You know when you find something that works and you wish there was some sort of homeschool parent bat signal you could flip on and spread the word? This is mine. A couple years ago we suffered from a motivation problem in the school room. Son didn’t want to complete workbook pages, I was losing the heart to fight about it. Then one day I found Sue Patrick’s website about the Workbox System©. I can’t say that I have adopted the Workbox System in its entirity, but I found the website and book useful. It was there that I learned about poster activities and hot dots (more on hot dots in a different post).
In the post about our school room here I talked about how I created a poster activity corner in our school room. When I stumbled upon this idea a couple years ago we were schooling in the kitchen and I didn’t have the space for a poster activity area. So I stuck some velcro on our large whiteboard (that lived behind the filing cabinet when not in use) and used that to anchor posters. Sometimes we would just lay the poster down on the kitchen table too.
Why poster activities are amazing? First of all, if you have a kinesthetic or visual learner they will be relieved to get out of the workbook and into this activity. Secondly, it is something they can do independently (the magic words). Poster activities can be simple or more complex and the possibilities are endless.
There are a variety of ways to make poster activities. My first real learning curve came with botany. I got a ‘parts of a plant’ poster for a dime at a garage sale. I learned two things while making this a poster activity: sometimes spending $2.50 on a brand new poster is worth it so you don’t pull out all your hair trying to figure out what to cover up and how AND before you cover up all the answers on the poster you should know the answers. Oh yeah, that happened, that horrible moment when you realize you’ve given your child an activity you are completely incapable of grading. (As it turned out, I knew next to nothing about botany at this time–this should have been obvious to me since I can’t even grow grass in our yard).
Sometimes, when the poster has a lot of information I buy a second poster and use that as the answer key, like with this Geography Terms poster.
So are you saying things like, “I don’t have the time for that,” to yourself? You do have the time, especially if poster activities give you the time later to teach algebra to someone else or snuggle a baby. How?
1. Get some like minded friends together (from your homeschool co-op, group, church or your best friend who will help through anything). Have everyone bring all their supplies, a snack and wine (trust me) to share. All this laminating, cutting, and velcro-ing can get tedious, so it is nice to turn this into a group activity. This is a great way to put file folder games together too. If you have to go it alone one night at 11pm, I recommend a dvd of your favorite sitcom, chocolate, and rum. Or just the rum.
2. Have a good babysitter? Offer her an extra couple bucks to cut all the words, cover the answers on the poster, and velcro after she puts the kids to bed. Or if you have a fantastic babysitter offer her even more money and have her put together the whole deal. This only gets you one or two posters at a time, but it you get a date night and a couple poster activities, so it is win-win.
3. The family all-call. If you have little kids plan it for nap times, after the youngest crowd goes to bed, or when your sister will watch them. Then gather your older kids together and put everyone to work. Make popcorn, listen to a favorite audio book or radio show, and settle in. Even if you can only get one hour in, you are further along than if you had to do it all on your own.
Sue Patrick sells some poster activities on her website. If you can get a regular group together once or twice a year then you have a natural venue swapping or buying/selling opportunities too.