We're back at it. Schooling, I mean. The official stuff. I pulled out our schedule last week to remind myself what we do-- seriously, we were that out of our routine; I forgot what we were even doing this year!-- and we're slowly getting back to our schedule. The kids are still sort of in vacation mode, as evidenced by the fact that after they wrap up their morning chores, they all disperse to play and I have to round them up for school, but we're easing into it.
One of the things we've recently added is a new system for drilling our math facts, and I am SO thankful to have stumbled across this method that I'm going to tell you all about it.
A few months ago, while perusing a Pinterest "Homeschooling- Math" board, I clicked on this link and was intrigued by the concept of drilling students in math who are all at different levels at the same time. This sounded like a dream to me. Currently, I have Isaias (8) working on his addition and multiplication tables, Isaac (10) still practicing multiplication while he does division, and Ella (12) working on division and fractions and other such things but still needing to brush up on her multiplication tables-- especially since we took two months off school and she's a little rusty. If I work with each of them daily, that time adds up. So here was an idea to have them all sit down and do it at the same time- but still work on their level.
I made up these "practice sheets"- multiplication for Ella and Isaac, addition and subtraction for Isaias, and slipped them into page protectors. They each keep their page in their school binders.
I have a stash of dry erase markers that we use only for this purpose. So, when it's time to drill, all the kids will grab their sheets and a marker and each child will circle the number they're working on. (I've been keeping track so I usually know where they're struggling and what they need to work on the most.) So, for example: Isaac will pull out his page and grab a marker and circle "4's" and then write 4's in one of the squares for each of the twelve problems. (Ella will circle 9's or whatever she's doing, Isaias will circle another number)- and they each write the number they're working on across their page.
Then I write the numbers 1-12 on the our big dry-erase board and randomly assign a number (1-12) to each problem, and then read it out loud. (Sorry, I don't have a picture of this step- but if you watch the video I linked above it will be clear.) That becomes for them their second number to fill in their squares. So at this point each of them have before them twelve problems to solve. Then I set the timer for a minute or two and say GO! and they all work on their individual sheets. When they're done with that round, they'll correct each others' sheets or I'll correct them and mark on a separate page how they did- how many they completed and how many they got correct, and then they wipe their sheets and we choose another number and do it all over again. They get lots of practice and it's all very fun and they.love.this, and it saves me a LOT of time drilling each child.
The thing I didn't expect (but really, I should have) is that the little girls would want to join us for this drill time. This has worked out beautifully, actually. I just gave them their own "page"- blank paper with a sheet protector over it, for them to color on. They choose their colored marker and happily work while we drill. Adelia likes me to assign her a number to practice and then she works along with the "big kids" during the timer, just practicing that number. (Many times I'll assign her a number and she'll try it, decide it's too hard, and announce that she's going to practice "1's" instead. So she makes a whole page of 1's as the timer is going. It's hilarious, really. Then I'll circle my favorite 1's on her page at the end. ;)) Audra will often just draw on a blank page, but in the picture above she is coloring in a big G, which is the letter I've been working on with the little girls.
Anyway, this has been a great tool for us. I realize this won't always be handy for us- at some point they'll all have these facts mastered and move on from here, but in this stage, it's been extremely helpful!
ps- I'm happy to email you any sheets I created for this. Just shoot me an email if you're interested.