Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Homework Helps

These are pictures of the homework tote I won yesterday at a class. Look below how I'm going to use this to help make homework a breeze!

I went to a very helpful class last night that focused on ideas to make Homework a little easier for both parents and children. Here are the things I'm going to try to do:
Set a regular time-- For us this will be a different time everyday depending on the schedule. But it made a lot of sense to me when they said if everyone in the family is doing "homework" you will have less contention about doing it. Sometimes my younger children will be watching a cartoon while the older children are doing their homework and it is such a distraction for them. Early grades spend about 10-20 minutes plus 20 minutes reading time. 3rd-6th grade spend about 30-60 minutes and Higher grades spend 1-3 hours a night. So now we will all participate in some type of homework based on their age level. I'll get more into that later.
Have a regular place-- Not every home has space for a special homework place but you can convert the kitchen table, bar, The child's room at a desk or in the front room about the sofa table to a regular homework place very easily.
Have supplies handy--Keep school supplies in a tote or old shoe box so all the materials needed can be placed at the regular homework place. I really liked this idea. Half the time at our house the kids are running around looking for a sharp pencil, and then some crayons, and them some paper. I was lucky enough to win the homework tote the presenter gave out last night. Here is a list of items that could be in here:
Crayons, pencils, markers, pencil sharpener, erasers, glue or paste, tape, writing paper, construction paper, hole punch, stapler, scissors, dictionary, paper clips. I'm going to add some board books, flash cards (index cards), and coloring book or pages for my younger ones not in school.
Check Homework--After homework is complete it's important to look over it. Make sure it's their best work. Is the handwriting legible? Did they understand the concepts? Compliment them on a good job. Ask them questions about their work.
Reading Practice--This is a good time to hear them read after they complete their written homework.

So we are going to try this new idea of Family Homework Power Hour. Everyone will get to spend time during this homework hour doing reading, worksheets, flashcards, coloring at the kitchen table. I'll put the homework tote up and set the timer and off we go. I will also make myself available to help. Tonight is the first night we will try it. Cross your fingers and hope for the best. (Whenever I start something new, I usually have one child kicking and screaming because it's a change) I'm going to try to involve even my 18 month old. She loves to color and be read to. I know she won't last the full hour but it will good for what she can do. I think I will have some quiet toys she can play with after she has had her full of homework.
School is your child's job.
Make sure they understand that you expect them to do their best work and to finish their homework.
If the homework is consistently too difficult talk with the teacher.
Using rewards can be helpful but shouldn't be over used. Some non-material things can work as great rewards like: Getting five extra minutes playing video games, Picking the book you read at bedtime. Do what works for your child.
What you do at home to support your child's learning is very important.
Parent Involvement=Student Success
I'm so excited to start using the homework tote and the family power hour.
FYI: This Presentation was done by Claudia who represents The Family Information and Resource Center. Find them online at or read their blog at

Monday, February 1, 2010

A toy I can make!

I am not the most creative person, and I rarely make things but I have found an easy toy that my babies have enjoyed, and I actually can make it. I have made one for each of my kids and now I've made a few for neighbors and family for presents. Here are the simple steps.
Materals needed: empty can with lid (I use a hot cocoa container or a formula can)
used canning lids
colorful stickers
razor blade or knife
Step 1: Clean out the can with a damp paper towel (don't get too wet because the container is cardboard
Step 2: Make a opening on the top with your razor blade or knife. The opening should be just big enough for a canning lid to slid through the opening. (pictured below)

Step 3- Decorate outside of can and each lid with stickers. I like to write the child's name on the can somewhere with a permanent marker or with stickers
Step 4: Your done! Now try it out. This is Peanut playing with her new toy. She will put all of the lids in by herself and then she brings it to me to open again and again. It's a fun game for her. She likes the praise I give her after she puts them all in.
This is the finished product. Very simple as you can see but my kids loved it between the ages of 9 months to about 2 1/2 years. Great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill development. It's a precursor activity to doing simple puzzles.
The toy doesn't last forever so that is why I made one for each of my kids. But hey it cost near to nothing to make and you recycle garbage! Win Win!
Let me know if any of you try it and like it. Have you made any toys you can share with us. If it's too complicated I may not be able to do it, but I'll try! =)