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Elementary and middle grades independent learning

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I'd like to have a checklist or loop or something for the kids to work through some independent work and activities. 

I have a few ideas like vocab, brain games, math games, word search, and mad libs but I'm looking for more ideas. What do your kids like to do independently?

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End of 3rd grade here.  My kid likes to do these independently/alone while I'm in the same room:

reading from a reader (short stories)
task card based center work (like engineering projects)

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My 9 yo DD does the following independently:


review spelling words

assigned reading

the review section of CLE math

and she has a few Evan Moor books she works through mostly on her own, with my input if she needs it. Right now she has Daily Science, Daily Geography, and Critical Thinking Skills.  

My DD loves working from a checklist and does good job working independently. I think this is just part of who she is/her personality. She knows what she has to do and gets it done. Her almost 11 yo brother however doesn’t work this way at all.  I still have to sit at his elbow for everything except handwriting. 

Edited by Vernal2
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My kids have over the years done various things independently: handwriting, CTC word roots vocabulary app, Fix-It Grammar, spelling workbooks, free reading, math review work, reading the history encyclopedia entry that goes with our SOTW chapter, typing, and some simple writing assignments.

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My kids do most things independently at this point.  I don't know if I would say the LIKE doing things independently but they are capable of doing them.

Just about everything except math and they are able to do the practice problems independently after being shown what to do with occasional refreshing or following up on incorrect answers.

They don't do science independently except some reading portions of it.  But they are both in some group classes I teach.

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DS currently does (not all every day)...

  • a chore before starting
  • piano practice
  • a "math minute" worksheet that is typically review
  • vocabulary (Greek and Latin roots)
  • 5 minutes of coloring in a numbered mosaic book
  • occasionally a geography review page
  • DGP (short grammar assignment)
  • a grammar/mechanics workbook page
  • penmanship
  • studying things he needs to memorize for scouts
  • assigned reading.
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Some things that my 4-7th grade kids do on their own, when I am busy working with someone else and I don't want them just wandering off to their own devices...

Edited by Zoo Keeper
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Our DSs did not *like* to do anything school-related, LOL. But below are some things they were *able* to do independently in the late-elementary and middle school grades. I didn't list Logic/Critical Thinking activities since you already had that covered, Mostly, the ideas below are supplements to flesh out a "spine" resource.

Multiple Subjects (esp. History & Science)
- 30-min. turn for an educational computer game or educational TV show
- online educational short videos (current events, science, math, history, geography, foreign language, etc.)

   *solo reading / assigned reading
   * listen to audiobooks

   * solo projects of personal interest (our DSs did NOT like writing; this is a list for students who like writing)
      - blog article, journal entry, comic strip/comic book, invented story, family newspaper, book or movie reviews, etc.
   * programs that are largely independent (we used the first 2; the others are ideas from other threads):
      - Wordsmith Apprentice (gr. 4-6)
      - Jump In (gr. 6-9)
      - Cover Story (gr. 6-8)
      - Adventures in Fantasy + The Imaginary World of  (gr. 6-9) 
      - Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly (Levine) (gr. 5-8)
      - NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program materials

   * enjoyable books about math/mathematicians such as Penrose, Number Devil, etc.
   * do Art of Problemsolving Beast Academy as a supplement
   * multi-link cubes + Mathlink Cube Activity Book (gr. 3-6) -- or other book
   * geoboards + Working with Geoboards (gr. 5-8) -- or other book
   * Jousting Armadilloes
   * Zacarro math books
   * TOPS units (gr. 5-8) -- ProbabilityMetric Measuring; Graphing

   - Take 5 Minutes: A History Fact A Day for Editing
   - Comicstrip Grammar
   - Grammar Gorillas (online grammar games)
   - Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar -- videos and the computer game

   - Complete Book of Maps and Geography (gr. 3-6)
   - Mark Twain Media: Discovering the World of Geography -- the grade 6-7 and grade 7-8 books

   - geography games online at Sheppard Software (they also have games for other subjects as well)

   - Art: Mark Kistler's Draw Squad
   - Music: Nine-Note Recorder Method by Penny Gardner
   - Typing

What about hand-crafts? 
- Learn to Solder kit -- DSs did this one and really enjoyed it; I needed to get them started, and do have them wear eye protection
- basic learning to sew projects
- knitting or crocheting projects
- whittling or wood-burning kit
- duct tape crafts & projects
- leather kits/crafts
- baking

Edited by Lori D.
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for my 3rd/4th - 8th graders:

CLE math review section

assigned reading (history, lit, or science)

piano practice



grammar and writing assignments (for 6/7th grade and up)

Most of my kids like to do as much as possible independently, so they love working from a planner. I also like this because I can be much more focused with my teaching time. My 11 yo, however, needs me at his side for almost all his school, so he is my big exception when it comes to working independently.

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