Thursday, April 30, 2009


Wow, I just realized I haven't updated the March book basket. Of course, it's no longer March and we've been reading other books for April. I'll post the May book basket as soon as I get it organized. May will be our last school month so I think our theme will be "Camping". There are lots of great picture books at the library that I can use to fill our basket. We all still enjoy camping. For us it is one of the most relaxing family activities there is. We try to go at least once each year. This year we are planning to go for a week in June, right after Night Owl gets out of school, and before football conditioning starts up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beating the Spring Fever Blues

It doesn't seem to matter if one is homeschooled or goes to school, every year about this time Spring Fever hits. As a classroom teacher the last 6 - 8 weeks of school seemed to be the most difficult (with the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas coming in at a close second). Here at home it's the same. Everybody ( including the teacher!) is wishing they were somewhere else - in the sandbox, in the river, on the swings, finishing up the Spring Cleaning that never got finished, sitting on the porch reading a good book, etc. To combat this lack of enthusiasm for anything "schoolish" I usually try to change things up a bit. Sometimes I change the schedule, sometimes I add in a new unit study, one year we worked on making some really neat nature notebooks. This year, I've discovered something that is such a hit, I think we'll continue with it next year. ..


Doesn't sound like much does it? That's what I thought, but then I did some research and some tinkering and we have a wonderful system in place for our homeschool.

The creator of this system, Sue Patrick, published her idea into an eBook: I read several homeschool blogs to find out about it, them broke down and bought the book. I'm glad I did. It's been a big hit. It actually reminds me of the system a teacher used when I was student-teaching a 2nd grade class (way back then). The students loved it, and it was a wonderful organization tool for the teacher. When I read about Sue Patrick's Workbox System I thought Why didn't I think of that?!
Okay so what exactly is it?

Basically, the system is a set of boxes for each student. The child's work is put into those boxes, and he or she is instructed to complete the work, in order. I've tweaked it a bit for each of my kids and I'm still thinking of ways to make it better for our family, but the results are that I have the same enthusiasm from the kids that I do at the beginning of the year. They are not only completing their work (happily), but I am incorporating some of the things we don't always get to like art projects and exercise breaks. I think this is what is so motivating for the kids.
Since I have three children using this system, I have set it up 3 different ways. This is because I wanted to use what I already had on hand instead of buying a bunch of boxes and stands. It's also because I wanted to test and see which we like best.

Here are Builder's boxes. These follow the plan layed out in the book the most. Sue Patrick uses a different shelf system, but once again, I already had this one. Builder has 9 boxes. There is room to add more as he gets older. He starts with #1 (obviously), takes the box to his seat, and completes the "work" in the box. For Builder, in preschool, that work might be a math worksheet, a puzzle, a phonics worksheet, pattern blocks, Tangrams, etc. When he's finished, he puts a little smiley face on the outside (attached with velcro) and returns the box to it's place on the shelf. He then goes on to #2. Some of the boxes have a little "work with mom" note attached. The child knows he is to bring his box to me (or I come to him) and we do that work together. These are the times for instruction in subjects like Math, Reading, Science, etc.

Here are Jetter's boxes. I like this system the best, but I think it's because the boxes just look "neater" on the shelves. Jetter has 12 boxes and he has a sticker to attach instead of the smiley face.

I started out thinking that Social Butterfly is a little too old for this system. She already has an assignment sheet that she uses each day and checks things off as she does them. But, of course, she wanted a system too, so we came up with this. We purchased her boxes in the hardware department. There are twelve, and I write her assignments on little business sized cards. I made up several cards that just say "Math" or "Science" or whatever. I attach a tiny Post It to the card if there are specific instructions or page numbers.

Social Butterfly and Jetter seem to like the system the most. I think that is because their workload hasn't changed. They have a few fun items added in, but the rest of it is mostly the same. Builder is adjusting to it. It's helped me to see that while Builder is doing just fine academically, he really had a very short school day before. I worked with him on reading, math and religion and then he was free to play. The workboxes take him longer to complete so he is learning the discipline of being in the classroom, working quietly, for longer than in the past.

What is Beany doing while the rest of the kids are happily working away? He's working too, in his own way. His work usually usually involves making messes but he sure is happy!

For me the set up takes more time (I have to fill all those boxes!) but the kid's enthusiasm is worth it. It will be summer before we know it! Hmmmm, I wonder if I can come up with a workbox system for their chores...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Easter

(Note: I discovered that for MOST of the pictures on the blog, you can enlarge them by clicking on them. For some reason it doesn't work for all of them, but give it a try if you want.)
We're a little late with the Easter Post, but it's still the Easter season right? We had a beautiful day. It was a little cool but very sunny and no wind. We managed to get to early Mass BEFORE
the kids found their Easter baskets. This was planned in order to avoid the chocolate/sugar rush while trying to behave at Church! It's a good thing too. When we got there the only seats available were the front row. Yes, that's what I said, smack dab in the front. Well, in our church that means no rail or anything in front of us, which to Beany means "I'm free!". Before we even got to the opening song I had moved to the back with the other folks who were there with little ones, or people who didn't get there in time to get a seat. Dad stayed up front with the rest of the kids, holding Builder and Jetter in each arm in the "death grip". ("Dad, I can't breave!")

We managed to get through Mass and I even managed to get a picture of the kids before they found the candy:
After brunch there was the famous Easter egg hunt with Dad sneaking out to hide the eggs,

and all the kids, even Night Owl joining in the hunt.
It was a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I was able to post the rest of the vacation pictures below. We had a wonderful time, the pictures really don't do it justice. We were able to do a little bit of everything and the kids loved it all. Most importantly, we enjoyed visiting with Mom Mom, Pop Pop and Aunt Charlene.
Blessings to you all!

Vacation Pictures - Fun at the Park!

Vacation Pictures - Chillin' at the Condo on a rainy day!

Vacation Pictures - Fort Fischer Civil War Museum

Vacation Pictures - The Beach!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


For whatever reason, I'm not able to post any more of our vacation pictures, at least for now. Hopefully that will change because I have a lot more to share. I also have pictures from Easter. We had a quiet Easter celebration here. We didn't have any company, but just enjoyed the day as a family. The kids hunted for eggs, we went to Mass, and of course there was candy ... too much candy. The kids loved it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vacation Pictures: The Aquarium!

Night Owl and Jetter check out the Sea Cucumbers Social Butterfly and Beany in the Bubble window.
Learning about baby sea turtles
Bean had fun!

Jetter at the bubble window
Learning at the "Touch Pool"

Social Butterfly and Beany
Jetter in the giant crab
Builder communicating with the diver.

Night Owl and Beany

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Okay, so I got some pictures posted (see below) but now the words are all mixed up!!! This is frustrating. It looked fine until I hit "Publish Post". I think from now on I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Vacation Pictures

Well, after several trials and failures, I've decided that I will have to download the vacation pictures in groups. For whatever reason, if I try to post more than 4 or 5 I lose the whole thing. So here's the first batch. Pictures of the dear people we went to visit! If you didn't see the first group of pictures scroll down to the original post about our vacation.
Aunt Charlene and Beany. Unfortunately, Beany jumped up every time I went to snap the picture!
Pop Pop and Dad after a tour of the Aquarium.
Mom Mom and Aunt Charlene at the Aquarium.

Night Owl's First Track Meet

I know I promised more vacation pictures. They're coming. I downloaded a bunch yesterday and then lost the whole thing. I'll try again today.
I wanted to ask you to pray for Night Owl this afternoon though. He has his first track meet. He's a bit nervous - this is all new to him. He'll be running the two mile. Neither Dad nor I can be there as it is 2 hours away and at 4:00.
Also, just to let you know, we have no email. For some reason, I haven't been able to send or receive email since Monday. I didn't realize how much I relied on email for various things. This is a pain!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We're Home!

After a very long drive, we're home at last. What a great trip we had. It was wonderful to see Mom Mom, Pop Pop and Aunt Charlene! The weather wasn't perfect but we still had a great time. I'll be posting more pictures, but first I have more laundry and unpacking to do!