Tuesday, September 11, 2012

{A Glimpse into Our Homeschool: Afternoon Handwork}

A little while ago I posted some ideas for dealing with b-o-r-e-d-o-m and its attack on little (or not so little) people in the home. One suggestion was to write several activities on Popsicle sticks, place the sticks in a jar and invite the children to pick out an idea when ennui strikes.

We started school last week, and I've found that the little stick idea is coming in quite handy. It's especially nice during our afternoon reading session when I suggest that my kids choose "handwork" to bring into the living room.

But let me back up and give you a little glimpse into our home on a typical afternoon:

The children have a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00. Often, if the weather and our activities permit, I sneak out for a 30 minute walk during this time. It's a wonderfully uplifting and invigorating way to reboot before hopping back to an afternoon of school work.

When I return, I prep the kids for what's to come. Usually I say something like, "We'll start reading at 1:00, so pull together your handwork!"

There is much happy scurrying (they like handwork), and the children eventually congregate in the living room, hands full of quiet activities. (Many of these activities are written on the Popsicle sticks, just in case the little one needs a quick idea before we dive into our books.)

"Handwork" is anything that will quietly occupy a listener for about 30 or 40 minutes. It could be knitting, sketching, coloring, sewing, building or creating. Once they're all settled, I squish down into my rocking chair and begin our Bible chapter for the day.

This month we're reading Matthew. Before I begin the chapter, I give each child an age appropriate detail to listen for as I read. (For example, when we read chapter four today, I asked Aidan to be listening for the names of the first two disciples.) This keeps their minds, hands and hearts focused -- a perfect after-lunch transition.

After our Bible chapter, we move on to our literature selection. We just voted on our next book, and the kids unanimously chose All of a Kind Family. So today we started the first chapter as they continued with their activities.

This reading time provides an ideal pause before we jump into the final afternoon work of science, history or art. My kids' hands have been creating, their minds have been working, and their hearts have been receiving. Which means that my heart is nourished, too.

* * * * *

Here are some favorite "handwork" activities we've collected along the way. Many are also featured on my school room Popsicle sticks which Little Miss Avery Kate is loving right now. I'm not sure how long her enthusiasm will last, but I shan't borrow trouble from tomorrow.

(One more note: I'm including a link to each item, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Some of these we've acquired from different sources, including garage sales, thrift stores and as hand-me-downs. So keep an eye out!)

Okay, here goes:

What ideas can you add to our list? I'll fill up as many Popsicle sticks as I can!  

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  1. My ten-year-old girl came up with some of these things you can find around the house:

    Designing dream houses,

    Fashion Designing,

    Playing doll house,


    Board Games,

    Homemade American Girl doll paper dolls (cut from catalog)

    Collages (more old magazines)

    Homemade bookmarks

    Pots and pans orchestra(not so quiet, but fun)

    1. Great ideas, Chanda! I can totally see my girls designing dream houses :). Thanks -- to you and your daughter -- for sharing!

  2. Play dough. We recently made chocolate play dough with cocoa powder. They made candies, cupcakes, cake pops
    And a chocolate factory while listening to audio cds.

    1. Oh, that sounds like some yummy fun! How creative. Thanks for sharing!



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