than we have - there are 3 units we have yet to cover!) When we get through those I will create only a handful of trays each month.

For the moment, our "curriculum" is really just a hodgepodge of methods using various books, workbooks and tactile materials. Beginning next fall we'll be using more specific methods for our core subjects.

In the next week or two I hope to share about our new school library!

PS: here's a recent pic of my sweet pea. I just can't get enough of that smile!!
~Thank you for your comments!~


Related Posts with Thumbnails