Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

From Our House to Yours

Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

In this Heart of Dakota series, we continue describing a ‘day in the life’ of using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). First, I shared our take on homework. Second, I shared our waking up to homeschool routine. Third, I shared our morning chores and breakfast routine.  Today, I will share how we rotate teacher-directed and independent blocks of time between breakfast and lunch.

My Teaching Block for Resurrection to Reformation

After breakfast and clean-up, I have my teaching block for Resurrection to Reformation with Emmett. This is a favorite time of ours! We meet on the living room couch or in a reading nook, as Emmett sometimes like to ‘build’ these. If Emmett had an oral narration for his Reading About History, we begin with that. Then, we check any work he completed earlier for his Independent History box and his Rotating History box. Next, we head to the kitchen table for his math lesson. Finally, we end up back on the couch or in our reading nook for our favorite – the Storytime read-aloud! After the reading, we set out the Storytime cards, and we go over directions for his History Project. He goes to the kitchen table to finish his Storytime card and to do his History Project.

Riley’s Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has an independent block for World History. First, he does his History Activities. He does the seatwork portion at our dining room table. As the You Are There CD is an audio, he listens to this with earbuds in his bedroom. He has a caddy of art supplies, his Bible, and his journal at the ready as well.  Next, he moves on to his World History. He enjoys doing this subject in the addition by Wyatt, our oldest son, who is usually doing his online college there. They often share with each other what they are studying. This is just an informal talking time they both look forward to and enjoy.

My Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Storytime card and his History Project, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we enjoy meeting in the living room. We begin with World History. Riley stands to give his oral narrations, which works perfectly for me as I love to sit, sip my coffee, and listen!  He hands me his book open to the page he started reading. I skim it, and then page through it as I listen to him narrate. He is an animated narrator, and he likes to use his voice or his hands to emphasize this or that. I love hearing him narrate!  He reads aloud his written narrations standing as well, and we edit together. Next, we go through his completed work for History Activities and for his Science written work. Finally, I do just the teacher portion of his Grammar or EIW. He then finishes his independent parts for these at the dining room table.

What’s next? Maybe my next teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation, and maybe not!

Often at this time, Emmett has decided to make homemade hot cocoa. He has lit a candle, set out whipped cream, coffee creamer, mini marshmallows, and sprinkles. He knows everyone likes their hot cocoa their own way. This was not a part of our ‘plan,’ but I love it, and he did finish the work he was supposed to, so I let it ride. He rings a bell – a cowbell (we do live in South Dakota). This is LOUD, and everyone stops what they are doing and heads to the kitchen table. Why? They know Emmett has either made hot cocoa or has a history project that involved baking. They each make their favorite hot cocoa concoction or eat the history project, chat, laugh, and share what they’ve been doing so far. Many times they make plans for the afternoon or evening together too. Then, everyone is back to working on school.

Back to My Teaching Time for Resurrection to Reformation

Okay, after the impromptu beverage/snack/chat break, we are back to my teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation. I do my teaching portion for Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, for Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and for R & S English. I leave Emmett to finish his independent portions of these subjects, with a plan to check on him off and on later when I make lunch.

Riley’s Next Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has his next independent block for World History. After he finishes his written portions of Grammar and EIW, he does his Fine Arts course, usually in the addition at the table. At this point, Wyatt has either gone outside to shoot some basketball hoops or has moved upstairs to work on his college. So, the addition is free and a happy, sunny place to work on art at the table by the window. Next, Riley does his independent reading and writing assignment for either Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress, whichever is assigned for the day. He gathers his things to meet with me, so he is ready when I call.

My Final Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and R & S English, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we first check the portion he wrote for his grammar or EIW. Then, we correct his Fine Arts written work. I marvel at his art project and its progress. Next, we discuss his Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress on the living room couch. He often still likes to pace, while I sit with yet another cup of coffee (lunch is my cutoff).  I love this private time together to talk about all of the important things that come up in Total Health and Pilgrim’s Progress.  Finally, if it was a tough morning, and Riley didn’t get up early to do Geometry with Wyatt (see my earlier post), they do Geometry now instead.

Making Lunch and Helping Emmett Finish Resurrection to Reformation

As I begin to make lunch, Emmett is finishing his independent portions of Medieval, DITHOR, and R & S English at the kitchen table. It is easy to pop over and offer an assist if necessary! This is also a time Emmet may have left the table, needing to be found and redirected to finish his work. He is my free spirit that can lose track of time or get lost in the moment of a bluejay on our tree, a package that came in the mail, or a wrestling match with my husband. It is at this time that Emmett may need to finish his science. If he did his science as ‘homework’ (see my earlier post), then he is done for the day. If he didn’t, well, then it is time for science. There is a very good chance he will then be finished with school after both my 10th grader and my college student. These moments help Emmett to dig down and do science as homework instead the next time. And that is our day between breakfast and lunch!

In Christ,

Julie

Familiarity Breeds Independent Learning!

Heart of Dakota Tidbit

Familiarity Breeds Independent Learning!

Did you know that our guides all have a similar format? The left side of the daily plans called “Learning Through History” has a unit study feel to it with many connections between the boxes. The right side of the plans called “Learning the Basics” has all of the subjects that do not fit neatly with the history. Many times the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” is appropriate, but in our guides, we think that familiarity breeds independent learning!

Have a good weekend!

Why Doesn’t Heart of Dakota Use a Weekly Grid for Their Lesson Plan Format?

Gain Teaching Time by Using Learning Stations with 3 to 6 Year-Olds

A Heart of Dakota Life

How to Gain an Hour of Teaching Time by Using Learning Stations with 3 to 6 Year-Olds

Many homeschool families have a wide age range of children, so placement in multiple guides just makes good sense! But, what can you do with little ones to gain teaching time with your olders? Little Hands to Heaven gives necessary mommy time with PreK kiddos, while also teaching necessary skills. However, what else can PreK kiddos do during the day? Well, a lot, really! I wanted my 4 year old to have an independent playtime (as he’s always with his big brothers). Additionally, I wanted more uninterrupted teaching time with my olders. I tried many different things, but he just didn’t stick with whatever I’d set out for more than 15 minutes. What could be done?  Learning stations, that’s what!

How to Set Up Different Learning Stations to Be Independently Rotated Through

One day, I had the idea to try setting up different learning stations for him to rotate through… and success!  He happily played for an hour right away. I honestly couldn’t believe it. He really just needed some variety and an order of what to do. This works well for a child who understands the order of numbers, and who is around 3-6 years old.

Pick a safe room and use numbered cards to designate different stations.

I picked a safe room that was near us but not RIGHT by us. We have a large entry room just off our kitchen we have childproofed, so that worked well for us. I numbered big index cards and folded them in half to tent them. I started with 5, but soon used up to 7. Then, I chose 5-7 varied activities for him to work through. Starting with a few short activities that had a definite end to them worked well. For example, #1 was a puzzle, and #2 was a card for him to practice writing his name once. These were at his little table and chairs.

Puzzles and Practice of Writing His Name

I picked a building activity for #3. For example, magnatiles. Sectioning off a spot for it on a blanket, I put the #3 tent card by it.  #4 was a book on tape, and I designated a spot for that with his little chair. I also put headphones there, so my middle ds wouldn’t be distracted by the story.

Headphones to Listen to Audio Books

For #5, he played with something that was more active, like his construction set. I sectioned that off with another blanket. For #6, he looked at a set of books he had not seen before. His bean bag chair and blanket sectioned this area off nicely. I told him to start with card #1 and do the activity. Then, he turned over the card when he was done and moved on to #2. I turned on his LHTH’s Singing Bible CD for him, and away he went. I checked on him a few times and snapped a few pics…

Building with Magnatiles 
Coloring Books
Use a variety of learning stations to keep things fresh and exciting!

By the fourth day of doing this, he headed right in there all on his own after we’d done LHTH. I wondered where he had disappeared to, as I was putting away his LHTH tub. There he was, happily putting together his puzzle at center #1! I changed out the things, but in general…

  • #1 was always a short puzzle type activity
  • #2 was a short fine motor skill type activity
  • #3 was always something more active to play with on a blanket
  • #4 was always a different book on tape in his little arm chair
  • #5 was always something more active to play with on a different blanket
  • #6 was always different books in his bean bag chair
  • If there was a #7, it was something active.
Older siblings can help set up learning stations.

My older kids liked to help me set up this or that for it too. I’d set it up right before we ate breakfast, so it was all ready to go. It took me about 5-10 minutes to set it up, as I’d put things near there for handy access. I also put a few stuffed animals at various centers, as he loved his buddies. One time, an hour had passed. I said his brother was ready to do his playtime with him (which he LOVED). He said with his hands on his hips, “But I’m not done yet! I still have #6 and #7 to do, and I really wanted to do them!”  I guess independent stations were working well for him!!!

Choose things they already know how to do fairly well. 

Finally, I think it is important to choose things that they know how to do. So, this isn’t the time for puzzles or coloring or writing skills that may be too hard for them. It also helps to change out the books, toys, and activities, choosing things they can be successful with. I just let him move on to the next one whenever he wanted to. Sometimes he was at one center for a very short time. But, that was alright, as he was at the next one longer. It all worked out.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share that past tip for us that was a wonderful help in our home!  If you are blessed enough to have a naturally independent child that just plays on his/her own with things, than this may not be necessary. But, if you have a child that needs a little help in this area, this may work for you too! It is my prayer that this could help some fellow busy homeschooling moms like yourselves.

In Christ,

Julie

P.S.  For fun ideas to use with toddlers, click here!