Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Your Space

Heart of the Matter Online is hosting a Creative Homeschooling series this summer. Today's topic is mini-offices. If you've been homeschooling for any length of time and if you've been surfing the 'net for ideas, you've seen these file-folder offices that you personalize with facts you want your child to learn or references you want her to have access to readily.



Well, I took it a step further for moms (and kids) who sit at the kitchen (or dining room or schoolroom) table. Mini offices grow up to be mom-offices! Ever wish you could just hide for a few minutes, but still be there for emergencies (like the classic, "Is it time for snack yet?")? Well, with a mom-office at the kitchen table, you can have your own space to hide and to use as a reference.




Create a mini office for mom! When you’re all working at the kitchen or dining room table, wouldn’t it be nice to have a nook for YOU? You’ve created mini offices for each of your children, so why not create one for yourself? Create your own reference spot for cheat-sheets, favorite Bible verses, calendars, schedules, etc.
I realize that most of the resources available for mini offices utilize manila file folders. I also realize that they’re mostly geared towards the younger crowd. But, as children get older and taller (i.e., able to see over the top of the folders easily) they might enjoy making offices on a slightly larger scale. By using cardboard project boards, you can create dividers for the inevitable “Moooom, she’s looking at me” moments. Kids can personalize them with resources appropriate for their grade level and tastes. So, buy an extra project board for yourself and join in the fun!
Here’s a list of the things I put on my mini office and the sources:
~ Outline map of states with capitals listed: http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/pdf/uscap.pdf
~ Year calendar with holidays circled or highlighted, or month calendars to include more details
~ Basic schedule of what each kid does when, deadlines, quarter/semester end dates
~ Bible verses
Here are some other ideas of things to include in your mini office:
~ Timelines of art and music eras
~ Color wheel
~ Basic grammar rules
~ Other math rules for whichever topic your kids are currently learning
~ Specific science helps (biology classifications, chemistry formulas, etc.)
~ Measurement equivalents and metric conversion factors
~ Character definitions and Bible verses
Some of these resources can be printed right from the source, while some may need to be cut and pasted into a word processing document. Trim away excess white paper and annoying ads then mount onto colored construction paper or directly onto the project board. Before you make anything permanent, lay your board out flat on the floor or table and arrange all of the pieces on it. You may have to try several arrangements before you get it to look the way you want it to look. For durability, use glue sticks to attach the papers to the project board, but if you think you might want to change it up some later, use staples. Go ahead, dip into the stickers and stamps—you know you want to! Make it pretty as well as practical.
That’s all there is to it! Now you’ve got your own little nook at the kitchen table.




I had a request for more information on how I laid out my office, so here it is. On the left panel, I put "Wise Words for Mom" by Ginger Plowman, a calendar-size chart with categorized verses to share with your children (or yourself) at opportune moments. Some of the categories include complaining, giving up, and defiant attitude. Also on the left panel I printed out a labeled map of the United States with the capitals listed.









In the large middle panel, I have the steps for the scientific method ("Did you remember to formulate your hypothesis before you designed the experiment?"), a sheet with the basic rules for working with fractions, two sheets with basic geometry formulas, and a rubric for grading writing projects at the bottom. Yep, I've got a sixth grader and a tenth grader this coming year!On the right panel, I have a daily schedule for the school year (math first, lunch at noon, reading to follow, etc.). This is especially helpful in the beginning of the year to keep kids on track so they do the harder stuff first when their minds are fresher and so they don't forget to do the spelling. I also have a printed calendar of all our activities for a month. I printed it from my Palm Centro (otherwise known as my "brain"), but you can write on a blank calendar, print out a week at a time, several months at a time, or whatever works for you. At the bottom, I have a sheet with the five steps of the writing process.







Obviously, you can customize the things you put on your board to fit your family. I just happened to have left-over bulletin board letters, so I added a little personalization. You can cut letters out of construction paper if you wish. I added a few stickers and a bookmark from my state homeschool group. That's all there is to it!



Leave me a comment about YOUR space! If you post pics of the one you make on your blog, I'd love to see it. Enjoy!