Recently, I’ve been asked on how to plan hands-on, no workbook type lessons for busy mothers. I thought it might be helpful to answer this question in a series of posts.
Now, before I get into how I plan and set up my lessons for the day, I think it’s important to know a few things. When I first began homeschooling I had a 5, 3, and 1 year old. So first off, I had to have some kind of structure to my day to keep the flow going. My plan was by no means perfect. Most days you would have mistook my house for a three ring circus. It’s a challenge to keep your student on track and your toddler from peeing everywhere during potty training. Because of these little incidents we have never kept a strict schedule. I may not be potty training my crew anymore, but I’m still a mom and I’m still busy. Unless you have a full time maid, a nanny, a chef, and a chauffeur, all of us still have meals to make, laundry to do, floors to sweep, kids to take to ballet and soccer, and the many other items to attend to on our never ending to do list. So how do we plan and prepare hands-on lessons for our kids when we have so much to do? Today I’m sharing with you the power of Morning Work, and my strategy for preparing it for each one of my kiddos.
When I was in the classroom, Morning Work was something used by every teacher. Teacher’s would make sure to have their Morning Work set up before they left for the day, or they were getting it ready before the school bell rang. When you think of Morning Work, you may think of worksheets or questions written on the board for students to answer on notebook paper. I recently read a post from Play to Learn Preschool that explained how she had file folder games set up for each student for the early arrivers. I’m always looking for new ways to change things up and to add more hands-on lessons for my students so I thought I would give this idea a try.
I’d like to point out the reasons these Morning Work File Folder Games work so well:
1. The kids love them.
2. There is not much prep work.
3. They store easily.
4. They will keep your child busy while you clean up after breakfast, change a diaper, ect…
5. It’s a fun, quick assessment of a skill.
6. You can take them anywhere.
7. They work for any age or ability level.
8. Students can work on them until the skill is mastered.
9. You can use them for any subject.
Here’s a peek at my students working on their Morning Work last week.
My Prek students work on alphabet matching games.
If you have two children working on the same skill and they work well together, this is a two for one!
Kindergarteners worked on extending patterns….
And simple addition.
The second graders worked on a subtraction game.
Here is what you may need in order to make your file folder games:
- laminator (not necessary, but highly recommended)
- file folder or manilla folder
How I use these games during the day:
- To keep my kids busy learning while I attend to other matters
- A way to practice a skill after I have introduced it
- A way to assess a skill
Here are some FREE sites to find file folder games:
File Folder Storage
There are many ways to store your file folder games. We always begin our day downstairs, so I use hanging folders in the big section of my husband’s desk for the games we will be using that week. I pull out the games before the students arrive and place them at their seat.
I have a filing cabinet upstairs where I store the games we aren’t using that day.
Wouldn’t this make a fantastic teacher desk? My husband built it for himself, but I keep hinting that it would be perfect for my lesson planning and such. Every teacher needs a teacher desk!
File Folder Planning
I always try to plan out about an hour every week to print out and assemble my file folder games. I may spend 30 minutes one evening finding and printing them out, and then another 30 minutes the next morning assembling them. Sometimes I have my kids cut them out.
A Few More Tips
- I always have a basket of books for each child to read. If they finish their game before I can check their work, they know they are to choose a book and find a cozy place to read. I go to the library every week and find books I think they will like, that they can read, and a few that may challenge their reading ability. They are always excited to see what books are in the basket.
- DON’T let your child clean up their game until you have checked it. This way you can record if they have mastered the skill and can move on. If you think they need more practice, let them play the game again the next day.
See you next week for some more hands-on lessons!