Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What the heck is a lapbook?

A short year ago I was wondering the same thing.  So, being the Barefoot Adventurer I am... I found out.  At first I thought it seemed a little cheesy.  Just a folded file folder?  With a bunch of stuff glued inside it?  But then I began to grasp the larger picture.  A Lapbook is a great way to gather a bunch of info about one topic and put it a format that is easy for a child to explore and understand.  And it's pretty much free.  Which I love.  And since your kid put it together they will want to, theoretically, look at it from time to time to remember what they did.
Dads doing Math
So I decided to do our first lapbook when we went to the Oregon coast this past summer.  We were traveling with my sister and her family who also homeschool, so I knew they'd have some homeschool work planned, anyway.  I started googling lapbooks about the Ocean and found TONS of stuff.  Mostly I used templates from this site which focuses on a great book with which I was already familiar, Hello Ocean.  I explores the ocean through the lens of the five senses.  Great book. 

Each morning we spent a couple hours doing school work.  Most of our time (with my Kinder-kid) was spent reading books together about the ocean.  Lots of non-fiction and fiction alike.  I couldn't possibly remember all of them.   We did some math and reading exercises then we worked on the lapbook.  
The open lapbook
The Tide-pool mini-book (connected with a brad)
Counting by fives and tens
The five senses mini-book
 If I had it to do over, I would have printed some of our pics of the beach and included nature journals we did as well as writing down the names of all the books we read on the back of the folder.  Overall, it was a great experience!  Try it out.  Do you lapbook?  Share your experiences?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The cheapest, free-est way to organize your homeschool life EVER.

In a typical fit of organization that comes every September, I decided to get things sorted out at my house.  As is typical of me, I reviewed every possible way of doing calendars, chores, and everything else and then decided to come up with my own thing.  Everything I used I had on hand except printer ink, cardstock, and printer paper.  It was spurred on by an offer from a friend to use her laminator (thank you!).  I decided to use the calendar we have been using (the only thing here that really cost money), but to hang it in the kitchen on our laundry room/pantry door (it faces into the kitchen and is visible from the kitchen table).  I wanted to have this be our homeschool calendar-center where we also could check in about chores and daily activities.  If you look closely you can see our Bible verses we're currently working on (Psalm 100) above the schedule on the right side.  This is obviously for me, not for her, as she's not reading quite that well, yet.  It is nice for her to have the visual reminder, though.

I put together a laminated daily schedule sheet with laminated activities and velcro to put them all on the schedule.  I opted not to use pictures, mostly because I didn't want to spend time doing it, and it would have made the activity cards too long and too... well... cluttered.  I used an outline-style  font and colored them in myself and glued them onto black cardstock before laminating (cute, huh?)
I also organized a chore chart system that I thought would work best for us.  It's space-saving, flexible and easy to use.  My Grace-girl (5) and I both enjoy the mystery of drawing a stick and finding your chore rather than having it all laid out all the time.  Either way the fish gets fed, right?  Hers have pictures as well as chores.  Some of my favorites: "Tidy bedroom."  "Get dressed."  "Help mommy fold laundry."  "Be a cheerful helper."

I didn't have any popsicle sticks (we make our own popsicles) or I would have used that system.  I did have enough sticks for a system that I hung in the office to manage screen-time- similar to our chore envelopes.  I give her about 50 minutes a day to start with (in 10's and 20's), though it often disappears throughout the day as she chooses to spend time doing other things.  Like somersaults.  When we're trying to leave to go somewhere.  Now.

I know this will all stop working after a few months, but at least when we're ready to come back it will be there.  Taunting me.  Haunting me.  But ready for me.  Remember: the key is to do what will work for you and your family:  figuring this out seems to be the hard part.  What system works for you?  Why is it so darn important, anyway?  (my husband would probably like to know why I can spend hours on this little project but the kitchen remains a disaster)  Share your thoughts!