Teacher Swap Day and Missouri Geography
May 13, 2014
I have been homeschooling for seven years. Three years ago, I had an epiphany...schedule a teacher work day once a month! I used to regularly schedule one work day a month when I was a Speech-Language Pathologist in the public schools. Why am I not doing this now as a homeschool teacher?! (This is when I smacked my forehead and said, "I should've had a V8!") On teacher work days, I can take care of appointments, make lesson plans, calculate hours, register for field trips, put library books on hold, fill out birthday/anniversary cards, etc... I am able to focus on the task at hand without interruption, which makes such a difference!
I have several friends I can swap work days with in my homeschool network. This has worked many different ways. We have often split one day between us. I watched my friend's kids for the morning and fed them lunch; then she took the kids for the afternoon and provided dinner. Sometimes, we just scheduled two work afternoons a month. This allowed for each family to homeschool in the morning. It also eliminated a big meal. I would watch my friend's kids one afternoon so she could tackle her "to-do list." The next week, I dropped my kids off at her house so I could run errands or work at home. Fathers could also pick up the kids on their way home from work, too.
For a recent teacher swap day, I put together Missouri geography activities using learning stations geared for 3rd-5th. There are several examples of learning stations on the Internet. Basically, you set up simple activities that can be completed in 15 minutes or less. I set up the stations in different locations around the house and let the kids rotate through each activity. The hardest thing about this technique is to remember to set the timer! When it rings, the kids know to move on to another spot.
Each station had a worksheet and a fun game/activity. I used worksheets from The Big Missouri Reproducible Activity Book! by Carole Marsh. Don't forget to throw in a couple of snack breaks and make sure to provide any materials needed to complete the tasks. The kids worked together with a buddy and took turns choosing which station to tackle next.
At this station, the kids completed a worksheet on important Missouri cities. Then they matched up state quarters with their location on a large laminated map of the United States. It was fun examining the quarters with a magnifying glass!
After reading S Is For Show Me: A Missouri Alphabet by Judy Young, the children labeled Missouri state symbols. (Q: Do you know our official Missouri musical instrument? A: A violin!) This was a snack station, too!
At this learning stop, the students watched the Middle States on a portable DVD player. Then, they traced the eight states that border Missouri and labeled them.
(Resource: States & Capitals Songs: You Never Forget What You Sing! DVD by Kathy Troxel )
Once they finished three stations, we all gathered in the kitchen to make our Missouri dessert together! We planned to eat BBQ later for lunch to complete our Missouri themed day. What a fun way to sneak in some practical math concepts, too!
Snack break! Here friends worked together to find Missouri products for the "Made in Missouri" word search. Then, they spent the remaining time playing with a set of stackable spinning tops.
I printed off brief bios using the MCPL database Encyclopedia Britannica for Kids. The children matched important Missourians with their notable accomplishments and then challenged each other to a game of "Perfection."
This was another snack spot. The worksheet on Local Government was completed before they played with the light-up blocks.
At this station, the students could choose between a puzzle or geography board game.
(Resources: "U.S. & Canada GEO Puzzle"/Timberdoodle & "Great States"/International Playthings LLC)
To celebrate Missouri, we enjoyed a great BBQ lunch and our Gooey Butter Cake for dessert. For the perfect ending to our teacher swap/geography stations day, we cuddled up on the couch to watch Laurie Keller's The Scrambled States of America on DVD with a bowl of popcorn...another Missouri product!
The students highly rated this learning technique (8 out of 10). Of course, they would rather have free-play time, but rotating through learning stations was a fun and effective way to cover academic content with friends.