Sunday, September 1, 2013

School Room Tour

We slowly slid back in to somewhat of a school routine this week. Although things seemed to go slower than expected, I think in hindsight, it was just what was needed. 

Of course, the biggest change of this year was Buddy Boy starting Tot School, which has been an adjustment for everyone. For me, it meant making sure that I don't get lazy and take my time getting the ball rolling in the morning (summer affected me in a BAD way in that area!). For the other four children, it means that they have the responsibility of getting their own breakfast, getting dressed, and cleaning the house without me being there to supervise. The first hour or so of my morning is dedicated to Buddy Boy now. 

One of the most delightful changes of our school year is that we now have an entire room dedicated to NOTHING but a school room (YAY!!!!!) - something I have prayed about for a long time. Until a few weeks before school started, our school space shared a room with our dining room space. I was okay with that - I didn't HAVE to have a school room - but the problem was, with the children eating in the same space as all of our school supplies/book shelves/ etc., it was causing our school space to become much dirtier than I liked, and I was beginning to find little bits of food here and there, behind things on the shelves. Thankfully, it was summer time, and there was only a small amount of things on the shelves, but something had to change. So with a few minor adjustments, okay - major - the table had to be moved to the kitchen, which is thankfully very roomy! - we had a school room. 

So I thought I would invite you all in to see what our school space looked like...
(Be graceful - it's small - but I happen to be very content and happy with it!)




This picture ^^^ is from a viewpoint directly in the middle of our room, facing our wall of bookshelves. The door off to the left leads to the kitchen.


This picture is from the doorway that leads to the kitchen - you can see our 'shelf wall' right there by the door, and the windows that bring in wonderful natural light, that also tends to mess up and over-brighten my pictures from time to time :)



This one is from the other doorway, to our living room.







And this, my dear blog-world friends, is the extent of our shelves! I know what you may be thinking - not much space for 5 children, all different ages! And you would be right! I have learned, through much prayer and grace and wisdom from the Lord, how to make the most of my space.

I am also praying that I can fill up THIS:



with more shelving very, very soon! (Don't you just love my little, intentional photo bombers? I actually meant to get a picture of this wall, sans children, and realized that I never did and honestly didn't feel like taking any more after starting this post!) For the time being, we hung out All-About-Me large coloring sheets, and I am praying for some new bookshelves!


Now I will try to give you a run down on what is on our shelves right now. Please, keep in mind - we are not now, nor will we ever be 'Montessori purists', to be certain. If you have recently started reading anything from this blog and are interested in my Montessori beginnings, read this post about going backward, to go forward, and this post about the heart behind the reason I chose Montessori methods.

With that being said, here are our shelves, top to bottom.




On the very top of the shelves is where I store all of Buddy Boy's tot trays during the day. I pull them down every morning after breakfast and use our coffee table to place them out for him. My intention initially was to leave them out until lunch for him to do any time he wished, but I realized after a couple days that until he is more adjusted to our routine, that won't be a good idea. He does very well when I am in the room with him, but if I am away from his area and busy working with someone else, he gets a little mischievous with the trays. Hopefully, normalization will set in and then that won't be a problem. Until then, the trays get put up when I can tell he's had his fill of them and is ready to move on.


On the top shelf by the window, we have Colliers Dictionaries, some ACE animal science pace packets (a friend gave them to us, and Little Mama really enjoys reading them and answering the questions, so she is welcome to do it any time she wants). There are also a few science books I picked up at a yard sale, Christian Liberty science readers (library homeschool material that we are, thankfully, able to check out for the entire school year). To the right of those are colored pencils in a small pail, found at Target's dollar spot, and a tray that has both blank paper and lined paper for a few Draw Write Now books that I found at the library. Little Mama and Hoss love to draw, so I thought they might enjoy a touch of art through these.



The second shelf currently holds (left to right) a basket for envelopes that will each hold a lesson's worth of fraction slips (I am using these great fraction printables from What Did We Do All Day!), behind that I have our foam fraction circles in a blue basket, and to the right in a Melissa and Doug wooden box with just enough sections, I have both the printable Stamp Game and Large Number Cards, both from Montessori Print Shop's Free Download page.



Next up is, left to right, a small bowl with some homemade bead bar look-alikes, which will be used to start addition with both Miss Priss and Bug, and a blue basket that will soon hold paper strips that will go hand-in-hand with our 100 chain and 1,000 chain (because they are homemade, laying them out will look different than normal!), and behind that are small boxes that I found at the Dollar Tree, that just so happen to match in color to the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division charts. Inside them are the small problem slips, and beads (just pony beads) for the multiplication and division boards that I printed out. You can find both the charts and boards, as well as much more at Livable Learning. This is also where I printed our teens/tens boards and numbers, which are in the tackle box to the back right, and in front of them are the (free, printable) addition board number strips (small white bowl), greater than/less than problem sheets to use with the addition board in the middle red basket, and in the red basket to the right is graph paper for anyone who needs it. 


Next shelf down: tray to the left is the memory game for Bug (she loves this one!) with number cards from Montessori Print Shop's free downloads in one bowl, blue gems in the other. In the middle is our geoboard and rubber bands, which is awaiting a tray, and the far right is a blue basket (all my blue baskets that look like this came from Dollar Tree) that has Melissa and Doug's Deluxe Lacing Beads in it, along with a shoe string - I found that a shoe string knotted at the bottom works better than anything else for my kiddos and lacing. We are also nearing the bottom of the shelves, so the works down here are getting easier and more primary.



The bottom shelf has, left to right, a practical life/fine motor skill work (marbles and golf tees), and our sensory bucket. I change out the dig-and-find treasures now and then - currently I have mini-dinosaurs hiding in the beans, along with some printable dinosaur cards (I think I got them from The Pinay Homeschooler, but I can't be sure) that are inside the box. In front of it, in the small blue bucket (dollar store) are some dinosaur flash cards that I found at Target.




The middle shelf, in a somewhat quicker review, has (top shelf) our crayons/pencils/scissors/rulers/pencil sharpeners , (second shelf) Haba knobless cylinders - sorry, couldn't find a link for these on Amazon, and I bought them through Yahoo's Montessori swap group, wooden box with homemade color box cards (made from paint swatches), and DIY sound bottles. Middle shelf has our handmade, homemade cedar brown stair, and a small basket with the smallest two pieces to our MATCHING handmade, homemade cedar pink (or in this case, brownish) tower. The bottom shelf has our basket of small mats - in place of the traditional rug, I went a less expensive route and bought shelf liner from the Dollar Tree that I was able to cut in thirds and rolls well enough to work for now, and *barely visible* is a white metal basket for our fabric matching work.

A closer look:







The last shelf - the one closest to the kitchen doorway:


Left to right: Fandex cards (50 states, presidents, and composers), in the middle I have a book about states and their capitals and a bucket with flash cards about each state and it's basic information (Dollar Tree for the bucket, Target's Dollar Spot for the cards), and to the right are various History Books, most from Abeka, for individual history work with the oldest two.



The next shelf down, (L to R): In the basket are individual lessons on Homonyms, Synonyms, Antonyms, and Compound words using cards on each that I have found at Dollar Tree, combined with some homemade sentence strips. In the middle are small jars, the same I used with my color cans, except this time I labeled them with different rules for plurals, and the word cards that apply to each different rule for changing a singular word to it's plural form, inside the can. They are on a tray, and behind them on the same tray is another one of my small buckets, this time with fold-the-flap, bossy 'e' word cards. The plurals lesson cards came from Montessori Print Shop's free download page, as well as the bossy 'e' cards. To the right of that, currently are two envelopes. In addition to the already mentioned Dollar Store word cards, I also found Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb cards (all of these come in slender packs and are printed on what looks like large-lined writing paper strips). I am using these to make my homemade version of the Logical Adjective and Logical Adverb games. I haven't decided how I'm going to keep these on the shelf long term, but that will happen soon :)


Next shelf down, things are getting a little easier again. To the far left, I have the materials I chose to teach Miss Priss to read this year. We are using Teach Your Child To Read in 100 easy lessons, along with many sets of word/letter/blend cards etc. that I found in a Saxon phonics set for 1st grade, and sensorial cards very similar to Montessori Sandpaper Letters - all of these are from the library in town that does a year round homeschool loan-out. I also have a writing tray (okay, plastic tub until I find the tray I like that is deep enough) with some uncooked hot cereal grains in it. In the middle I have a tray with some handwritten, lined-writing-paper style strips with numbers     1-10 and the names of everyone in our family for Bug to copy using tracing paper. She loves these! To the right I have an 'I Spy' page (Montessori Print Shop again!) and some large cursive writing cards, for Hoss to use as he begins cursive.



The last two shelves have various types of books - easy readers, beginning readers, our Imagination Library books, and different puzzles and puzzle cards.

Last, but not least:

On one of the windowsills rests a metal file storage cabinet. It is small, with only three slots, but my mother gave it to me out of some overflow of things she had, and I knew in a short amount of time that it would be perfect for holding the color-coordinating folders, that match the color-coordinating boxes for the color-coded addition/subtraction/multiplication/division charts/boards that I mentioned earlier. This way, they are all kept together, and when someone needs them, they are all able to be kept out without having to rotate so much and take up space on a shelf that is needed for other things. I also put the current Draw Write Now book in the top section, to be easy to find.


Okay - so this was one LOOOOOONG, picture filled post! Truth be told, our shelves won't look like this for long. As we move farther in to our year, some will stay the same, but there will be many changes as the needs change. Hopefully, if I get more shelving, I will be able to put much more out! This is what I needed for the beginning of the year, as I re-evaluate where everyone is after a long summer break that I didn't originally plan on taking. I have noticed already that we may need to do a quick cover of some areas that I thought were well-mastered before our year ended, only to see now that we need to go back over them some more. This is one reason why I think too much time off is dangerous for a child's mind! 

i hope you have enjoyed this lengthy tour of our small school area, and will be posting some fun action shots in the next few days, as well as a new tot school post!

Thanks for stopping by! If you have a post that features your school room/area, I'd LOVE for you leave it in the comments below - I love seeing what others are doing, and someone else may benefit as well!




8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I really am enjoying having the room dedicated solely to school this year! :)

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  2. you have so much space!! its awesome! Even with 5 kids its great! I love your crayon colored cups!

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    1. Thank you! Moving the table out feels like it doubled our space to move around, which has been a big deal! Besides that, just knowing the room is JUST for school is such a blessing! :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! I am so glad you took the time to stop by! :)

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  4. Your space looks just wonderful!!!!

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    1. oh, thank you! The Lord has really blessed me with a workable space, and I am truly happy with it! Of course, things are always changing, but that's the way it goes with a homeschool that's always changing/growing. I am excited about what this year could bring and the memories that will be made in the midst of these four walls...

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I would love to hear what you think of this post! I do pray it has been a blessing, and would be honored to hear your ideas and suggestions!

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