Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Learning Room + Our Other Fave Learning Places...

Well I took this early yesterday morning when the kiddos were cracking into our day + thought I might share a post about some of the learning spaces we love.

This is the main one. It used to be a formal dining area but it's been home to most of our bulk homeschool supplies + cupboard for the past 10 months or so. And it works well for us.

Here's Stass at the big table in the LEARNING ROOM, Zip at the little table (ah ignore that she is chewing on a pencil here! lol!), and you can see to the right of the photo, are the boys sitting at stools doing some learning on the laptop. Today they were using STARFALL  and ABC READING EGGS (thanks Tara for recommending this. We are still on our trial period but I'm thinking about getting it for the boys). Anyway....

So here is the view of our LEARNING ROOM (in action) from the loungeroom...

And here is the COMPUTER STATION a little closer up.
We just drag across the breakfast bar stool - perfect height, works well...

Back in the LEARNING ROOM, Zipster is trying to work out which hand she favours most. She likes sitting at the table, although her fave position to sit is still on top of all the kids work smack bang in the centre of the big table....aaaarrggh!.......

From here you can see the two white boards up on the wall. We use these almost daily. We have another on another wall so that basically wherever the kids are sitting they can do copy work from any seat at the big table. I also use 3M COMMAND STRIPS - THE VELCRO KIND around our house. They have been great to use on these boards because you can remove them (since they are like velcro'ed onto the wall!) and then have the kids copy things if they are sitting at another table/space in our house. Handy :)

And behind Stass you can see a portion of our massive cork board with photos (ahem still from last year that need to be updated mind you!) and the kids' artwork area...

Doing copywork together from the whiteboard...

Here is the other wall that has the other whiteboard. It's like the poster wall. I always said I didn't want stuff just postered up on the walls. Ha! How we change! One of the things I love about our little learning room is having the space to display things that are relevant to our current learning. I love being able to have images up that remind + inspire us like the Bible timeline posters. The kiddos love pointing out places on the world map + the Australian map too. One thing I've worked out with homeschooling is that high ideals using remain just that - ideal...but usually impractical!!!

Here's one of my fave shots from this year I think. It's just casual. It's my dad giving the children their very first Fijian language lesson. Check out my daughter's face. Is that not the look of pure love and respect for her Pupu (grandfather)? Stass just *had* to have her Fijian mat (that my grandmother lovingly handmade and sent over this year) next to her while she learnt Fijian. 

Just behind where the kiddos are sitting is our homeschooling storage cupboard + this timber shelf (next photo below).

It's one of 4 that we got at a country store's closing down sale. It was their display shelving + we bought each one for $15. Bargain city!  Anyway, the top has the blue 4 drawer system that we use for storing the kids work that they do that day/week/however long I feel before the drawer starts to explode! lol :) As soon as they finish something, they know they have to date their work + put it into their own blue drawer. Then I put each sheet into a plastic sleeve (sometimes they do this with me now) and then into their portfolio folders (maybe a post on them another day?) In the small cane basket next to the blue drawers are colouring in books which the munchkins can grab at any time and next to that the world globe (that lights up. Was my bro's when I was a kid. Cool).

The black box is one of the best things I bought this year. I sorted it into the main subjects/themes we seem to concentrate on like 'nature study stuff to do' or 'blank handwriting sheets', etc.
It works really well with Crystalfiles inside.

Under the black box are the two yellow cubes - one with toys for Zip to play with + one full of duplo-like blocks.

Oh and the other cool thing we did this year was on the side of the cupboard Brett put 3 nails up + we hang the wooden clipboards (in birth order) from them. When we go somewhere now, it's really quick to just grab the clipboards from the nails + some spare worksheets that are in the black box + some pencils and off we go in the car! I love car-schooling too :)

And since we like to do a lot of this around here (ahem even if the book is up the wrong way!!!!!)

we have a few great reading places + book corners in our house.

Here's one just next to the timber shelving.

We are due for a book cull this week actually but we'll see how time goes.
The bottom basket has the Leap Pad stuff in it.
On top of this shelving unit (which our cool ex-neighbour Greg made) is our wireless printer.
Handy to have it close in the learning room.
The kiddos often just sit down near here on the floor and read or get some cushions when it is silent reading time + just have the pick of the shelf...

And these cute colourful baskets (below) are only a recent addition to our LEARNING ROOM but they have been really helful. My daily challenge seemed to be taking pencils/pens/textas/crayons off Zipporah before she tried to decorate our walls! I found these funky little baskets in IKEA for I think roughly $7. Bargain. I hung them with 3M hooks. The first is holding lead pencils only (since it used to take ages for each child to find ONE lead pencil each!!! Not anymore!!!!!!!!!), the second one has coloured pencils and the third just has sharpeners, rulers + erasers. Easy storage + simple to take to another room too if we are doing colouring in at the kitchen bench say while I am cooking...

And just in case you are thinking for some weird reason, 'hang on, my learning room doesn't look that neat' then please STOP!
I love having organised spaces but not at the sake of being WITH my children.
I love having a place for things - that doesn't mean it is always IN that place.
I love having a clear table but often it looks like this + then it just all gets chucked on the floor until I get a chance to go through the papers or whatever and that could be anywhere between a day or a month or longer.
So please remember that while it does often look like the photos above, it ALSO looks like this photo below just as often ;)

Now, I did mention in this post title that I would be showing you some of our other fave LEARNING PLACES. Well, being sort of electic natural learners, we choose to look for learning moments in EVERY part of our life.
That means that 'learning' occurs in some of the following places...

Learning happens in THE KITCHEN; learning that there are numbered step in a recipe that is listed on a box and learning to use the beaters independently...

Learning happens OUTSIDE IN OUR BACKYARD as we observe the nesting Masked Lapwing (native bird) + await the chicks arrivals.
Learning happens OUTSIDE IN OUR BACKYARD as they learnt to ride their bikes outside without training wheels for the first time (the boys!). This happened last week. Not sure if i blogged that already or not but talk about HOW EXCITING!

SOooooooooooooo much learning happens out here in OUR BACKYARD.
Soooooooooooooooooo much RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.
Sooooooooooooooooooooo much imaginative play.
Ah the joy of being a child and a childhood spent with siblings in the comfort of our home!

(See those play gym thingys? aka: castles, pirate ships, cubbyhouses to our kids! one was given to us by Rach + Greg a while back + the other we picked up on the side of the road for a council chuck out + man have they had some good times on those!)

Lots of learning to shoot hoops...

and lots of looking at little visitors on the other side of our door to our BACKYARD!

Learning happens in OUR LOUNGE ROOM as we learn about Hebrew roots (our Shofar - ram's horn like trumpet) + Menorah (candlestick) which arrived last week from Israe, are now sitting on top of the piano.
The children have asked lots of questions + enjoyed having a 'go' at blowing the shofar!

and learning occurs when we celebrate the Feasts of Yahweh (God) with mates in our LOUNGE ROOM...

and learning happens when we just sit + chill + chat + knit in our LOUNGE ROOM too...

The amount of learning that occurs for our family OUTDOORS IN NATURE - i wouldn't know how to measure that. Our kids love being in God's creation (as do we). Here Brett is helping Stass to interpret a map and identify the landmarks nearby. That day Brett also talked to the children about how to safely put out a fire, how to take care of the bush + we also took out my sil's native plants book to help identify a couple of species...

That same day, Elijah (aged 6) took this photo (below) of a Native Iris that he spotted.
He said, "Quick mum, can I please use the camera? I spotted something!"
Learning happens all the time hey :)

One of our fave learning places is our LOCAL ART GALLERY. We visited it just yesterday...

I took the children's clipboards, some blank paper + lead pencils + asked them to spot their favourite sculture. After a short talk on sculptures + a local artist who makes art out of recycled objects, they sat on the green lounge + began sketching. They wrote down who the artist was + the name of the work.
Of course I was as nervous as anything (like every time we go there!) that they were going to knock over some ridiculously over-priced artwork, but we spelled out the rules about hands behind backs + about the importance of self control. It was successful (phew!)

Some of my other fave shots from there...

Learning (that you are an incredibly cherished little person!) happens alot as kids are rumbled + snuggled in MUM + DAD'S  BIG BED...

Learning about how to converse properly with others, how to serve, how to help out + how to enjoy building relationships with others happens alot in our BACKROOM (which is like a BIG OPEN FAMILY/DINING ROOM). Here we have hosted Bible Studies + Baby Blessings + have regular catch-up cuppas + playdates with family + friends (+ especially when we have Aunty Anth over from Wales and catch up with all her news -miss you my friend!)

Learning at the KITCHEN BENCH happens pretty much daily here too since it is where I spent ALOT of my time! We have 4 big stools so the kiddos can sit up, do colouring, chat with me while I'm cooking dinner, help me peel carrots or cook...all those fun things.
Recently Liji made a clay boat using clay + a pencil + asked me if we could find out whether or not it would float. I have a little 'science helper' sheet that I made up early last year + i happened to have one printed off spare in my black box so we wrote up a little hypothesis, he dictated all the materials + steps of the procedure + I wrote it all down.
In it goes...

but nooooooooooooo it sank!

Learning that you are a valuable member of a family, that we ENJOY spending time together, learning how to sit and wait patiently for a meal, how to speak kindly to waitstaff + how to take money (all by yourself!!!) to the cashier at the end + pay for the family meal + receive change are all part of why we feel that going out for lunch at our FAVE LOCAL CAFE is a great learning opportunity! It's definitely one of my fave LEARNING PLACES!

Learning how to tell jokes + be a bit of a clown also happens frequently IN OUR HOME!

Learning how to be a good sport happens AT THE FOOTY while we cheer on our fave teams...

Learning how to appreciate God's creation happens while we are in the CAR.
Brett took this photo while we were travelling to Bathurst this year.  I keep a whole heap of supplies in our car glovebox + console; ziplock bags for any nature treasures we find that the kids might want to take home to sketch, i have notepads + pencils in there, a Bible, a pack of playing cards, a read-a-loud book and other treasures too.

OUR DINING TABLE is where alot of 'organic' learning happens. Learning to share your heart, the importance of listening to others, reading the Scriptures, entertaining others, laughing, crying, praying, rejoicing - all these things happen regularly around our dining table. I am so fortunate to havee experienced this as a child. We always ate together. And chatted. And shared. So many great memories. And i hope our kiddos have them too.

And of course, learning about team work, the value of working in all things with your heart for Adonai (the Lord) and not for man (col 3:23) is a learning experience that happens in almost EVERY ROOM of our home almost EVERY DAY. They have a few set jobs that they are asked to complete each day + mostly now they do them without too much hassle.

I'm sure  you get what is coming from my heart....
LEARNING IS  a lifestyle and happens in pretty much EVERY PART OF OUR HOME and loads of places OUTSIDE OUR HOME TOO.

Now, I'm going to finish on saying this (i really don't need a disclaimer but since people have said things along these lines to me before, I will.)
I share these things because they are a part of my/our story along this journey we are on.
     My house isn't always like this.
I've kind of worked out these systems over a period of 18 months and they seem to constantly evolve as our family needs do.
My children aren't always compliant.
My attitude often needs correcting at the loving rebuke of Yahweh.
I am not the best mum in the world.
Nor do I strive to be.
I only want to be the person HE wants me to be.
He is my Father. I am His Daughter.
I am a broken vessel.
I am a work in progress.

5 things I am thankful for today:
1. I was able to spend a good chunk of the day in bed with Brett looking after the fam + the house while I had a fever/headcold/tonsilitis/achy body to get rested
2. That Ethan didn't vomit last night after coming into our room saying he felt sick + sleeping the rest of the night on a matress next to my side of the bed poor darling. Seems better today.
3. Great meatballs for dinner - thanks to Brettsky :)
4. Friends + texts
5. Truth.

Feel free to link to your fave learning places too in the comments section.
I love seeing how others 'do it'.

Much love,
Lus x


Mommy Set Free said...

Nicely done Lus!

Jess said...

ahhhhh. I want to be a kid again and learn at your school!!

Christine said...

Wow Lus, mammoth post! And so great to see how learning happens at your place (there's lots more things on those walls since I was there last!)

I hope and pray you are feeling better...may you recover quickly and may no sickness take hold in your house!!!

singing mama said...

Great post Lusi and sooo true and similar to what I would have posted !! Learning is part of life and part of being a family !! Yahweh is the focus and that changes our whole life learning out look hey! Would love to know which art gallery as it looked funky and I think lily would like it!
Luv Donna

Dannii said...

That's a great blog post Lusi, thanks for sharing! I lovereading about your life and how you do it. Cant type much now as I have a bubba on my lap, but just wanted to say thanks, for the post, and for being real, I love how honest you are, it makes the days easier knowing that others have the same things going on as me.

Oh and i mentioned you in my latest blog pot that you might be interested in reading.

kathy said...

Thanks for sharing Lusi, It's so interesting to see how other people do schooling (especially being a newbie!). It looks like you have things organized there...can't wait for that to happen here!

lusi said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.
Christine - Amen to your prayer!
Dannii - welcome mate + we all go through ups and downs hey mate. the only one constant is HIM! I praise Him for that! Loads of love!
Kathy - it's taken a while to find our groove and to be honest, still feels like i'm learning how to make this 'fit' a little better each day. it sure takes time but God is faithful and is walking it out with us all. I know you can testify to the same thing already. He is so good hey - even when it is so hard!
Lus x

Karen L said...

Thanks Lusi for that wonderful look at learning at your place. Your children are indeed blessed to have a Mum and Dad like you and Brett - not perfect but a wonderful heart for the Lord and a real desire to bring your kids up to know and serve Him too. You area real encouragement to me - just such a beautiful heart attitude. I have been using Reading Eggs with my kids at school lately too ( also on the trial period, although it ran out on the weekend) My kids have been loving it and I will certainly be recomending that the school invests in it too.

Princess Lu the Scatterbrained said...

Hey Lus!

I wanted to stop by and say hi as I know you're so busy with the kids and Brett. Doug and I have finally come to the crossroads and we feel we've been led to start homeschooling too!!! I never, ever thought I would say that as I didn't think I could do it but Doug is going to finish work at the end of the year and stay home to do most of the teaching, with me to help when work isn't busy. It came about because it turns out Caeligh has an IQ of about 140 but she is not enjoying school and the school admit they don't have much experience with gifted kids, and I feel like all of her gift is going to waste and she could be learning so much more. Lachlann is also unhappy at school, having trouble fitting in and just not happy. They are our main two reasons. We have lots to organise but I really feel the pull to have my kids at home with me and spending more time being a family and learning as we go. I'm really excited but nervous that we're doing the right thing but it feels right and I'm trusting my heart that this is what's best for us. Wish us luck and let me know how you all are doing! Love Lu xx

lusi said...

Wow Lu!
Thanks for stopping by to share your news mate! What an INCREDIBLE journey you guys are on hey :)

We have not regretted our decision to 'bring the kids home' even though it has been hard + I have certainly had 'my moments!' But God has given us everything we've needed. Seriously. When I've come to a dead end with something or am unsure about how to teach something, I call on Him for His wisdom and direction + He gives it to us. Sometimes we have to wait for an answer but He does answer.

It's been so healing for us too; the kids get on so much better now with each other + with us. They LOVE being together - who woulda thunk? Not me! But I wouldn't swap it now for quids. And all of that natural learning happening around us all the time = it's amazing what they learn by themselves + with just making opportunities available. Being able to focus on their strengths + their desires, working around the 'meltdown days', etc all those things have been great for us too.

Well mate, I wish you all the best with it all. Call anytime if you want to chat :)

Much love + God bless you all,
Lus x

Nicolee said...

well done Lusi!
I love that post.....learning is sooo apart of everyday hey!!!!! I appreciate your disclaimer too....we all know that none of us are perfect, but i appreciate you taking the time to post on what has worked for you and how you organise your home schooling etc!
Can't wait to meet you one may not be till we get to heaven....OH WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WILL BE!!!!!!!!!!!!
GBU and take care and have a fabulous weekend!!!!!!!
nic x


Blog Widget by LinkWithin