All New Handwriting Page With Updated Print and Cursive Pages

Some serious “interior decorating” has taken place here on Practical Pages!

I have combined my Print and Cursive Handwriting pages all together on my new Handwriting Page in order to streamline searches and downloads.

Not only that, but I have completely refreshed and updated my handwriting charts, rewrote my Handwriting Step-by-Step guides and put excellent finishing touches to my Handwriting Tips Booklet.

Please update your old downloads with these new pages!

Blessings,

Handwriting line upon line

You may wonder why preschool teachers use different sized lined pages in early handwriting lessons. You may simply assume that your child will simply learn write on store-bought lined paper, but this may lead to enormous frustration and stress for your young child.

Let’s establish one simple rule ~

Always teach large – to – smaller

  • Start with very wide spaces on blank paper.  Pre-school teachers use blank paper and fold it into quarters = 4 lines.
  • Then fold the quarters in half and = 8 narrower lines.  Teach young preschoolers to draw their lines or circles between the folded lines.
  • You can draw or print different colored  or dotted lines ~

Write the letters ‘sitting’ on the blue line, body of letter touching the red dotted line and the tall letter shapes touching the black line

Teach child to write between the dotted and the black lines

But you can appreciate that all these lines are very confusing!  Where does your child know where to start?

Here’s my proven CAT or MAN tip:Man in handwriting lines

  1. First, chose the line width to match your child’s skills – wide for beginners, narrower as they master their fine motor skills and spatial recognition.
  2. Draw a margin down the left side of the page.
  3. Now draw a cat in the margin.  The cat body is a circle that fills the middle body lines, the cat head fills to the top line and the tail hangs to touch the bottom line.  Many teachers draw the body line in blue: blue = bodyPrint Lower case with cat & arrows
  4. Now you can refer to every letter stroke ~
    • All letters sit in the body line.  Most letters start on the top body line. (There are body lines!  See why this is difficult for some children to ‘see’?)
    • Tall letters (like b, d, f, l & t) all touch the top head line.  Some start here.
    • Some letters have a ‘tail’ (like g, j, p, q & y) which hang to touch the bottom line.
    • All UPPER CASE letters and all numbers start in the ‘head’ line.
    • All UPPER CASE letters and all numbers ‘sit’ on the body line.
    • No upper case letter or number hangs below the body!
  5. Next, teach the child to draw a stick man in the margins of their lined page.  
    This is very important!  Once the child starts any handwriting lesson on lined paper, FIRST draw in the men!  This helps the child know where to start and finish each letter stroke. (This is not art, it is a quick reference!  Don’t let them waste time here!)Print Lower Case & numbers with stick man
  6.  Eventually, before any handwriting lesson, we used a quick abbreviation of the man = my children drew a DOT in the ‘head’ line and a VERTICAL DASH in the ‘body’ line, and skipped open a line.  A quick dot-dash-skip … dot-dash-skip … all the way down the margin prepared them for their handwriting or copywork lesson.  They started all body letters in the lines with the vertical slash and all uppercase or tall letters in the line with the dot.
  7. When buying lined exercise notebooks for your children, look for widest lined pages.  Don’t be afraid to use lots of paper and spread each letter over 3 lines (head, body & tail) and skip a line.
  8. Then your children can work with normal lined pages, again using 3 lines and skipping a line.
  9. Children work by then working on Irish lined paper. These are much narrower than the normal lined paper, but, working over the 3 lines and skipping a line, the size of the handwriting is much smaller and more like the normal handwriting size.
  10. Finally, when working on 1 line and writing ‘normally’  some children need to be reminded to work halfway up in the body line.  You may try ~
    • Draw in a faint pencil line halfway through the body line.
    • Place a special lined guide chart under the page – I simply drew black lines on cardstock to slide under the lined page and the faint outline could still be seen.  The halfway line was dotted.  This worked very well in my classroom where some children either wrote too small or too large, or varied their sizes too much.

Now, with these handwriting tips, you are ready to visit my handwriting pages for charts to laminate, handwriting tips and lined pages.

You can also find free handwriting lined paper downloads at Donna Young and  Activity Village.

Blessings,

Handwriting Tips

Copywork pages

Teaching and practicing handwriting can be simplefree and quick using my laminated charts.  

Pop over to my Handwriting Free Pages for all handwriting lessons, tips and charts, and Copywork for  your copywork pages.

Purchase these helpful handwriting products available on my Packages page:

  • Handwriting Tips Booklet
  • Teaching Print Step-by-Step
  • Teaching Cursive step-by-step

Helpful Hints ~

When my children start learning their letter formation, they trace over the letter with a whiteboard marker. Later, when they practice handwriting, they use the chart for reference while they are copying.  They prop the chart up in a paper holder, which is very helpful in saving space on the table while we all work.)

Handwriting arrowsMy 9-year-old has already learnt her print and has recently mastered her cursive chart.  She now practices her cursive handwriting daily on copywork pages I have made. She uses famous quotes from the history time period we are studying, or she writes the Bible memory verses for that week.  All dictation work  is an opportunity to practice handwriting skills.

The children first used pencil for all written work, but after their confidence grew, they received  their “pen licence“. I have found the best results when my children use mechanical pencils.  These pencils usually have lovely soft plastic grips and their points never become dull and blunt, causing fat, smudgy writing.  My youngest child uses a very light hand pressure and so she needs to work with a soft 2B pencil lead.  My middle child presses harder and so she works best with normal HB pencil leads.

I recommend that children only use pens once they very seldom make mistakes as they all hate using Tipex.  My kids try very hard not to make mistakes, but if there is too much stress over mistakes, I recommend they continue with pencil work.  It is quite acceptable in homeschool, and with a little more practice, it will ease the transition.  Each child has their favourite pen.  One enjoys gel pens that flow smoothly, while the other prefers a light, very thin blue line and favors a specific brand ball point pen. I allow the older girls use glitter pens for copywork if they want to make it look special.

Children sometimes find purchased handwriting programs very boring and repetitive (endless rows of lines, curves or letters), but with copywork, they are writing “real writing“.  They enjoy recognizing excerpts from their read alouds, or quotations from their core readers.  Copying memory verses is an excellent way to learn the scripture verse.GradeOneLowerAndUppercaseChart

To do Copywork, children need to know both the upper and lower case forms of each letter. This is handwriting practice in context.  First practice lower case, then upper case, and then the paired letters on the next chart.

You can use your own fonts and make your own charts.

Hope that these tips help you and your children enjoy short, sweet handwriting lessons!

Blessings, Nadene

Alternatives

Not every homeschool day works well.  Some days are just blah, other days are bad.  There are stresses and struggles. And even when you have good days, they can become predictable and boring.

It helps to have some alternatives.20140318_115016

Switch subjects

We usually start with the basics; Bible, Maths, Spelling & Dictation, Language Arts, but sometimes we start with Core instead, or sit together for Read Aloud time, or start our Theme of the Day activity we normally do after lunch before the rest.  Beginning with a “fun” subject or activity can defuse any difficulty.  I often ask my youngest what subject she would like to start.  I give her a choice in leading her own homeschool day and so she doesn’t feel that I am dragging her through the motions.  She leads and feels motivated.

Sit somewhere new

Move outside, inside, under a tree, on the carpet, in the sunshine, in the shade, on the couch, in bed, outdoors, rearrange the study. By simply changing the learning environment, the whole atmosphere and one’s attitude changes.  And moms need this change as much as the kids!

When I was a senior primary school teacher I use to rearrange my classroom and seating for each new theme.  I created a coral island, a police academy, a courtroom, a puppet theater.  The buzz outside my classroom before the kids came in was electric!  I didn’t need to do much more to motive my kids!

Start a new read aloud

I have stated that reading aloud is the glue that holds homeschool together.  Sometimes, it may be the only homeschool we do when someone is sick, or when visitors stay, when the schedule is disrupted or when someone simply wants to give up.  If the current book doesn’t sparkle, gently lay it aside and go find a wonderful book that grips hearts and minds and takes you and your kids on a journey!

Get physical

Do something active!  A nature walk revives a weary spirit.  A good run, skipping with a rope, or jumping on a trampoline helps rev up the metabolism and energizes one.  Science experiments or hands on activities are stimulating and exciting. I often plan several alternative activities for each theme so that I can inspire fresh enthusiasm with a fun activity.  It’s amazing what a child can learn when creating a mobile or making a model.

Sing or do Fine Arts

Learning with catchy songs and music is fun and it sticks!  Our Geography Songs CD are a lifelong legacy!  Singing connects the group and music lifts the spirit.  Fine Arts (art, music, poetry etc.) inspire us, ease the soul and minister to our hearts.  Sometimes our Friday Fine Arts day is the only day that we love.

Don’t get stuck in a rut.  Switch things about a little and discover a new zeal and enthusiasm!

What alternatives worked for you?  Please share ideas in the comments.

Blessings,

Narrations 101 Jot & Draw

Narrations are an important principle in a Charlotte Mason education.

I have found that a young child naturally “retells” a good story.

Even a 4-year-old narrates with detail and passion!

All you need to do is find ways of capturing their thoughts.

Here are some practical ways you can collect your child’s narrations ~

Use a blank jotter or notebook ~

 

  • Buy the cheapest newsprint jotter books and cover it with the child’s own art.
  • Paste everything they draw, scribble and copy into this jotter.
  • You may fill several in a year!
  • Write out the story in pencil as they narrate and let them copy over your writing.
  • Draw the title really big and bold and let the child draw a picture under it.

Create a narration notebook for the story/ subject ~

  • Use blank or colored pages.
  • Tea-stain paper and crumple the paper to make it look “old”.
  • Tear or burn the edges for an aged effect.
  • Join a few pages length-wise and roll it up to become a scroll.
  • Re-purpose old telephone books or pages and paint over the printing
  • Staple the pages together at the top/ side with a cardboard cover.
  • Be creative and make a booklet with stick and rubber band – see how to at Susan’s Making Books.com
  • Punch holes and put into a binder/ file.

Draw a picture of the story ~

  • Ask your child to draw while you read aloud.
  • Let them copy the book’s illustrations.  This is a good way of teaching the child to draw.  Some children’s books are so beautifully illustrated that they inspire a child!
  • Add the story title & a date.
  • Write their narration around/under/ next to the picture as they dictate.  Simple narration!
  • Make a collage. Add details found in magazines to a picture.
  • Find clip art or Google pictures or images on the computer and let your child add this to their narration page
  • Make a comic strip – divide the page into 4-6 blocks.  Number the blocks.  This is good practice to sequence the story.

comic strip page

  • Add educational value to the drawing – (if they will allow)
    • punch holes around the edges and let them practise threading/ sewing around the page with wool
    • draw vertical and horizontal squiggly lines through the picture and let them cut on the lines
    • now let the child make their “puzzle” picture up again and paste it in the jotter
    • cut out the main characters and let the child glue them on a colored or painted background.

Read my original post on this topic ~ Mom ~ The Narration Scribe.

Join me in Narration 102 where I share how to type and print your child’s narrations as a booklet.

How do you encourage your young children to record their narrations? Feel free to share in the comments.

Blessings,

You are Qualified to Homeschool!

English: Source: http://historyproject.ucdavis...

Moms,

you do not need a degree,

teacher’s training

or special workshops

to equip you to teach your child.

God has equipped you.

He placed wonderful nurturing instincts in you.

He poured mother’s-love into your heart.

He gave you sight of every unique, special thing in your child.

He inspired you to prayerfully and graciously watch over His plan for your child.

What school teacher has this for your child?

Where can any training qualify you with these skills?

What curriculum package provides this?

What helps a new homeschool mom?

  • A supportive partner.  He does not have to actually teach, but should be aware and involved in the homeschooling.  My hubby is our “principal” and has the say on serious discipline issues and assists me when I am ‘drowning’, stressed, afraid or unsure.
  • A mentor. An older Christian mother (who may or may not have also homeschooled) can give amazing advice and counsel.  Make yourself vulnerable and accountable to her and keep in regular contact.
  • Good homeschool books. I often find the most wonderful inspiration and excellent heart-to-heart counsel from great books.  Visit my book list to see my recommendations.
  • A support group or co-op.  Join other homeschool moms and listen to their stories and advice.  You’ll quickly discover that your journey is much like theirs and they may have a few good tips and tricks to help you with problems or issues.
  • Websites & blogs. I have found so much help on the internet!  I have learnt about and been inspired in many of my Charlotte Mason principles and approaches though the blogs and websites.   Check out my link lists on my sidebar.
  • Curriculum forums.  If you purchase a formal curriculum, you are invited to join their forum.  You can find excellent and very practical help there.  I regularly visited the Sonlight forum in my first year of homeschooling.  I remember crying out for help on a specific issue and 2 parents wrote the most reassuring advice that same hour and saved my quaking heart!
  • Tutors.  For moms who fear teaching high school maths or any other technical or difficult subject, I advise a tutor.  It is good for a child to be accountable to a third-party.  High school subjects are sometimes challenging.  To avoid tears, tantrums, and trauma to the relationship, find a university student, a private teacher or another parent in the co-op to take the terror out of a subject.
  • Swap and share. Sometimes a co-op can save an entire subject!  Science experiments, nature study outings, physical exercise and training, art, second languages, music, drama and singing are all subjects other moms may assist.  You don’t have to do it all.  Invite the ‘arty’ mom to teach your kids art and crafts and offer to teach your strong subject. If there is no homeschool family or group available, seek out the local town groups for a short course.

Most moms worry and fret about high school, graduation on the outcomes 10 or more years away.  Fears about teaching maths, science and high school subjects often keeps moms from relishing and enjoying pre-school and primary school years with their children.

It is sad.

All those wonderful young, innocent children sent off to school for years of systems, social pressure and stress because mom was afraid of teaching reading or maths.

But it can be done.

I encourage you to find help along the way if you need it, but homeschool your children because you can.

I have met amazing moms and dads who have done a fantastic job educating their children at home.

They are available, involved and connected.

Usually they have good books, some have great curriculums, but most just explore and discover learning situations with their children.

What has helped you along your homeschool journey?  What qualified you to teach your children?  Please share your experiences and views in the comments.

Blessings,

Conclusions, Closure and Congratulations!

We have formally ended our school year in South Africa.

At the end of each year we ~

Review

File

Evaluate

and Celebrate!

1.  Conclusion ~

We use notebook files for all our school work. I made a cover page for each subject.

We file all our notebook pages, copywork pages, maths practice pages, poems, creative writing, spelling, geography charts and maps, music appreciation logs, Sketch Tuesday sketches and other art work.

At the end of each term, I remove the completed work and file it in a large file holder for the end of the year.

Now we add the last term’s work and put things in order.

2.  Closure ~

We spend about 20 minutes and sort and file these pages.

We look back over the year’s work.

We laugh at funny pictures, remember the fun times and share memories.

The quality of some of their pages amazes the girls!  They are really delighted with some art work.  They are stunned at how much work they actually did this year.

3.  Evaluate ~

As we file everything, I have a paper handy and we play the “FAVOURITES”  game.

I ask each child,  “What was your favourite part of this … subject/ theme/ activity.”

Then I ask, “Why?”  I jot down their answers.  This kind of evaluation is fun, informal, truthful and spontaneous.

All the while we still file each subject behind its cover page.

In a short while our files are full!

Our lapbooks are usually not filed.  The children keep their lapbooks out because they love to re-read and show them to interested friends and family!

Then each child runs back to the bookshelf to collect their favourite 5 books of the year.

“Only 5?” my youngest asks.

Again I ask, “Which was your favourite-favourite?  The very best book?  Why?”

I jot their chosen book titles and reasons on my paper.


I ask them, “What did you LEAST enjoy?  Why?”  The children admit to some tears during a difficult maths lesson or spelling test, but now it doesn’t seem so bad.

Another question I ask, “What was the EASIEST subject?”

Finally I ask, “What would you like MORE of next year?” and they say ~

Lapbooks! Bible Drawing! Nature Journals!

4. We Celebrate!

  • We pose for a few photos.
  • We go on a fun picnic!
  • We enjoy a special family celebration dinner.
  • We sometimes hand out certificates.  (Sonlight provides certificates for each subject and I was amazed at how special my children felt receiving their certificate from their dad at the celebration dinner.)

Closure is a very special process.  We love to reach our goals.  We all like to know that we have made progress; and that we have arrived at our destination.  Somehow, it is easier to move forward once things are really complete.

And during the next week I compile my evaluation form for each child.  I add my own records to their own evaluations and type it and place it in their file.

I will share a bit more about evaluations next time.

This is also the time for planning for the year ahead.   (I’ll share more on this in the coming weeks too.)

Until then,enjoy the last few weeks of this amazing year!

Blessings,

Time-Saving Tips for Doing Lapbooks

We regularly do lapbooks!

love organization.  I like efficiency.  I love getting to the fun part of writing in the minibooks without fuss and time-wasting.

But what you see in the photo above is NOT practical!

If we had to cut and fold and paste minibooks for each lesson, I would have given up lapbooks long ago.

I have found a wonderful way to prepare our lapbooks in advance, especially if you use several lapbooks regularly in your school week.

Let me share some of our time-saving tips:

1. Download and save your lapbook.

  • Save a back-up of your lapbook download on a memory stick/CD/ EHD (External Hard Drive)

2. Print out the minibooks, index and instructions.

  • I like to print the next project a few weeks ahead of my schedule.
  • Place the index, instructions and the printed pages in a plastic page protector and store these pages with the lapbook minibook pages until you have time to do number 3.

OR go straight ahead and …

3.  Spend one afternoon cutting out and stapling, folding and assembling each minibook.

  • I cut my 2 kids’ copies together to save time.  This usually takes one afternoon.
  • Or the kiddies can cut out minibooks for you.  They need all the cutting practice they can get!
  • We listen to a a read aloud or audio books while we are busy snipping and folding.
  • Use this master template to make your own stash of minibooks!.

4.  Store the folded minibooks in a Ziploc bag for each child (until you get time to do number 5).

(Check out Jimmie’s Collage – where I first saw this idea.)

Here is my problem ~  Stored minibooks are easily muddled and we waste time searching through them to complete the activity for that lesson, so this is a temporary storage.

Here are some other practical problems~

  • I paper-clipped the new minibooks together for each chapter, but the paper clips sometimes fall off.
  • Completed minibooks get muddled among the new minibooks, so I try store them separately.
  • So this is why the next step of pasting all the minibooks into the file folder before we start has saved us from lost and muddled minibooks and senseless time-wasting searches.

5.   IMPORTANT –  PASTE all the new minibooks in their file folders BEFORE you even start your lapbook!

  • Place the minibooks according to the recommended layout according to the instruction page, or according to sequence of the work.
  • The kids do an excellent job placing the minibooks on their own.  They shift and arrange the minibooks until they are happy with the layout.  A random layout has never been a problem.
  • They choose where they want to fix the extra cardboard flap or file folder if they need extra space.
  • We glue all the minibooks down.
  • This pasting stage gives the children an “overview” of the lapbook. They have a good idea of what they will cover.  It helps them find the correct minibook when I read or they research.
  • Note – When working on a lapbook and a child makes a complete mess of a minibook, simply cut out a paper to fit over the writing and cover the errors, if that is a concern for you or your child.  This has happened only once or twice in all our years of lapbooking.

6.  Duct tape the side of the lapbook and punch it if you want to store the lapbook in a ring-binder/ work file while you are working on the lapbook.

  • I love this method of storage.  It makes the lapbook part of our daily file work.
  • Trim the top of the file folders so that the lapbook to fit in the ringbinder/ file.  Check how we do this here.
  • When the lapbook is complete, it is easily filed with other lapbooks.
Duct tape on front of lapbook

Duct tape on front of lapbook

Fold over and stick duct tape to back of lapbook

Fold over and stick duct tape to back of lapbook creating a strip of folded duct tape

Punch holes into duct tape

Punch holes into the folded duct tape strip

7.  Now we are ready to start!

  • It only takes a moment to open the lapbook, glance over the minibook titles to find the current booklet.
  • The children can write in their minibooks and the job is complete.
  • Read Mom – Narration Scribe for ideas to help your young children write their narrations.
  • You’ll notice my young child copying over the pencil writing.  She had just started using cursive and wanted to master it in all her written work.  This made writing her narrations extra hard and slow, so I pencilled in her dictated narrations and she copied over it in pen. Boy, was she proud of her work!

There you have it – lapbooks quick and ready!

Hope this encourages you.  Lapbooks are the most fun activities in our homeschooling! 🙂

What tips do you have?

Blessings, Nadene

“Shrektacular” Shrek Party Ideas!

We recently created a wonderful Shrek theme party for my 8-year-old.

Can't wait to decorate the Shrek cake

My children and I love planning a party!  We brainstormed our menu, games and activities, decor and party craft.

We love painting the decor and creating a craft kit or gift for the party favour. (I don’t believe in sending home a bag of sweets.)

It is much more fun to let the children create and decorate the party cake!  This has relieved me of the burden of creating the “perfect party cake” (and mine always look very wonky!)

(Don’t you agree that a large cake is wasted on little children – I’ve maintained that I might as well ice and decorate a shaped piece of polystyrene because the kids just pull off the sweets and strip the icing and leave the cake!)

We had to take our party to my Mom-In-Law’s house, so about 3 days before our party we  began our party preparations and…

  • Made Masks for decor and a charade game ~click here for a pdf download ~ Shrek Party Masks

  • Princess Fiona

    Donkey

    Shrek

    Fairy Godmother

    Puss In Boots

    And many more ….

  • I created a Shrek File Folder Game.

(I will share  more about that when I’ve uploaded the game.  Included with this are character cards and charades cards. I hope to share this on File Folder Fun, so I’ll share this with you later. 😉 )

  • Created lovely, edible cake decorations with marshmallow paste for a Shrek Swamp Cake.

Moulding a flower on icing sugar

Toadstools, lily pads, lilies, butterflies and dragonflies

Here’s the recipe for Marshmallow Paste:

15 White Marshmallows

100g sifted Icing Sugar

Food Colouring

Corn flour/ Icing sugar

  • Melt the marshmallows in a bowl in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds.
  • Add the icing sugar to the melted marshmallows and mix till it forms a paste. (Heat again if it becomes too cool and stiff.)
  • Divide into several small balls and colour each ball separately, leaving 1 ball separate for white.
  • To colour – place the ball on a plate in the microwave for 20 sec and knead a few drops of food colouring into the hot paste. (Caution – it gets very hot!  Do NOT use your fingers – I used a table knife and pressed the flat side into the ball and kneaded it on a little sprinkle of icing sugar till the colour was right through.)
  • When the pastes gets hard, just warm it quickly in the microwave for about 10 secs and then create your shapes.
  • If the paste gets sticky use a little sprinkle of corn flour or icing sugar to reduce the stickiness.
  • Different pieces will stick together if it is warm.  Add sprinkles or silver balls for detail when the paste is warm.
  • Although this is completely edible, it is not that delicious. (smile)

We baked a large, flat chocolate cake.

I made Rice Crispies Marshmallow biscuits to use to build Shrek’s house.  We bought wafer biscuits for the ‘outhouse’, windows and doors.  We decorated lollipops and pasted paper sunflowers on the wrappers.  I bought a packet of chocolate discs for a stepping stone path.  We used Flaky chocolates for logs. We baked and decorated Gingerbread men with jelly tot buttons.

At the start of the party the children decorated the cake:

Chocolate cake with Rice Crispie Biscuit Shrek House

Adding Decorations

Excited ~ almost all done!

The Shrektacular Cake!

(The delicious chocolate cake recipe, the biscuit recipe and other ideas are in the pdf. download at the end of this post.)

And the party itself was a Shrektacular!

We lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday” and then the gorgeous cake was stripped!  ~ just I had planned!

Play Pin the Donkey:

This is an old favourite, but it was a delightful success and everyone’s ‘mis-placed’ tails looked so funny!

Pin the Donkey's Tail

With some fast dance music from Shrek, we played Lily Pad Hop.  It is another easy version of musical chairs, but we used green paper plates as ‘lily pads’.

Who will sit on the last Lily Pad?

We played Fairy Godmother Freezes to music.  The child that moved after the music stopped is out and they then suggest the next movement everyone had to copy and stop when the music stopped.

Outside we played a Shrek version of tag with Dragon Escape!

While outside, each person used their bubble stuff to blow and catch bubbles.

We played our board game, played charades with the masks and played catch and Piggy in the Middle with balloons.

We giggled and enjoyed Princess’ Thimble where each child holds a straw in their mouth and pass the thimble along.

Princess' Thimble

I downloaded and printed a wide variety of Shrek colouring-in pages and everyone left with these, their bubble stuff and a mask.

I found awesome, inspiring party ideas at  kids-birthday-party-guide.com.

You can download my ideas, recipes, game instructions, activities, images and ideas here ~ Shrek Party


Practical Organization Tips 2

In my previous post on Practical Organization Tips 1, I wrote about some of the practical ways I have organized the school room and the girls’ desk, chairs and stationary.  Today I want to share some details about our files:

The girls’ files

Cover pages for the files

  1. I made cover pages or file dividers for each subject. All their subjects are colour coded (e.g.: Spelling is orange and they find their pages quickly)
  2. Handwriting charts, lined writing pages, copywork pages stored in copywork section.
  3. Mental Maths page in a plastic protective sleeve.  They use a white board marker to do the page and then wipe it clean.
  4. Notebook pages, spelling test pages and other pages we are working on.
  5. Current lapbooks we are working on have all the minibooks printed and cut out and stored in a ziplock bags with duct tape.
  6. Completed lapbooks are filed with duct tape in their file. At the end of the term I file all their completed work in a folder.
  7. Any other A4 charts like my Days, weeks, months, seasons, weather chart with rotating wheels.

What is in my file?

  1. Planning sheets ~ Overview, Year Plan, Month and Week Planners
  2. New handwriting pages on hand ~ red & blue lines
  3. Mental Maths worksheets ~ the girls put a new sheet in a plastic protector sheet and use a whiteboard marker to write their answers.  They swap their page for new pages every day unless they need more practice on the one they are working on.
  4. My “Picture This!” Bible drawing lesson with the specific book of the Bible we are studying.
  5. Notebook pages, templates and notes for the work we are doing.
  6. Lapbook notes and instructions for the lapbooks we are working on now.  (My templates and ready stash is in my lapbook file.)
  7. Chart pictures and biography pages for Artist of the month
  8. Chart pictures and biography pages for Composer of the month

My file is a large file.  I could select just the work I need for the month, but it seems fine to have it on the desk opened and we all know where to find what we need. In 2008 spent over a year travelling around our country and during that time we had to keep homeschool simple and light.  All our homeschool kit fitted into 1 small carry-on suitcase. It can be contained!

My children’s files are like the workbox system that has helped so many moms.  They have the basic work-on-your-own sections (Handwriting, Mental Maths, Spelling, Copywork) and the sections that we do together (Bible, Lapbooks, History and Science).  I am tempted to try Workboxes and yet I feel that our system is excellent and well-managed.  To change over to workboxes would be much more stressful with time and space constraints.  Workboxes seems are the most helpful organization tool I have seen in the homeschooling arena! Keep what works for you and your children.  Adapt your school methods and organization if you need to tweak your system.  Overhaul it only if everyone needs a new approach.

If you can use and adapt any of these ideas, I would love to hear from you!