- A Different Kind of Summer Reading Project
If your family is like mine, you know the library staff on a first name basis. Probably like you, we visit our local library on (at least) a weekly basis, at which time we hungrily stuff each of our library bags with anything and everything that suits our interests that week. In the backseat, the kids review their finds on the drive home, and then we stack our bounty in its designated special spot, working our way through the stack throughout the week until it’s time to once again replenish our intellectual pantries.
I love that my children have fallen in love with the library right alongside me. That love has come, though, at the expense of the book friends we have chosen to fill our shelves with on a more permanent basis. Yes, we do often remember our own collection of books. Our well-worn copies of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, all things Berenstain Bears, and Usborne fairy tale collections, in particular, frequently find their way into our bedtime read-aloud stacks, but I’m sorry to say that the majority of our collection hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves.
That’s why this summer we’re breaking up with the library.
Nope. Just kidding. There’s no way we could quit our library habit cold turkey, nor should we try.
When it comes to kid books, we are going to cut way back, though, only selecting fresh readers as needed to fulfill our (independent reading) summer reading goals.
Here’s my crazy plan – we’re going to read every single picture book on our shelves. Every. Single. One.
But that’s not all! We homeschool moms are masters of efficiency, so I actually have three goals with this project.
- The obvious one – read a lot and read often with my children on my lap.
- Create some kind of organizational system as we go that will actually help the kids find what they’re looking for. (You can find groovy printable spine labels here and here.)
- Weed out the books that we’ve outgrown or that nobody ever really liked much in the first place.
At the end of this project, we’ll have tidy, organized shelves that invite kids to shuffle through them for afternoon quiet time. I BELIEVE!
2. Make Your Copies for the Entire Year (or Quarter)
I can’t tell you how many times last year I herded my littles up in the morning only to realize that I had to run down to the basement to make copies. Momentum FOILED.
This summer I’m making a full year’s worth of copies of the math sheets we’ll need since I’m fairly certain that we’ll finish the entire curriculum.
For curriculums we’re just starting out with this year, I’ll make the first quarter of the year’s copies. No sense in copying a full year’s worth if we might decide it’s not for us, right?
I’ve got a lot of faith that this one little change will make a difference in how our mornings run.
Where to store all of those copies? I’ll keep mine stashed in pull-out drawers in one of our school cabinets.
3. Create a To Sell Box
Can we be honest? Selling stuff is a PAIN IN THE SASS. It was easy enough to sell the All About Reading level that we had finished by posting it online and shipping. But for the million smaller, lower dollar things we homeschoolers amass, that’s not realistic. And posting them on local BST boards so that you can wait around in a parking lot for some lady who may or may not show up so that you can recoup $5 on the one thing she wanted? NOPE.
Local used curriculum sales are the best place to pass on those outgrown things, but with the time commitment of labeling things for sale, driving there, setting up, hanging around for several hours, taking things down, etc., it just makes for sense to save up materials for a couple of years or so before making that investment of time.
This summer, as I weed through our school shelves, book shelves, and play room, I’ll put everything that needs to go to the curriculum sale NEXT SPRING into a big box.
Then when it’s curriculum sale time, there will be so much less scrambling to find everything that needs to go, and in the meantime, our living spaces will be that much tidier.
4. Assess Your Art Supplies
I’m not so detail-oriented that I’ll check each magic marker to see if it’s dried out, but this is a good time to run through your artists’ brushes, paints, clay, pastels, papers, glues, and pencils to see what needs to be replaced before school supplies shopping time.
5. Tame Your Math Manipulatives
We use Shiller, a Montessori-based math curriculum, so we have enough manipulatives to require a cabinet dedicated to them. I’m betting that other math programs like Math-U-See and RightStart might also come with a substantial manipulatives collection.
After moving during the school year, we muddled along with our not-that-organized math cabinet, but this summer, it was time to tame the clutter. Take a look at the before…
And the after…
So much better! Now I can send the minions to fetch things from the cabinet instead of saying, “Hang on. I’ve got to try to find that.”
6. Bind Things
If every time you pick up a teacher’s manual you think, “Ugh, I wish they had put this together differently,” or “Ack! This thing is falling apart!”, it’s time to head down to your local Staples or Office Max to have it put into a more user-friendly binding. Sounds expensive, right? Nope! The binding pictured below cost just about $6, and that was for the biggest coil they carry.
I took my freshly-printed Exploring Nature with Children to Staples. Before binding, it was a hot mess waiting to be spilled everywhere.
Now, it’s a pleasure to use.
What homeschool organization projects are you tackling this summer? Tell me about it in the comments!