Friday, January 6, 2012

Rowing :: Some Changes

I spent a lot of time this past summer planning our school for the year. I planned which cirrculum to use. Then when it arrived I sat and poured over it. I planned which projects we would do and which day which section of history we'd do and how the preschool/kindergarten work would tie into our other learning. I made calendars, charts, spreadsheets, lesson plans, you name it. When our first day of school arrived (in August) I had our school boxes packed and our schedules hung and I was ready.

But things weren't all working out like I'd planned. Like I had so tidy in my spreadsheets and lesson plans. Doing school with a 18 month old is much different than doing school with a 6 month old! #2 isn't as capable of independent work as I'd thought/hoped/planned. #1 didn't want to be where the boys were making so much noise and being into her things so she's moved much of herself and her supplies into her room. 

I sensed this year being more difficult. Was it because the rose-colored glasses were off? The age range of my kids and my students? Difficult stages of maturity {or lack thereof}? My attitude? Bad cirrculum choices?

We had thought we'd be taking a couple week vacation in October that didn't actually happen. I took that week off anyway...I needed those days.

As we creep closer and closer to my due date and looming business of adding another person and their needs (being substantial at first) Mr. Wiedz has grown increasingly worried that I'm not prepared for school and life and house with that other person.

So during Thanksgiving break I re-worked the calendar...we were already behind a little so that had to be really looking at what was working and what wasn't. Where I could easily meet someone's needs and fulfill my educational goals for all of my little students with little tweaks and twists here and there.

The result? A new, shiny spreadsheet schedule posted up. Even a little bit more organization and forethought into some of the kids routines and plans. Some deep breaths. Some new books coming. Some new things printed off and saved. And two weeks into our new schedule (one before Christmas break and this one after) I'd say we've got a keeper...until the next thing happens that makes me rethink how we need to do something.

So. Let me tell you what those changes have meant for my little preschooler and kindergartener.

Now after we are done with our morning meeting (5th grader #1 didn't like calling it circle time this year)  the little boys go into our "front room", kind of a mixture of playroom and school room, where I have centers set up. They stay in there while I work one-on-one with #2. He has that time for me to help him and keep him on track, if he wastes it then he's on his own to finish his work. #1 spends all this time happily in her room working away at her checklist and getting her work done at her own pace. #5 wanders around, though the front room has a child safety knob on it so he can't get in there and create chaos, and messes with things, has his own toys to play with where #2 and I are in the living room or sits in my lap.

I'm going to try to coordinate our centers with the row we are working on. This week we are "rowing" Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, so to go along with that theme there was ::


playdough. White playdough with peppermint essential oil and glitter. The boys LOVED the smell and the whole front room smelled good because of their playing. I also sorted through the playdough tools and tried to get them winter themed cutters. And our word mats for the You Can Read unit we're on are in there. I modified the playdough basket from Carissa's playdough box here.


"seatwork". Or things from our row that I would have ordinarily done during our FIAR time but thought would make a nice center to work out on their own. Above is the animal classification pockets and cards, I later added pictures to represent the "fur", "feathers", etc since I wasn't in there and the boys don't read independently yet I realized this wouldn't work with no further clues as to where to put the animals. I also had snowflake patterning (from Jolanthe's Snowy Day printables), 3 letter-word flashcards to put together, and story props from Carissa's "The Mitten" pack that rotated through this space. These will be in rotation again next week (we're continuing this week's "row" over two weeks) as with the fun new playdough and our other center activity these didn't get very much attention. :)


the iPad. I found some new preschool apps (this post from Carissa) that I downloaded as a surprise. I put out the iPad and let the boys use these learning apps during centers. A huge hit! I downloaded Magnetic ABC (free), Creationary (free), Alphabet Tracing (free), Preschool Memory Match (free), Kids ABC Alphabet Puzzles (free) and Monkey Math ($.99). Monkey Math was one that #3 told me about that he plays at speech therapy, highly recommended, they LOVE it!

After centers we clean up and have a snack as a group usually spending some time reading our current read-aloud. Then the little boys and I head back into the front room to work through whatever I have planned for our FIAR row and their other school work. We added this week Carissa's You Can Read Unit 1 and I have on order {and anxiously awaiting} All About Reading Level Pre-1 to use during this time. #1 heads back to her room to continue working. If #2 has stayed on track he's able to join us for these fun activities and to be a little bit of a helper with the boys' work, if not he has to continue working on his list. #5 is no longer kept out of the front room, he joins us, gets  his own pieces of paper to write on, plays with things he's brought to the table, etc.

I am cautiously optimistic that our new plan will work out for everyone for most of the rest of the year. As this pregnancy gets to the end stages this plan has me sitting down a little more, not running from kid to kid and emergency to emergency. I still haven't worked out how nursing, holding, and having a new little one will look with our plan...sometimes you just can't plan those things, seems to me like they just happen.

Next week, I'll post about our row of Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening and let you know if everything is still working.

Linking up ::


Bronwyn said...

I had to smile at your post - you seem to have things well organised with 5 children running around and a pregnancy on the go. Peppermint playdough sounds wonderful - just the thought of that smell makes me want to make some.

MJ @ Creative Madness Mama said...

My sister also has six (as of October 2010) and I applaud you both! Great inspiration to a mama like me just starting out it seems. :)