Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Homeschool Room

Thanks for reading along with me this week as I posted about our "back to homeschool" experience. Just in case you missed the last few days, I shared our math, literacy, and geography Montessori-inspired shelves, and yesterday I shared a post on how we organize for homeschool, including curriculum selections, routines and planners.

Today I am sharing our homeschool room, and all the other little spaces in our home that we carve out for use in learning!

This is how our official school room looks when entered from the kitchen:
On the left you can barely see our geography shelves, then our low sensorial shelves below the window, then our math shelves. Along the right wall you see our literacy shelf under the window. Of course there is also a children's table with chairs and a rug for floor work. 

Here is the view of our schoolroom when entered from the front hall:

Visible in this photo are our literacy shelf (under the window with the star), and the general storage shelves along the wall furthest to the right.

 A few closer photos, with descriptions of how we use each space:
These shelves hold the bulk of our supplies and learning toys which aren't currently displayed on our montessori shelves.
From the top, this shelf contains one basket per subject area to store learning manipulatives and materials which aren't currently being used on our Montessori shelves. I keep a basket for language arts, math, science and "other". The plastic bins below the baskets are home to our craft supplies, and each one contains a type of material or tool: scissors, glue, clay, finger knitting, wool roving for needle felting, crayons, pencils, markers, stickers, stamp and ink, etc. The shelf below that contains our sorting trays on the left and two baskets with wooden games and our bean bags on the right. The next shelf contains puzzles of varying sizes and types, and the bottom shelf contains board games.
The next set of shelves contain our continent boxes (post on them coming up soon), which are taken down as needed and added to our geography shelf. Next, we keep our special papers (large or unusual sizes, plus homemade blank books and other fun mini projects) plus baskets not currently displayed on our Montessori shelves. The white fabric bins below that keep each child's daily work, such as their Singapore Math workbooks or their Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. They also keep their nature sketchbooks and their calendar notebooks in those bins. The next shelf contains a basket with our musical instruments, and the baskets on the bottom shelf hold coloring books and blocks, respectively. A closer look...
 The next set of shelves is for writing inspiration.
 The top shelf contains blank doodle pads and a basket of crayons. Next is some lined paper with a basket of pens and pencils, then colored and patterned paper, then a basket of blank postcards, stationary and envelopes for writing letters, and last is a basket of origami paper. These materials are always available to be used in open-ended projects and play as the children desire.

A closer look:

(Note: the Eco Paper and Eco crayons that are visible in the photo on the top shelf are environmentally friendly products made locally by a family business who want more for the world. I love supporting their business, and you can too by checking out their website here!)

Skipping past the door to the kitchen, the next thing you see in our homeschool room is my "command central", where I keep all my magic. Errrr, manuals. Smile.
My computer and printer/copier/scanner are available for quick use, but I keep my other toys (like my laminator and office supplies) tucked into the cabinets. The white tray under the computer holds ongoing project pieces, as in our passports and stamps from our current geography work. I keep manuals and teacher guides currently in use next to my computer, plus a magnetic whiteboard for use in lessons (right now it's got a world map on it for our geography world tour).
Next to my teacher's area we have the kid's table and our awesome felt calendar/weather chart that the kids can change on a daily basis.
This one was a gift from my parents as they traveled through the Philippines, but you could get a similar one here.

Again, skipping the door to the front hall, the next item in our schoolroom is our geography area.
Pictured here are our US and world maps and our geography shelf with the contents of a continent box, globe with atlases, books and puzzles along with relevant Montessori work. For a detailed description of this area, and the materials in it, read this post. The black board above it is a felt board, but I often put up posters or relevant pictures of our "travels" in geography as we go.
Directly next to our geography shelves we have a large USA map and world map, with the legend presented on the side of the shelf next to them. I love these because they are large enough to really see and use, plus they are laminated to we can use dry erase markers on them, then simply wipe them off.
Next are our sensorial Montessori shelves. Due to a lack of space, I alternate sensorial shelves with practical life at various points in our year, and sometimes use this shelf for special displays, like those for holidays or other thematic units. These shelves currently hold our red rods, some tactile dominoes like these, our knobless cylinders, and our cylinder block sets. Next to the shelf is the pink tower, a Montessori sensorial staple item.
Next to our sensorial shelf, we have our math shelf. For more information about what materials and "works" are currently being displayed, I invite you to read this post. For the most part, I split the space in the bookshelf between the three levels of learners I currently school, and ensure there is is something challenging there for everyone. The purpose of the shelves is always to invite a child to practice a skill they are familiar with, or two challenge them to develop a new skill.
The large bulletin board is currently empty, but soon it will be filled with work the children are proud of and want to showcase. That can be work they are doing for specific lessons, or art they create on their own.
Around the corner are the literacy shelves. Just before them is a numbers poster on the wall for use with the math shelves, and a framed picture of one of the children's first-ever finger painting. I'm such a sentimental sucker.
Next to the literacy shelves there is a basket of early reader books and an alphabet poster for quick reference while using shelf materials. Above that is another felt board, which currently is being used to display fractions. If you like the window star shown here, I purchase the paper from one of my favorite local businesses called Bella Luna Toys (fear not- they ship!) and their You Tube channel shares how to make the stars, along with lots of other Waldorf crafting ideas and methods.
Then you're back to the beginning! It's a small space, but we make it work well for us.

There are plenty of other spaces in our home where we make learning happen too, and to even suggest that all our schooling takes place in this room would be crazy. Here's a quick peek at some other great spaces that fill our needs:
I have a huge shelf in my office that houses all of my manuals, texts not currently in use, portfolios in progress, and our academic library of books I use to support specific units. I just got this shelf and I'm not using it to its full potential yet, but it's so amazingly helpful to have all my "teacher stuff" in one place.
We have a chalkboard door in our kitchen that gets used for all kinds of academic purposes, and artsy ones as well. Right now it's being used to remind us of our summer goals before we officially begin our homeschool year.
We of course school in the living room, when we snuggle to read and build huge block cities. We school in our kitchen as we preserve, prepare and consume our food. Ben has a desk in his room that he uses to create Lego everything, which I also consider to be a learning process. We've moved the play kitchen and dress up center to other spots in the house, but we still consider these activities to be "learning" activities too. Children's play is learning!
This is our new audio book station, which was literally donated to us (books, device, and basket even) by another wonderful homeschooling family. I've placed it on top of the small shelf of books we keep in the living room, and it's been the most amazing addition to our homeschool. Look for a full post on this coming soon!
 We also have a great deck that we do school on a lot in nice weather. You can read an entire post about our "outdoor classroom" here. You can also read the post on our outdoor play space here.

Would you like to see the tour of our school room from last year? Check it out here!


I'm linked up to the Not Back to School Blog Hop!
nbts-blog-hop-2013
Check out my other posts for this blog hop:
How we plan our homeschool year (with curriculum)
First day of school pictures

13 comments:

  1. that classroom is just too beautiful! i want to be in your homeschool!

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    1. Thanks for the visit AND the lovely comment, Diana! You made me smile!

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  2. This is such an incredibly helpful post! My goodness, thank you so much for taking the time to share your family's learning spaces. I am planning to homeschool my son ( now 10 months) and this is so insightful! I may contact you in the future with some questions about starting homeschool if you don't mind! You're such an inspiration!

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    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks for the visit and thanks for the comment. Congratulations in your choice to homeschool- it's an amazing experience unlike any other. Please do keep in touch and let me know how it goes; I would love to be a help if I can!

      Best,
      Emily

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  3. Wow, another Montessori inspired home educator! I was beginning to think I was the only one. Oh how I wish I had an entire room to dedicate to just a classroom alone. Yours is beautiful. I unfortunately have so many Montessori items that I simply cannot display them all at once. I've had to downsize on some of my items for lack of space. Our kids are a bit older than yours. Montessori will truly benenfit them. We used a mixed program with our kids. It's a bit more structured than the regular Montessori Method, but our kids gravitate to the Montessori tools and learning games after school is completed. Learning is playing for our kids, and I attirbute that to Montessori learning. Today was our first day... Have a great year!

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    1. I'm so glad to "meet" another Montessori-inspired homeschooler! We certianly borrow from a mixture of disciplines, so I don't consider myself to be 100% Montessori, but that's the beauty of homeschooling, isn't it? We change and update our paths as necessary. I can relate to your comment about the kids gravitating to the Montessori materials even when we're not "schooling". The line between play and work isn't always clear to them thanks to the playful approach of Montessori (or perhaps I should call that the "working" approach?), so they are often in the schoolroom using their materials throughout the day. A homeschooling mom's greatest gift! :) Have a wonderful year!

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  4. WOW! The classroom was just perfect. How do you manage to put everything in order with 3 children around? My house is so chaotic, and I only have 1 toddler around.

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  5. So inspiring. And organised - I just don't seem to have the energy to keep our spaces regularly rotated with different focus' or to keep everything so tidy and well organised. My 4 year old started school in Sept and I still wonder if we have made the right choice or if I should have stuck to my inner beliefs and concerns about education in the UK. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I really love this post I will visit again to read your post in a very short time and I hope you will make more posts like this.

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