Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How I Planned My Year Incorporating Workboxes

Many new homeschoolers ask how to plan out their year. There are many good ways to do this, but I will share what works for me.

I plan out my year of history, science, music and art in advance. I find having an overall plan makes things go smoothly. My dd is in 7th grade this fall, and we are new to workboxes. In my mind, it was important to keep goals for the year first and foremost, rather than just "filling workboxes." I don't care for needless busywork.

Here is how I planned the curriculum that I schedule in advance (for math and language arts, I just "do the next thing')
HINT: to build in time for bunny trail, extending topics of interest, or for catching up, I plan for 30-32 weeks of content, but actually do school for 36-38 weeks. I find it best to plan t0 have "Flex" weeks.

1) Choose basic history curriculum (I chose Diana Waring's Ancient Civilization and the Bible and it includes a variety of subjects in a unit study format).
2) Choose history and science biographies for the year (1 per term - I use AmblesideOnline heavily).
3) Choose a history overview book (I chose Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World).
4) Choose a science overview book (I chose 'Chemical Interactions' by Prentice Hall).
5) Choose science enrichments (fun books, videos, kits, etc)
6) Choose a composer for each 12-week term. (I use AmblesideOnline).
7) Choose an art appreciation for the term (I chose the "Art in Ancient ________" series).
8) Choose one important, quality literature book per term (I use AmblesideOnline Year 6 heavily).
9) Choose independent devotional reading

From there, I scheduled each one of the above into 12-week terms. I use something similar to the pattern from AmblesideOnline "Books."
It is extremely helpful to me to envision what my year will look like so that I can gather materials and use time wisely. I also tweak as I go.

For workbox plannning, I broke down:

1) Core Subjects Done Daily
2) Core Subjects Done Twice Weekly
3) Subjects Done Once per week
4) Surprise Me! (Games, Beauty Break, Online Educational Games, Craft kits, Treat, Movie Tickets, Gift Card to go shopping with, Scrapbook items, etc)
5) Enrichments to rotate in (Baking, Cooking, Health, Dance DVD, sports skills, etc)

My boxes ended up looking like this:

  • Box #1 - Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World alternated with Prentice Hall Chemical Interactions
  • Box #2 - Math
  • Box #3 - Literature
  • Box #4 - Composer Study alternated with Phy-Ed, 10 Free Time Minutes Ticket
  • Box #5 - Memory Work
  • Box #6 - Diana Waring's Ancient Civilizations and the Bible (cd's and student manual)
  • Box #7 - Poem-A-Day, Lunch Ticket, Ticket for 30 Free Time Minutes
  • Box #8 - Rotating Studies (one chosen each day) - Nature Study, Logic, Science Biography, or Art Appreciation
  • Box #9 - Grammar and Spelling
  • Box #10 - Devotional Reading (CLE Calls to Courage alternated with Adam and His Kin)
  • Box #11 - SURPRISE ME - something fun and different each day
  • Box # 12 - Enrichment - a Home-Ec, Art/Craft or Health-related task or activity such as baking a muffin recipe

For storage, I have a big bin with a bunch of manilla envelopes in it. I am using the bin to gather "SURPRISE ME!" items and "Enrichment" items so they are ready to go and full of variety. I use the same bin to store my teacher's manuals. It's been a blast pulling out all those fun items that have been unused on the shelf. It's also exciting to think of SURPRISE ME! items to bless my dd with. Miss M loves doing nails, for example, so I am going to gather some fun nail polish colors and nail stickers to rotate in. I made up a ticket for a "Beauty Break." Since she is older she has a lot of work, but having at least one fun box and one enrichment box is motivating to both of us.

For books or subjects that require a schedule, I make the schedule up for the term and leave it in the box. For other boxes, I have task cards. I am also experimenting with the idea of subject contracts as outlined in High School: A Home-Designed Form-U-La see how this would work for us. I am doing a Subject Contract with one subject this year, and I chose Science. I am including the Subject Contract, and Schedule with the science textbook as a trial run for to see if the contract system would be do-able for us.

As far as a weekly schedule, my dd will not have weekly checklist sheet. This is feeling pretty radical to me! : ) Her workboxes ARE her schedule and living checklist! She will complete boxes #1-12, and when they are completed, her day is done. Two boxes have tickets for "15 minute break" or "Take a lunch break when you are finished with this box."

To help me coordinate variety into my boxes, I am using Andrea's Workbox Planner. There is a picture of the filled out grid on my slideshow. This is merely for my own planning purposes, not for Miss M.

I like the idea of getting the planning and gathering phase done early, and then simply letting school take care of itself using the workboxes method. Teaching prep is either done early on the "front end" or later "in the trenches." I find lessons to be much more haphazard when done "in the trenches." Things go much more smoothly when I am prepared and organized, and I love how the workboxes organize all materials AND plans.

So there you go, a little about how I plan both my year and week with workboxes.


Mama Squirrel said...

Thanks for this Tami--very interesting to see how you've incorporated AO with workboxes!

I'll link to your blog.

Rhonda said...

I like your idea of putting the term's assignments in there once. That got me to thinking and playing around with HST. I was able to figure out a way to run a report that would allow me to do a very similar thing. Thanks for the idea!

Shannon said...

Great tips. Thanks.

Fiddler said...

Of all the workbox blog entries and emails on the yahoo group, I have found this entry the most helpful. Thanks so much for laying everything out so clearly. I know what I'm going to do now! (And it's only a couple of weeks before "school" starts, LOL.) ☺

Anonymous said...

This idea seems fun for you and your daughter.

sarah in the woods said...

This is a very interesting approach. I'll keep this in mind for when my kids are a little older.