Parents, you’ve probably noticed by now: it’s a rare kid these days who will always study at a desk. Sure a desk is a nice idea, but if you ask kids themselves, many will give you some pretty convincing arguments about why they do their best thinking when they’re flopped on the floor or the couch. Or both!
If that’s the story in your house try meeting your kid halfway with this creative and practical “traveling desk.”
What You Need:
- A plastic “tool caddy” with a sturdy carrying handle and at least one pocket large enough for a clipboard, and several small pockets the right size for pens. (Note: you can find these at both hardware stores and craft stores)
- Clipboard with two kinds of paper: binder paper and plain white paper
- Pens, pencils, colored pencils, pencil sharpener
- 6-inch ruler
- Glue stick
- Small stapler
- Tape dispenser
- 5" x 8” index card
- Optional: sticky-back felt shapes and glitter glue
What You Do:
- To get started, invite your child to decorate the outside of her caddy. If she makes it personal and makes it snazzy, it's much more likely that this practical homework helper will be used a lot! Have your child write her name on the 5" x 8” index card, and decorate it brightly with colored markers, foam stickers and glitter glue if she likes.
- Tape it securely to the front of the caddy.
- Load up! The biggest pouch of your caddy will hold the clipboard, a crucial part of the kit. Choose a clipboard in a color your child likes (and consider decorating it, too—see our related activity!), and load it with several sheets of paper.
- Place extra paper upright in the caddy, behind the clipboard, so it’s convenient for future use.
- Pens and pencils are also crucial parts of the kit. For subjects like math and science or for first drafts of essays, there’s nothing like good old fashioned erasable pencil—but be sure to pack in a manual pencil sharpener for emergencies. For final essay drafts, blue and black pen is usually required, so include those as well. Finally, make sure you’ve included a generous pack of colored pencils or pens. Throughout elementary school, kids draw as well as write, and when lab sciences start in middle and high school, they’ll just keep going. You and your child can load her kit together and decide where she would like things and why.
- Finally, you'll need to add those other basic tools that your child may not use all the time, but are still good to have on hand: a 6-inch ruler, small stapler, small pair of scissors, white-out, and a roll of tape. You can do all the shopping together when you're stocking up.
- Keep the caddy in a convenient spot, on shelf or table, and invite your child to pull it out whenever it’s homework time. No matter where she flops, you can relax: she’ll have what she needs to get the job done!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school history and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.