Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Work Plan and Work Journal

At 5 1/2 or so, Legoboy started his first work-plan, elementary Montessori style!

It really started a year or so earlier when he would continually ask me the plans for the day. Now, I'd already made a habit since he was newborn (and I bet it started in utero... ;) ) of letting him know what to expect at various times. He may or may not have remembered everything, but at least he heard what was going to happen at least twice before we got to the part where he actually had to start thinking about doing something about it.

Around 4 or so, it really became almost an addiction of his - he could handle *anything* - just let him know ahead of time. There was a span of several months, he truly did not handle sudden changes well at all. But we lived through that.

And he continued to ask for the daily schedule, asking the night before what to expect for the next day, and slowly started caring about what was coming in upcoming days. Then he was following up with it all, and trying so hard to remember everything and be independent about things.

It was time for a work-plan, whether *I* was ready for my little boy to grow up or not!

I created some of these from the Catholic Heritage Curricula Lesson Plans, and I added a LOT, to cover all the possible bases for our own family's particular needs.

I printed them and Legoboy helped color the pictures.
I laminated and trimmed them. 

Each card indicates something to do. I would select the cards from the basket and place them in the "work basket". Sometimes I housed certain ones together in an envelope or with a paper-clip, to show that I expected those things to be done together or in that particular order. The others could be done in any order. 

Sample of handwriting, geography, and music. 

We didn't do everything every day, but if he had the "free time" or "free choice of work" card, he could go back to the original basket and pull out additional items he wanted to do. Sometimes he would bring the card for a new lesson; sometimes he went further with his own work. We had a third basket into which all the completed cards were placed so I could mark down what he had done, or make adjustments for the next day - we could call this third basket his work journal. 

Oh, I also had sticky notes that I sometimes added to the back if I had a particular task in mind or he had asked for a reminder (the music card might have had "practice for choir" and "new song from 'Our Liturgical Year'" with stars for "must do" and another couple of suggestions related to the bells or something else for what he wanted as a reminder or because I knew a new lesson was upcoming. 

Every evening, I gathered the completed cards, changed up any notes that needed it and laid out the new cards for the next day. This took me about an hour of preparation in the very beginning - to make the cards and print them; another half an hour to laminate and cut. Probably another half an hour to find the right baskets ;) (we're a bit picky around here!). Once we had the sticky-notes going and my album scope and sequences laid out, it really took less than 5 minutes every evening to plan for the next day. Then if he was going to be off to someone else's home for the next day, I'd take another 5 minutes to gather together the supplies he needed. 

The end result is a happy, creative, high-functioning planner and do-er ;)

UPDATED 1/23/13 to ADD: 
The Word file I used to create many of the above photographed cards. Additional images came from CHC (Catholic Heritage Curricula) First Grade Lesson Plans - Character Development - so those are not included in this file. Brushing teeth would be in that set for example. 
I printed it all in black and white and my son helped me color them in before laminating them. I intended to round the corners but never did. I have left it in Word, so if you would like to use it, you can modify it as much as you would like. Feel free to share by sending others to this post. :) 


  1. What a great idea! Janessa would just love this system. Now that I think about it I think Ken and DJ would too.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I also have noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to do all subjects. Sometimes they may just spend hours on just one subject. Would you still implement the agreed upon work plan for the day?

    1. The younger the age, the less I worry about getting all planned stuff in. But I do maintain a minimal level of responsibility - it might be more practical life stuff gets done, or an area that simply must be worked on.

      So for my son up until age 7, if nothing else happened during the day, those teeth better be brushed, everything he worked with actually put away properly, and prayer time. Bare minimum day - and those things could be done on a sick day too - (less stuff to have out anyway, prayer should happen always, and well, especially when you're sick brushing your teeth is a GOOD thing). ;)

      In lower elementary, we moved into a work plan that hit every subject throughout the week, but didn't specify particular subjects on particular days, usually (sometimes I had to intervene to cover something being avoided; or we scheduled a time to meet for a new presentation). Usually, he could select what he wanted to work on. It was all written on paper at that point and he shared the responsibility of creating it with me, so his input was there, as well as my guiding influence of planning his time. But I have another post on that one ;) In that case, if he did nothing but language one day, and it was done well, that's just what happened.

      Now, he's moving into a new phase of planning needs where he pretty much cycles through the subjects, aiming for something in most of them every day, but starting the next day with the ones he didn't touch the day before. He'll do this for the morning, then spend spurts of the morning as well as most of the afternoon doing his "rabbit trails" of personal studies. He has the state requirements to assure he covers (not that much to fill in, really), and certain goals he wants to accomplish that require certain responsibilities each day - so THOSE become the daily bare minimum requirements.

      In short, for elementary, both styles used thus far have allowed for a weekly plan with daily guides that are not set in stone. The weekly plan pretty much gets done; the daily plan may or may not. Daily minimum requirements DO get done (and these take less than an hour to complete).

  2. Where did you get the pictures?

    1. Many of the images (and the basis for the original idea, which I seriously modified) are in the Catholic Heritage Curricula lesson plans (1st grade, I think!? - it's their character development set and includes chores).

      The rest - such as the school subjects and some additional chores - I just found clip-art in Microsoft word and printed out those.

      Ooh! There's an idea! Since I just used Word, and I think I still have that file, I could post it as a free file here. Then if anyone wants to use it, they could just modify how they personally like. I'll go look for the file now :)

  3. Post updated to include a file with some of the cards we used.


  4. Thank you! Very nice. I will be using these!!
    Thank you so much for sharing.