One of the most creative resources for homeschooling, besides making lapbooks, is the mini-office. It becomes a mini reference center or tool containing information for students on any topic they are learning: math, writing, grammar, science, phonics ... anything. When mom/teacher is busy, the child has another source to go to for reference and information, to answer questions. Even when mom is available, our students need to learn how to look things up and not always ask us for answers. So, mini-offices help with that.

Basically, a mini-office is one or more file folders with information sheets glued on, centering around one topic, then laminated or covered with contact paper to help it last longer.
Before you make one, look at the websites listed on the next page, to see what others have done and the worksheets available. Also, the websites will let you see how they are actually put together. The boxed information shows the steps involved in making a mini-office.

Another reason I like these is that they show the students how to organize information and how to break large topics (i.e., writing) into smaller bites (how to write a topic sentence, how to write a paragraph, punctuation). This helps our students become more organized in their thinking, and in their performance.

So, if your student continues to be baffled by the writing process, now's the time to put together a writing mini-office, to help her with the process. It just might help!

Materials
file folders
spray, gel or stick glue
scissors
laminating machine or
contact paper
clear packaging tape
markers
worksheets or information to put in
fun stickers

If there is a lot of information, you might need more than one file folder. Cut the tabbed sides off, so the sides are flush. You can attach the folders in one of two ways:

  1. lay the folders side-by-side and tape them together at the seam
  2. overlap the folders about an inch on the side and glue or tape

Once the folders are attached, then the fun begins! You can use worksheets provided at the websites listed, or pull them from other places on the internet, or even find them in curricula and textbooks. Just print or copy them, then cut the excess paper from around the margins. And you can make them yourself. I love to personalize things like this to my child, so it helps them with their rough spots, yet has enough information to last a while, including the next steps in their learning process.

Let the students jazz up the worksheets with coloring. Using the computer, or markers, create a title for the mini-office: "My Writing Mini-Office," or "Kaitlyn's Math Mini-Office." Make it meaningful to the child.

Place the charts, graphs, lists, instructions, and stickers where you want them, then glue them down. Remember, these don't have to stick well, just long enough to get it laminated or covered with contact paper.

Mini-office pictures and information:
http://shadow-earth.com/archives/9
http://jmeacham.com/mini.offices.htm
www.teachingheart.net/minioffice.html
www.reagankinderbears.com/printables.htm
www.geocities.com/jankwv/minioffice.html
www.busyteacherscafe.com/mini_offices.htm
www.mrsdryzal.com/minioffice.html
www.wearablelessons.com/miniofficesample.html
www.sewwhat4ucorp.com/teacherresources2005.htm
www.toddlervillage.net/Jumpstarters.htm

Print-outs:
http://k2printables.com/mini-offices.htm
www.abcteach.com (membership required)
www.enchantedlearning.com (membership required)
http://www.learningpage.com/

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Mark & Kym Wright have homeschooled since the mid-80s. They have 8 children, having graduated 3. Kym pens the "Learn and Do" unit studies. You can visit her website at: www.Learn-and-Do.com. First published in The Mother's Heart magazine, a premium online publication for mothers with hearts in their homes. Visit www.The-Mothers-Heart.com for more information.

Receive free weekly e-Couragement for moms in the Weekly Wakeup with Kym Wright. For more information, and to sign up, visit: http://alwrightpublishing.com/weekly_wakeup.htm