Thursday, May 13, 2010

Workbox Centers

I have been having lots of fun this week making Take It To Your Seat centers for the kids to use as workbox activities for the new school year (which we start at the end of June). I had Haylee (5) writing in a story journal every day this school year, just drawing a picture and writing a sentence about it. I decided to make it a little more interesting but still give her daily writing practice for 1st grade. I found the Take It To Your Seat Writing Centers on the Evan-Moor website. I looked at the Table of Contents and noted the titles of the 13 centers. Then I went to www.teacherfilebox.com (where I have an annual subscription), searched on those titles, found all of them there, and printed them up. I got all of them assembled in 2 sittings. I didn't bother with laminating them, and I even printed them on a "fast" setting to save ink. I made extra copies of the worksheets inside the folders, and I bought a Sterlite hanging folder storage box to organize them in. There are 13 writing centers, and there are up to 12 different writing assignments in each folder. That should last her all school year. I think it will give her more variety and exposure to different types of writing, and it will make it more fun for her.

I also made up some math centers, vocabulary centers, and some science centers for her and put them in the box. She can use those for fun box activities. She was so excited to see all the new activities that she wanted to do them all right then! LOL. I let her do two of the science ones, and then I stopped her and put them away for the new school year.

After I realized how neat the writing centers were, I started thinking that Hayden (10) might really benefit from some for his grade level, also. His writing skills are terrible. I never made him do daily writing when he was younger, and I don't give him a lot of essays and things to write 'cause he just dreads it. I think I need to back up and give him smaller assignments that help him practice the basics and build his confidence with that this next school year before moving on to longer assignments, so I'm thinking this might be just the place to start for him this year. Evan-Moor has a book of writing centers for grades 4-6, and Hayden will be in 6th grade coming up, so I think I need to go and buy some more 2-pocket folders and make up a set for him, too. I've used up every folder I stockpiled last fall at Wal-Mart during back-to-school time, so I'm going to have to find some for a reasonable price somewhere. They are about 78 cents each at Wal-Mart right now! That's just crazy. I think the cheapest ones out of season are a 4-pack for $1 at Bottom Dollar. I might have to run to Dollar Tree and see what they have. It seems like they are starting to stock school supplies already. I bought a bunch of 3-ring binders there recently for $1 each.

Anyway, I can't say enough good things about www.teacherfilebox.com. I've printed off so many materials from there. My $60 for the year was well spent. I printed out two Never Bored Kids' Books for Haylee this week (over 250 pages) that would have cost $50 if I'd had to purchase hard copies of the books. I'd never have spent that. But I absolutely love all of the Evan Moor books. I will also be using a lot of the History Pockets this next year to go with their studies of ancient history. They'll be doing Core 1 and Core 6 from Sonlight.

I also printed up some neat Take It To Your Seat Early Learning Centers for Holden (2). There were only a couple that he could do right now, but he will grow into the rest soon enough. They are so cute...I put them in brown paper lunch bags and used cheap penny envelopes from the dollar store to hold the pieces inside the bags. I used picture labels on the envelopes and the bags. He was so excited to have his own "school" activities to do!

I'm amazed at how many centers I assembled in just a couple of days. They are all self-contained activities, too, so I won't have to sit beside her and explain what to do.

The only centers I laminate now are games...ones with lots of pieces that are to be played with 2 or more players. I figured those will get handled a lot more and used more often than the regular file folder activities, so I do laminate those. Many of the math games are that way.

Not laminating the others significantly cuts the cost of the centers and the time for assembly, too, and allows me to be able to make a whole lot more of them with little expense.

I just love Evan-Moor publications. There's such a variety of supplemental material available from them, and it's rare that I type in a topic that doesn't come up with SOMEthing. Haylee is always asking for extra worksheets and things, so I often will find whatever topic we're studying for science or math or whatever and print out practice sheets and such for her fun boxes.

I'm getting excited about our new school year! We have school next week, 1 week off, then school the following 2 weeks and we're done! Then we have 1 week off, and then we start our new school year at the end of June. I've got all of our new materials in the school cabinet already, and it's bursting at the seams! I've already packed away all but the last few books from this school year, so I have tubs sitting everywhere, waiting to be topped off and stored in the shed when we're done. The school cabinet will thin out once we finish up so I can put their new books into their workboxes. Most of the textbooks will stay in the workboxes all year, so the school cabinet will be less crowded then. I am busy making the last of my copies for the new school year, and then I'll be all ready to go. I just ordered Haylee's art book from the Abeka book display, so when that comes, I'll be able to finish up her schedule and get it printed out and put into her schedule binder. So I'm basically just tying up loose ends right now.

Shew! I'm tired. Time to get my apple crumble out of the oven and start getting the kiddies to bed.