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!