This is what my schoolroom has looked like for several days now.
I should have taken pictures of the floor, but you might have fainted! Most of the time I am in here working, I have two little helpers named Leah and Sam. They are cutting, glueing, sticking stickers, coloring maps (my mess-ups while printing), playing with cubes, painting, beading, jumping, and on and on! I am just working around them!
I have completely finished my planning and organizing the entire school year for Sam, Leah, and Clay. Three down, two to go! Hopefully soon I am going to share some of my plans and work for Clay (entering 7th grade). I am starting with him, because early this morning while Lynn and I were running our long run (first one in over 2 weeks!), she expressed disappointment that I had not blogged yet in great detail Clay's plans! She has a son the same age and needed inspiration. Ha! So, I am beginning with Clay. Well, first some general information and then on to Clay.
- I made some changes to my school organization. Some of my methods aren't working so well anymore, and I have seen some cool new ideas on blogs and in person recently.
- I let each child choose a color and I bought them all new Better Binders from Staples in their chosen color. I also bought spiral notebooks, folders, and colored paper (I actually only bought a couple of new colors) in their chosen color. I used coupons and sales to buy the binders, and I got them for under $6 each, tax included. They are $9.49 + tax full price.
- Then I decided that I was not going to put a new binder in each child's work bucket this year. The work bucket is just an 18 qt. dishpan. I bought mine six or seven years ago, and some of them are beginning to crack and the handle part is breaking off. After looking all over creation, I found 5 (not all in the same color!) at Family Dollar. Anyway, as I have been cleaning out last year's work buckets, I discovered that none of the children were filing their papers in their 3 ring binder like I intended for them to do. There were final copies of compositions wadded up in the bottom, all dog-eared. Many tests and compositions were stuck in the inside pocket of the binder--not neatly inserted into the binder behind the proper tab. So....
- I am using my color coordinated binders for other things, and I am making an area on my desk in the schoolroom for them to turn in finished papers and tests. This way the papers will stay looking nice and neat!
- The children still have binders, just not one huge binder for every thing. Sam, Leah, and Clay each have a Sonlight binder in their Sonlight basket that stays in the den. This basket includes the binder which holds the IG (Instructor's Guide), their timeline stickers, their maps and narration binder, and the current books we are reading. I keep this basket in our den, because that is where we do our reading together.
These two pictures above are of Clay's Sonlight basket.
Which leads me to the next great new idea...
- Bookmarks! In each child's color! These are just pieces of paper laminated and then cut into eleven 1" strips. I made each child 22 bookmarks. These are to mark the current place in our Sonlight books, my teacher's guides for their math books (where the answers are!), their place in their various workbooks, and anything else they need to mark. You can see Clay's bookmarks sticking out of his books in the picture above.
- I put the Language Arts pages from the Sonlight cores into a separate binder that I am keeping in the schoolroom. We do all of our seatwork downstairs in our schoolroom, and last year I made many trips up and down my stairs to get the Sonlight binder....if I was doing Language Arts with the children, the binder was left in the den. When we got ready to read aloud, the binder was still down in the schoolroom. So, two separate binders! In each child's color.
- Last year I sorted out the history, readers, and read aloud study guides and put them behind each week's tab. Big mistake. I did NOT like moving those study guides from week to week. So this year I just left them all in the back of the Sonlight binder that stays in the den. But to help me know where to turn to....
- I am putting these little sticky notes on the edges of the pages. Now those will be easy to move or replace when we begin a new book!
- One more change I am making for our new school year is the daily work checklist. For years I have been printing these out a month or two at a time. They were in table format with the dates, subjects or assignments, and squares to check off when the work was completed. I have printed pages and pages of these! I learned this great idea from Erin--a laminated checklist that can be marked on and washed off week after week. What a super idea!
I need to get back to work now! I will share more ideas and plans tomorrow, and I will have details of Clay's 7th grade plans ready to go!