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Participating in Nanowrimo, National History Day, Science Fairs, etc.?


How do you schedule big projects like science fairs, National History Day, etc.  

  1. 1. How do you schedule big projects like science fairs, National History Day, etc.

    • We complete big projects during school hours and drop other assignments. Big Projects are school!
    • We complete big projects outside of school hours and continue with other assignments.
    • We don't do big projects; they take too much time away from our regular work.
    • Other

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I would love to participate in these projects, but my fear is that they will overtake our "skill-building" time during school, e.g. grammar, outlining, spelling, etc. I know they will learn a great deal working on these projects, but I just don't know if it will be enough. Maybe I'm missing the forest for the trees?


If you participate in the large projects, I'm wondering how you schedule it into your school? I'm hoping to get a poll attached, but we'll see how it goes!




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A science fair report still needs good grammar, perfect spelling and you would generally start with an outline of the project.


My kids learn powerpoint by themselves because of their science project. They also learn some basic project management skills through doing the project.


Science Fair Guide (Holt Science & Technology)


We did not participate in Nanowrimo or National History Day

Edited by Arcadia
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Some of all of the above. My DD LOVES competitions, so I tend to work within that where I can. So, her spelling/vocab right now is word-origins/patterns based, which helps her prepare for spelling bee. For science fair, she'll do something related to Earth/Space science, because that's what we're studying this year. D'aulaire's is part of her literature this year, since she wants to take the NME. However, DD also does a lot of prep on her own-and ultimately, it's up to her as to whether it's worth her time to do it, because the competitions are her choice.

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Big projects are school. We make time during school. But we also sometimes extend school a bit for projects. And it has to be a balance. We can't take on too many things or we don't have time for the basics or the fun everyday things like learning games and little projects.

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We have only done Nanowrimo, which we will do again this year. It is our writing for the whole month of November. We don't do history papers or science reports, and we'll probably skip the Writing Strands assignments too to make time for it. I have found that by letting them do it during school time, there is more interest from the reluctant writers in the family than if I suggest they do it on top of the other work.

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We work on the science fair projects both during our school hours and after hours. Our project runs 10 weeks. The first 6 weeks, we mostly keep up with our other work and doing thinking, planning, data collection etc often after hours (our day ends at 1:30) but sometimes during our school hours. But during the last 4 weeks, everything goes except math and mandarin (plus they still read literature and father reads history to them), and for the youngest I drop the math also.


During the last 4 weeks, I consider the science fair like a big unit study:

Math: graphing

Language arts: writing up the report, editing it

Art: layout/design of the poster + all the fancy decorating

Computers: using all the fancy features of the word processor including table making, and graphing software

Public speaking: designing and practising the presentation. Practising answering questions succinctly

Science: obviously lots of this

History: my husband reads to them at night so this is covered.


So there is not really much missing.


I still try to make sure that we are keeping up with the curriculum choices I have made for the year. I do things like:

1) Math: for the younger, I move the statistics unit to science fair time, so it does double duty and we skip most of the unit in Singapore Math. Older son will keep working on math throughout the science fair (because he loves it!)

2) Writing: remove or collapse 4 weeks of WWS (shhhh don't tell anyone), so we don't have to do any during science fair month

3) Spelling and grammar: just skip for a month as we don't use annually organized programs

4) Logic: condense the curriculum so we are done in 30 weeks instead of 36

5) This year for IGCSE Chemistry, since we are working towards an external exam, we will work for 3 weeks during January (school holidays) to make up the time.

6) Mandarin: tutor will only come 1 time per week instead of 2


I think you get the idea. I just keep it in mind when making my annual plan.




Ruth in NZ

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I voted that they're outside of school time - not because they're not school but because I generally don't drop other assignments... A lot gets done over the summer, and on Christmas break... and evenings and weekends. However, there are times when I let up a bit on other assignments knowing that he has a lot of work to get done by a deadline (and knowing that he learns plenty from the projects - not like he's slacking off here). I've scheduled a week or two where we drop an entire subject (like physics) to catch up on whatever he needs to do with a related project (science fair)


He really has to want to do the projects or we'd never make it -- they're an awful lot of work, and way more intense than his usual assignments. I can adjust other things a bit, but really what gets the work done is the fact that he really wants it done.


This year he's doing the science fair, USAMTS, the Medusa exam, Latin convention, and probably NaNoWriMo, and he's working on a second science project (not a competition, just a project) that takes up every Wednesday almost completely. For the Wednesday project we do let up a bit on schoolwork (since we're out of the house all day), but only by moving it to M/T/Th/F. It's actually a very heavy workload.


I should clarify... you really could do a whole year's worth of schooling entirely in projects. I don't see anything wrong with that. We don't -- there are non-project areas that he is interested in, and subjects that have project-related aspects for part of the year and regular lessons and practice for the rest. But as others have said, the projects themselves are extremely useful settings for learning and applying the basics. You really could make a year out of all that.

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I voted other because when we have a big project we clear one day a week to work on it. The other days go as planned but we do work on the big project as well but just for a short while. This year my kids are doing Nanowrimo and are both going to write a novel. I added writing to our daily schedule and I also cleared Thursdays so we can just work on our writing. I'm sure my kids will also work on their books after school on their own, but that is up to them not required.


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