Tuesday, May 12, 2015

5 MORE Things I Love about our Homeschool Room!

   1.    A separate play space

It’s important for preschoolers to do imaginative play, but we found it distracting to have toys in the school area. Thankfully, we had the space to make a separate play area. I tried to include toys that encouraged imagination (dress up clothes, kitchen/store items, cars, and blocks). I sometimes have to remind myself that play is learning too. My youngest usually follows her older brother to school at first, but eventually loses interest and heads for the play area.  

   2.   Space to display crafts and artwork

I’m always tempted to fill up blank walls with pictures and decorations, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before we’d want a place for crafts and posters. So we put up several cork boards and a bunch of clipboards.  Thank you Pinterest!  It makes a cute display and is functional. Plus, it helps the kids remember previous lessons. Every time my three-year-old sees the paper honeycomb we made, he starts telling me all about how bees make honey.

   3.    Foam Letters

We have so many games we play with foam letters! I’ll write a word on the whiteboard then have the kids find the matching letters. The kids will pick a letter and then run around the room saying the name of the letter or the sound it makes.  They also love putting random letters together and asking me what word they “spelled.”  I love anything that gets us familiar with the alphabet and numbers.  We count checkout lane numbers at the grocery store, play counting games in the car, search for letters or words we know on signs, and write the alphabet in the bathtub.   

   4.   The Bathroom

It never would have occurred to me how helpful a bathroom close by would be, but it has helped with potty training and made cleaning up after messy art projects so much easier! I might never have let the kids use finger paint if we didn’t have a sink just around the corner.


   5.   Whiteboards, Chalkboards, and Paper

My kids get tired of writing on paper, but they never get tired of writing on the whiteboard. And if they do, they still have the chalkboard. This is a great way for me to observe what each kid is interested in. When my three-year-old is really into writing numbers, we work on numbers. When the only thing he wants to write is letters, we work on letters, their sounds, how letter combinations make words, upper case vs. lower case. When he draws pictures, I have him tell me a story about his picture. We make angry faces and happy faces and discuss the feelings of characters from a story.  

Is there one thing you would like to add to your homeschool space?

Monday, May 4, 2015

5 Things I Love about our Homeschool Room!

  Even though our homeschool room is “complete,” I still love searching the internet or peeking into friends homes to see what other families are doing. Every family has different needs and every space is different. Their creativity inspires me! I hope that getting a peek at our set up might inspire you too. Here are five of my favorite things about our homeschool room:

  1.    Most of the room is designed at kid level.  

 My kids are at the preschool level. I love that they can walk in at any time and pull out a math activity, sit down with a book, or draw on the chalkboard. It feels like their space. Some days we do structured lessons, but on the days I have nothing planned or need a little extra preparation time, the kids can still do school on their own. I have Montessori bins ready for them on shorter bookshelves. I do need to rotate the bins a little more frequently though. That will be a goal for next year.

  2.   The room isn't all at kid level.

I purposefully bought shorter bookshelves, so that they kids would have activities at their level and to save all space for posters and artwork. However, I also bought some tall bookshelves so I could put scissors and small items out of reach. I have a cabinet in the hallway, as well, to store extra craft supplies out of sight and out of reach. You can never have too much storage!

  3.     The alphabet rug serves multiple uses.

The alphabet rug is home base. When I need the kids to sit down and listen, I say grab a pillow or sit on the rug. This took more practice than I expected, but it’s helpful for the kids to have a “home” position (crisscross applesauce, toes on the line, hands on the wall, etc.) where they know they are expected to listen to directions.

We also read stories here, have quiet time here, and (of course) practice the alphabet here. I love that kids at different levels can learn the alphabet or phonetic sounds all at the same time and in an active manner. I will ask my two-year-old to find “p for pig” then ask my three-year-old to find the ‘p’ sound. They also take turns running across the rug as the sing the alphabet song.

  4.   BOOKS!

Lower shelves contain picture books and magazines that the kids can pull out at any time. The lower shelves also have notebooks with worksheets in wipeable page protectors. Higher shelves contain older books that I want to keep nice. I also have one higher shelf with books that we will use for specific lessons in the next couple weeks. That way, I don’t have to hunt for them on the day of the lesson.

Books aren’t only on the bookshelves. I want my kids to grow up loving books and thinking that reading is a normal part of life. So, we have books in almost every room of the house. The kids have baskets with books in their rooms. There is a basket in the living room with books. Mom and Dad have books by their beds. Any time can be book time!

  5.   Musical instruments are always close by.

I loved growing up with instruments all around the house, so we have a music area (thank you grandparents!).   However, one the kids’ favorite music activities is a bucket of percussion instruments. These can be store-bought or homemade. The kids love getting a turn to hand out instruments, and I love being able to put them away when they get too distracting. Music time is fun and helps break up long periods of sitting. They kids can dance, clap, and move around. Even if you’re not musical, there are lots of great CDs or YouTube videos to sing along with. We especially love Raffi and Jim Gill (the king of finger play).

What do you love about your homeschool room? Do you have a separate space or do you learn at the kitchen table? What challenges have you faced in carving out a space for learning? How much time are you able to get outside and learn?