Taking a Brain Break
Sitting at a desk for 2 hours straight can become very monotonous, especially for a 5 year old. So, I have incorporated brain breaks during our school time.
I usually start Justin on his Language Arts first (because he seems to have the least amount of patience for it) and we finish our work time with Math. Going straight from one subject to another seemed to drain him of any and all enthusiasm relating to school. Giving him a 15 to 20 minute brain break in between subjects, felt like the right thing to do.
*That was a duh! moment for me. I later realized, that this was a very common thing in homeschool classrooms. I can't believe I actually expected my Kindergartner to sit there and do work for an entire 2 hours. It's my first 'official' year homeschooling though, so it's a learning process for us."*
After having my big brain break idea, I had to figure out the best way for him to spend his break. Watching cartoons was out of the question and I was afraid of letting him play in his room. If I did, more than likely that horrible whine-a-lot monster would appear and stay for most of the day when it came time to go back to work. The kid really does not like to be interrupted once he starts setting up his little action figure people around the room.
So, I designated a shelf from our classroom as the 'fun' shelf. He can pick anything from the fun shelf during break time and best of all, he thinks he's just having fun and doesn't realize how much learning he is still doing. We have acquired different items from dollar stores, teacher supply stores, gifts from grandparent, etc. that we have filled the shelf up with. I took an empty wet wipe box, decorated it, and turned it into a 'fun box' for the smaller items.
Justin is a puzzle fanatic, so we put several puzzles on his fun shelf. You can't really see from the picture, but there are several smaller puzzles in Ziploc baggies that we placed in the fun box. Also in the fun box are character activity books and a small package of twist up crayons. The numbers book is a dry erase book with different activities. I included the dry erase marker and one of his old baby wash rags so he can wipe it clean once he's done. There is also a picture bingo game and a deck of Mickey Mouse go fish. Almost all of these items came from the Dollar Tree (where everything is $1!) The pattern blocks and boards were my splurge items. I ordered these from the local teacher supply store for $20.00. You can purchase them online at http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Pattern-Blocks-Boards/dp/B00006JZCG
Now, I couldn't have stuff for Justin without having stuff for Ariel, my 3 year old. Actually, several of these items keeps her occupied while I am helping Justin with school work and not just during our short brain break. I have added an alphabet matching puzzle to her stuff. I have also added some character activity books, a package of twist up crayons, and everything she needs to go with her dry erase numbers book. There is an alphabet board game with all of the little alphabet cards that go with it, safely stored in a Ziploc bag. I ordered Ariel some pattern blocks too, but hers are more toddler friendly. You can purchase these online at http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Beginner-Pattern-Blocks/dp/B00005O63Q/ref=pd_sim_t_
Our brain breaks have made a huge difference in Justin's ability to stay focused on his work. It also makes him whine and complain less. Brain breaks: Take Them!
(PS. Please excuse the crappy photos. My camera has busted and has been temporarily replaced by a cheap $19 camera. Honestly, I'm impressed that you can even tell what's in the pictures.)