Happier Homeschooling: Free Time

Sometimes you really need to close the books and build a tent that takes up your entire living room.

The tent takes up half the house

Along with teaching to your kids’ learning styles and incorporating nature study into your curriculum, one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the free time your kids have at their disposal.

With the video games and television firmly turned off (usually, anyway), free time is an extremely important part of our daily schedule.  They are free to explore their interests, paint, do crafts, climb the apple tree, play with their toys in new creative ways, dress up and act like animals, create games, draw, get messy, make mud, and enjoy childhood.  Free time is a beautiful thing.

Climbing the Apple Tree

Climbing the Apple Tree

Painting Wilbur after reading a chapter from Charlotte's Web

Painting Wilbur after reading a chapter from Charlotte’s Web

Playing with Angry Birds Jenga- making his own creations to knock down

Playing with Star Wars Angry Birds Jenga- making his own creations to knock down

Time to be a Bunny Rabbit- complete with carrot!

Time to be a Bunny Rabbit- complete with carrot!

Working with the pebbles & creating a board game for the family to play (with extremely complex rules)

Working with the pebbles & creating a board game for the family to play (with extremely complex rules)

Making Mud

Making Mud

Free time is incredibly valuable in teaching the kids to take initiative, to begin and finish projects, and to cooperate with others as they practice these skills in this little microcosm alone or with their siblings.  It is time for self-directed sensory and hands on play and learning.  Protecting free time in our daily schedule is as important as making the time for reading and math instruction.  It is vital for a happy homeschool day, and for well-educated, well-rounded, independent kids.  And I get a little break too, which might be a factor in how carefully I guard this time.  It’s fun for all of us!

Happier Homeschooling: Take a Nature Walk

2 Rockhopper Penguins

We are in our 7th week of homeschooling for this school year.  We are beginning to settle into a routine (though I have to keep tweaking it to suit our needs with ever-changing preschoolers in the mix) and the newness and the excitement of the new school year is wearing off.  It takes discipline and internal fortitude to keep moving along with school.  Homeschooling is a delight and I’m thankful to be on this journey, but there is no denying that it is really hard work too.

So when our focus is fuzzy or our attention is wavering or tasks seem overwhelmingly arduous, we take a nature walk.  It is a breath of fresh air (literally and metaphorically) to get outside, feel the breeze and the sunshine, to see birds or squirrels or insects busy about their work, to watch the calm confidence of the trees as they stand stoically and generously offer shade, food, and shelter to other creatures.  It is cheering to see the bright and vividly colored flowers or leaves in the various seasons.  Taking a walk clears the mind, gives us new perspective, and provides renewed strength.

As a Charlotte Mason Method homeschooler (for the most part), nature walks are also part of our weekly routine.  She gives a few great guidelines for hours in the outdoors that we usually follow in our nature walks and studies.  Here are three steps we take in our nature studies:

1. Play and go crazy!  “Our wise mother, arrived, first sends the children to let off their spirits in a wild scamper.”  (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series Volume 1, Part 2)  Then the kids get their energy out so they are ready to focus on the nature that is all around them.  My kids will play on playground structures or climb rocks or run and play tag.

1 Autumn

2.  Exploration Expedition.  “While wits are fresh and eyes are keen, she sends them off on an exploring expedition- who can see the most, and tell the most about yonder hillock or brook, hedge, or copse.  This is an exercise that delights children, and may be endlessly varied, carried on in the spirit of a game, and yet with the exactness and carefulness of a lesson.”  (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series Volume 1, Part 2)   I actually usually trail behind them in their explorations (rather than send them), but they are given some sort of mission- often to find something that they find interesting.  It may be a tree, a leaf, a berry, a weed, a flower, a rock, an insect or an animal.  We may touch it and pick it up (if it is, say, a leaf or a weed) or we might take a picture.  I occasionally exclaim over a find of my own and share my delight with my children.

Exploration Expidition

Exploration Expedition

3.  Nature Journal.  When we get home, we discuss what they found and I leave it up to them to decide whether they will make a journal entry.  Often we will do some internet research to try to find the name of the tree or leaf or bird or insect and discover interesting facts about it.  “As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.  Every day’s walk give him something to enter.” (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series Volume 1, Part 2)  They also often narrate their nature walk adventures to daddy at the dinner table later.  I love to hear what they remember about our nature walks.  What they share gives me little glimpses and insights into their soul.

Nature walk incorporates all the learning styles, including Kinesthetic-Tactile Whole Body

Nature walk incorporates all the learning styles, including Kinesthetic-Tactile Whole Body

The great thing about nature study is that it is a great way to naturally encompass all of the learning styles and modalities, providing for the needs of all of your learners and also making these lessons very memorable.  Everywhere you look, there is so much to see (visual picture) and there may occasionally be signs to read (visual print).  There are bird calls, bubbling brooks and rustling leaves to listen to (auditory listening) and descriptions to share of wonderful sights and experiences (auditory verbal).  You can walk, jump, crawl, scamper, crouch, stretch, wade, and do all sorts of bodily movements (kinesthetic-tactile whole body) and there is rough bark to feel, sticky sap to touch, flowers to smell, dirt to dig, leaves to crunch, and grass to roll around in (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).  In keeping a nature journal, you may sketch and write what you found and learned (kinesthetic-tactile sketching and writing).

Nature walks provide ample opportunity for hands on learning

Nature walks provide ample opportunity for hands on learning

Charlotte Mason said, “Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.”  Truly, nature walks are a wonderful source of delight in our homeschool.

Nature study- and learning to listen and watch quietly- is an endless source of delight

Nature study- and learning to listen and watch quietly- is an endless source of delight

Happier Homeschooling: Teach to their Learning Styles

Trampoline

“Teach your kids about how they learn: this is the most valuable thing you can do, because they will have that forever.”

~Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, cofounder of The Learning Success Institute and coauthor of Discover Your Child’s Learning Style

One of the greatest things about homeschooling is that you get to teach your kids according to their personal needs, styles, gifts, and interests.  Your kids are free to develop in their own time, rather than forced by predetermined schedules to learn and be tested on things they are not ready to do and thus feel shame or learn to hate something they might have come to love.  You are free to create learning environments that are tailored to the needs of your own children and experiment with a variety of methods to see which one your child responds to the best.  If you plan and prepare and teach to your child’s needs and interests, you will find them happier, more motivated, and more interested and excited to learn.

It is also extremely important that your kids know how it is that they learn best.  For if they learn how they learn, if they are free to develop their own interests and talents, and they experience the confidence that comes with having their own learning styles and personalities respected, they will be prepared for a life that is filled with learning and purpose.

So what do you do?  Here are a few things I’ve done (or plan to do):

1.  Educate yourself about the various learning styles.

I really like The Learning Success Institute’s system for profiling learning styles.  They describe 5 aspects that make up each person’s individual learning style:  Disposition, Modalities, Interests, Talents, and Environment.  The learning disposition, or personality, forms the foundation for your learning style.  It describes how the world views you as a learner.  The modalities are the various ways we take in, process, understand, and remember information.   Interests and talents will guide individuals in their focus and the environment where one learns best can provide the setting for success.

I recommend listening to the podcast Learning Styles: The Key to Confidence & Success or reading the book, Discover Your Child’s Learning Style.  Then go through the process to discover your own learning style so you can see how you are similar and different than your children and your husband and therefore help you to respect and value the differences you find.   It can also give you tips and techniques for getting more out of sermons or seminars, conventions or workshops, and so that you can learn better what it is you then need to teach your children.

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2.  Observe Your Child(ren)

After you have educated yourself about the various learning styles and therefore understand what to look for, watch your children as they learn, play, interact, and relax.  Ask them questions about their interests, what they want to do with their free time or their future, and about how they like to learn.  Watch to see what motivates them and what deflates them.  Observe how they learn in different subjects, as a person’s preferred modality may differ from subject to subject.

If they are old enough to take an assessment, you may consider having them go through the learning style assessment at the back of the Discover Your Child’s Learning Style or on the Learning Success Institute’s website.

Developing her interest in cooking

Developing her interest in cooking

3. Use a Variety of Methods in the Various Modalities in your Daily Lessons

Regardless of anyone’s individual learning style, the more ways you present the information to your students, the more connections are made in their brain and the better they will know and understand the material.  Then in using the various methods, you have more opportunities to observe your children to see the dispositions they possess and the modalities they prefer.  Incorporating the students’ interests in the curriculum or lessons can increase their motivation and delight in their studies which increases retention and understanding.

The modalities include visual print and visual pictureauditory listening and auditory verbalkinesthetic-tactile sketching, kinesthetic-tactile writing, kinesthetic-tactile hands on, and kinesthetic-tactile whole body.  

Here’s what this looks like in our homeschool:

Kinesthetic-Tactile Bible Lesson: The Creation of Man from Dirt

Kinesthetic-Tactile Bible Lesson: The Creation of Man from Dirt

       Bible:  We sing a hymn (auditory listening and verbal).   I read the story (auditory listening) while illustrating it with flannelgraph or occasionally a painting or illustration from a children’s Bible (visual picture).  I allow questions at natural breaks in the reading (for those learning dispositions- such as the Thinker-Creator- who ask questions based on their seemingly randomly connected thoughts) and because I allow this,  we will often discuss important theological or moral concepts which is perhaps the most meaningful and significant learning that we do in our homeschool as a whole.  After the reading, I ask the kids to tell me back what happened (auditory verbal) and then I will occasionally have them draw a picture of what we just learned (kinesthetic-tactile sketching) or act out the story (kinesthetic-tactile whole body).

Kinesthetic-Tactile Writing

Kinesthetic-Tactile Writing

      Language Arts:  We review phonograms and their sounds (visual print, auditory hearing, auditory verbal).  We play games to learn and review phonograms (kinesthetic-tactile whole body) and we do worksheets (kinesthetic-tactile writing).  It is incredibly motivating to my Performer (disposition) son to compete but it is vital to my Relator (disposition) daughter that we do not.  So I compete with my son- often humorously, which also motivates him, and  my daughter and I cooperate together in her version of the game.  Then they both learn!

Today we played a game where I put the phonograms and blends I wanted to practice on cards on the ground and gave instructions, such as, “Skate to the beginning blend in skate,” and “Hop to the middle sound in hop.”  My son and I competed (and kept score), my daughter just joyfully followed the instructions.  This game used the kinesthetic-tactile whole body and the visual print and the auditory listening modalities.  After the game was over, they told me, “Can we do that again?  That was fun!”

  We do not yet do grammar, as they are both too young for that, but you could use the same ideas: obviously worksheets, interactive activities, conversations or games that use listening, speaking, pictures, print, writing or their whole bodies.

   For handwriting, we are learning cursive and I show them the letter and how to form it while explaining verbally how it is formed (visual picture/print and auditory listening), then we form the letter in the air with big arm movements (kinesthetic-tactile whole body), they may trace it with their finger or in sand or rice (kinesthetic-tactile hands on), and then write the letter on a white board or on paper a few times (kinesthetic-tactile print).  Finally, they look at their letters and select their favorite one (visual print).

        For literature, I read them a picture book (visual picture and auditory listening) or a chapter or section from a book without pictures (auditory listening).  We often informally discuss vocabulary, themes, or other questions as they come up (auditory verbal).  Then they draw a picture of something from the book (kinesthetic-tactile sketching) and then they narrate the book or chapter or section to me and I write it down for them on their paper (auditory verbal).  Sometimes, during or at the end of a larger chapter book, we will do an activity, such as making maple syrup candy when we read Little House in the Big Woods (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).

Kinesthetic-Tactile Hands On Math Manipulatives

Kinesthetic-Tactile Hands On Math Manipulatives

      Math:  We use RightStart Math, which means that our math lessons are full of manipulatives and games (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).  Some problems are given verbally (auditory listening) and require a verbal response (auditory verbal) and there are some worksheets and visual aids (visual print, visual picture and kinesthetic-tactile writing).  Often I will incorporate their interests (such as video games, mazes, baking, parties, friends) in the word problems I give them which has helped in their enjoyment and motivation in this subject.

Field Trip to the Egyptian Museum

Field Trip to the Egyptian Museum

      History:  I read the chapter, book or section to them and show them illustrations as I have them available (auditory listening, visual picture).  They draw a picture illustrating what we just read (kinesthetic-tactile sketching) and then narrate to me what they remember from what we read (auditory verbal).  We occasionally go on field trips or do hands-on projects (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).

Kinesthetic-Tactile: Pretend Cuneiform in Playdough

Kinesthetic-Tactile: Pretend Cuneiform in Playdough

      Science:  I read the selection for the day while they look at the pictures and illustrate what they are learning in their science notebooks (auditory listening, visual picture, kinesthetic-tactile sketching) and then they narrate to me what they learned (auditory verbal).  We often to hands-on projects and experiments (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).

      Foreign Language: We are using Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois, so we learn a series every two weeks.  We listen to the teacher say the series (auditory listening) while we act out what the teacher is saying (kinesthetic-tactile hands on/whole body).  Then we practice saying the series while acting it out (auditory verbal, kinesthetic-tactile hands on/whole body).

      Art/Music/Poetry Study:  For art study, I show them a painting (visual picture), then we talk about it (auditory verbal).  For music study, I tell them about the life of a composer and we listen to their music (auditory listening).  I also read poetry that has been illustrated with pictures to them and they often request their favorites (visual picture, auditory listening). 

Free TIme Fun

Free Time Fun

      Free Time:  My kids are given plenty of free time in which they jump on the trampoline or climb the apple tree in our back yard or play dress-up (kinesthetic-tactile whole body), or play in the sand box or with the pebbles in our back yard (kinesthetic-tactile hands on).  They often choose to create books or other artwork or work on crafts (kinesthetic-tactile hands on/sketching/writing).

Right now,  I have a second grader (who can read, but doesn’t enjoy reading- and can’t easily comprehend what he’s read aloud), a first grader (who is not a fluent reader), and two preschoolers.  Therefore, not much of my information is given via visual print and not much is expected out of them via kinesthetic-tactile writing.  The opportunities to use these modalities will increase as they develop these skills in their own timing.  Meanwhile, I am delighted to read to them, so they learn to love stories and to have them narrate to me while I write down their words so that their composition is not hindered in any way by their growing- but not yet fully developed- writing skills.

 4.  Talk to Your Kids about their Learning Styles

In the podcast, Learning Styles: The Key to Confidence & Success, Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis concludes with this message she wants her listeners to remember,”Teach your kids about how they learn: this is the most valuable thing you can do, because they will have that forever.”  So talk to your kids about their learning styles.  Help them to discover how they learn best.  Not only will it make for a happier and more successful homeschool experience, it will help them later in college, in their workplaces, and throughout their lives.

Space to Think

Charlotte Mason Methods: Handicrafts

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When I was at college, training to become a teacher, I observed and assisted in many classrooms and had many conversations with a variety of experienced teachers about the daily realities of teaching and the problems they faced.  One thing many educators lamented was the lack of time for the “frills” of education.  There was so much pressure to spend so much time on the basics, the core subjects, that there was not much room left for arts, crafts, music, even science and history took a back seat to the Great Language Arts.

As a homeschool mom who loves the methods practiced by Charlotte Mason, I believe in the benefits of the “frills” of education.  I know that studying art and music can transport you to other worlds and help you see the world in new ways and thus promote better problem solving and deeper critical thinking skills.  The extras of education are the riches and treasures of the school day.  They are fun and enjoyable and uplifting.  Although I know all this, arts and crafts and music have been quite a challenge for me to try to fit into our daily schedule.

The main problem, when I boil it down, is all that stuff you need for doing arts and crafts and music.  The thought of pulling all the supplies and materials out (especially when my littlest one is awake and about) making a huge mess and then cleaning it all up and putting them all away again is exhausting.  I think it is important to do, but I never can quite get myself to do it.

A lot of craft supplies: yarn & a crochet hook, pastels, various beads, a loom, and a few crafty kits.

A lot of craft supplies: yarn & a crochet hook, pastels, various beads, a loom, and a few crafty kits.

Another reason for my struggles in getting this a part of my schedule is that I have never been naturally artistic or crafty.  I could never draw and I never was any good at any sort of craft (until just a few years ago when I discovered the joys of scrapbooking!) so the idea of teaching my kids to do something that I’m not good at is a bit daunting.

At the same time, this also fills me with a longing.  I am excited about learning new crafty skills.  I am really looking forward to scrapbooking with any kid who will enjoy it with me.  Last year, when I started trying to occasionally incorporate some Learning to Draw books in our days, I really enjoyed the idea of learning to draw.  So I am trying to fan these feelings and get some excitement that will lead me to make some room in our days for crafts.

I really appreciate what Charlotte Mason had to say about Handicrafts in Volume 1 of her Original Homeschooling Series.  She wrote that Handicrafts “should form a regular part of a child’s daily life.”  She gives a few guidelines for these handicrafts that I think are brilliant.  First, “they should not be employed in making futilities.”  Instead, their crafts should be beautiful, valuable, and functional.  (Amen to that!)  Second, “that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do.”  Third, “that slipshod work should not be allowed.”  Finally, because of the previous direction, “the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.”

My daughter loves arts and crafts.  She loves handwriting and drawing and baking and all sorts of artistic pursuits.  So I decided, in an attempt to get us both excited about Handicrafts (and to keep me accountable to actually follow through on this craft plan), I took her to Michaels with me to find craft kits or supplies  that she was interested in learning how to do or use this year.  We got clay, a crochet hook (and I let her pick out a skein of yarn of the color of her choosing- she picked out the multicolored blue, purple, pink that is in the above picture), and a latch hook kit.

All day today, she begged to start her latch hook craft (a blue butterfly on a pink background- it is so very her).  Her enthusiasm was just what I needed to be motivated to do crafts with the kids (my objective in taking K to Michaels was achieved).  So, after school, and after her little 2 year old brother went down for a nap, we pulled out the kit and learned together.

September 2014

 

She loved it and I loved her joy.  After reading the instructions carefully (as I have never done this latch-hook stuff), I helped her start with making a yarn key and showing her how to use the tool to do the first few knots.  Then she went to town and finished one entire row.  She was so excited and so proud to have persevered and completed a whole row.  I was so excited and so proud that she was able to do it all by herself.  She is looking forwward to tomorrow when she gets to start on the butterfly itself.

She has plans- Handicrafting plans- for her future!  She wants to complete this project and then learn to sew.  She also wants to learn to draw flowers.

X-man received a woodworking kit for his birthday a few months ago and he and his dad built this train together.  I’d like him to paint it (and cover the lovely marker decoration his little artist brother lovingly bestowed upon it) and do a few more of these projects if he is interested.  It really helps to have motivated kids.  It makes me willing to go to the effort of pulling the stuff out and then deal with the mess after (or make the kids deal with the mess which is almost as much effort- and sometimes more).  What he really likes to do is draw so my plan is to draw from this excitement from today’s success and try to make it a daily reality, as Charlotte Mason recommended.

September 20141

Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  The focus required when creating art of any kind transports you away from the cares and struggles of your day and puts you in a peaceful world for a moment where nothing else exists.  It is refreshing to use a whole different side of your mind and heart when you produce something beautiful.  Possessing an artistic or crafty skill can be a source of peace, joy, relaxation, and delight.  As you create, you are brought closer to your Creator and there is spiritual refreshment in that. I want my children to explore their creative sides and find a skill or two or more they want to develop, practice, and enjoy.

These are my ideas for crafts and skills they can select from and we can spend time learning this year:

Latch-hook, Wood-working, Crochet, Sewing, Cross-stitch, Baking, Gardening (if California ever gets rain again), Mosaics, Beading, Weaving, Clay, Pastels, Painting, Drawing, and Scrapbooking.  We also received gift certificates to a local pottery studio that I am excited to use and we will continue to practice the life skills that are appropriate and useful in our household.

A Summer Tradition: Olallieberry Picking

 

Ollalieberries2

I love traditions.  I have always loved my traditions.  I was the tradition keeper of my family at Christmastime when I was a teenager.  I knew in detail exactly what should be done each minute of Christmas morning.  My mother used to say  that if we’ve done it once and Michelle likes it, it is a tradition (therefore I felt the right to force that upon our family forevermore afterwards).

This brings us to Olallieberry Picking.  Though we’ve done it only twice now, it is totally a tradition.  We went olallieberry picking with some friends last June and I loved it so much I decided it would be our new June tradition.  Therefore, we did it again this June.

It was SO much fun!

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We went with friends again (the same friends as last year- they live near the olallieberry farm) on Father’s Day and spent a lovely foggy morning picking berries and later had delicious pie.

I wrote about this last year, but in case you are interested again, here are a few fun facts about olallieberries:

1.  Olallie is Chinook jargon for berry.  I’m not sure why the official namers felt the need to add berry after the word Olallie.  Maybe it was the same people who had us say “PIN Number”  and “ATM Machine.”

2.  The Olallieberry is, in the end, 75% blackberry and 25% raspberry and 100% delicious.

3.  The Olallieberry has a very short season.  The U-Pick season at Gizdich Ranch, where we went, is only a few weeks in June each year.

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The kids really enjoyed helping us find great berries and of course, they all had to taste test them.  Quality control, you see.

The younger ones needed a few breaks.

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And at the end we had stained and juicy fingers and a whole lot of berries for pie, crisp, milkshakes, smoothies, and all sorts of berry delights.

Ollalieberries

It is good to finally be the mom and thus have the right to decide on things like traditions; traditions like olallieberries every June!

 

The Beginning of a Year Long Tree Study: Our Apple Tree

Year Long Study

During the past few years that we’ve been participating in the Outdoor Hour Challenge at Handbook of Nature Study, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of doing a year long tree study, to really get to know a tree and be intentional about observing it in its different seasons.  I have observed the trees in my last two backyards (with our Montmorency Cherry Tree I struggled to identify and last year’s Dogwood tree ) in all of the seasons, but this year, I want to intentionally study a tree in our backyard with the kids.  Charlotte Mason herself said, “Children should also become familiar with trees at an early age. They should pick about six in the winter when the leaves are gone, perhaps an elm, a maple, a beech, etc, and watch them during the year.”

Our favorite tree in our backyard is our apple tree (of course).  So today (thought it is not winter), we started our year long study by taking our nature journals outside to the backyard, grabbing some leaves and apples from the tree, tasting the fruit, drawing the tree, leaf, and apple in our journals, and then reading a book about apples.

Climbing the tree to grab some apples and leaves to study.

Climbing the tree to grab some apples and leaves to study.

The apples on our tree are small-medium sized and green.  They are mildly crisp and taste sweet.  There sure are a lot of them.

Z-urchin loves to grab apples out of the tree, take two bites, then throw them on the ground.  Maybe he plans to plant an orchard.

Z-urchin loves to grab apples out of the tree, take two bites, then throw them on the ground. Maybe he wants an orchard.

 

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As we drew our trees, leaves, and apples in our nature journals, we discussed questions we have about the tree that we’d like to find out this year.  These questions include: What kind of apples are on our tree?  Will the leaves change color?  What color will they be?  How do we take care of our apple tree?  We wrote these questions in our journals so that we could remember to look into these things.

Nature Study

Our nature journals

Finally, we read the book Apples by Gail Gibbons.  We’ve read this book before- last year, when we did an apple study after going apple picking.  But it was still good to review the basic information about apples.  The book explained what happens to the apple tree from seedling to fruit bearing tree and then what it does throughout the seasons.  So when I asked the kids what they could expect from our apple tree based on this book, they explained that they thought by wintertime the apples and leaves would all fall off the branches and then in spring they expect blossoms on the branches.  We’ll be watching to see if this is true!

 

 

Our School Room: Where Learning Happens and So Does Mess

When we moved into this house two months ago, we made a lot of changes.  One of those changes was our schoolroom.  My husband’s step-dad decided to build us a schoolroom in the garage and I was so thankful and so excited.  He took the wood from the deck we tore out to help build the floor so that the floor would be level with the kitchen, instead of a few steps down.  It also means that our schoolroom floor is nice, rather than a concrete floor and he gave us storage underneath the schoolroom!  He also gave us a window and it is a very nice little room where we can do all of our learning and then shut the door on the mess.

Not that the rest of the house is free of mess at this time.  Or any time.

Anyway, I would like to give you a little tour of our schoolroom.  We also do school at the kitchen table (I like to read while the kids are eating and are therefore more quiet than at other times) and we do some reading cozied up on the couch.

1 Circle Area

This is where we do our “Circle Time.”  Circle time includes practicing our verse or passage (right now it is Psalm 100), practicing our Spanish series (from Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francios) or poem, and then an activity from our daily focus.  On Monday, we focus on geography (right now we are learning the continents and the oceans of the world), on Tuesday, we focus on music (right now we are learning about Vivaldi), Wednesday is poetry day, Thursday is art day (Renoir is our current artist, as you can see), and on Friday, we read a chapter from Wisdom and the Millers.  We finish Circle Time with reviewing our phonograms and playing phonics games.

Underneath the easel, I store GeoSafari stuff, clothespins for pinning cards to our clothesline timeline, and dry erase boards and activities.

2 School Supplies and Kits

Here is where I store our art kits and some of our school supplies.  In the baskets we have a loom, door plaque kit, a flower box kit, perler beads, pony beads, a bracelet kit, pastels and special art supplies, an aquadoodle mat and magnet letters.  In the plastic drawers, I have all the normal office/school supplies: dry erase markers, pencils, pens, highlighters, tape, printer ink, label stickers, notepads, a labeler and things like that.

The basket on the top has our phonics cards and things I use for Circle Time.  And we love having an electric pencil sharpener easily accessible for all to use!

3 Teacher Desk

I sit here (right now, as I type this) often to plan, prepare, print, and pray.  Underneath the desk is a lot of stuff that is only barely organized.  I know where everything is, but it is not efficiently organized like I would like it to be.  I just have not had the time to devote to that yet.  Right now, I am keeping a huge box of stickers ,drawers with pens, pencils, and markers, a file box for school records, my laminator, a box of stationary and my three-hole punch.

 

4 Student work area

Here are where my students sit.  Each of my older two students have a set of drawers and a basket for their school supplies and books.  The whiteboard is magnetic and the perfect size for our needs.  The table was made especially for me by my sister-in-law’s ver skilled brother.

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In this corner, we have our main craft supply cabinet. Way up at the top, we keep paper bags (for puppets), paint sponges, a wood working kit, and our math balance.  The next shelf contains books, special markers, and a ship-in-a-bottle kit.  The next shelf down contains our math manipulatives and supplies (for RightStart Math).  The middle shelf contains a spice rack of little art supplies (including pompoms, googly eyes, sequins, brads, and glitter) and paper of all kinds.  In the lower shelves, we keep paint, do-a-dot markers, big pompoms, craft sticks, stencils, pipe cleaners, and a puppet making kit.

5 Preschool WallI would really like our world map up here, instead of our USA map, since we are doing ancient world history this year.  However, due to several moves happening between my last use of the world map and now, I cannot find it.  Yet.

We also have a chore chart up here.  I haven’t started using it yet, but it is up in hopes that I will be reminded to start that soon.

The pocket chart holds our preschool project.  Z-urchin and I are going through the alphabet and putting stickers (from my big sticker box that is under my desk) on the cards for each letter.  Z-urchin loves this activity and it is sweet time with him.

6 Shelves

Finally, this is our wall of shelves.  We have our nature shelf and nature board, ready to fill with nature things.  We are focusing on learning about birds (through Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures), so we have some bird guides and pictures up, with our other science books and nature tools.  Then all of our current curriculum and some art books are on the other shelf so I have easy access to them.

We also keep our Child Training Bible and Virtue Training Bible on this shelf.  These are resources we love, designed by a dear friend from college.  Her system reminds me very much of how she liked to study and our study sessions together!

We are now in our fourth week of school, using our new little schoolroom and it is great!

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