Sunday, September 2, 2012

Year 5 Begins...

...right after Labor Day. Our charter school year began well nigh three weeks ago but I resisted the impulse to dive in then. A number of kiddo's classes began only in January so it felt premature (is there such a thing as post-mature?) to declare August 13 the beginning of Year 5. But it's starting to get confusing calling every January the beginning of a new school year so I decided oh well, why not just go with the charter school designation. I refuse to call him a 5th grader on this blog though (although in real life I don't nitpick) so here we go. Year 5. Begins.

We tend to be loosey-goosey somedays and highly structured on others. There's nothing like the start of a school year to make me feel insecure and bring out all the pro-structure parts of me. Oh yeah, of course I know that things will fall apart around October or November and that we'll go back to our wicked ways...but while I'm still feeling pro-structure, I thought I'd whip up a new strategy to help kiddo decompress between scheduled learning times (apart from reading or walking on the treadmill or running out to the backyard to burn leaves).

The flip side has details of what to do.
I found this at the site (I've lost the actual link to the article). The idea is to make fun in-between lesson activity cues or even start-of-the-day warm up cues. I wrote these out on craft sticks, stuck them into a little glass jar that sits in our supplies tray and they are now ready to go. I've seen ideas like this on other homeschooling blogs but we never used them then for reasons I can't remember.

I ran this idea by kiddo today and he likes it. Some of the prompts are directly copied (and reworded) from TeachNet. I added a couple of my own for skills I thought he will like to learn (e.g. learning to use chopsticks).

Here they are for anyone who wants to follow suit:
  • Practice Chopsticks - Pick up the silly putty ball
  • Brain Binder Activity -  I print 'em, you fold 'em!
  • Story Cubes - The crazier the tale, the better!
  • Draw mom in 30 seconds - (I strike a funny pose) Capture the essence. No need to be perfect! (details would have really worried him 2-3 years ago)
  • Complete The Story - I'll give you 2-3 lines, you finish the tale!
  • Make the correct change - Match coins correctly to amount given
  • Alternative Archaeology - (I lay out a few objects, he has to pretend to be an archaeologist who unearthed them, and make up some funny uses) Describe who might have used these and how
  • Make A Timeline! (I lay out a few every day objects or I list a few key events on the whiteboard) - Arrange these in correct historical order
  • Find This River/ Mountain/ Place - Unscramble the name and find it on the world map!
I might come up with new cues every few months to keep it fresh but I enjoy doing this and it's not too difficult. Photo above shows where I keep the sticks. On our coffee-table (where most of our learning takes place), together with chopsticks, coins (in bottom of jar) etc within reach.

If it doesn't work as planned, I'll throw them into a little bag and we'll use them in the car when traveling or while waiting for an outside class to begin so it's not a waste.

Well, wish me luck! And have a wonderful new school year!


  1. I like the look of the lollistick prompts. I've seen these a few times and really like them, but can't seem to find a way to use it in our home. Lovely to see the idea being used here - gets my thinking juice going again. Good luck to Year 5! We're starting Year 3 today, and I'm feeling a little jittery.... :-)

  2. That looks like a fun idea.

    I can understand about the feeling insecure and going pro-structure - I'm going through that atm :)

  3. Clever idea! The idea of a bit of fun and mild challenge between structured activities is very smart. I look forward to seeing how this unfolds!

  4. I LOVE the popsicle stick idea! This post was inspiring to me. I am trying to find a balance between structure and loosey goosey with my preschoolers and my Grade fiver


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