Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to school: Fun, first day back activities and traditions

Two weeks ago (YIKES that was fast!), August 31 was our official "first day back to school."
I spent nearly the entire week before scurrying around trying to get lesson plans together,
and a planner organized and my thoughts together
as how to best structure our year this year.
I'm looking forward to all the "fun" things I want to do,
but am feeling more guarded this year since the last few years started out on good
notes, but ended up with lots of rough, rough days.
Even though this will be our 8th year of homeschooling,
I often feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and find
myself constantly questioning whether we're doing enough of the right stuff.
Having two children with ADHD,
(the oldest, 13,  who I need to be the leader and the one the others look up to,
and my oldest son who is 8 this year)
makes for constant frustrations with lack of attention,
needs for constant movement of some kind,
impulsive reactions to siblings,
learning difficulties,
and a mirade of other things.

So I pray, pray, pray for the Holy Spirit to do a mighty work
in my children's lives as we learn together,
as well as for me to have the patience, and kindness
that is expected of all teachers, and for persevering creativity
to have to keep changing things up to find solutions to the new problems for that day.

For the first day of school, I really want to start on an excited foot.
So I do not jump right in to heavy lessons and curriculum material.
The first day is simply "orientation."
I walk them through our daily schedule which I have posted on the wall,
and then we talk about some of the topics we will be studying in each subject
this year.
We cleaned out their school bins which had gotten filled in with Sunday school papers,
and library books, and miscellaneous junk from the summer.
I handed out brand, spankin' new pencils, and erasers, and pencil sharpeners, and folders.

We filled out a fun little "fact" sheet about themselves on this first day,
and we'll compare it to next year and the years following.
This year I have a 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th grader.

After some of these preliminary things were done,
we worked on our traditional:
Summer Memories Placemats
(click on the above underlined words for a link to instructions)

In the past, I discovered that when you send off 4 or 5 children to Vacation Bible School,
you end up with multiples of everything.
I began wondering what to do with all this stuff,
and it occured to me it might be fun to make a collage of sorts of summer memories
that the children could use as visuals in presenting an oral report of their summer activities to each other.
So we keep all the flyers and papers from all the VBS they attend, along with any other activity they
might participate in throughout the summer.
Then we pull it all out on the first day of school,
and have so much fun remembering all we did.

Well, that has evolved into making placemats.
Instead, of cutting and gluing all these objects onto a piece of poster board we'd never use again,
I gave the children each a giant size piece of construction paper and they fill up on both sides.
Then I take it to our local school supply store where they have this giant laminating machine.
We end up with 4 new placements this year, and it's so fun to pull out the ones from last year
to see how much they each have grown!!

After our placemats were finished,
we celebrated with a special "Back-to-School" themed lunch.

Back-to-school Lunch Menu:

Alphabet Soup
Tuna Turnovers (since Tuna travel in "schools")
Apple Slices

Alphabet Cupcakes

Super easy, lots of fun, the children loved it.

These cupcakes were so simple to whip up, I think you can see from the picture
we just stuck some self-adhesive glitter letters to the end of a popsicle stick
and stuck it into the popsicles.
Now we can use these letters as helpers in teaching the two youngest to identify the alphabet!!

1 comment:

Amy said...

LOVE the placemat idea...will have to use that in the future!