Productive activities - Unstructured Afternoons

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
Julie in MN
Posts: 2906
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Productive activities - Unstructured Afternoons

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Suggestions to fill afternoons with productive activities
Debby3 wrote:I am thinking over our past year and am realizing that our afternoons have been mostly playtime (nothing wrong with that). But, I've heard many times from my dc, "I'm bored," "There's nothing to do." Because the Hazells have scheduled things to be completed by early afternoon, we have our afternoons free. Sometimes we use it to spend time with friends, but there are a lot of days where there is nothing "scheduled".

I was wondering what some of you do during your afternoons to keep the kids productive. Some idle time is good, but too much gets them into trouble with each other. These can be great shepherding moments, I know. I'm not looking to fill every minute of their day, but am just looking to possibly do some activities of their own. Any ideas would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance!
I think the "big picture" goal is to have your family spend the afternoon on things that involve character & missions, as well as family (from relationships to chores to small business). We have occasionally brought a cake over to a church funeral, made bookmarks for someone going on a mission trip, & the like. I think the Hazell children have created & sold greeting cards for missions, and had a shoebox drive for Samaritan's purse.

In the short-term, since ds has not really reached the level of independent work on missions, I often make a list on the marker board of acceptable choices. I make it clear that free time during school hours is to be spent on enriching our lives & the lives of others: piano, reading, learning games, games we made in MFW, bike rides, room cleaning & small chores, Spanish video, history-related videos, math drill, writing letters, finishing an art project, going to the library, and of course anything to help others. I could make a longer list, if you need more ideas :o)

Frankly, we have not set aside as much free time at our house as we should have (a goal for next year!). Our free hours thus far have often been used up by activities involving co-op, field trips & follow-up studies, holiday themes, reading those books we wanted to get to, getting in more Spanish study, and so on.

But if I found us unproductive a lot of afternoons, I would probably add a purposeful study of something practical, such as banking, cooking, typing, or manners.

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Unread post by cbollin »

We have a lot of “down time” in our schedules because we are back and forth to different speech and occupational therapies. So we know what it is like to be bored in a waiting room --- a lot over the last 4 years.

My oldest keeps a bag in the van to take with her so she can have stuff to do on her own while her sisters are in therapy session. She keeps fun reading books, a magazine, crocheting, a Sudoku puzzle or two. She is also learning to offer to help out at the clinic with decorating or making crafts. She has found things that she likes to do and can be left alone while doing them.

Not the same situation as yours, but maybe something in there will help spark an idea or two for your family.

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Location: New Mexico

Re: Suggestions to fill afternoons with productive activitie

Unread post by Renai »


Have you read any Charlotte Mason books? (Neither have I) but, what I've heard is to use the afternoons in ways that Julie has described as practical. Handiworks is what it's called in her books I believe (cooking, crafts, knitting, etc.). You can read the originals and modern English versions online free at

Dd's days are used for play (just going into 1st grade), but this upcoming year one afternoon a week we'll be visiting a nursing home. But from 2:30-5:30, I start a new job as an afterschool coordinator (at a private preschool dd used to attend) and she'll be there with me.

Otherwise, I love the list Julie provided. Maybe she'll provide more :-D. I know my dd has been wanting to learn piano for the past 3 years, and knitting for the past 1.5, so those will be two endeavours I'll have to figure out how to incorporate (I can do piano, but not knitting).

Wife to Enrique
Mom of two dd- 9/99 & 1/11

Bilingual homeschool
2004-05 SL
2005-2012 MFW
2012-2013 K12
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Unread post by kelstin »

I am thinking about fun activities such as: Latin, arts and crafts, Keepers of the Faith projects (my son is doing stamp collecting right now), handwork (my son loves to spool knit, and both my children want to learn how to sew), physical activities (we will be getting a see saw for the backyard, and some other play equipment), letter writing (my son has a penpal), writing and drawing with our dipping pens and ink (VERY fun!), card making (for Grandma, etc.), reading (both individual reading and group read aloud), videos (we love documentaries, and we also have some wonderful Bible videos), computer, and of course, PLAYING! As Maria Montessori said, play is a child's work.

I want my children to learn how to keep themselves occupied. I am sure we will also be spending time working on organizing our house, going through things (clothes, toys, books, etc.), learning home maintenance skills (a.k.a. cleaning), etc. We also have a treasure trove of games and hands on materials that my children enjoy. I keep materials out on shelves in the living room (I have a Montessori background) for them to work with whenever they want. My daughter is more likely to do "shelf work" than my son. My son also enjoys making up stories, and he loves listening to books on tape from the library. My daughter loves to draw while she listens.

Ideally I would like to have a "kitchen day" once a week, where we make something special together. My son loves to cook, and my daughter loves to help.

We also love to go to the library, and take walks in the park. Another favorite activity is to go to the cemetery a few miles away. It is a Confederate cemetery, and we love to look at the graves of Confederate (and there are a few Union soldiers there as well) soldiers. Later the cemetery was opened up for other people, and there are many, many veterans of various wars buried there. Of course, this is an occasional activity. And we enjoy going to the local coffee shop, getting a drink, then sitting down for a game of chess.

But I want my children to have time to think, and dream, and just "be". I don't want to "schedule" their entire day. I want to give them choices of productive activities, and then let them choose. And sometimes it is okay to just do "nothing". We have always looked at our whole life as a learning time. We don't learn from 8:00 to 3:00. So if my children want to play with toys in the afternoon, and enjoy a history book at bedtime, it works out just fine. And we don't stop learning on the weekends or holidays, either. :-)

My son's bedtime book of choice right now (and for the past few weeks) is a dinosaur encyclopedia (a "regular" one, not a children's one). He reads a page or so each night, and often pops out of bed several times to tell us something he has just read. He was reading an American History book, but then he found the dinosaur encyclopedia and that was the end of the History book for now. :-)

Oh, also we try to have "quiet time" during most days. They each go to their rooms, and I get a cup of tea. My son usually reads or plays with toys, my daughter will read, play, or draw. She loves workbooks, so she will sometimes grab a workbook to do. I put several workbooks out for her, and she can choose them whenever she wants.

We also have a white board/chalk board easel. My children enjoy getting that out and working on it. They often play "school" with their cats. I don't think the cats get too much out of it, but the children enjoy it. :-)

In the fall, we are going to let each child have their own garden plot. So they can spend some of their afternoon time working in their gardens. We also have a sandpile in the back yard for them to play in. And they each have their own small binoculars so they can watch birds. They like to catch and observe insects and small critters too; we have four little critter cages and two bug "habitats".

I hope that some of this is helpful. I am looking forward to receiving my MFW order. I think that it will provide the needed structure that we are not quite getting right now, while still leaving my children free to pursue their interests and live a life of always learning and growing.

Blessings on you,
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Unread post by Debby3 »

Thank you so much for your feedback!

Julie, your suggestions are terrific! Would it be too much trouble for you to respond with some more ideas? And can you tell me a little bit how it "works"? I'm not quite sure how to implement this, since we've had so much freedom. I guess some guidelines would be helpful. Are they structured activities with you? I really like some of them, but am not sure the kids will like them. It sounds like you allow your ds to choose, is that right? Do you have any ideas specific for boys, like sewing is for girls? I have started to teach my boys to sew, so I am not opposed to that, but I was thinking of ideas specifically for boys.

Crystal, thanks for your suggestions as well. How old is your daughter who crochets? My dd is 6. I've tried to teach her latch hook, but she's having difficulty. Do you think she may be too young?

Renai, I have read some Charlotte Mason, but am not so good at implementing. I like the idea of visiting a nursing home. Do you visit anyone in particular? What did you do the first time you went?

I so appreciate all your input. I look forward to hearing from all of you some more, as well as anyone else who can explain what they do. Ideas are great, but hearing how you all are actually doing them is extremely helpful to me.

Thanks again!!
happily married since 1992
mother of 3: ds(12), ds(10), dd(8)
used ECC, CTG, RTR, Ex-1850
Fall '08 1850-MT

Re: Unstructured Afternoons - Productive activities

Unread post by cbollin »

Debby3 wrote:Crystal, thanks for your suggestions as well. How old is your daughter who crochets? My dd is 6. I've tried to teach her latch hook, but she's having difficulty. Do you think she may be too young?
She was 9 when she learned to crochet. It was in a Keepers of the Faith co-op idea -- and several moms in the group taught it. I did not learn. And we had the fun of a 90 year old lady in our church who helped to teach the girls too. Sadly, Ruth has had to cut back on her crocheting and knitting this year. She has developed some wrist problems. But she just loved coming and helping the girls learn. Those of us in our upper 30's and 40's felt very young.

Latch hook --- I think my dd was a little older than 6 when she first tried latch hook. But she was about 6 when she started with those little cross stitch by color kits. I It is easy to do over. About 6 inches by 6 inches in size. Comes in a kit called Begin to Crosstich by quincrafts corporation. (Grandmother got them at either Michael's, Hobby Lobby or maybe wally world).

And of course, all my girls still have lots of play time in the afternoons.

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Unread post by kellybell »

Afternoons at the Bells?

Music practice
Hobbies like dancing (they make up dances in the basement) and knitting and painting
Emailing grandma
Making goodies for the neighbors and for us
Cooking lessons (that's when I am making dinner usually)
Park outings
Meeting friends at park, library, ice cream place
Legos, blocks, stamp collection, scrapbooks
Optional science experiment (often ones the kids find in library books and are dying to try!)
Naps and quiet time

With older kids, sometimes school DOES run a bit late, so sometimes we do a little school after lunch too.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).
Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Afternoon activities

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Debby3 wrote:Would it be too much trouble for you to respond with some more ideas? And can you tell me a little bit how it "works"? I'm not quite sure how to implement this, since we've had so much freedom. Ideas are great, but hearing how you all are actually doing them is extremely helpful to me.
Oooh, you have received lots of interesting ideas we can all glean from! As for your questions, well, I haven't had much luck with handcrafts for boys. My boys tend to like to be *active.* They respond best to games, phy ed, and variety. I leafed thru my schedule from last year & made a list for you (watch out, I type fast :) ) But in the ideal sense, I consider myself to be "modeling" how to use time wisely, and hopefully in another year or 2 I can work myself out of this job LOL!

Here is how it looks for mom...

* Go thru my weekly grid & look for unfinished tasks
* Add a few "fun" things to list
* Assign only things we have already done together - no new books or activities during independent time
* Be very specific - lesson number, how much, or where.
* Lay all items out on table - books, videos, drawing paper, writing paper, water cup for painting.
* Read entire marker board aloud to ds
* Ask son to repeat back anything not on marker board: "The video is where?"
* Remind him not to erase things from the marker board so I can record what he has done on the bottom of my daily grid.

Here is what it looks like for ds -
* He knows what hours are "school hours"
* He has a list of about a dozen items on a marker board each afternoon. A couple may be mandatory but most are optional. They are VERY specific & I select only ONE of the ideas you will see in brackets - not all of them! It goes something like this:


Do these first:
*** practice piano, all songs you are working on
*** Singapore workbook pages 3-4

Choices [only 5-10 are listed]:
* read a chapter
* math drill, multiplication to 10 x 10, use timer!
* play game with your sister or dad [chess, geography, Sennet, Chinese checkers, etc.]
* play learning game on the computer [Oregon Trail, Singapore Math specific level, etc.]
* Spanish lesson 6, with worksheet
* review flashcards [Spanish numbers, memory verses, Bible books]
* [copy, practice, read] Bible verse
* watch Veggie Tales Bible story (one)
* watch library video [history, geography, science, artist, etc.]
* listen to MN orchestra CD (once)
* put cards in order on floor [books of Bible, alphabet, etc.]
* typing chart 6, e-mail to mom
* type vocabulary sentences in your Word file
* write the alphabet as neatly as you can
* letter to _______, thank him for _____, tell him about _________ - e-mail 1st draft to mom
* paint more of your _______ project
* take a good picture of your ________ project
* color your page [flag, history notebook, science page]
* write your words [spelling, geography song, Spanish] on _________ [driveway with chalk, window with special markers]
* work on your kit [archaeology dig, mosaic craft, Highlights country or state, etc.]
* practice _____________ [speech for co-op, sign language, Boy Scout promise, song - with or without CD]
* piano, practice ______ [all hymns, Christmas carols, etc.]
* work on __________ puzzle
* Sudoku
* Boy Scout badge requirements
* Klutz art book [spirograph, clay, etc.]
* finish your co-op science page [observation, drawing, etc.]
* type a page about our field trip last Thursday
* do the Holiday word find [little theme pages I find online]
* make a list [groceries, birthday party guests, etc.]
* work on project [card, drawing, poster, bookmark] for __________ [church project, relative, friend]
* deliver _______ to the neighbor
* call _______ who is [sick, celebrating an anniversary, etc.]
* look thru your notebook for review [history, geography, Bible, etc.]
* practice tying shoes
* phy ed: [basketball hoops, snowman in back yard, shovel, etc.]
* clean _________ section of your room. clothes down chute, things you don't want in paper bag.
* wash the kitchen floor with swiffer
* clean out & fill the cat's bowls
* [wash, vacuum, sweep snow off] the car
* water your plants; notebook what you saw & did
* Legos or Erector set [not every day, sometimes with a time limit]
* snack: finish up left-over ________

(one special choice may include mom or another family member)
* bike ride after lunch with mom
* library
* fractions game
* nature walk
* cooking project from history lesson
* read-aloud
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs
MJ in IL
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:23 pm

Unread post by MJ in IL »

I love this thread! My children tend to be dawdlers and I love rabbit, although we try to get done in the morning, it doesn't often happen. This summer I have purposed to change some bad habits (in my children and myself) to make the goal of free afternoons more possible. We have been making progress and I look forward to being more free in the afternoons. I have gotten some great motivation ideas!

I few activities we have done in the afternoons are extra chores (not always popular with the kids,) visiting grandparents ot the farm, making meals for others, working on our 4H projects (to aviod the frantic rush to finish clay, nature and other crafts the week before the project show:)) I am moving our music practice and extra read aloud time to the afternoon also. We enjoy going hiking and walks around town, craft kits and a good game of dominoes! My younger son is great at finding the toys we don't often use...the games on the back side of the shelf, race tracks for the cars and, most recently, our kites!

Thanks for the great question!
Molly (excited about just receiving CtG for my 12dd, 10ds, 7ds...and a few preschool items for our almost 3dd)

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:37 pm
This afternoon my children busied themselves with...
dd13 baked some "tea" treats from a book Marie recommended in year 5;
ds11 read a book;
ds9 made a "fort" under the dining room table/chairs and copied/drew pictures from a couple of space books (he wants to be an astronaut this month:))
and dd4 danced/"practiced" piano and listened to a book on tape.
All the kids played with the cats and marshmallow shooters...don't ask.
Later, the boys did chores (we have chickens and cattle) and then "skated" on the "lake" in our pasture.

We tend to spend too much family time running around to activities (youth group, swim team, etc.) - we love to listen to books on tape in the car though.

With the cold weather, puzzles and Backgammon have been popluar, as well as a couple of "school" games with the states. Monopoly, Sequence, Set and Pipeline are other favorites. Some of this I attribute to our boys losing their Playstation and Gameboy privileges for an extended time. After being incredibly bored with life for a few days...they have had so much fun playing again! My younger ds even has chosen real books from the library!

During nicer weather much of our free time is spent outside playing or working on projects. My goals for this spring/summer include setting up some bird houses/feeders to try and attract more birds here; planting (not too hard) and then actually caring for (more difficult) our garden; hospitality; and figuring out how to landscape a bare corner of our yard.
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Unread post by Debby3 »

Wow! Who would have known the wealth of information we could all glean from this thread!!! Thank you to all who replied! These are all great suggestions! A special thanks to Julie in MN! I so appreciate your taking time to type out all those suggestions. Some of them, I would never have thought of to do in afternoon free time, like the coloring of one of the pages from history. Both of my ds's aren't very keen on the coloring because they'd much rather play, but it could be a good activity for them if they know they can't play til a certain time...great idea for us. Helps to make the notebook look nice. And to have them review the history notebook as well...excellent! Boy, it seems like common sense, but we just never looked at our notebooks again til the end of the year. Perhaps this will also give them incentive to take care in doing their pages if they'll be looking at them more often.

I also love the letter ideas: writing to Grandma, or other, but giving them ideas to write. Another idea I love: (I'm not sure how to quote someone,) but I think Kelstin wrote:
letter writing (my son has a penpal),
What a great way to get them to write. (I know I didn't quote that correctly, can anyone set me straight? I'm missing the bold print of Kelstin wrote instead of Quote )

Kelstin, how did your son acquire a penpal? Is it someone he knows or is it through an organization?

Again, thanks so much for all the ideas. Keep them coming if there are any still untyped out there. Don't hold back. We all desire your input.
happily married since 1992
mother of 3: ds(12), ds(10), dd(8)
used ECC, CTG, RTR, Ex-1850
Fall '08 1850-MT
Posts: 441
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:37 am

Unread post by Lucy »

I love this thread too because as my children have gotten older I have found that I need to train them better in how to use their time more wisely. I have already dropped an activity so as to leave our Fridays more open for service together. I am not sure what yet so we have been praying about it.

Julie thanks for that great list. This is a great idea to give them a list for the day. I did this when they were younger but somehow have found that it has gone by the way side as they have gotten older.


Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:33 am
You may consider if she would like to begin or work on some kind of a hobby and some kids are even ready to begin an instrument early.

Also looking for little ways for her to serve would be a great use of time as well. My daughter use to love to bake something and take it to the neighbors. You may also consider helping her to write a letter to a relative(you could write it for her if she is not able) or to someone in your church who could use some encouragement.

wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.
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Unread post by Jacqueline »

Julie, I love your marker board method! What a great tip - I think I'll give that a whirl this year.
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Unread post by kelstin »

Debby3 wrote:Kelstin, how did your son acquire a penpal? Is it someone he knows or is it through an organization
Hi Debby,

I'm on a couple of homeschool lists, and one of the moms mentioned that her son needed motivation to write. We "talked" and decided to ask our sons if they wanted to be penpals. They did. <g>

They are playing a game of chess through the mail right now. I made a chess game in a draw document so my son can keep track of his and his pal's moves.

Blessings on you,
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:31 am

Family Activities

Unread post by lyntley »

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:02 pm
We like Letterboxing. You can learn about it on
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Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:14 am

Unread post by Mommyto2 »

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:17 pm

My daughter is learning how to quilt with me. She is only 5 but can sew strips and cut using a rotary cutter and ruler. All under adult supervision. We only sew about 10 minutes so her quilt will take a long time to finish but it will be all hers.

Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:00 pm

Something else we've begun as a hoping-to-become-daily-or-at-least-sorta-regular-again thing is family exercise.

We have a small church building just a tenth of a mile down from our house & while Josh & I walk the perimeter of the parking lot, Max & Halle ride their bikes all over the center. Last spring/summer, this was something we did and it was SUCH a blessing to our family. Josh & I lost some weight & had fun, quality conversation as we did it. The kids got the benefit of good exercise & seeing Mom & Dad doing something fun & healthy together. We ALL enjoyed this time & I'm hoping we'll be able to bring it back on a regular basis.
Posts: 349
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:45 pm

Unread post by RachelT »

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:24 pm

It's been really cold and icy here in Indiana, so we have made some "forts" and pulled out the folding tents to play in.

We have been listening to books on cd or tape including some Adventures in Odyssey (birthday gifts for ds).

I brought out the little easel again for more artwork.

We need to bring out the chess board again and some other games for evenings, too.

;) Rachel
Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:50 pm

Unread post by my3boys »

My third grader does science kits on his own in his free time. He can explore one kit for a few months. He got a bunch for his birthday a couple years ago and we never opened them because I was concerned about mess and wanted to supervise everything. This spring he got upset with me that we never did science experiments, so I told him he could use the kits on his own if he followed the instructions and cleaned up after himself. This went very well and I am glad that he is using his free time constructively - and the pressure is off of me to find the time to do it.
Mom to 3 busy boys ages 11, 8, and 6
finished K, First, ECC, and CtG - currently using RtR
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:09 am

teaching multiple ages with a large gap in abilities

Unread post by 1974girl »

thejohnstonshouse wrote: I need more challenge for my oldest daughter who takes after her college professor Daddy and is gifted academically, but we've got a full plate these days and aren't sure how to accomplish that goal.

Where we are: I have four kids and have been using MFW for three years. This is our first year to have them all in "school." We are doing RTR (4th dd and 3rd ds), 1st grade ds, and Kindergarten dd. The amount of work we currently require of our oldest is easily accomplished and leaves her with a lot of uninvolved time during the day which concerns us. I find myself sending her off to read or play quietly often as I finish up things with my oldest son who is doing RTR along with her.

What can I assign her that won't be busy work? She already begs me to just let her "do the work herself" (especially since I have to read everything aloud for my son) so she can get things done and not be waiting around to finish school. If I did that she'd be done by 10. I used to have her "write a paragraph on XYZ after reading about that subject, but this has became monotonous. I am wondering if any of you have found creative ways to independently challenge an older advanced child using the same MFW year with a younger, differently gifted child. I appreciate any suggestions and apologize for the long post.
Here are just a few ideas that came to mind...
1) Buy a keyboarding computer game (Target has a kid one) and let her play with it. Use headphones if the computer is in the same room with your other ones. Sometimes when my younger one gets done, she plays Jump Start 2nd grade while the other one is finishing. We have headphones for her.

2)Practice a musical instrument.

3) Teach her (or let her watch a video) on how to knit, crochet, needlepoint. My oldest (in 4th) loves to make doll clothes with just a needle and thread. Since I sure didn't teach her....(I can't sew!)...she just plays and figures it out. They aren't pretty but she enjoys it! HA!

4) Rent some history videos from the library. That's learning!

5) I have sent mine outside to "bless the dog"...that means give her extra love that day.

6) I have been known to count the Wii Fit as exercise. LOL

7) Check out and see if they have any free lapbooks she'd enjoy. They have them broken down by age. Kids that age, still love to cut and glue and create things.

8) I have used the term "life skills" for her and she actually asks for life skills stuff. It is learning to iron, wash dishes, cook easy stuff. She doesn't even know it is chores. Now cleaning her room is another story.

9) I have one hour of alone time for them after lunch. They go to their room and do whatever they want (we don't have a tv in there either!) So they sometimes read, clean their room, and once even cleaned out their closet. This gives me one hour of down time so I can check facebook...uh, I mean uh, uh, to do productive things. LOL
LeAnn-married to dh 17 yrs
Mama to Leah (14) and Annalise (11)
Used from Adventures on and finishing final year (1850-modern) this year
"When you teach your teach your children's children."
Julie in MN
Posts: 2906
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: teaching multiple ages with a large gap in abilities

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Hi and congrats on meeting so many children's needs at once!

Finishing school in 4 hours is part of the treasure in MFW, and ideas for creating independent yet productive afternoons can be found here [above] as well as by listening to several of David Hazell's talks about what kids can accomplish when given some free time. The ideas boards are another great place to find those extras & substitutes that really turned out great for different families. I love that MFW keeps those boards for us :)

But finishing by 10:00, now I agree that's too little school for a 4th grader!

First of all, is she working up to her potential in the basics of math and language arts? If she's very advanced, then maybe she can progress forward? If you're using MFW materials, that would include Singapore, math facts practice, ILL, Writing Strands, and Spelling Power. It would also include the unit study portions of language arts, such as copywork of Bible verses and Latin vocabulary. If letter writing isn't scheduled any more in RTR, that could be added back in. Is she working on her cursive, too?

As far as science, I can't imagine that the human body study and astronomy study are not enough in 4th grade, but I suppose it could happen. You know, some families do just one of those in a whole year. But if there is extra time, then delving into each of those areas with the book basket suggestions or her own interests could be unlimited. If weekly nature walks aren't scheduled in RTR, that is always something you can include. The powers of observation and study can never be developed enough, IMHO.

For history and Bible, I personally would want all my children together because it's not just about learning a set of facts that will get you good scores on Trivial Pursuit, but it's teaching a worldview and faith building. When I add to history and Bible, I often add videos or music to draw my child(ren) in. I've had my son read the Usborne-type books on his own or something like that, but I really want to be together for most of it at my house. Prayer is something that can be worked on, and over the years we've used things like Prayer Journals from the Operation Christmas Child ministry or a prayer book with prayers that were recorded by past presidents and such.

To expand on those topics in her free time, I think it depends on her style. My oldest son (public schooled) used to ask to type reports or make books. My middle dd enjoyed notebooking at home, and since she's very artistic, she created some lovely pages that included Bible verses written in calligraphy, hand-colored maps, and chronological lists of events. With my youngest, I also used notebooking, and some of his pages used fancy fonts, lots of Google images, and sometimes unique styles like a newspaper-style report that looked like it was typed on a typewriter.

If you really aren't a notebooking or report-writing family, then I think there are still options, ranging from reading more literature to locating quizzes online (such as the Bible worksheets at Calvary Chapel).

The art and music in RTR can also be very full subjects, capable of being used even in high school. The same goes for the foreign language study - MFW even has a guide for creating a high school credit, which I suppose could be started in a gentle way in earlier years. If you don't have Rosetta Stone, then your library may have a wide selection of materials that you could start using just for exposure/listening.

And if there is still time in your day, then LeAnn has some great ideas. You could create a list of housework skills to learn, or she could create her own cookbook as the Hazell kids have done, or do an extra unit on something she is interested in, such as the upcoming elections.

I always have the opposite problem - wanting to do too much :)
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Does anyone use any "extras?"

Unread post by schoolmom2 »

Jamie wrote:By "extras," I mean any kind of critical thinking books, or anything else that you've found to be helpful to add to your curriculum. Over the last couple of years, we've enjoyed reading a variety of those missionary books through YWAM as read-a-louds (MFW has some suggested.....we just enjoy them so much, that we've read a bunch more of them!).
The more I try to add, the more stressed I and my children become! I am slowly learning my lesson, and not trying to add so much, but expand on what is there, if need be.

We are doing ECC this year, and the only thing we have successfully added are the continent puzzles by GeoPuzzle. I use them for "filler" when one child gets finished before the other and needs something to do.
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Re: Does anyone use any "extras?"

Unread post by ilovemy4kids »

We add some things like building thinking skills, information resources, and various little fun things like that. But really, I've found that the more I try to add, the more stressed we become and less actually gets accomplished.
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Re: Does anyone use any "extras?"

Unread post by TriciaMR »

Only thing I've added is Math Drills. We rotate between math windows, quarter mile math, math wrap-ups, and a math drill game on my iTouch.

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
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Re: Does anyone use any "extras?"

Unread post by Jamie »

Yes.....More doesn't always mean better! That's a good reminder for me. I want to work on utilizing the ideas that MFW has for dictation, narration, etc. That will be something good for me to work toward.

One thing that we started doing this year.....that I have absolutely loved.......are our prayer jars. We have a jar full of prayer requests and one that the requests go into after they've been prayed for. When our prayer request jar is empty, we pour the other jar back into it, and start all over. We can always add to the jar whenever we think of a new prayer request. Every morning, we each take a slip of paper out and get to pray for that request. It's been a great way for us to remember who/what needs prayer, and to also see when a slip of paper/prayer request no longer needs to be in the jar. :)
TriciaMR wrote:Only thing I've added is Math Drills. We rotate between math windows, quarter mile math, math wrap-ups, and a math drill game on my iTouch.
I forgot about our math drills. We use Calculadders......We laminate them, then the kids can use the dry erase markers. They're supposed to do them son's good about it, my daughters sometime skip it. ;)
Married to my sweetie for 16.5 years
14 ds, 12 dd, 10 dd, 7 ds, 4 ds, 1.5 dd
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Re: Does anyone use any "extras?"

Unread post by CindyLou »

I'm currently combining K and 1st grade for my DS (6) and DD (7); my daughter literally flies through MFW lesson(s) in less than an hour (often doing 1-2 COMPLETE lessons in 1 day instead of a 1 lesson a week), while my son takes his time and is almost through with K; but it usually takes about 2-3 hours for us to complete a single days lesson (since he only has 10-15 minutes attention span). So for him we'll do one thing for 10 minutes; then we do some sort of activity or craft for 30 minutes; then we'll do another assignment for 10-15 minutes and then we'll go on a nature walk for 30 minutes. He eventually finishes, but not in one sitting!

Meanwhile my daughter (who joins us in the activities, crafts, nature walks, etc) begs to do more. So I've purchased several different work books for her and she loves them. Critical Thinking; Kumon; Explode The Code; Language Lessons for Little Ones; Rod & Staff and Pathway Publishers workbooks; Brain Quest; etc. She will usually finish an entire workbook in 2-3 days. If she wakes up before the rest of the house, she works on her workbooks; if she can't get to sleep right away, she'll quietly shut her door, turn on the light, and work on her workbooks! Or practice her handwriting. Or read.

So...we aren't intentionally beefing up the K or 1st grade program, but I'm just letting my DD do school to her hearts content. I'll never say no to her wanting to learn more!
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