1. Watch TV.
2. Hang out with Mom in the bathroom.
No…and double no thanks!
But at four and five-and-a-half years old, giving my kids the freedom to roam the house and “find something to do while Mommy gets ready” is not a good plan. Huge messes get made, bickering sets in, it either gets really loud or really quiet- either of which is always a sign of trouble- and they just run amok.
Do you have this same trouble in the mornings?
To avoid these undesirable starts to the day, this summer I started setting out Morning Work the night before. I wondered how self-directed they would really be able to be, but they surprised me! After the first two days they caught on to the fact that their Morning Work would be sitting at their breakfast spots next to their cereal in the morning, and they started rushing out to the kitchen first thing to see what was waiting for them! Yes! I’d love to share with you what we’ve done so far…
The first week I printed off some Kindergarten readinessmixed practice pages from A Teeny Tiny Teacher just to see how they would go over. Little Lady raced right through, though she did get some good handwriting practice in. (I have a hard time working with the little lefty as far as penmanship goes.) Even though a lot of the skill practice was not challenging enough for Little Lady, much of it was above Little Man’s head. Since he wants to do everything Big Sis does, he dug in and powered through on his own, which I loved! She was happy to play teacher and explain the directions to him, and helped him give himself a star for his best-looking letters. She was a little hard on him about holding his pencil “the PreK way” (as in not grasped in his fist), but we’re working on that one!
The second week’s morning work brought these little MyPrinting Practice Books from United Art and Education - I think I picked them up for something like $2 apiece. These could have easily been made on the computer, but my ink and time-to-commit to projects was running low, so I splurged! These were a big hit too because each kid got to personalize his or her own book, but they were kind of dry and redundant (in my opinion).
I had to spice things up on Wednesday of that week with these memory practice necklaces I put together! Each necklace includes a set of sight word cards, our home phone number, our address, Mommy’s full name, Daddy’s full name, each child’s birthday, the name of the kids’ school, our family’s favorite memory verse, and the scripture verse theme for the new school year. I printed the sight word cards, which included the blank cards to customize, from Tip Junkie. I shrunk the cards down to half size, laminated and hole-punched them, and strung them on necklaces with beads to show which one belonged to which kid. The kids thought these were AWESOME- we’ve kept one in the car and one in the kitchen to practice, and they think they’re hot stuff when they get the “right” answers!
This week we are trying something new: a combination of self-guided drawing lessons and sight word/printing practice. The littles were asking how to draw this and that all last week, from Lego men to dogs to houses to broccoli, which warms this artist-momma’s soul: I LOVE working on drawings with them! Little Lady especially gets frustrated with stick people because they don’t look “real.” If I could toss aside what I was working on and do drawing lessons with them on a whim, I would be one happy momma…but I too often find myself putting them off or redirecting them when I’m engaged in other tasks...like, oh, I don’t know, work! I don’t want to let the passion for drawing fade, though, so I found these simple how-to-draw templates on a site designed to support children with special needs called Do2Learn.
I would recommend this site for any and all children, regardless of where their needs lie: this site is chock-full of any kind of developmental, academic, or skill practice printables and activities I could think of- what an amazing resource! So I took their how-to-draw examples and kicked them up a notch: I pasted the drawing tutorials into Microsoft Word documents, added a spot for them to write their names at the top, and used a teacher dotted font to write sight word traceable sentences at the bottom of each page. I made a page for each of the weekdays around the theme of castles, because we have been singing nothing but Kingdom Rock songs from VBS for the last three weeks! We have a castle, princess, prince, dragon, and wizard to work on this week. The first day, the day of drawing the castle, the kids had slept in a bit, so I was able to take a few peeks at their work as I was getting things ready in the kitchen. Loved, loved, LOVED the industrious work and conversation I got to eavesdrop upon! The Little Lady really took off with the page, adding Rapunzel’s tower, a pathway, and other scenery, chatting the whole time about what she was adding and why. Yes! The Little Man worked hard on his castle, tongue poked out through pursed lips, until he came to the windows. He decided he’d rather have circular windows, and once he drew those in, they looked so much like eyes that his picture quickly turned into a Transformer with arms and legs- perfect! I can’t wait to see what the next day’s drawings will look like!
Morning Work has revolutionized our mornings- the kids are not only out of the bathroom while I’m getting ready (yay rah!) and they’re not melting into puddles of ooze in front of the TV first thing after they wake up, but they are excited about finding out what cool new learning activities are waiting for them each morning! My routine has been to troll Pinterest here and there throughout the week to gather ideas, and I spend the last half hour or so before I go to bed on Sundays getting five days-worth of activities printed and set on the breakfast bar, along with any materials they need to do the work. That way everything’s there the night before, ready to set out with the breakfast supplies. The few minutes it takes to gather ideas & supplies and to plan ahead have made our mornings so much more peaceful and productive…just another great way to craft every day!