Summer Challenge & Routine 2013

Summer Challenge 2013

We have been doing Summer Challenge for several years now! You can see more details and explanations in these past posts if this is new to you!

    Each year I adapt the challenge for the current ages and needs of the kids.  This is the first year Ladybug {age 4} has participated and she is loving it!  One addition this year is the What To Do chart! The basic concept is that the kids follow a loose routine with me and a lot of free time is built into our summer days.  During this free time they are not allowed to plug in at all {no iPad, iPod, computer, video games, or TV}. With the goal of assisting them in their creative thinking, we created categories to choose from during the day. Reading, outside play, creative expression {art, play dough, drawing, etc.}, exercise, school work {summer options are listed later in this post}, or building {blocks or any creative building toy we have}.  The little clips are for them to move over as we complete an activity.  We aren’t tied to the clips, but they are there in case they somehow get “bored” and can’t remember things they haven’t done yet that day!

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{download here}

Our daily routine for now is one without strict time constraints, but with what I call “anchors” throughout the day.  These anchors are the same whenever we are at home during those times. I even have alarms set on my phone to go off at these times to remind us.

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Contribute time is where we all stop for 15 minutes and contribute to the upkeep of our home together.  We pick up junk, vacuum, wipe chairs/tables, clean a bathroom, clean bedrooms, and do a quick clean of the schoolroom.  As you can see, we do this twice a day, as the main areas can get out of hand if we don’t.  Daddy comes home at 4, which is the main reason we have one at 3:15, so we can pick up the living room, kitchen and schoolroom before he arrives.

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Snack/Plug In time is 30 minutes each time for the kids to use a device or watch a 30 minute show while they have a snack.

Be Still and Alone is for the sanity of our home {and me}.  At 1:00 each day we all divide for an hour and a half.  One boy stays in the schoolroom, Ladybug goes to her bedroom and the other boy to their bedroom.  During this time they can do whatever they want that is unplugged and quiet!  Often Pac chooses to earn summer challenge points!  This is also a wind down time for me to get anything done online or in the house that I need to do.

 

During the free time in between these anchors they can do just about anything that isn’t plugged in. Mostly the choose to create, build, play outside, or earn points through summer learning. The BIG favorite right now is the Straws and Connectors shown below!

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Each child knows what school work s/he can do to earn points, and the little 2 have these boxes to remind them.  Each child has a notebook with sheet protectors filled with summer work, mostly from the summer learning packs from Royal Baloo and 3 Dinosaurs. They also have some other workbooks and things.

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When work is completed and needs to be assigned points, they use the blue bin which is right under our point charts. I grade it, write in the points and transfer it to the done box {red}.  I clean out the done box when I get to it.

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We do not use our regular curriculum {Calvert} in the summer, although near the end of the summer the boys will have the option to begin early and earn points while working ahead.  We use our supplemental stuff and each boy chose a delight-directed learning theme.  Krash chose cats and Pac chose gardening.

Although the kids have a lot of free choice and the ability to earn points with school work, I do have required school time with Mom too.  They DO get points for any summer school work, which they love, but I do have some required lessons planned. They wouldn’t always choose what I want them to do without this requirement.  The bonus is that any school work done before Labor Day earns summer challenge points!

 

Summer School Subjects

Krash {age 7, going into 2nd}

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PacMan {age 11, going into 6th}

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Ladybug {age 4, preschool}

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We use a similar format for prizes as we always have {you can see links to past posts in the beginning of the post} but this year the boys have decided to put in 75 points each to earn a gymnastics mushroom for our house {it is a pommel horse trainer for young gymnasts}. Usually the prizes are smaller but this was an opportunity for them to work together for something we want them to have anyway.  Ladybug will be earning something small for every 25 points, her first prize is a $1 set of bath capsules {turn into animals}.

Summer Challenge honestly has been a lifesaver for me.  Our new anchor routine has been a HUGE help this summer as well. We have a lot going on outside of our home {VBS &  Reading Rocks with our church, gymnastics 3x per week, and our seasonal campsite that we try to go to one night per week} but this plan really helps for the many hours we do spend at home!


Looking for the original Summer Challenge Printables

They are in this post…Summer Challenge

Daily Routine ~ Fall 2012

Homeschool Routine

Our routine is constantly evolving, and it takes me many weeks to decide on the actual routine.  I don’t have what I call a schedule, I have a routine with “cornerstones” ~ things that stay the same daily, while there is flexibility in the other hours.  What are our cornerstones for this year? I figured you might ask that!

Family Prayer & Bible Reading ~ with Daddy at 8:30am

Snack and Story Time ~ 10:15am

Lunch ~ 12:00

Although many other things are listed on the chart below, those are the main things that rarely fluctuate.  Everything else is free to be moved around if necessary, but I try to stick with the plan as much as possible. It took me almost all summer to decide on this plan, which we have been testing out for 2 weeks now.  So far, it is working well.

Homeschool Routine 2012

Code for small print…

FAQ…

Does Ladybug nap?

Sometimes.  She does have room time each day, and I try to encourage napping, but it’s hit or miss these days at age 40 months.  I read her a few books and we snuggle, spending about 30 minutes just together.  Then I shut her door and leave her in bed.  About 75% of the time she doesn’t sleep but will sing, play with her stuffed animals, read her books, and occasionally come out of her room.  Depending on her mood, I either send her back upstairs, or let her play the iPad quietly or watch a tv show while I need 1:1 time with the boys.

What are Contributions?

Chores.  We learned to call them contributions from my pal Amy.  It makes them feel more a part of the family team, and we really emphasize this now.  Each boy has a set of morning contributions and evening contributions.

Current Contributions for each boy, green is Pac, blue is Krash {ignore the point part, that was for summer challenge}Summer Challenge Krash

Summer Challenge Pac

What happens after 3pm?

Daddy comes home!  Our official school day ends at 3, but sometimes Pac has more independent work to finish up.  Daddy is home from 3-dinner and that is my personal/work time.  He leaves again most nights right after dinner for his night ministries.

Is Pac able to get all of his schoolwork done in that amount of time?

Yes, on most days.  Pac is in 5th grade and we use Calvert, which a pretty intense curriculum.  I still use a blog for his lessons, although I don’t list them daily anymore.  In order to help prepare him to manage his assignments more on his own, I post a week at a time, subject by subject. Here’s a screenshot of a small portion of his blog from last week.5th grade school blog

We use Calvert’s ATS assessment service also which gives thorough assessments every 20 lessons.  These take much prep/review time and actual test taking time.  I dread and love these assessments for obvious reasons. 

Pac is a daydreamer but he does enjoy school.  We have battled, but finally last year he really turned over a new leaf with school and his strong will.  I can’t lie ~ K-3rd was a battle with him, but we are definitely on the other side of that.  He is fun to teach now and for the most part we get along well and enjoy learning together. If he can stop daydreaming, he gets his work done quickly. 

I found that if I let him have breaks in the day {play with Ladybug for 30 minutes while I work with Krash, art, What’s in the Bible, snack and story time, etc.} he works harder and better during his independent school time.



Want to see more about what our days look like {looked like}…

Homeschool Life Button Before School Homeschool Life Button Morning School Homeschool Life Button Afternoon School 

Yes, I realize I totally slacked on the Part 4, but I have about half of it written, I just need to get it done!

Even older routine posts: Routine 2009, Routine 2011


One final note about schedules and routines…

Every family is different!  Because I believe in this fact so greatly, I hesitate to even write a post like this.  You can glean wisdom and ideas from looking at other homeschool routines, but know that yours can be dramatically different and still be OK!  Some of the homeschool moms I admire and respect the most have entirely different routines and different teaching methods and beliefs.  I know myself and have to do what works for not only my kids, but also me so I don’t go crazy!  A good example is homeschoolers who lean towards a Charlotte Mason method, I admire this greatly and honestly wish I could do homeschool that way, but I know myself.  I am more classroom oriented {probably because I was a classroom teacher for 5 years} and I need a different routine.  I believe you do what works for you and your own kids, your own home, your own lifestyle, and your own beliefs.  Do the best you can and that’s all you can do!

Also-please know that this glorious routine may change in a week!  I am constantly evolving and adapting to our seasons of life. 


Check out other homeschooling moms and their homeschool days! nbts-blog-hop-calendar-20124

My Homeschool Class

My babies seem so much bigger this year; one in 5th, one in 1st, and my Tot School girl ~ her grand finale Tot School year!

Homeschool Photos

It seems like just yesterday when I looked down at “my class” and was hit with the Raising Rock Stars vision.  Here we are, years later, trekking along with the same goal.

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Last year I shared our back to school photos and their interviews after school had already began for us.  I still love looking back at that post and hope to have many more in the years to come. 

I completed the same interviews this year and enjoyed their answers once again!  I loved that Ladybug could answer on her own this year!  Here’s their interviews in PDF format in case you want to read them Winking smile

Since these are custom made for my kiddos, I do not have a printable to share, but you are free to copy my ideas and recreate anything you see for yourself!Homeschool Interviews

Once again, this sight is such a blessing.  To hear her say that these guys are her best friends {in her interview} makes it all worth it!  Sure, they drive me batty, but I wouldn’t trade this for the world!  I love being their teacher-mom!

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Check out other homeschooling moms and their back to school photos!

nbts-blog-hop-calendar-20124

Behind the Scenes – Communal Lunch

Communal Lunch

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you probably know that I really do not like lunch time.  We have tried a few lunch time solutions and they all work, my favorite being pre-making the lunches the night before.  However, I found a new way that is seeming to get my 2 picky eaters to eat better!  The Communal Lunch!  Instead of giving each child their own plate {which usually results in “I’m not eating that” and other whining} I put a ton of healthy food on a tray and give them each a toothpick and let them eat!IMG_3218

On the tray above: tomatoes, avocado, pretzels, Naked pita chips, mango, kiwi, carrots, broccoli and hummus.  I often will give ranch also-my oldest prefers it over hummus, but thankfully the picky 2 actually prefer hummus!

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As hands dive in, it seems to cause other hands to be a bit more willing to try different foods.IMG_3232

 

Ladybug and Krash are my picky two-I m constantly exposing them to a variety of foods in hopes that they will develop new tastes!  So far, Ladybug still hasn’t touched any veggies on our communal trays, but in time I bet she will!IMG_3234

 

This is my summer plan.  Communal Lunch served after Lunch in a Cup

The kids are having nutritionally packed smoothies from our Vitamix {I have been waiting for years and finally the guy came back to Costco with the Vitamix display!}  for their mid morning “snack” and then I am busting out the communal lunch tray about an hour later.  When it has been warm, I have served it all outside!  Sometimes I serve it on a plate, depending on how much and the variety,image

Their smoothies usually consist of random combinations of: baby spinach, plain/vanilla yogurt, bananas, apples, carrots, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, berries, mango, pineapple,  Vega, and ice. I have other stuff I put in them and have no special recipe, just whatever I have and think would go well together.  Almost 100% of the time they happily drink whatever I give them.

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ps-I have NO clue where we got the green divided tray, we have had it for many years!!!  It even has a top so I can put the uneaten portion back in the fridge and pull it out later in the day for snack!

A Day in Our Homeschool Life Part 3

Homeschool Life Button Afternoon School

It has been awhile since I wrote the Minute by Minute Tot School post, and have since been asked to update with a detailed post of what our homeschool time looks like now with a 4th grader, Kindergartner and Tot Schooler. I am breaking this idea into 4 parts, probably 5 when all is said and done, but 4 planned parts for now!  If you missed any other parts, see links below…

  1. Before the Homeschool Day
  2. Our Homeschool Morning
  3. Our Homeschool Afternoon {that’s this post}
  4. After the Homeschool Day

How I recorded our day……

I kept a notebook with me, my iPod {camera}, and my good camera.  I took TONS of pictures and jotted down notes throughout the day.  It isn’t easy, but makes for a very true-to-life account for you all.  Good news – the day we recorded – March 7, 2012, was a very typical day for us!  I was hoping it would give a good look at what is “normal” for us and it does! 


For details about each child’s curriculum, see: Our Current Curriculum

12:25 pm

I am done with kitchen cleaning and head back into the schoolroom to find the boys reading together I told them to do this when they finished their lunch}.IMG_2266

I spend 10 minutes on the computer-email, Twitter, Facebook, Comments, Pinterest.

12:35

Our upstairs neighbor and my friend comes down to check on our school status {they live in the apartment owned by my parents above our schoolroom, their 5 kids are nieces and nephews they care for}.  Her kids have a half day of public school and are wanting to play with my kids.  This give the boys great motivation to get school work done.  I estimate an hour and a half and tell her I will text her.

12:40

Start school with the boys after they clean up the books.

PacMan has this today…

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I get Krash started on some independent Calvert work, a phonics sheet and a math sheet-both which are easy work for him.

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Pac sits with me at my desk and we dive into grammar, math, and a special math review for his standardized state testing coming up.

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I turn around and bust Krash petting the cat and not doing his work {it’s cute but distracting}.IMG_0657

1:00

Pac and I gather Science and SS and head into the living room to read, he likes to cuddle on the couch together while I read to him. Another perk of Homeschooling, couch school.

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1:10

Pac heads to do his independent work {grammar, math, science}, I switch to working with Krash.  First I move him along in completing his independent work, as he was supposed to be done by now.

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1:15

We move to the floor for his All About Reading lesson.  He isn’t thrilled since we are repeating lesson 16, since he doesn’t have a solid grasp on the “th” sound.  But he likes the egg-flipping game so he’s OK. 

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1:22

Pac wanders over for help with his grammar, silly kid just didn’t read the directions well and once I read them he gets it and goes back to do his work.

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1:30

Krash and I are done with All About Reading, and move onto some Skylanders school work!  I made a digraph activity for him to work on the same thing he’s learning in AAR. He loves it.IMG_2288

1:35

Krash and I read his Morning Message together, he LOVES this!  I read, then he reads-highlighting any words he can read by himself.  Then we count together!IMG_2290

1:40

Krash moves to iPad school, he can choose form a selection of “school games’” he chooses ABCs of God.

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1:45

Pac announces that he is finished with his schoolwork.  I remind him that today is trash day {his chore that he hates}.  He goes off to do it, complaining mildly {probably since he knows I am recording the day}. I begin to scan our recent set of Calvert assessments in to our cyber school.

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1:55

Pac is done with his chores, and runs to get his friends.  They all head outside to play!  The official school day is done! I can still hear Ladybug through the monitor reading to herself.  She stays up there until Daddy gets her at 3.  With the boys I continued “room time” after naps wore out.  I am doing this with her too, so I can continue to have quieter school time with the boys.  She seems to really enjoy her quiet time.


Notes about the Day…

We normally end our school day anywhere between 2:00-3:00, sometimes later if it is a writing day.  This was an easier day for Pac, mostly because he didn’t have writing and because math was VERY easy.  On harder math days, school goes much longer!  Attitudes were a bit more in check than usual since they knew I was recording the day.  Figure in a few more attitude issues and then you’d have a more normal day. My husband comes home from work at 3:00 and then is home through dinner before he goes back out to work for the evening {ministry stuff-teaching Bible studies, and such}. 

Part 4 of this series will share what a normal after school and evening time looks like for us!

If any of you are inspired to write your own, “A Day in Our Homeschool Life” series, I would love it!  Be sure to send me the links if you do!