Monday, August 30, 2010

Featuring my 100th Follower!

This past weekend I "met" my 100th follower since I started my blog in June 2010!   This is a blog "milestone" I would say and I appreciate all the visitors that stop by to read my posts and I love hearing comments from my readers.  Your comments encourage me to keep posting topics that are important to me, but I also hope my blog posts will be encouraging and interesting to you.

I would LOVE to get to know ALL my  past, present, and future followers because each one has a story to tell and something to offer in blog world and in the "real" world.  I know this is not possible due to time, but I would like to feature my 100th follower to get to know her a little better and share her blog with you. 

To get to know my 100th Follower, Brenda at WV Stitcher, A Blog About Reading, Reviewing, and Stitchery , I asked her the following questions and her answers are in red.

1.  How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging this year, I have always liked the idea of a blog and when I kicked the idea around with a friend of mine she suggested I do book reviews, because I am always reading, and giving recomendations of great books to anyone who will listen!  
2.  What part of the world do you blog from?  (Just giving the country is fine)
I live in WV.
3.  How did you find my blog to become the 100th follower?
It was probably a blog hop. Blog hops are a great way to connect with blogs that might otherwise be missed.
4.  How did you decide on the "theme" of your blog?
See answer 1.
5.  Out of all your book reviews, which book is your favorite?
The one book that has really stuck with me was the Personal History of Rachel Dupree. It was an amazing book with great characters, the first few pages draw you in with Rachel and her husband lowering their child into a well so that the family will have water. It's truly a compelling story here is a link to my review :
6.  What are your other hobbies?
I love to cross stitch. I also love to do primitive rug hooking. I crochet baby blankets and donate them to various hospitals for needy babies that might otherwise not have a nice blanket, I also enjoy making lap robes for nursing homes.  I love flea marketing, and taking day trips . I am also a compulsive neatnick, with my house and yard.  
7.  What do you like best about blogging?
Connecting with other people. It's also a neat way to keep track of everything I read, although if I read a book and don't like it I won't review it, I know how hard it would have to be to write a book and so if there is nothing positive for me to say about it I won't review it.
8.  Do you find any challenges with maintaining a blog?  If so, what are they?
The longer I blog the more I learn. I would have to say my biggest problem is finding time to blog. I work 40+ hours a week and I am also very active in my worksite union which keeps me busy. Often when I review a book from a publisher it needs to be done on a certain date, and occasionally I will have two due on the same day, which gets tricky, but its a great problem to have :).
9.  If you had 3 wishes what would they be?
I have no wishes for me because I am blessed beyond measure. But if I had three wishes I would wish for 1.  Healthcare for everyone regardless of whether they could pay or not. 2. Food and shelter for everyone . 3. I would wish that everyone would spay and neuter their animals, and realize when they take a pet it is a life time commitment.
10. Where is your favorite place to read/stitch? 
At home you will find me in my family room with my dog Marley reading and stitching, but I carry my ereader everywhere I go and will read whenever I get a chance.
I will also add that I have been happily married for 24 years, to my wonderful husband Rick, I have one son Josh who is 22. I am an animal lover and I am owned by my dogs Marley a german shepherd/boxer mix and Abby my yorkie. I work in health care and have been doing my job for 23 years.  I love giving away books, once I finish reading a book I often pick someone randomly that leaves a comment on a review and mail them the book. I review for some great publishers such as Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Forever Romance, Gallery Pocket Books, Doubleday,Hachette, Revell Publishing, and Bethany House. I read a wide variety of books so one day I may blog about a christian book and the next day its a horror story, I think it keeps it interesting.

It has been so fun getting to know Brenda a little better and visiting her blog.  This was the first book review/stitchery blog that I have discovered while blogging!  I love how her book review posts are set up:  she has a photo of the book she is reviewing and then a product description.  Then immediately following this information, she writes her "take" on the book. 
I also love her Shabby Blogs background, which is where I got my blog background also. 
Thank you Brenda for following my blog as Follower #100!  It's been fun getting to know you a little better in the blogosphere and if I ever need recommendations on a good book, I know exactly where to go now since I discovered your book blog!  So hop on over and pay Brenda a visit at WV Stitcher, A Blog About Reading, Reviewing, and Stitchery to check out all her reviews and find a good read for yourself! 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Clay Rosary Giveaway!

Catholic Icing

Lacy, at Catholic Icing is hosting a Clay Rosary Giveaway until midnight on Sept. 3.  Sarah, the Clay Rosary Girl, creates these beautiful and unique rosaries and each bead on her rosaries is made out of polymer clay!
So hop on over to Lacy's blog post to read more about Sarah, the Clay Rosary Girl, and this awesome giveaway!

I am also hosting another giveaway highlighting 2 other great artists.  A daddy (Cameron Smith) and his 7 year old daughter, Amelia, are both incredible artists! Click here to read more details about my "Happy UN-birthday to you" (hand-made) Jewelry Giveaway going on now until Tuesday, Aug. 31, 9 PM EST.

(Organization) System Saturday-Our Chore Charts

In an earlier post, (Organization) System Saturday-Our Helping Hands, I talked about the system I came up with to get our children to help in the kitchen on a daily basis.   Then in my (not quite) Wordless Wednesday-Our Homeschool Classroom post, I had pictures and descriptions of our homeschool room in our house.  One of those pictures was our chore chart that is used for my children's everyday morning chores and daily chores that is located just inside our homeschool classroom.  This post has the pictures again with descriptions:
The blue paper is covering up each child's name for privacy.  We bought 4  key rails at our local  Lowe's hardware store, (I only could find white ones for the link) one for each child.

The first two hooks on each rail are for each child's everyday/morning chores or reminders. So the first one is to "Get Dressed", then behind that I have a picture/word card that says "Make Bed", etc.  The last two hooks are for their chores that they are assigned Monday through Friday.  So on Monday, they know to "Change (their bath) Towels" and bring the dirty towels down to the laundry room to be washed.  Each day of the week they are assigned a different chore to complete.

This photo shows how they flip their chore cards over and place it on the next hook.  So this child already got dressed and flipped the card.  The next card, "Make Bed", will remind her to do that next and then she will flip it.  The third hook has "Put Dirty Clothes in the Laundry Room" and I wrote Wednesday on this card because she is to do this chore each Wednesday.  On the other cards I have written the other days of the week to go with each type of chore.  I laminated the chore cards and I write the days of the week on the cards with a Vis-a Vis pen so that I could easily erase and change days if I needed to.

I spent alot of time searching for the best type of chore chart system that would work best for our family. There are so many great ideas on blogs, websites, and search engines for chore charts it's mind boggling and overwhelming!  I knew I wanted a chore system that I could make changes to easily to fit our family's needs through the years.  With the key rails and chore cards I can easily take chore cards away or add other types of chores without having to spend alot of time remaking another whole new chore chart.

I found most of the pictures for the chore cards on the Workbox Yahoo group that I am a member of under the "Files" section of the group.  I then added/deleted chores from the existing chore page that was in the  "Files" section to fit our family's needs.

I have the chore cards that I made and used saved as a word document and I don't know how to save it as a link for this post.  If you would like a copy of the chore cards that I used for the key rails, you can Contact Me here and fill out the form
and I will be more than happy to send them to you as an attachment.

Remember,  you can click on the Picket Fence button below everyday to vote for my blog:  
1 click = 1 vote for "A Slice of Smith Life" 

I'm also having a Happy UN-birthday (hand-made) Jewelry Giveaway and you can read more about it here and enter to win!

Friday, August 27, 2010

99 Ways to say "Very Good"

Our "Very Good" word for this week

One of my many goals this year is to praise my children more on their work and catch them being good.  So each week I have decided to write a word of praise on our white board in our homeschool classroom with an exclamation point.  If I catch them being on task with schoolwork, helping their sibling, doing neat work, etc. then I add an exclamation point or a letter if letters have been erased due to misbehavior.  This week's word is "SENSATIONAL!".  At the end of our school day if they have the whole word with an exclamation point still on the board they receive a tally mark.  After 10 tally marks they get a treat/surprise of some kind.  This week they reached 10 tally marks so I gave them a small box of  LEGOs that a friend of mine passed on to me.  Maybe their future rewards will be a trip to the Dollar Store, extra computer time, a special movie, or a special outing. 
Last week our word was "GOOD JOB!"

I will be choosing a new word for next week.  I got this idea from a teacher resource book and it has really helped me find ways to praise my children.  Their eyes light up and they have been motivated to work when I praise them and add letters/exclamation points! They are really bummed when I erase letters :(  I have also found this to be helpful because I have not been YELLING at my kids as much during school time.  I just calmly say what they are doing wrong and take my dry board eraser and erase letters.  I don't know if this discipline method will work indefinitely, but for the past 2 weeks I have enjoyed teaching my kids because they all want to be caught being good!

Need some ideas to say "Very Good"?  I have a sheet hanging up in my classroom with all different sayings to praise my children.  I refer to it sometimes while I am teaching.  I found a link that list the same 99 ways to say "Very Good" as I use.  Enjoy!  

If you thought this post was "Very Good",  you can click on the Picket Fence button below everyday to vote for my blog:  
1 click = 1 vote for "A Slice of Smith Life" 

I'm also having a "Very Good" Happy UN-birthday (hand-made) Jewelry Giveaway and you can read more about it here and enter to win!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank You to "and baby makes three" for my $50 Gift Card!

Some of you may have known that this past Tuesday, Aug. 24 was my 35th birthday!  There were some exciting things that happened on my special day to make it an even more special day!
  • The best thing was that my children surprised me in the morning by hanging up these birthday banners in our kitchen.  They were so excited to lead me into the kitchen with my eyes closed and then they shouted "SURPRISE!" and sang "Happy Birthday" to me!  They were so proud and I will never forget their sweet smiles!  What a wonderful gift that I will cherish always!
  • I went out to lunch with my sister and Mom (thanks Mom for the gift of life!) while my Dad (thanks Dad for the gift of life!) watched my children at home.  Then for supper I went out to eat at our local Texas Roadhouse restaurant where the kids eat FREE on Tuesday nights!  We had a great time as a family and the kids LOVE to throw those peanut shells on the floor at Texas Roadhouse :)  And I didn't have to sweep them up!  Then in the later part of the evening I got to spend time with dear friends and their children!  (Hi MB, it was so much fun to hang out with you, your children, and our sweet friend DM! )  :)
  • On my birthday, I happened to hop on a blog through Bloggy Moms.  The blog post that I found was titled "Today, It's My Birthday".  Well, since it was my birthday, I decided to visit Christelle's blog to read more and it ends up that Christelle at Beloved MaMa turned the exact same age as me on the exact same day!  OK this probably doesn't seem that exciting for some of you, but really, think about it. What are the chances that out of the thousands (millions?) of blogs in blogosphere, I find a blogging mom who is celebrating her birthday with her family and turning 35 years YOUNG just like me?  Be sure to visit Christelle at Beloved MaMa !  I'm sure she'll love for you to wish her a Happy (belated) Birthday!   
  • In the afternoon, I found out through an email from a blogger named Adriana that I won a $50 Gift Card to because I entered a Blog Giveaway on Adriana's blog at and baby makes three and the winner was going to be selected on my birthday!   To celebrate Adriana's "one year Blogoversary", (Happy Blogoversary Adriana!) she was hosting this amazing giveaway! One of my entries was this blog post that I did about the giveaway. I was shocked to win because Adriana had such a great response to such a great giveaway!  (she had about 160 entries!) Winning was a nice surprise and Thank You to Adriana for hosting such a fun giveaway!  I will be spending my Amazon gift card wisely :)  Be sure to hop on over and say Hi to Adriana at and baby makes three and wish her a "Happy Blogoversary!"

This was my first year celebrating my birthday as a blogger (I started blogging in June 2010) and I must say it has a been a memorable birthday for all the reasons stated above!  Thank you to all my family, friends and those in blogosphere for celebrating my birthday with me this year!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(not quite) Wordless Wednesday-Our Homeschool Classroom

 I am linking up with Show Me Your Homeschool Classroom blog hop hosted by Mama to 3 Blessings and "Show Off Your Homeschool" Link Up Party hosted by Melissa at The Joys of Home Educating .

We are blessed to have one large room designated for our classroom in our home.  This photo is the view from the entrance of our classroom.

In one corner of the room is a closet that I have art supplies/manipulatives/resources stored in and an art area.  I won the art table several years ago and we have enjoyed it alot!

Books, books, and more books!  One of the many bookshelves in our home.

My two of many "Trash to Treasure" finds.  I found the bookshelf that's in the background at a yard sale.  I didn't have to think twice about buying it.  This is the shelf where books that the children made are stored and our library books are stored here to help us not lose our books that need to be returned so that we don't have to pay library fines again!   I got the small, blue and red table from my neighbor many years ago.  She was going to throw it away because one of the legs was broken.  So we just fixed the leg and painted it and it was good as new! 

This is another bookshelf that holds all our religious books/resources.  I hope to do a blog post soon on some of the great Catholic resources I use with my children!

Our magnetic dry-erase white board that is new for this year.  The kids and I have really enjoyed this.  I am able to store my All About Spelling magnetic letter tiles on the board (these are the blue and red tiles on the right side of the board.)  Then on the left side I have my kid's lesson plans hanging up with magnets.  They refer to these plans to see what is scheduled next for their workbaskets or workboxes.  Then they are able to put a check mark in the designated box on their plans when a subject/activity is completed.

Workbaskets for my three older children.  The green basket on the far right is where I store all my teacher manuals where I can quickly grab a manual to start a lesson. Last year I wasted lots of time searching for manuals that were thrown into baskets and on my bookshelf!

Workboxes for all my children

Chore chart for classroom chores (more details coming in a future post)

Close-up shot of classroom chore chart (more details coming in a future post)

Daily chore chart set-up just inside the classroom entrance (more details coming in a future post)

4 reasons to be thankful and to motivate me to keep going on this homeschool journey...

This photo was taken on the first day of school this year and they are working on their "Tee-rific t-shirts" for the "Tee-rific Summer" bulletin board.  
And no, this is not what my school days look like ALL the time or even half the time.   It is an exception in our homeschool day to see everyone on task at the same time doing the same thing for at least 1 minute so that I can take a picture!

Be sure to check out my post from yesterday where I am giving an "UN-birthday" gift to someone by having   a hand-made jewelry giveaway and you can read all about it here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Happy UN-Birthday to you!" (hand-made) Jewelry Giveaway!

I'm so very excited about today, Tuesday, August 24, 2010!  Why???
  1. It's my 35th birthday today!
  2. In this blog post I get to share with you a little bit about my maternal grandparents who are no longer with us :(
  3. My first giveaway was so much fun and such a success, I am going to host another giveaway starting today so that one of my readers can get an UN-Birthday gift from me!
  4. I get to share with you about a very talented, beautiful 7 year old friend who worked so hard to make the jewelry that I am giving away!
  5. I get to share with you about my 7 year old friend's dad who works so hard to create such beautiful artwork and you will be blessed when you view his masterpieces!
As a child, my maternal grandparents, John and Anne Arricale (also fondly known as "PopPop" and "Nanny"), lived in NY while I lived with my family in the South.  So growing up, our visits with them were limited due to the miles that separated us.  But, one special memory I have of my PopPop and Nanny is that they would always send "un-birthday" gifts to me and my other "un-birthday" siblings when one of my brothers or sister were celebrating their birthdays.  These "un-birthday" gifts were very small like crayons and a coloring book, but I remember being so excited to get my special treat in the mail from my special PopPop and Nanny.  Here is a photo of my sweet grandparents in 1997 when my hubby and I first moved into our new home as newlyweds.  PopPop and Nanny, we love and miss you so much! (does anyone have a Kleenex for me to wipe the tears as I go down memory lane tonight? )
As a way to celebrate my birthday today and to keep my grandparent's un-birthday gift tradition alive,  I would like to give one blessed reader a "Happy UN-Birthday!" gift. (including S & H by me!)
The gift for this giveaway is this beautiful hand-made necklace and matching earrings:
This long necklace is silver-platted with green clear beads with small blue flowers in the beads.  The matching earrings are surgical steel that are hooked backs.  The earrings are also the same green color beads as the necklace with small blue flowers in them.

The creator of this jewelry is my 7 year old friend, Amelia, who made this jewelry for this blog giveaway with such love and care! Here she is making these lovely pieces:

Amelia is in our TORCH homeschooling group in my hometown with her other talented siblings.  She has 2 younger sisters and a younger brother.  She has been making jewelry for quite some time now and is so very good at it.  The winner will also receive an autographed tag on the necklace and the earrings with her beautiful cursive writing.  Amelia is very excited to share her God-given talent with the blogging world and the winner of this giveaway will have a unique and beautiful gift from an awesome, talented little girl!

Little Miss Amelia not only has God-given talent, but she also has parents that are as creative and artistic as Amelia and her siblings.
Amelia's father, Cameron Smith, (no relation to me at "A Slice of Smith Life") is a Catholic artist who has done some absolutely incredible paintings and sculptures.  Cameron's latest paintings, the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" and the "Immaculate Heart of Mary", can be viewed and purchased at his website Smith Catholic Art.  Everyone who views his masterpieces is sure to be touched in a special way, whether you are a Catholic believer or not.  So visit Cameron's website today!  I'm sure Miss Amelia would love for you to support her daddy!

OK so how do you enter this AWESOME, SENTIMENTAL, MEANINGFUL, INSPIRING, UN-Birthday (hand-made) Jewelry Giveaway????

Here are the details of the giveaway:
  • One reader will win a hand-made necklace and matching earrings made by my friend, 8 year old Amelia.
  • Entries close Tuesday, August 31 at 9:00 PM EST.
  • Entries open to all my readers since I want to share so much talent with everyone!
  • You can enter with a blogger profile with an email or include your email address in your 'entry comments'.
  • This giveaway is also open to those that do not have a blogger profile or do not leave an entry comment.  If this is you, please email me at, with subject line "Blog Jewelry Giveaway" and I will enter your name into the giveaway.
  • Winner will be notified via email, who will have 48 hours to get in touch with me, otherwise I will redo the draw. Once contacted I will post the winning details on my blog.
  • Once I have made contact with the winner, I will ask for the winner's name and address so that I can ship the jewelry to you. I will pay the S&H to make this an even better "un-birthday" gift!
  • It is possible to receive 5 entries (and 3 bonus entries) into the draw and here's how...
To Enter:

Visit Cameron Smith's art website at Smith Catholic Art and view his prints.  Comment back to me making sure you
include your email if you don't have one on your blogger profile or email me at and let me know you viewed his artwork and which print you liked the most.

AFTER you do the Mandatory Entry you can grab more entries by doing one or more of the following: 

To grab 2 entries, become a follower of my blog and comment back that you are following.  Please leave your blog link so I can follow you back.  If you already follow my blog, just tell me in a comment and your entry will be counted.

To grab 3 entries, Click on my "Like" A Slice of Smith Life on Facebook badge on the right sidebar and leave a comment that you "Like" A Slice of Smith Life now on Facebook.

To grab 4 entries, vote for my blog by just clicking on this "We're #10 on the Fence" button.  (Leave a comment each time you vote for me per day (more votes, more entries) and if your blog is on the Picket Fence website, let me know because I'll vote for you too!)

Remember you can click on the button below everyday to vote for my blog:  
1 click = 1 vote for "A Slice of Smith Life" 

To grab 5 entries, leave a 5th comment letting me know that you have posted about this great  giveaway on your blog. Include a link to the post in your comment please.

To grab 3 bonus entries, order one or more of Cameron Smith's prints directly from his website at Smith Catholic Art !   Leave a comment or email me at and let me know you placed an order and which print(s).

Thank you again to my PopPop and Nanny for all their love and "un-birthday" gifts and to my talented friend, Amelia, for making such beautiful jewelry for this giveaway.  I also thank Amelia's dad, Cameron Smith,  for sharing his faith and incredible artwork for all the world to see!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's in our Workboxes for Monday?

I just finished my lesson plans for this week for our 2nd week at Sacred Heart Academy Homeschool.  On my recent "Organization System Saturday- Workbaskets + Workboxes=Works for 4 (children)"  post I blogged about how my children's subjects and workboxes were organized to help make our school days as stress-free, tear-free, and productive as possible.

So this post will focus on more details about how I have organized the 10 drawer rolling cart that I am using for my workboxes. I am showing you what is in tomorrow's workboxes as an example, but our workbox activities will rotate daily. (except for the "Busy Box" sheets)

Before I explain with photos the system that I use, I will tell you that each of my children have one workbox designated for their "Busy Box" sheet (see explanation below), one workbox where they are assigned an activity with my youngest child, and then one workbox is an activity/worksheet that my child does alone or with a sibling if they need help.  
My oldest child's boxes are #1, #2, #3
My son's boxes are #4, #5, #6
My third child's boxes are #7, #8, #9
My youngest daughter's box is #10

So here are our Workboxes for Monday, 8/23/10:

Workbox #1 for oldest child:  When my daughter sees in her workbasket her brown board that has a "1" on it, she opens her drawer #1 which is a "Busy Box" sheet for August.  Each child is assigned one of these laminated sheets in one of their workboxes.  Since these "Busy Boxes" will stay in their drawers everyday, this is one less drawer I have to fill :)  I got the "Busy Box" idea from a teacher resource book.   It is 9 squares divided up with one activity listed in each square.  She is to do one activity per day and then put a star on the activity with a Vis-a Vis pen when the activity is completed.  The middle square always says "FREE Choice" where she can decide what quiet activity she wants to do until her next subject begins. Some other things I have listed are "do a puzzle", "do a math sheet", "read a chapter from a book", "Trace and color a picture from a Catholic art book ( I have Seton's Art 2 for Young Catholics that I use)", etc.   So I plan on making a new Busy Box sheet for each month to keep things interesting.

Workbox #2 for oldest child:  My daughter knows that her #2 box will always have something that she can do with our youngest child to keep her sibling entertained while I work with my other children on one on one instruction.  Tomorrow my daughter will be reading these picture books to her little sister.

Workbox #3 for oldest child:  Box #3 will always have an activity/worksheet that my daughter can do independently.  Tomorrow I have assigned her a page in the "Building Thinking Skills" workbook.

Workbox #4 for my son:  Box #4 will always have an activity that my son can do with my youngest child.  So tomorrow he will be playing with magnets to help entertain his sibling while I work with my other children.

Workbox #5 for my son:  Box #5 is where he will find his "Busy Box" sheet for the current month that we are in.  He will choose one activity and after he completes it he will put a star on it with a Vis-a Vis pen.

Workbox #6 for my son:  Box #6 will always have an activity my son can do independently.  Tomorrow he will be doing a ziplock bag activity where he matches up insect cards to their names.  There is also a puzzle that I made and laminated about where different products come from.

Workbox # 7 for my third child:  Box #7 will always have an activity my daughter can do with my youngest child.  Tomorrow she can do different puzzles with her. 

Workbox #8 for my third child:  Box #8 will always have my daughter's "Busy Box" sheet for the current month.

Workbox #9 for my third child:  Box #9 will always have an activity my daughter can do on her own or ask for help from one of her siblings.  Tomorrow she will do a page in her Draw Write Now book, which she loves.  She copies the sentences in her Draw Write Now Workbook, then she tries to draw the steps to make the picture for her handwriting entry in her workbook.  We have enjoyed using these books for our homeschool activities.

Workbox #10 for my youngest child:  I have this box designated for our 2 year old to make her feel included.  Tomorrow she can use Melissa & Doug stamps and an ink pad to make a picture.

So I have all these drawers filled each day with different activities, but the problem I am having is that most of these activities don't last as long as the lessons that I am teaching with another child.  My 2 year old's attention span is very short and she begins to disrupt things (or my other children start quarreling over something)  and then chaos usually breaks out.  So I'm still trying to figure out what works best during our school days.  This is at least a start as my homeschool journey continues....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Organization System Saturday- Workbaskets + Workboxes=Works for 4 (children)

So we started our homeschool year at Sacred Heart Academy this past Monday on Aug. 16th.

Even though I have been homeschooling since 2005, I ALWAYS feel anxious, overwhelmed, and wonder how in the world am I going to fill my children's hearts, minds, and souls with more of Christ's love and book knowledge AND keep up with housework AND keep my sanity through it all???????????  For me, every time I begin another homeschool year it's like it's my first year.
 But why is that?  I think it's because each year our family dynamics have changed as our kids grow older, there is new curriculum to get used to, a new routine, new challenges with discipline to overcome, and new triumphs to embrace.

To be honest with you, by the end of last year, I was in tears ALOT along with my children and I didn't know if I could do this homeschool stuff anymore :(  It's times like these when I start to think that no other homeschool mom is feeling as frustrated and down in the dumps as I am.  I was wondering what I was doing "wrong" because our homeschool days were not peaceful like all those "other" homeschools I visit through blogs.

Something had to change and I realized that one thing that needed to change (besides me having a more consistent prayer time) was more organization and clearer expectations for my children.
So last year, a local friend first introduced me to Sue Partrick's Workbox System which is a way to break up your child's work assignments by placing one lesson/assignment/activity into separate boxes.  Usually these boxes are plastic Sterilite shoe boxes or crates, but most homeschoolers find any type of container that works best for them.  The child works through the boxes throughout the day and when they are through with all their work in each container then the child has a feeling of accomplishment after completing all their work in an organized and systematic way.

So I have used ideas from Sue Patrick's book and have visited many blogs to create a system that is working for us so far ( it worked for Week #1 at least).  I call it the Workbaskets + Workboxes = Works for 4 (children) organization system.  Here are some pictures and explanations:

I already had 4 cloth baskets that I have used for several years, but they were always in a disorganized mess with my children's books thrown in there and papers flying everywhere.  So my husband built this white shelf to hold the workbaskets with 3 cubbies underneath.  Each child gets their own workbasket, but the green basket on the far right is where I store all the teacher manuals that I use for each of my children's subjects.  Having my teaching manuals all in one place makes it easy for me to pull out the next book I need to teach from.   My 2 year does not have her own workbasket yet.

Here is a close up of Cupcake #1's workbasket. Her name is typed out on bright pink paper (Cupcake #2 is blue paper and Cupcake #3 is purple paper) and slipped into the front pocket of the workbasket. (refer to first photo). I printed out all her subjects in the same pink color. I then used clear packaging tape to tape each subject to a piece of Elmer's sturdy white foam board that I bought from Wal-Mart, but any craft supply store should have foam boards.  Behind each board is where I store their books for each subject.  Then on brown wood paneling I have numbers taped to each wood piece.  The numbers correspond to the workboxes that are in the form of a 10 drawer rolling cart that I bought on Amazon. Right now the price of the cart is $31.13, but I paid $53.00 for mine when I purchased it in the summer!  Here is the rolling cart I use for my workboxes:
There are many blogs and Yahoo groups that have number templates already prepared to label workboxes, but the numbers I use came from a bulletin board set that I bought at the Dollar Tree Store a few years back.  I just cut up the numbers, laminated them, and taped them to each drawer.  Cupcake 1 has drawers #1-3, Cupcake 2 has drawers #4-6, Cupcake 3 has drawers #7-9, and our two year old has drawer #10 .

So when each child sees their box # on their assignment sheets they go to the corresponding drawer and pull out the activity.  As my children complete their book lessons and their workboxes, they just put their textbooks behind each foam board divider, turn the foam board / numbered brown boards over to show that they have completed that assignment.  When all the boards are flipped they know they are done with their schoolwork for that day.  Then in the evening I flip the boards over to the subject/numbered sides and refill their workboxes in the rolling cart.

Here is a picture from Cupcake #1 and Cupcake #2 workbaskets of some of the boards flipped (subjects/numbered workboxes completed) and boards still showing subjects/numbers (subjects/numbered workboxes that still need to be completed.)

I must say our first week of school was actually peaceful for the most part and my children enjoyed working through their Workbaskets + Workboxes = work for 4 (children) organization system.  Of course, this is only the first week of school so the "newness" may wear off, but I'm hoping that this organization system and setting clear expectations for my children will = (equal) a much more enjoyable homeschool year compared to the one we had at the end of last year.

In a near future post, I will talk about what type of activities I put in each of the numbered workbox drawers so this will have to be continued so check back here soon!  Like I said, this is only our first week with this organization system, but I'm hoping in another month or so I can give a positive update and tell you that it's still working.  Only time will tell...

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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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