Monday, November 14, 2011

Busy Bags: My Educational Obsession

By request:  more homeschooling and a day in the life type posts.  Here we go!

Many of you know that I'm a HUGE fan of busy bags and that I consider them my greatest "tool" in teaching my 5 year old. 

Busy bags are self contained activities that are ready to go with everything needed stored in a ziploc type bag.  They can contain just about anything and can be for any age from early toddler on up to mid-elementary school level.  I basically compare them to what was called "centers" in traditional school.  Same principle....just in a bag ready to be used ANYWHERE.  Many moms assemble these bags to have while waiting at appointments, when they need 3 minutes to answer a phone call, etc...

I use large quantities of them for the greatest majority of Bradlee's school day.  He is a very hands on learner and needs to be constantly moving and have a WIDE array of activities.  These bags work especially well for us since I use the "workbox" system.  I also am a HUGE believer that the best way for a young child to learn is through play. 

Over the last 6 months, I've participated in and coordinated busy bag swaps with women all over the United States and Canada.  It has been an amazing experience not only in the bags that have come in, but the friendships I've made along the way have been fantastic.  It has opened another door to a connection with so many other moms, homeschool families, and early elementary teachers.  I've also been greatly blessed to have met an amazing, inspiring woman that headed up this project.  Now that she has moved her swaps over from her original blog to a brand new website Kidlet Occupation, I've been blessed to help out as needed when her swaps "overflow" with participants. 

A swap basically means that each mom makes 30 identical bags of a specific activity, ships those bags to a coordinator.  The coordinator receives the 30 large boxes and divides up the bags so that each person gets 30 different activities and reships them to the participants.  Each participant only has to focus on making the one activity and in return receives 30 different ones.  Trust me:  it's much easier to purchase supplies and make one type of bag than to buy TONS of different materials to make all kinds of activities.  It works great!  The creativity is fantastic and now my stash is enormous!  Bradlee is constantly learning and doesn't get bored while learning.  Organizing is a breeze!

Between the bags I've made/received, the file folder games and activities I had for Peyton, and my "obsession" with making new ones that I find on pinterest and my favorite blogs....I think I now have probably have about 200 activities.  Since I use a minimum of 6 a day for him in his workboxes (his other drawers are filled with worksheets/workbooks and our Bible study activities), it takes a HUGE stash to keep him busy.

One of his busy bags from the Math & Reading K-2nd Swap

Counting Coconuts

Roll dice, add them together, and place the appropriate coconuts on the felt board

Counting out his coconuts
Making of one of our own busy bags earlier this week:

Printing, cutting, punching holes, laminating, punching holes and cutting out addition facts

Showing his cards in action

Pumpkin Poke:  poke your pencil through the correct answer and flip your card to see if it is correct.  SUPER self-correcting activity!  (Bradlee's smiling because he is correct!).  I have these type activities sorted for all facts and can add them to his bag as he progresses. 

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