Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And Then We File Them Away Neatly

I have no context for the following picture, except to note that this is my typical view when blogging or editing photos or writing lesson plans, or otherwise attempting to work on my computer: Picture the computer keyboard directly under the cat (whose name is Ballantine), madly pinging away with irrelevant commands, or perhaps picture the cat lying directly on top of one hand trying to type on the keyboard. If it's morning, change the location to the living room library table and insert an opened newspaper in its usual place directly under the cat, with the most interesting article on the page being the piece of the paper most obscured. This is how the cat ensures that I still love her, even though I have two human children, as well.

In other news, the girls and I have been goofing around a bit lately with our newest novelty--file folder games. We first saw the link to the free file folder games web site on Chasing Cheerios, but we've since become fans in our own right, downloading and printing out and making far more elaborate (vintage wallpaper and plastic laminate are required for nearly every paper craft that occurs in this house, apparently) quite a few of the games, including an alphabetical order game that uses pumpkins for Sydney and an animal alphabet set for Willow to spell with. There are plenty of math games on the site, as well, which I'm excited about because that's the subject that I feel like I'm the least likely to offer casual daily enrichment for the girls in.

Making and playing with the file folder games has served to get the girls interested in their assortment of paper and laminated paper games and playsets again, everything from simple laminated alphabet letters or animal silhouettes to play with, to a large variety of matching games--
--to the various puzzles or other activities that we've downloaded and then personalized together:
I've come up with a neat idea for a child-made matching game that I'm going to try out with the girls this week. If it works, I'm hoping we can use it for Christmas gifts for little cousins, and I'll post a tutorial and perhaps a template for the benefit of all the other little cousins out there in the world.

But the best thing that this new interest has led us to is a vastly better organizational system for these paper-based activities. Previously, I'd been storing each activity or set in a Ziploc bag on a shelf in the girls' room, where it soon gets lost and/or forgotten about. However, these file folder games naturally beg for a hanging file box to store them, and it was then an easy task to round up all these other playthings and assign them to file folders in the bin, as well. And THEN I moved each of the girls' random activity pages (nearly all of them from the free Dover samples that I get each week) from clear plastic bins to folders in the file box, so that now they take up less room!

I've read about some homeschooling families, unschoolers usually, who never have their kids do "worksheets." I even read one book by an unschooling mom, I forget which (tell me, anybody, if you recognize it from the story I'm about to tell), in which anytime one of her children asked to go to public school she'd give them some worksheets to sit down and do quietly, and they'd soon realize from this that homeschooling was way better.

I'm sorry, but I think that's messed up. Mind you, we're not homeschoolers, much less unschoolers, but we LOVE worksheets over here. I love crosswords and puzzles and brain teasers, and my kids love worksheets and activity pages and copy pages and sheets of math problems and whatever else they can do. I mean, I don't enjoy sitting and filling out my taxes or medical forms in triplicate or anything, but seriously, who doesn't love a challenging worksheet?

They're good for your brains, my friends. They keep you from getting Alzheimer's.


Anonymous said...

"They're good for your brains, my friends. They keep you from getting Alzheimer's. "


Oh, and they're portable when necessary!

cake said...

cosmo is crazy about worksheets. we have a stack of "activity books" from learning treasures, and cosmo just blows through them. at this stage in his life, they are games. when they become homework, maybe he will feel differently.

i could save some money if i looked for worksheets online, i'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Oh funny...Cake and I were just talking about worksheets yesterday. I don't trust myself (the kids, or the universe) enough not to give the boys workbooks to do. As long as it's not a stupid, busy-work workbook, besides working their brains, it also keeps them quiet so I can go read blogs. :}

Sara said...

My kids LOVE worksheets, and we are unschoolers. I know lots of unschoolers who do worksheets and other explicitly educational activities. The thing is, we don't *make* our children do worksheets or anything else. (I'm not implying or assuming that you do, either.) The lack of coercion (i.e., making assignments) is the key defining feature of unschooling, not a lack of educational activities.