5 Days of Teaching Creatively: Day 5: Projects or the Lack Thereof

I always have the best of intentions.  I want to do hands-on projects.  I want to lapbook.  I want to do science experiments.  I want to do history projects.  I want to do more arts and crafts.  I want hands-on math.  I want to see it, hear it, feel it, and create it.  I want our learning to be unforgettable

My kids don’t always agree though.  You know what they sometimes want?  Sometimes they want to go play.  They want their work done; just check it right off their list, so they can get to important business – play time.

Ohh, that wasn’t really what I envisioned when I thought about my homeschool mission statement and my learning objectives.  I wanted to start and end every day with awesomeness evidenced by all the wonderful creations we left behind.

What’s the reality around here?
  • Projects must be planned (I’m the teacher)
  • Projects must be prepped (I’m the teacher’s aide too)
  • Supplies must be purchased (I’m my own personal assistant)
  • Projects are messy (Umm, I’m the janitor)

So, now projects aren’t sounding so great.  I could just do without.  My kids would rather have a workbook and plow through lessons so they can dress up their dolls and have a gymnastics competition in the loft.  They would rather create a puzzle museum and a giant zoo with their lego set.  Ouch!  My quest to become awesome has fallen really flat.

Here’s what we do instead:  I choose projects sparingly and only choose those that are somewhat less messy and less time consuming (that includes the prep time too).  We do a few simple things each week and it has a huge impact on my kids.  I don’t have to do projects with a million supplies, projects that take 3 weeks to finish, or projects that are display quality for my kids to have a great time.  I mean, we’re talking about my crew who thinks it’s a blast to cut construction paper into confetti.  Simple is so, so much better.

Maybe when they are older we will become awesome somehow.  Maybe I’ll use all my “Pinterest” pinned ideas.  Until then I’ll choose my projects sparingly and then I’ll go make my score cards.  Afterall, I’ve got to judge the doll gymnastics competition and then I’ll go referee the Nerf battles.  I’m busy.  The projects will have to wait.  We’ll get by without.

But we do have a few things that work for us and give us enough projects and hands-on learning to satisfy my Pinterest project cravings…………

Right Start Math – We love the hands on aspect of the multiple manipulatives even if they do make a huge mess of our school space.  I love that my kids can “see” the math!

All About Reading/All About Spelling – Those little spelling tiles really do help my kids visualize the words and the letter sounds.  Tiger loves the little games with All About Reading; it’s just enough to keep him interested while still being doable for me.

Story of the World Activity Guide – I’m starting to pull simple projects from this guide.  They are easy to implement and they actually get done.  It’s fun!  And when you have the downloadable version you can just print the pages you need.  Easy!

Nancy Larson Science – So far this is the only science that actually gets done in my house-projects, demonstrations, experiments and all.  Yes, these are projects that I can handle and that the kids enjoy.  It’s so easy to use and the information they retain is amazing.

Art – I try to get most of my project “fix” through our art time.  We use a combo of Atelier Art and Artistic Pursuits for some fun art projects.  We use ideas from Mary Ann Kohl books and here are a few of my favorite art blogs to inspire me: 

Art Projects for Kids
Her Dabbles
Art is Basic
Kids Art Market
Little Wonders’ Days
Art with Mr. E
Deep Space Sparkle

Ok, so go create, be messy, be creative, and be inspired.  But don’t forget to clean up the mess…….

Hopefully the homeschool crew is a little more creative than I am.  See their project ideas here!

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