I say 'one of ' the homeschooling spaces because really, learning happens all over our house!! From the kitchen bench to the computers to outside...anywhere there is an opportunity of adventure + play + relationship buidling + reading + writing + counting....is a place where we 'homeschool'.
Now having said all that, it is a real blessing to be able to have a designated area set aside where I can store alot of the munchkins resources and also where we can have a table and a big old whiteboard. Probably the majority of our bookwork/copywork happens in here.
So here is our learning space for 2011...
I got my big cupboard from the op shop (it's a dining room buffet and hutch) and where it is charcoal it will eventually be painted white but not for some time. The cupboard next to that we were given by a lovely friend Lyndal a couple of years ago and I've been using it to store the kiddos books in for a while and it works well. More on that in a sec.
And this (below) is the other side of the room where we have the poster board, photo display board and their art wall. The 1,2,3 bags on the wall I got from Ikea about a year ago and we used them last year; 1 has the lead pencils in, 2 has coloured pencils and 3 has erasers, rulers and pens. I've found that this system has helped the kids to learn how to sort things well and it's easy too when we need to do some colouring pages elsewhere - they just grab bag number 2 themselves. The whiteboard you can see has really helped with copywork. The kids love it. I was never a fan of them because i didn't want to just 'recreate' school in our home. However after nearly 2 years of schooling, I realised that the kids actually needed the whiteboard (especially Liji) so that they could see what they were copying without all the writing being smushed up together on a teeny tiny board. They love writing out numbers and words on the whiteboard too.
So today, Jan 31, we are officially 'starting' schooling.
We have actually been 'schooling' the whole way through the 6 week break since the kids have been learning and discovering all through the holidays. They built a geology kit, each made a nature book or box, they dis-assembled the old laminator together, Stass read the novel 'Racing Stripes' began 'Pride and Prejudice' and then has put that aside for a while and taken up another one of the books in the Little House on the Prairie series. They built paper models from an animal models book I bought them, helped out with cooking and chores, sang songs (including some of their times tables) and went tadpoling and butterfly catching. They did all these things SPONTANEOUSLY without prompting from us. It's so lovely to see the desire in them to learn and play and just be together. Don't let me give you the wrong idea though; there were still fights to break up and attitudes to deal with but it is just so lovely to be able to do this, to walk this journey of life with them.
That being said, on the 'first day of school' I always make them a little card and give them their own little stationery collection. It's a little tradition we started in our first year and they look forward to waking up and seeing their little things there on the table...
Thought I might share what is in the new school cupboard with you?
Ok, this is the left hand side of the cupboard. It has the big kids science stuff on the first couple of shelves (stuff that needs to be accessed readily but also kept up high out of little ones fingers)...
microscopes, magnifying glass, morse code kit, pin board, geology kit, etc...
next shelf down has a basket with the boys' readers, Zippi's wooden Noah's ark (which we all love - i got years ago as a free gift when I hosted one of those learning toy parties - Peta was that through you?!?!) and the kids box of Math U See manipulatives...
Down the bottom of this side of the cupboard is the BEST thing we ever bought (we got it last year)...
an Xacto electric pencil sharpener...
On that shelf is also Zippi's felt vegetable bag (from Ikea) which she LOVES playing with and next to that a basket with activities just for Zipster.
She's only 21 months. BUT she is the kind of kid that LOVES to be doing stuff while the big kids are doing things. She loves to play but she also loves to be challenged. Well this is what she is like so far. So I wanted to have some things ready for her to do on the floor or at the table while the bigger kids are busy doing things.
A plastic picnic set that mum and dad got the kids ages ago. I drew up a picture of a fork, knife and spoon and laminated them and Zip has to get these out of the bag and try and match it to the picture...
Another activity I have for her is a matching game with these gorgeous leaf pictures. I laminated these too just for longing wearing. I got this idea from THE PETERSON PARTY BLOG. Have you got preschoolers that are in need of some activity ideas while the big kids school or even that are at home and are not old enough yet for school? Then please do yourself a HUGE FAVOUR and go and check out Cara's blog. It has blessed me no end! I love seeing what these guys get up to! Check out the POSTS AND THE MYRIAD OF ACTIVITIES ON THE 'LETTER OF THE WEEK'. There are also IDEAS FOR COOKING AND BAKING WITH LITTLIES and soooooo many more fun things to try with your toddlers. Thank you Cara for all your sharing!
This idea below you can find IN THIS POST ON LEAVES on Cara's blog and she got it from PREKINDERS.COM which looks FAB - I'll be heading back there more often this year I think!
The last activity in that basket on the bottom shelf is an alphabet matching game.
I bought a set of wooden alphabet blocks from K Mart and then printed off an alphabet upper caps chart from PREKINDERS.COM I laminated the chart and then cut out the letters. I split the alphabet up into 5 or 6 letters to each bag, popped in the laminated letters and chucked them into a ziplock bag. The idea is just to introduce Zip slowly to the letters of the alphabet and have her match a typed out letter to the corresponding block. I'm not sure if she is ready for this, (did i mention how much she loves matching games!!!!) but it will be there anyway for whenever she's ready for it :)
Behind the bottom cupboard door on this side of the buffet and hutch is Zippi's activity boxes. These have a heap of other activities and play things she can do while the bigger kiddos are occupied.
Some of these activities I already had and some I got cheaply from an op shop or K Mart.
1. Horse play (heaps of little cheap horses from the op shop with plastic brushes. She loves this box!)
2. Mr Potato Head ($5 for one with a couple of big removeable parts from K Mart), a plastic egg carton activity with eggs that break in half and she has to match the shapes together.
3. Sensory Play: Some BIG coloured buttons with strips of card in the same colours as the buttons. Zip matches the buttons to the correctly coloured card - she loves loves loves this game! Same with pom poms in another container in the big box. She also just loves the feeling of the pom poms and the buttons and plays with them to just enjoy the textures.
4. Babushka dolls ($6 from Aldi) and cupcake dolls (50 cents from the op shop), chunky board animal book and plastic cotton reels to stack (not up to threading just yet).
5. Small pencils (for small hands!) and some drawing paper along with a mini etch-a-sketch.
(I only shared these things in detail in the hope that it might help some other mama who is need of ideas of what to do with their little one while schooling older kids! It took me a while to think about and collect these and I'm sure they'll change as we find what works for Zip as she gets a bit older but so far, this is what I have and I am hoping they will not only keep her occupied but that they will help her with playing and learning and discovering and enjoying life! I'm also just sharing what works in OUR home.)
Ok so back to the buffet and hutch, in the top middle is a place for the kids to display their lego creations, paper models, paper aeroplanes and rockets, etc. Below that in the white basket are all the kids fave colouring in books. Below in the baskets are Zip's chunky board books. The red fabric display thing in between i got for $2 from a shop in Cootamundra when we were visiting Jono and Christine last year and it houses some of the books we are currently reading...
On the far right hand side of the cupboard (still a bit bare) is a basket up high for textas, the boys' magnetix set, the set of drawers (this is where the kids put their finished work each day before we put it all into plastic sleeves and into their portfolios. I usually do this once every couple of weeks.) Bottom box has heaps of cardboard which my beautiful friend Kaz brought us for us recently (the kids love to make books and crafts with cardboard) and the basket next to it has scissors and sticky tapes, etc.
and on the far right side at the bottom is the big kids area with a few games they can do together or on their own, click and clack connectors, electronic world map quizzer ($15 from K Mart and it is a really good aide for our kids!), alphabet magnets to practice making words on the fridge. The basket contains things like pick up sticks, jacks, etc all in zip lock bags.
And the far cupboard in the corner that I said earlier has the kids resources, etc...
The blue boxes which were $2 each from Ikea house the kiddos portfolios of work, each child has a white box for their workbooks, a white box for spare paper, another for drawing stencils and another for filing things for me.
Well that's about it for now :)
In other news, I've got three quarters of a post written on Acts 15 (sorry Jamie it has taken so long!), I've got one to share with you about our Family Party Day (we went Go Karting this year!) and one on catching up with our friends the Fosters recently (so great to see you guys!)
So much to share and so little time but one day I'll get them on here!
Anyway, more another time :)
May Yah bless you all and draw you closer to Him in Spirit and in Truth!
Love Lusi x