People often ask me about what we use for language arts. Our “writing center” is basically our language arts curriculum. I first heard about learning centers in Mary Hood’s book, The Relaxed Home School.
I have recently revamped our writing center. I had noticed Brianna being less and less self-motivated and choosing all the “easy” stuff, so I knew it was time for a change. I still wanted Brianna to have freedom to choose her activities, but I wanted to encourage her to choose meatier stuff from time to time. So, the first thing I came up with was the stop light.
Activities in the “green” pocket should be done on a daily or almost-daily basis. Activities in the “yellow” pocket should be done a couple of times a week. Those in the “red” pocket, which are more complicated or consuming, should be done at least once a week.
I coupled that with a points system to give Brianna some choice and me some say-so. She has to earn three points a day.
- Green pocket activities = 1 point
- Yellow pocket activities = 2 points
- Red pocket activities = 3
If Brianna chooses to stick with easier activities, she has to make three choices, or she can do one moderate and one easy, or just one more involved project.
I also created a sheet for her to fill out showing what she’s done each day. By the end of the week, she has to have chosen at least two moderate and one more difficult/time consuming project.
In addition, there is room to fill in what she read in her daily Bible reading, and a reminder to do her AWANA memory work and her daily free choice reading on the check sheet.
I got some great printables for our new writing center from a website featuring mini-offices. I bought a tri-fold presentation board and drew a stop light on it.
I got the library card pockets at a local teacher supply store – and was thrilled to find a pack with red, yellow and green pockets! I pasted these on the stop light and filled them with 3X5 cards listing the various activities. I also color-coded the top of each index card. Then, I pasted on some of the printables that I got from the mini-office website.
Our new writing center features:
- A writer’s workshop notebook (an invaluable resource)
- Encyclopedias (on a separate shelf, obviously)
- books for copywork
- A poetry workbook
- A story journal (where Brianna can write her own stories)
- Writing worksheets
- Daily Grams and Easy Grammar workbooks,
- A notebook for practicing cursive writing
- Various types of paper
- Let’s Write a Great Book Report
- A spelling box
The spelling box is our new tool for better spelling. I’m still working out the details on it, but we’re going to have weekly spelling words again that will either be from Spelling Power or from Brianna’s own writing (with ideas I got from this website).
It’s a 3 X 5 file box with alphabet tabs. Each week I’ll give Brianna around ten spelling words. I’m going to write the word on the lined side of a 3 X 5 card. On the blank side, Brianna can write the word in big, colorful letters and, if she chooses, and illustrate it in a way that will help her remember the word, a technique I picked up from the fabulous book, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World by Jeffrey Freed.
I’m going to write spelling activities from Spelling Power on 3 X 5 card that I will place in the front of the box. Brianna can choose which activities she wants to do each day. Once she has correctly spelled the word, it will go into the appropriate alphabet tab slot, thus creating her own personal spelling dictionary.
I think I’ve covered everything that is in our new and improved writing center. I hope the ideas that we’re using will be a help to someone else.