It's always interesting to me how different my children are from each other. Whereas, by age 5, Lexie and Ashlyn had fallen into a "school" routine. I have to admit, I keep expecting Little Bit to fall into a similar routine, but so far it hasn't happened. Once in awhile I'll create a schedule for her, but she just hasn't had the natural interest in formal learning that her sisters had by much younger.
Recently I came across this article, and thought it might be an approach that could be adapted to work well for Little Bit. Not so much because I feel like she HAS to be "doing school" yet (while I tend to grumble extensively about the many hoops we must jump through to homeschool in PA, the one positive is that we don't have to start jumping through those hoops until age 8, so she still has another year before I have to actually keep track of any "school"), but because it would give me the structure *I* need to have a variety of options available for her on a regular basis instead of her randomly asking me to do something and me scrambling to figure out if I have what we need for it.
So, over the weekend, I set up her new school system. I had this little 4 cube shelf in the entryway and hadn't really done anything with it (not sure it will live permanently in the entryway, I'm still figuring out furniture placement in this house, but for now, it works. The basket on top is a book basket, I included her Jesus Storybook Bible that we're currently reading once a week for her Bible anyway, some picture books the correlate with what the big girls are doing in history, and some other random picture books off our shelf that I think she'd enjoy. I also had a Jim Weiss audio that correlates with the big girls' history that I think she'll enjoy, but I have it as an mp3 on my computer, so didn't have a "book" to put in her basket for that one. So I printed off a picture of the cover and laminated it, we'll see, going forward if I decide to print off all the Jim Weiss covers as we get to them, or if I make that the generic "Jim Weiss audio" indicator.
One bin is the "Watch" bin. I didn't put much in this bin, because honestly, she watches plenty of TV on her own. I don't mind, it's mostly educational. Wild Kratts, Martha Speaks, Magic Schoolbus . . . but because she watches it without prompting I don't feel the need to encourage it, per se. But I did put in a science video that we have, the Samantha American Girl movie (Lexie just finished reading the Samantha books to her), and, since we were planning to go to an Ice Harvesting demonstration Sunday, but didn't because of weather, I printed out a picture of them harvesting ice, and laminated it, to indicate that we can watch a YouTube video on that this week.
Another bin is the "play" bin. This is really a way to "force" me to take time to play games with her (though if she gets her sisters or Daddy to play with her instead, that's fine too), and a way to draw her attention to some games that she's old enough for, but hasn't noticed yet. I put 2 games she hasn't played, an "old favorite" (Sorry), and a puzzle in the bin for this week.
The "Create" bin will, not doubt, be a favorite bin for her, and was one of the main things that attracted me to this idea. She LOVES doing anything arts & crafts related, but I'm really bad about taking the time to pull things together for her to do crafts. My hope is that this will "force" me to pull together all the "pieces" for several art projects each week. I want each week to include a variety of different art medium. For this week I included: Sculpt - a package of model magic, Paint - a suncatcher paint kit, fiber - the "learn to tie your shoe" thing the big girls had when they were little, the printable (make a booklet by drawing pictures) that goes along with this week's Jesus Storybook Bible story, and the other thing for this week, that I still need to pull the pieces together for, is a ladybug craft (milk carton lids, black paint, googly eyes, glue). Also, when I was looking for videos for the "Watch" bin, I was reminded that we have some See the Light DVDs that Little Bit might be ready for, so I put one of them in too. Only problem is, I'll have to hunt down the required art supplies AFTER we watch the first part of the DVD. But we'll see how it works out.
And finally, the "Active" bin. Again, a big part of this is to get ME to be more intentional about having activities ready for her. The plastic bag has a "toss game" that the big girls had when they were younger. I found it when I was unpacking. Another activity that goes with this week's Jesus Storybook Bible story is a version of "red light, green light" so I printed a picture of a stoplight & laminated it. I have directions saved for how to dance the Virginia Reel, and figured all 3 girls could try that out as a part of history, so I printed out a picture of people dancing the Virginia Reel and laminated it and added it to the bin. I also have a geography game where I printed out full page pictures of each continent and laminated them. The game is a poem that names all the continent and then mom calls out the names of random continents for kids to jump to. I was still working on laminating the pages when I took these pictures but it's in there now.
She doesn't have to do all the bins every day, I told her she could pick 2, and she said "is that all?" so I changed it to "at least 2". Some days she might do all the bins, some days, not so many. I'm hoping to keep at least 3 or 4 things in each bin (adding new as she uses some of them), so she always has plenty of options. If she consistently passes over something for a couple weeks I'll pull it out and assume it doesn't interest her.
And one final basket. The basket on the floor next to the shelves is our "done" basket. After we read a book or she does a craft or plays a game or . . . anything she is to put it in the "done" basket. That way I can check in the evening and know for sure what school she's done, and what bins I might need to replenish. It also means that art supplies that we'll use again (paint, etc) gets put where I can find it, library books don't get lost, etc. It will also be useful if we continue with this approach long-term because I can use the "done" basket to keep records once she's old enough that we have to report to the state.
I used chalkboard labels on each bin, and for the baskets I stuck chalkboard labels onto colored paper and punched holes in the paper to tie the labels onto the baskets. I'm hoping to get chalkboard markers soon, which will, I think, be "brighter" and less likely to wipe off, but for now I used chalk pastels to write on the labels.