After finishing a Monday of schooling, necessity was once again the mother of invention. The day was long for this home school mamma and for the students who were feeling defeated by their lack of concentration to get the assignments done. Listening, remembering, and doing seemed the impossible goal—again. My kids have a difficult time keeping their minds on the work, their eyes to their papers, and their mouths closed. My oldest son, with the remnants of a severe traumatic brain injury, finds it impossible to be still, quiet, and on task, and to not bother his brother in the process. So on this particular day, I decided to make the boys some ‘blinders’ complete with school supplies and their most used paperwork. All through dinner preparations and the meal, I took my turn daydreaming—about how I would make this divide/cubicle tool. As soon as my boys left for basketball practice, I took inventory of supplies I had and supplies, I thought I might need. My goal was to spend little money and use what I could find around the house. Then a made a quick trip to the store.
I was desperate to reign in daydreaming, distractions, and endless chit-chatting. I’m still brainstorming how to overcome the daydreaming, but these dividers/organizers help tremendously to lessen distractions and chit-chatting between my two boys who are a year apart.
Having almost everything they need within arm’s reach significantly reduced getting out of their seat to sharpen their pencil or to retrieve a required school supply. We had a schoolroom where there were desks, but after A.J.’s severe traumatic brain injury the first of 2011, he could no longer tolerate being in the basement schoolroom, with one north window, surrounded by large shade trees. We’ve tried on multiple occasions to move back to the schoolroom to no avail. He needs to be in a larger open area, so we began schooling upstairs at the kitchen table, next to large windows with great morning and afternoon light. The boys sit at opposite ends of the table with their divider in front of them. There is plenty of room for a stack of books and workbooks or notebooks. I began with a 36″ X 48″ foam core display board from Wal-Mart, which I measured and cut in half with a utility knife/box cutter. (Display boards located in the office/school supply department.)
Markerboard, from the schoolroom closet, to record non-school questions/remarks. This keeps us from becoming distracted by topics that have nothing to do with school. So far, my boys have not used the marker boards, which shows all of us the questions/comments CAN wait or aren’t significant. I used a binder clip to attach this, allowing other school assignments to be easily and temporarily added to the divider/organizer. Bottom left: ABC cursive sheet of upper and lower case letters. I made this for free at Handwriting Without Tears Online Tools. You will need to create a free account and use the A+ GET STARTED, Worksheet Maker. I used the Grade 4+ Spelling template. Red scrapbooking paper and ABC sheet held in place with removable double-sided tape.
Middle top left: Peel and stick cork board cut to size for extras that may need placed on the divider. Middle bottom left: Free printable Multiplication Chart 1-15 which I printed on scrapbooking cardstock. Removable double-sided tape for adhesive.
Middle top center:
Weekly Bible memorization is held in place by a removable binder tab. These can be made at Picmonkey.com or Canva.com for free. Design possibilities are endless! The background is scrapbooking paper. The adhesive is removable double-sided tape. Middle center and middle bottom center: Scissors, ruler, and calculator are held in place by elastic. I placed the objects on the board and made cuts thru the foam board on each side of the school supply. I then pushed a piece of cut elastic thru the foam and tied it in a double knot on the back of the board. (The white on white is not a terrible eyesore on the backside of the board.)
Middle top right:
Symbols, tables, measurements, and formulas sheet from Math-U-See student workbook. Adhesive: Removable double-sided tape. Center bottom right: Pencil bag attached with Command Velcro strips. This creates a strong hold that will not fall off when zipping/unzipping and removing/returning supplies, yet is removable. Supplies include pens, erasers, highlighter, marker board markers, and mechanical pencils, which are on sale in August at most stores that carry school supplies. Mechanical pencils eliminate the need to get up to sharpen pencils. (I feel the need to sing: “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” Plus I have never found an electric pencil sharpener that lasts the entire school year. Grrrr!
Top right: Each week I add the new day-by-day schedule. This method has proved to work best for us. My boys know what is required each day, and they place a checkmark beside the assignment when complete. Bottom right: I printed this free mini calendar (2015 calendar UPDATE). Scroll down to landscape: 2015 Calendar / Small and cut it into monthly strips then used removable double-sided tape to adhere it, on top of colorful paper, to the display board. This keeps the boys from asking, over and over, for the correct date to write on their paperwork. This project took between 2-3 hours, including finding free printables and making copies on my home printer. I have included links to websites in bold red fonts throughout the blog post to do your search for printables fast.
These are usable at a desk or table. My boys were thrilled with their new dividers/organizers, and I received several hugs, kisses, and thank-you’s throughout the day. Two and a half weeks later—the boards have been used every school day. Best of all, we have saved considerable time. We have fewer distractions, a lot less talking while working on assignments, and no need to get out of the chair for school supplies or necessary charts. At the end of the day, the boards are folded up and placed next to the school bookshelves. This project was a Win/Win idea!