Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jumpstart Your Homeschool Batteries: What's in Your Toolbox?

So how are you doing? Things going okay? So far so good? 

This week for us has been a bit crazy. Not crazy in the sense of “wacky”…who am I kidding? That is every day! 

I currently have snot running in every direction. I thought at first it was my allergies, but it appears that I might have caught a summer cold! Yay! 

But you know….given all that is happening in the world a little snot is small potatoes. 

Today I am going to talk to you about some of my favorite things in my Homeschool Toolbox. I have to be honest. It almost feels a bit irreverent to be discussing such trivial things when there is so much suffering going on in the world. 

Then I am reminded of this thing. 

 God is still in control. He knows the beginning to the end. He’s got it all figured out. 

Shew! I’m glad I’m not the one running the show. I can’t even find the remote to the DVD player!

So back to the Homeschool Toolbox. We all have our favorite things in the whole wide world. These happen to be 5 of my things that I think are necessary to run our homeschool day successfully.

1.      The Whiteboard. Never in the history of mankind has there been such an invaluable invention (except maybe for Frozen Custard and contact lenses). Homeschool mamas’ are you with me? We use our whiteboard(s) for everything. Assignments, impromptu worksheets, copywork, tic tac toe. We even have little whiteboards to tote around with us. I have purchased whiteboards at the Thrift Store and the Dollar Tree. A friend recently gave me a bigger whiteboard that had come from her church. They were “revamping” their Sunday School areas and had tossed a bunch of whiteboards. Are you kidding me? There should be a law. Or an adoption program for unwanted whiteboards.

2.      The Read Aloud. I don’t care if your 42 (which I happen to be). There is something that happens in your brain when a story is read. The Read Aloud is an integral part of our school day…in fact it is an integral part of our day. Period. Even before we found out Josiah was dyslexic, I read to him. I am still reading. What you read is entirely up to you. I prefer the Classics, myself. There is something about the language and the timeless stories. This is not to say we haven’t read a few modern favorites.

I would suggest you start with what you have. Take a look at your bookshelves. I purchase most of my books from Thrift Stores or used book stores. We have a Kindle and I download lots of wonderful FREE books. You don’t even have to have a Kindle to download a Kindle App to your PC.  I also use audio books. There are several FREE sites you can access. We also check them out from the library and listen to audio books on youtube. There is quite a selection.  Just a note. I have read every articles that promote reading even to your grown children and family. I am going to suggest this to my Mom when I next see her. Are you listening, Sherry Lou? I want to start with Little Women and move on from there.

Consider when you schedule your Read Alouds. We used to do it before bedtime. Now I read after Josiah has finished the bulk of his schoolwork with me. This is after lunch and right before he tackles some independent work.

3.      Games, File Folder Games & Puzzles. Every Homeschooler needs to have a well-stocked cabinet or closet of games. You can create your own File Folder Games. This site has some very well done free ones. Typically, file folder games have been used with younger students, but I think they are still good as hands-on activities for everyone. They are also terrific to keep the Littles occupied. I used File Folder Games waaay back in the day when I taught preschool. And then Kindergarten. And then First Grade. They are a pretty terrific resource.

 Most of our Game closet stash comes from Thrift Stores. They are also things I might add to a Christmas Wish List. Games have been an invaluable part of our homeschool experience. They have been a gentle way to review math facts, work on problem solving and about anything else you can think on. There is a game for everything. And nothing beats that hands on experience.

4.      Brain Breaks and Timers. Say what? I read an article recently that talked about how kiddos (and adults) need pauses in their learning to reset their little brains. I do not have ADHD (like some other members of my household), but even I can wander off into my happy place if I am not fully engaged. I created a set of Brain Break Cards so that Josiah could have happy breaks during the course of his school day. These aren’t long breaks and there is always a specific task (usually physical) that he has to do. I used to give him brief 5 minute breaks in his room. He would always come back to me a little wound up. 

So I am sharing our Brain Break Cards with you! They are in black and white so you won’t have to worry about your ink. I sat down one afternoon while we listened to an Audio Book and hand colored mine, but you can leave them as is, print them on colored paper or have the kids color them. I put them in a little plastic sandwich container. The theory is that you take your child’s age and add 2 minutes to it. So in our case we stop every 14 minutes and Josiah takes out a Brain Break Card. He then completes the task on the card. Please download and share.
The Timer is a tool I primarily use for his independent work. The boy could easily make a task that should take 10 minutes last all day long. It helps him manage his time.

5.      The Laminator. Not to be confused with The Terminator. I have had mine for a coon’s age. It has certainly been the best 20 bucks I have spent. If I do have to laminate something that won’t fit in my machine I take it down to my local teacher’s store. It costs .25 a foot to laminate something.
So that’s my List of 5. What are some of your favorite things?
Tomorrow I am going to talk about Homeschooling in a Tight Space. For now, I am need to go stuff Kleenex up my nose! Happy Wednesday….
Ohh. If you are just now jumping in to our 5 Days of Back to Homeschool I invite you to check out Monday and Tuesday’s offerings. Are you reading my friends’ blogs below? I have really been enjoying them. They are all so talented and encouraging. You can check out even more by clicking the banner below.

Marcy @ Ben and Me
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

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  1. We've the random summer cold here at the house too, but thankfully it's come and gone super fast.

    Love your toolbox! And horray for another white board and laminator lover! ;)

  2. We love read-alouds here too! Those Brain Breaks look great!


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