Small Wins Wednesday: The power of documenting

Published by Lori Pickert on May 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Lining up the Europa life forms, facing them towards the camera for a picture.

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Every Wednesday we share a small win from the forumTwitter, the Facebook page, or (with the writer’s permission) from the mail bag.

This week’s small win is from Erin (mckittre in the forum):

Documentation is one of my weak points.

This morning, after some read-aloud from his Space Encyclopedia, my son started telling a story about a rover discovering life on Europa.

He built a lego rover, then told me that it discovered 13 kinds of life and he was going to build them out of legos. So I grabbed my notebook, turned a page, numbered it 1-13, and asked him to tell me about them.

Later, his dad came in and noticed the line of lego creations, so my son excitedly grabbed the notebook and asked dad to read about them. Then grandma came in and he did the same. (I should have used neater handwriting.)

I think my documentation encouraged him to actually finish all 13, and gave him a way to share that jogged his memory about what he’d created, and gave it some more weight and importance.

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Erin blogs at Ground Truth Trekking and also tweets. Thank you so much for sharing your small win!

See these PBH posts about journaling and documenting:

Project Journal — Parent’s

Inside My Project Journal

Why do we share small wins? Because we put on our attention on what we want to grow. We support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and we make more of the good stuff!

Have you had a small win this week? Whether it’s related to PBH or not, please share in the comments!

Jupiter moon rover, nicknamed “Speed Rover,” with drill to drill through Europa’s ice.


Little sister also wants to play. She made a plane with guns.


Europa’s life displayed — in the order they evolved in.


My ugly notebook page with the names and characteristics of all the critters. Next time I need more room to write about who eats who.


New lego rover explores extra-solar planet with a similar composition to Neptune — checking the reference.


The solar system inspires a drawing in a non-drawing kid.


Comment by Amy on May 7, 2014 at 09:10 AM

It's amazing what the power of documentation can do. Why is it so hard to just do?! Thanks for this example and reminder.
My small win this week is fully embracing the fact that our dining room is actually our project room. It's been happening a little at a time, but now that's what I call it just like my kids have been calling it forever. And I've taken all the knick knacks off the shelves in there and replaced them with buckets and baskets of pencils, pens, markers, googly eyes, Popsicle sticks, TAPE and what not. It's a mess but a good mess.

Comment by Lori Pickert on May 7, 2014 at 03:12 PM

I've taken all the knick knacks off the shelves in there and replaced them with buckets and baskets of pencils, pens, markers, googly eyes, Popsicle sticks, TAPE and what not. It's a mess but a good mess.

yay! :)

Comment by dawn suzette on May 7, 2014 at 11:27 AM

This is great, Erin!
My daughter refers to *my* journal often. Such a great tool all around!

Comment by Kerry on May 8, 2014 at 06:20 AM

Documentation has bee tough for me too. It helped when I discovered evernote. I like handwriting, but couldn't keep track of my journals, and felt like I needed multiple ones and it's just easier to grab my phone or computer and get the quick notes down. Adding photos is so easy too, since I have a hard time printing regularly. I go back later and organize them with tags and put them into the proper folders later, which helps make sure I review them.

Even though I struggle to document regularly, it has had a big impact on the kids. It's amazing how quickly they pick up on what you're doing. They started telling me things they wanted written in the journal to help them remember, as soon as they see me writing. And, my oldest and I laughed when we realized we were both keeping a project journal of her work that she hadn't officially called a project yet. We decided to share them on evernote so we could both read and add notes to the same file.

Comment by Kerry on May 8, 2014 at 06:26 AM

Erin, I love that your son used your journal to share his project later. What a great tool! I never thought of using it that way. I'm going to suggest this to my kids because sometimes by the time Daddy gets home no one remembers just what they did when he asks. And, even if the kids don't share it, what a great way for him to keep up with all they're doing so he can ask better, more informed, questions about it.

Comment by mckittre on May 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

I hadn't thought of it myself, but now that I've seen how well that works, I'm going to try to write things in there a little more neatly. :) Having other adults be able to ask better questions is really nice. I feel like the most important mentoring I do is just being present for all of that learning, so that when he starts a dinner conversation about imaginary galaxies, I know just where he's coming from and can hop in at the appropriate level. If dad and grandma and auntie can do that too -- that's even better.

Comment by amy21 on May 9, 2014 at 06:44 AM

Erin, I struggle with this too. I have two non-stop talkers and it's hard to sift. I can't possibly document everything they say; it's all I'd be doing, and I still would never keep up. If documenting is how we narrow in on the recurring themes that we're supposed to encourage but I can't possibly keep up with them to figure out what to focus my documentation on.... -.-

I love that he shared the notebook with others! A great way to connect other adults in his life to his work. :)

Comment by kirstenf on May 10, 2014 at 04:37 PM

This is really inspiring and makes me think I should try a new approach. I guess I document our whole home ed life in one notebook, so it also includes my moans when things don't go so well etc. So it's v much my notebook and not something I'd encourage R to read. Maybe I should have a different notebook specifically for project. Except that everything's pretty much project around here!

This is good food for thought. I need to think about it further.

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