During the school year we used these two black organizers as a place for the kids to keep their homework and leave papers for me to review.  Each box had three slots- so I thought it would be perfect!  One box for “in” (homework that needs to be done) and one box for “out” (papers that need to be kept at home, or for parent review).  It didn’t quite work as planned.  Both boxes always ended up being a jumbled mess with everyone using every box for everything.

During the last couple months of the school year I finally assigned one whole box to Brooke and the other whole box to Riley.  Made it a little more manageable but certainly not perfect.

For the past several weeks those boxes have remained empty and unused.  I wasn’t sure what to do with them and didn’t want to store them, so I got smart and created a “Summer Folder” system for the kids!  Inside each folder is a reading log and some educational worksheets that need to be done THAT DAY.  On the front of the organizer is a task list with what needs to be accomplished before any screen time or play time or connecting with friends or hanging out at the pool THAT DAY.

Brooke gets the dark pink floral folder, Riley the black floral folder and Trevor has a green zebra stripe folder- seems fitting for each of their personalities!  Not that Trevor is a zebra or anything, but it’s more male themed and the green color matches his room, and zebras run…like Trevor does in soccer.  And pink floral is girly girl for the girly girl whereas black floral is more neutral, like Riley.  So there.

Next to the organizer is where we keep the books the kids are currently reading.   The other box stores all our Summer Reading Club worksheets and registration forms.  I really like having everything in one place, and I’m loving the flexibility of this new system- and that the kids can manage it all on their own.

Friday was the first day we tried the system and the kids said they really enjoyed it so we’re going to continue the checklists & folders throughout the rest of the summer.

I’ve created a theme for each day:

Math Monday
Typing Tuesday
Writing Wednesday
Thinking Thursday
Finish-up Friday

Every day there’s two constants: 30 minutes of reading, and educational activities based on the theme of the day.  Although the kids will likely be doing math and typing activities on a daily basis, Mondays have extra focus on math.  Tuesdays have extra focus on typing.  Writing Wednesday is more about handwriting and Thinking Thursday is a creative writing assignment.  I found some great “story starters” to use to get their imaginations flowing.   The kids can choose to hand write or type their creative writing assignment.

Here’s a link to some great websites to use for resources.

It gets better:

“Chores” are always a hassle.  Normally one kid unloads the dishwasher and another kid picks up the dog poop and there’s always arguing over who gets to do what. And there’s other chores that I’d like to assign. With this new system, the responsibilities are clear and there’s no arguing. Plus I can add in “extra” chores or rotate them easily.  Laundry can be separated out over several days rather than having 2 of the 3 kids fighting over the washing machine on the same day.  If someone’s room is particularly messy, I can add “clean room” to the next day’s task list.  I’ve also added tasks like cleaning the kitchen table after daycare, or sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor, etc.  I’m sure this list will grow in the coming days!  And to make it better- the chores you are assigned are yours for the WHOLE day.  So dishwasher duty means unloading and loading as needed throughout the day.  Dog poo duty- yep, picking it up throughout the day.  Kitchen table cleaning- yep, after every meal and snack.  It’s great.

Here’s a couple examples of the task lists from this week:

The kids look forward to seeing what’s on their task list each day and completing the activities in their folders.  No, they don’t do their homework here at the tiny table, but Riley wanted to show off how it works:

Where do I get their educational worksheets?  For years I’ve purchased those Summer Quest & Scholastic Success workbooks…of course none of my kids have ever completed one of the books so there are many many pages still left undone.  Rather than buying a new book for this summer, I’ve just been tearing pages out of the older books and using those worksheets for math, grammar and problem solving.  Sometimes this means the child is doing work above their grade level, and sometimes it’s below grade level.  I found free math worksheets and problem solving worksheets on the internet for Trevor’s grade level since there aren’t any workbooks for his age.  I’d like to average 4 worksheets per day- to keep it interesting I fluctuate the number of worksheets- maybe there’s 8 to do one day and 2 another, or none, or six……this is where the excitement comes into play- “what is my folder going to have in it today?”

Refer to this post for more detail on where to find educational activities for your kids.

Stay tuned!