A Project Week Idea

Maybe you can relate. When my children were younger, we would always run out of time to do hands-on projects. By the time we got out all the materials and cleared a space for the activity, we had about ten minutes to work on it before we had to begin cleaning up. How frustrating!

It became easier and easier to push off those projects to “another day,” which of course, never arrived.

We tried setting aside every Friday as project day, but that schedule didn’t work for projects that required more than one day to complete; for example, making a salt dough map, which takes a couple of days to dry.

That’s when we had an idea. As Charlotte Mason observed, “No phrase is more common and more promising than, ‘I have an idea’; we rise to such an opening as trout to a well-chosen fly” (Vol. 6, p. 105).

The idea? A Project Week. Now we do book work for three weeks, then enjoy a project week, three weeks of book work, one project week, and so on. Project weeks are great for doing all those science experiments that require a lot of preparation and attention, or for sewing projects that would cause much less stress if spread over several days, or for larger home repair projects that the children will be involved in.

Since we “school” all year round, we thought project weeks would help insert short breaks during the year, but we discovered an added benefit: many of the projects we work on can be counted as school work.

For example, one week we set aside to remove the old wallpaper border from a bedroom and paint the walls. We turned that project into a living lesson by having the children figure the square footage of the walls and determine how much paint we needed, select which color of paint they wanted, compare prices to get enough paint without going over budget, read the labels of the wallpaper remover to see how much we needed to get and how to mix it and apply it correctly, . . . not to mention the actual paper removing and wall painting.

We took one day to do the figuring, budgeting, and pricing. Another day was set aside for shopping and moving furniture. The third day we dedicated to the wallpaper removal, leaving two days for painting and clean up.

This idea of doing three weeks of school work and one project week year round has been a great solution for our family. Even if you don’t school year round, you may want to schedule a few project weeks during the year. With scheduled project weeks, you know when you will “get around to” doing that science experiment or that handicraft project. Give it a try!

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8 Responses to “A Project Week Idea”

  1. Leslie June 28, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    I really like this idea and am considering how to best implement it here for my family. Do you maintain any of the daily work during Project Week such as handwriting? I am concerned about taking so many total breaks from daily skill building work. I also know that things don’t go as well if there is little structure or radical change to the structure so I am trying to think through all of these things. Do your children have a hard time getting back into the regular schedule the first few days of the week back from Project Week?

    I look forward to getting a deeper look at this kind of rhythm.

    • Sonya June 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

      We do usually continue our Scripture Memory at breakfast and our Literature read-aloud at lunch or snack time. Those just seem to be a part of who we are as a family now. 🙂

      As far as routine goes, we do keep a somewhat similar flow to the day during project weeks, it’s just that we replace the morning book work with the project(s). So morning chores, breakfast, and Scripture memory are all done as usual, then we gather to do the project(s) during the morning hours, have lunch (with reading aloud if possible), and either have the usual free afternoon to pursue individual interests or continue working on the project for another hour or so as needed.

      I haven’t noticed a problem with daily skill building work since we go year round. Those short breaks seem to be much less of a disruption than taking several weeks off in the summer. “Rhythm” is really a key word; our family is so used to three weeks “on,” one week “off” now that we automatically get into the corresponding mind-set.

      Of course, feel free to tweak the Project Week idea to work for your family and situation. You could easily add a 5-minute copywork component or work some handwriting into the project or whatever you want to do.

  2. Kysha August 19, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, Sonya. Sounds like you have incorporated a lovely idea. 🙂

  3. Cindy August 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    I really like the idea you present here! Thanks for sharing – now my wheels are turning. :o)

  4. Holly@aiminghigh August 26, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    Oh! I was just thinking of trying to schedule something like this! How nice to know someone has tried it and has shown that it can work. What an encouragement for me. Thank you.
    Many Blessings,


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