Embrace the Workbooks!

I really need to stop fighting our tendency to use workbooks and worksheets.

I don't know what it is about them but somehow I feel like if I'm assigning workbook pages to my kids I'm failing to provide anything fun and hands on; in other words using them too often makes me feel like a failure.

Silly isn't it?

I went from trying to replicate school at home to abandoning anything that resembles school!

Ordinarily I would not see this as a problem at all....

However, my kids like workbooks.  

They ASK for workbooks.

They love knowing that if they complete a few pages in each of the books I have stacked on the table that school will officially be over for the day and they can go play.

This is why I must learn to embrace the workbooks! 

Yet, I resist...

And time and time again they show me that this is what they want.

Don't believe me??

Here is how our day went:

Evan asked to work on Khan Academy today for math.  Once we had his account up and running it was like pulling teeth to get him to cooperate and do anything.  He whined throughout every problem and I finally just turned the computer off  and sent him to his room.  He told me he was ready to work again and then the whining came back so I walked away and told him he was on his own for math today.

He finally wandered downstairs, pulled out his Star Wars book and completed two pages on subtracting 100.  ON HIS OWN!

The older boys were working at the table.  They each had chosen another color the fraction worksheet using the lowest term of each fraction.  They completed it quickly and then I asked them to pick something else to work on for a bit more math practice.  They each chose their workbook! Ian chose his measurement book and completed two more pages. He showed me that he only has 10 more pages to go before completing it.  He's hoping to finish it next week.  Alec scoured through his book looking for an "easy" page.  I was surprised that no one wanted to use Khan Academy or any other math video games.

 When given the chance my kids almost always choose the worksheet.

Evan had another digraph sort paper today for phonics.  Today we reviewed ph-, sh-, and wh-.  He did a great job on his own even if he didn't want to paste them in place to save in his box.  He cut them out, sorted them and showed me his work then threw it all away.  He was a bit thrown when he came across the word elephant-- "Um, mom, elephant starts with e it doesn't start with any of these sounds!" but I slowly said it out loud to him and explained that some of the pictures might have the sound in the middle.  I was surprised to see that after just that short explanation he was able to put trophy in the right place too.  We then read two more Dick and Jane stories and Evan happily went to play.

I guess I shouldn't resist them so much.  Not only do they enjoy them but we really only use them for math, spelling, and an occasional reading/ sight word practice.  

The rest of our subjects are usually fun and include hands on projects.  

Take science for instance.  Ian has been growing an orange seed in a cup on our windowsill.  He planted it quite a long time ago and has been remembering to water it sporadically.  I warned him that oranges are usually a warm weather fruit and might not grow well up here in the north.  He's been checking on it and is so excited to see how tall his plant is getting.  He hopes to keep transplanting it and put it in a giant pot in the house.  I'm not sure we have room for a full size tree in our house but told him he can keep working with it as long as he can keep it alive.  (* as of March 2016 we still have a healthy orange seedling growing on our plant table!)

For geography and history:  Ian worked up a sample of the craft for his history fair report.  We found a cute cut out of a bulldozer on the internet and printed it out.  He cut it out, glued the tracks on, and used a brad to affix the blade.  We talked about what he wanted to do to modify it for the other kids and what supplies we need to bring with us.  He also picked out a coloring page for older kids in case they didn't want this activity.  It came out pretty cute though and I think most of the kids will like it.

We all settled down together to watch Families of Sweden.  We learned about the day in the life of two Swedish children.  We saw pictures of their money and watched one little girl shop in a grocery store that sold only fruits and vegetables; it was kept cold in order to keep the food fresher longer so everyone wore their mittens, hats and coats inside.  We learned that their money is called the Krona and even learned a few easy recipes for  Swedish foods.  We learned that in some cities children ride public buses to school and not school buses.  The children in this family walked to the bus together and got on alone.  We also learned that the city will pay for a parent to stay home for a year after they have a baby as long as both parents help take care of the baby.  Evan told me that the first story was told from the point of view of the little girl.  I've never taught point of view, like I know they do in public schools but the boys have all picked up on this concept anyway.

We ate an early lunch so we could stop at the library on the way to gym day.  We read Baseball Saved Us and learned all about the Japanese interment camps used during World War II.  It was a powerfully written book and the boys quickly made comparisons between the Japanese camps and the German camps for the Jews.  They knew that the Japanese weren't getting killed but they were essentially held as prisoners just the same.  We talked about prejudice when Evan commented that it was awful of people to be mean to other people just because they're different.  We talked about bullying, making other people feel bad for things they can't always control-- even small things like having glasses or braces.  We talked about how no two people are exactly alike and how boring the world world would be if we were all exactly the same.  Ian had a lot of questions about the Japanese camps that the book didn't cover and I told him I couldn't really answer them until  I did some more research; none of our textbooks growing up every said anything about the camps and we talked about why that information might have been left out of my school books.

We finished up our lunches listening to the first three chapters of I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The younger boys thought that this was the same boy as the one who survived the Nazi invasion at first until we pulled out the other book and compared dates, locations, names, and family members.  It helped them to put things into a sequence of events.  They seem to love this book just as much as the last and seemed a bit disappointed that I had to stop reading so we could get ready to g

Using workbooks allows us to finish our schoolwork quickly and frees up our day for more fun. 

With all of our schoolwork done we headed out.

We stopped at the library first and found that many movies had come in.  The boys were excited to see that Inkheart was one of them but Alec and Evan thought we should finish listening to the book first so they could more accurately compare the movie and the book.  I explained that anytime there is a book and a movie you naturally compare the two no matter which one you see/read first.  Alec thought this was something only kids did but I assured him that I always grumble "that's not how it happened in the book" when I watched movies of books I had read.  The librarian overheard us and agreed that we all do it.  Ian had a dozen more digger books waiting for him and the librarian commented on what voracious readers they all were.  Ian was so excited to see them all he wouldn't even let me put them in the bag at first.

We headed back to the car and went to our homeschool gym day.

My sister was coming up with her two boys to meet up with our gym day group and the boys were extra excited about going today.  I'm sure it didn't hurt that we hadn't been to gym day in a few weeks either.  They had lots of energy to expel and they couldn't wait to run around and play games.  It's kind of a cruel joke of Mother Nature that today is the first day of spring and so we had another snow storm.  We've had enough of the cold and the snow and are all so anxious for spring and park days.

Alec played gaga ball the whole entire time we were there.  He was red faced, sweaty and smiling by the time we were all ready to go. Evan and Ian played a bit of gaga ball too until they tired of the noise in the room and headed to the soccer field.  They ran, played tag, kicked the soccer ball around, and rolled around on the turf.  Ian stayed to play in the soccer room as Evan and I went to check on Alec.  Evan and his cousins ended up setting a little obstacle course and played on that until gym day was over.

As usual we had a lot of people show up for gym day so the boys met a few new faces again.  I swear there's almost always 10-15 new people at each gym day!


  1. When Aspen was very little we would often go to a book cafe and she would bring over stories for me to read to her. On the days I would say I will buy her a book she would always choose a workbook. Some sort of English or Maths book. She was obsessed with completing these books. #mg

    1. My middle son was like that! My oldest son's kindergarten teacher would send home two packets of workbook pages because she knew that my middle son kept trying to do my older son's homework pages over his shoulder! He just thought they were fun.


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