Archives for March 2009

My Little Author

Pac Man has been a *book writer* for awhile now, it has been something he really enjoys. He takes long breaks but eventually goes back to his love. Thankfully this is something that he just loves, I never have to “make” him do this, he does it in his free time!

Recently he decided to write a chapter book. Honestly I didn’t think he would see it to completion, but I must eat my words-he finished it!!!! I never reminded him, never helped him (during the rough draft), it was ALL him :). He worked on this rough draft for a long time…Then when he finally finished he asked me if I would help him edit it. He is learning what an editor does, and what publishing means, it has been a great learning time together. I sat him with me as I re-wrote his story for him in Microsoft Publisher. He read it out loud as I typed. I showed him what I was doing, he helped me choose and place the graphics. Here is how it turned out…
After printing, he had to color a few of the graphics, he loved doing that…Here is the final book, can you tell how proud he is??? I am pretty proud of him too!
I hope he keeps it up, I created a 3 ring binder for him to keep his rough draft and final copies in, what a great keepsake it will be for him when he is older!!!

Workboxes…some great links

I thought I would piggy-back off of yesterday’s post with a few more links to help those of you considering this method.

On Heather’s blog, she has written many posts (with great detail and photos) showing how the boxes have worked for her children. Scroll to the bottom when you get there and read up to see her posts progress.

Here is Ami’s specific post with her growing list of ideas for the boxes (outside of regular curriculum). I plan to make my own spreadsheet in the future, but my baby will have to come first and things will need to settle down! I am looking forward to the MANY ideas Pac can do each day. Here’s Ami’s schedule cards that she made, and included a link for you to download them too! Here are her timer cards, which we will be adding to our boxes too! Thanks Ami!!!

Here is Leslie’s photo and description of the shelf and boxes she bought at Target. here’s her post featuring the photos of the shelves all ready for her kiddos.

Here are some great posts from Jess, who has a larger family. Post 1 shows her initial set-up and how she made it work for a house with many kiddos. Next, she writes about what is in each child’s specific boxes for a day, with their ages listed and photos. Finally here’s some neat action shots of her kiddos at work.

Here is Ginger’s post about Workboxes, where she shows an entirely different way to organize, using drawers instead of boxes. Here’s another post she wrote about a few things that she really likes to sue within the Workbox system.

Here’s another great idea from Jolanthe at Our Homeschool Creations, showing how she is using the system for her 4 kiddos.

As for me–YES I will post PDFs of the graphics I am using for our system. I have to edit them a bit to make them public friendly,since I know you all don’t want a photo of me on your boxes! I will write a post with the link when I get that done.

Behind the Scenes ~ Workboxes in Our House

Behind the Scenes ~ Workboxes

It has been a week since we began using the Workboxes and I must be honest, this is probably the best thing we have added to our homeschooling life! I am still a bit skeptical to see if our joy will last, but so far, so GREAT!!! Here’s what I like about it…

Pac Man’s Homeschooling *Issues*
  • Whining over how much is left…”Mom, when will we be done, how much more?”
  • Whining over what the type of work is….”Mom, is there anything FUN on the schedule today?”
  • Working independently
  • Working at a reasonable pace-(he can get VERY distracted and slow )
  • Asking for help when he doesn’t really need it–I am just right there so he asks as a first resort, instead of really thinking.

How the Workboxes have helped…

    • He can clearly see how much work he has for the day-and WHAT it is.

  • He has a very clear schedule to follow each day, and he can see when things are coming up (like snack breaks). He has to follow the schedule in order each day, removing each card as the task is completed. I made a little basket for him to put them in. This is a bit different than the book recommends, but we make it work for our schoolroom. Here is his new work station, the basket on the left is for completed work, the blue basket is for completed schedule cards.
  • He can see if something FUN is coming up in a certain box that day, which motivates him to get through the boxes that come before it.
  • The boxes are clearly labeled if they are “Work with Mom” boxes, or independent boxes.


  • If it is an independent work box, he has 3 HELP cards per day he can turn in to get some help. This causes him to have to not use Mom-Help as a first resort, but more as a tool if it’s really needed.
  • He is working MUCH faster, and doing MUCH more-this is the most amazing part to me, he is so much more self-motivated.


A few comments he has made that let me know it’s working…

  • To a friend of mine who leads a program he is in at church, “Trish, we started these new boxes for school and I am not even doing Calvert anymore, they are SO fun!” Obviously this one was hilarious to me because he KNOWS he is still using Calvert-he’s just doing more fun stuff too so he completely forgets!
  • To me last night as I told him that his boxes were all ready for the morning and he could begin before I got up if he wanted, his reply…”YES” imagine a total dramatic, excited answer!

FUN things Pac has done during the first week that I wouldn’t have made time for without the boxes…

Final thoughts (for now)…

Yes you could implement this method without buying the book, BUT I do recommend buying the book if you plan on using this. I read through it quickly and her story and philosophy behind the method are very inspiring. Being a former teacher, I could really relate to tons of what she was writing. I could instantly see how this method could solve many of Pac Man’s issues. Another reason I recommend buying the book, is because it supports another homeschooling mom! Sure I will tell you a lot about it here and I will point you in the direction of other blogs that also share info, but you won’t have a full understanding unless you get it yourself. There are definitely some features to the method that need to be explained by the book.

If you order the E Book or the book, you will gain access to her downloads, which include the schedule cards and such. You will need clear boxes (I got mine at Target for $1 each), velcro, a shelf to put them on, and a laminator to make it all really work. Yes, I did make our own schedule cards and numbers, etc. You all know by now that I am a creating-mess :), so of course I had to control HOW everything looked for us! Plus Pac Man’s favorite color is green so I knew he would be excited if all of his numbers were green!

If you order the book yourself, read it, and then have ?s for me, I will be happy to share. I don’t really feel comfortable answering very specific ?s if you don’t purchase the book, only because this is NOT my original idea-I hope you can understand. I just want to respect the wonderful author! Although if you have general ?s that would help you decide if this method might work for you, I will be happy to share my thoughts! I will also be happy to share anything I have made myself for our boxes, if anyone gets going and wants to use my labels and such (I bet you don’t want the Work with Mom label with my photo though 😉 ).

Finally-another wonderful thing that has come out of this first week-I can’t remember the last time our Wii or XBox was on! Pac is not a video game addict, but he does play a lot and loves it. I think he just turns to it sometimes because it is easy. This past week, he has naturally turned to more playing and creative activities. He has played tons with his K’Nex, done lots of free-art projects, and just kept himself busy playing instead of in front of a screen. I don’t know if this result is because of the workboxes, but I think it might be. I am hoping it lasts!

Here is another wonderful mom-blogger who shares her thoughts about Workboxes, my online buddy-Ami! Look on her right sidebar and you will see her “Wonderful Workboxes” links!

edited to add (11/2009): Visit our webapge all about Workboxes here!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Tot Pack

My pain is your gain!!!! That’s my new motto during these last painful weeks of my pregnancy! I was laughing with my husband last night about it, thinking you all must think I have no life away from the computer–and in part, it’s true!!! I sit in front of this computer for hours a day, because the chair and my bed are the 2 most comfortable places for me to be. While I sit, I create. It takes my mind off of the pain and allows me to be productive. You have about 6 more weeks of this coming from me, and then I hope to take a LARGE computer break and enjoy my 3 children!!!!

Here’s my latest creation, which is for YOU, as Krash is not ready for this yet (he’s 34 mos right now)-I am saving it for when he is a bit older. I LOVE this book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and want to wait to really get into it when he will be more interested. The mini-books, Counting Butterflies…
and ABCs with food…Size sequencing with caterpillars…and butterflies…A fold-out with shapes… A pocket with color matching (an image, a color and color word). Use all 3 or just the ones you want your tot to work on at the time. For most tots the color word will be too much, but I added it in for those of you with older tots or preschoolers using these. **these are a bit tight fitting all into the pocket when printed on cardstock, you may want to trim the squares a bit smaller if you plan to store them all together.

Another ABC set, featuring colored letters this time and caterpillars on the upper case and butterflies on the lower case. Again, I left mine in strips to start with, I will cut them apart after he masters matching the strips.Here is the link to the webpage where you can find all of the PDFs to download. I also added a section including some neat things I found for tots on the web. Don’t forget to dig out your stuffed caterpillars, butterflies, and play food items as you dive into this book with your tot! I hope you enjoy it and be sure to let me know if you write a post about using any of the items, so I can link you to the webpage for others to see!

Tot School

~Krash is currently 34 months old~

We had an on and off week of Tot School, which is how I expect it will be for the next couple of months. Our baby is scheduled to be born via c-section on April 28, and we all know there will be a family adjustment period for a couple of weeks at least. So, I am lowering my expectations of myself and just spending time with Krash when I can. We managed to spend some good quality time together this week and for that I am thankful.

The weather warmed up for one day and K loved being outside, digging for worms…

feeding the birds…
and monkey-swinging…The boys both got new big balls (the kind from the big bins at Target) and they were worth EVERY penny. K has had SO much fun with his ball this week!!!! Lazy Mommy didn’t change any trays from the last couple of weeks, but K didn’t care, he kept going back to his favorites, and even finding new things to do with them. He loves the pouring tray, really having to concentrate to keep the funnel from tipping the bottle over…He also enjoyed shaking the beads in the bottle and watching them all disappear when he held it a certain way (when they hid in the red cap)…

He LOVES this tray, and has played with it SO many times… This day he began counting the hearts (he is very into counting everything right now)….
Finally about mid week I mustered the energy to change out some trays and he happened to walk in that day after being out with Daddy. He immediately found this tray and asked me to work. So, not even taking his coat off, he sat right down and got to work putting the pick-up-sticks into the water bottle…This was by far his favorite tray this week, he loved the sticks, and loved completing the activity start to finish many times.He’s not so into the tongs, probably because they are more of a challenge for him. I added little turtle and fish erasers (from Oriental Trading) for him to transfer into the little green/blue cups (from an old Ikea toy set we have) I had. He did it, but only once. Getting the tongs to grab the erasers was really hard for him.He finally loved his sticker tray, putting his little George stickers into the sticker book…

And the Nemo book was a hit, he did really well matching up the pom poms.He asked me to see his “excavator” book, so I found his Big Machines Tot Book and he wanted to color on it some more. Of course he won’t color the bulldozer cards like he is supposed to, he only wants to color the mini book-that isn’t even a coloring book ;). Oh well!!! We had fun re-reading the books together and looking at the entire Tot Book.

I was really excited that K finally sat down and worked with this new book we have How to Build an A. I bought it awhile back but he wasn’t really interested in it. Finally he asked me to build some letters and we had a blast. This is such a neat book, I definitely recommend it!

He played with the shapes on his own and announced to me, “look Mommy a circle!” We then went on to look at the O page and he loved seeing his circle there :).Even cleaning this activity up is a good challenge as the shapes fit tightly into the bag they come in. He had to work really hard to fit them all in, it was really cute watching him!And finally, back to the sticks….

If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

If you’ve never read this: Go HERE 1st for more details– please do!!! Then if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email-links to homepages will automatically be deleted).

New: when you add your name(blog name) to Mr. Linky will you put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (34 mos)? I think this will help new readers a lot as they look for ideas for their specific aged tot!

If you are unsure of how to add your direct link to Mr Linky-I added a tutorial with photos here, scroll down to see it!