Saturday, October 6, 2012

What are stations?

For us we call our quiet time station time.  When I look online for other ideas I'm usually finding them called quiet time activities or busy bag activities.  Mine are not in bags, nor are they quiet.  I haven't found a good way that works for storing them all, some fit in bags, some just don't.  I haven't found a storage system that works for us yet, there will be a post about it if ever I find one.  Sometimes we are quiet (they aren't allowed to talk to people at another station) and sometimes they aren't.  Sometimes they just make noise and sometimes I let them until I get too annoyed, they have had to sit quietly all day at school.  Zach usually works with a partner since I'm cooking and can't help him with instructions every time they move, so where ever he is is not quiet.  And computer station...they think they have to have that loud to hear it.

Our station time usually last between 40 and 50 minutes.  Each day I plan 4 different stations and if the computer is available it is a 5th station.  Since all of Kyle's text books are now online or on CDs he sometimes uses the computer all afternoon.  In a couple years I see a second or even third computer in the living room.  The kids spend 10 minutes at each station.  We tried 15 minutes, it is just too much time for my group usually, unless it is something they love like painting.  Originally I thought we could do the same stations all week.  They blew a hole in that the second day.  The activities didn't last long enough for a whole week and the ones that could have, 5 days was just too boring.  So, I change them up every day.  It's more work but I enjoy it.  Ocassionally we have a project that last two days (if someone doesn't throw them away...oops, that happened this week.  We were making turkeys and someone else thought they were just scraps and they got tossed.  Come to think of it, the kids never even asked about it). Sometimes the content is based on where they might be struggling at school, (rhyming words, math, spelling words) sometimes they are just fun.  I don't want them to feel like this is just school extended but I don't want to just waste their time either.  Learning can be fun without you realizing you are learning.  There is usually a lot of variety in our stations, not all math one day and art the next.  Our kids really love this time.  They love when I've made a new station or gotten new materials.  Just to be clear, our whole day isn't so structured but when you've got 5 kids and are preparing dinner for 12 people you have to do something to stay sain.  These kids can demolish the living room in 2 seconds flat.  They do play outside but with the varying ages/sexes we try to keep an eye on that, I'm just too crazy cooking dinner to send them out to play usually.  We try to head out as a family after dinner (we eat an early dinner)

Planning stations is what gave me the idea of a blog.  I plan stations for 5 children...
  • an 11 year old boy.  There is really not a lot for his age.  Maybe people don't need stuff for kids this old I guess.  He probably doesn't either but he feels left out without them.  For him I try to find fun worksheets.  If we do a craft he usually just does it.  Crafts are one of those things that can be as in depth as you want them to be.  Some days he doesn't get to do stations (because of homework), some days he does.  If it is a station I'm not sure he will want to do he always has the option to read instead (he loves to read) but he almost always chooses the station.
  • a 7 year old girl.  She is probably the easiest to plan stations for.  She loves everything school related, loves to do art, and can already read well so she needs little help. 
  • a 6 year old girl.  She is also fairly easy to plan for.  She sometimes rushes through a little bit more though and I'm finding that many times if we do a worksheet activity, I probably need a plan for her to do on the back.  There will be 4 minutes left and she will be saying what do I do now.
  • a 6 year old boy.  This one is a little harder.  He gets bored quickly.  He worries about what he gtes to do in each of the next stations instead of focusing on the one he is at.  He can't be bothered to write his letters on the line (if only he realized he is the reason they keeping getting handwriting practice primarily) or color neatly.  He really does like station time though.
  • a 3 year old boy.  As the baby he has learned to play the baby card a lot.  How young they learn.  If it is something he doesn't want to do he tells me he is too little.  Of if he gets in trouble for something he says the big kids taught it to him.  He isn't much for station time (probably becuase he isn't alreay in a structured environment like the others).  If it is manipulatives he likes it, if it is handwriting practice he has to potty or something.  These are just a couple reason why he is usually partnered with one of the older kids each day.  That and he has been along all day and loves to be with them when they get home.
I do not plan different stations for each kid (not 20 stations in 1 day) usually.  Occassionally the oldest one has different stuff more on his level but the others all do the same station with the exception of handwriting, the youngest one ususally has something more on his level.  He is learning basic writing skills (tracing the lines, etc.)

That is the basic explanation of our stations.  Think you don't have time for stations.  Maybe not, many people are busy with sports and such but if you just had some prepared in the closet for that rainy day or when the kids were at each other and you just needed a break.  Break up your weekend with some alone time. 

What's coming next?  I will share the first station idea:)  (If you haven't noticed yet, I love the will see it often, be warned).  Stay tuned!

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