Friday, September 4, 2009

Learning Spaces.

I promised to post pictures of our learning spaces long before we started our school year. I finally have uploaded the pictures to my computer and will take you on a new tour of where learning takes place in our home! Granted, it's very much the same from the previous times I've posted pictures. Organization is the only thing that changes here year to year. As a new year begins, I try to reorganize spaces to make them function better.

Our School Room.

View from one side of the room. The room itself is not as big as I would like it to be, so I have to get creative with storage and organization. I have grown to dislike plastic bins for storage, so I have been moving in the direction of getting all those replaced. In this wall area, the white board is the most used and I really like the size of the board fitting so well between the book cases.

Another snapshot of the school room. Eventually I know I will have to replace our little school table with either individual school desks or a bigger table. For now, however, it works well for all the kids.

I don't like things to look so cluttered, but I need more space! This side of the wall holds my computer desk and large bulletin board. I post our calendar, daily schedule, and random things on it.

The rolling cart has been a great way to organize papers and supplies, but I added a cubby storage next to it as well. The top shelf holds all my teacher manuals and planners. Right beneath it is our school paper supply. This includes blank books, handwriting paper, notebooking paper, etc. The last two shelves hold all my printer paper and labels, followed by all my homeschooling reference books (Cathy Duffy, WTM, etc).

As for the map, I love that the kids can get down and really look at the map, but it's not the ideal 2 year old is constantly taking it off and I really would like a more permanent and toddler friendly way to display our rotating maps. Above the map is our liturgical calendar, which I really enjoy!

This bookcase holds all our curricula for the current year. The top shelf is our preschool/kindergarten/reader shelf. This has Anthony and Isabella's materials as well as our phonics readers.

The second shelf is for Marco's curricula. Since he has the majority of the books, his shelf quickly fills up...mostly with history books. I tend to always have the books organized in order all the time. This makes it easy for Marco to get whatever book he needs and he doesn't have trouble finding it; but for the most part, I'm usually the one who takes things down from the shelf.

The third shelf is for all our religion and reading books (think Alice in Wonderland, Little House on the Prairie, etc.). I try to keep this shelf open to adding more, since I'm always on the look-out for a nice book of saints or other Catholic resources.

Although you can't see inside, the bottom of the bookcase is actually a drawer and not a shelf. Inside I keep all our posters and maps. We tend to rotate maps frequently and take out educational posted often. I keep a list of all materials in the drawer so that I always know what I have. It comes in handy!

This is a new addition to our school room this year. I had some coupons for our craft store and decided to buy two of these wooden cubbies. They are great!! I have them labeled (of course!!) and it makes it easy for me to separate and find things! My labels are: Teacher Resources, Reference and Student Resources, Subject Binders, Misc. Books/Workbooks/Resources, Library Books, and Music/Arts & Crafts.

And although I don't like plastic bins, I still keep three bins in the room. They contain our MFW preschool manipulatives, our preschool activities, and another bin for more manipulatives and activities. I rotate the stuff in our preschool bin, so that's why I keep two for this reason.

The last bookcase in the room contains mostly non-school books. I was kind enough to let my DH have the top shelf for some of his medical books and journals. The bottom shelf is for my personal reading books and the bottom drawer holds empty binders, folders, and other random things. The only real "school" shelf is the middle one. I dumped our plastic containers and replaced them with nice baskets instead. In them I keep a nice stash of office supplies...rubber bands, scissors, scratch paper, pins, etc.

Of course, you can also see that I store games, art supplies, and other random things in bins above both of our bookcases, too!

Lastly in our super long tour of our school room, are some new shelves I installed before we started our year. I wanted a place to keep frequently used supplies that wouldn't be too much of an eye sore and that I could keep handy, but out of the reach of little hands. The top shelf holds scissors, Crayola crayons, Crayola markers, and glue sticks. The middle shelf holds Prisma Color water color pencils, Fibracolor markers, a 120 set of Prisma Color pencils, and Staedtler Mars brush markers. Lastly...we have erasers, pencils, paint brushes, and more PrismaColor pencils on the bottom shelf. Can you tell we are big fans of Prisma Color??

Independent Learning Center

Heading upstairs....this is our new independent learning center. This is mostly used when the kids want to work on something alone, like learning center activities, drawing, nature study, etc. I do come up and help them if they need it, but it seems like we are still developing a sense of how to use this space.

This is our small alcove on the second floor. It's not a big learning space, but it works amazingly well!

I moved one of our kid table up from the playroom in the basement and then purchased a nice shelf to hold all our learning center activities. Once again, I decided to stay away from using plastic bins.

Opposite the table and shelf, I placed this bookshelf that still seems a bit bare right now. At the bottom you can see my plastic filing case that contains liturgical activities for the year separated by month. Above that, I have drawing books and coloring books (Drawing with Children, Draw Write Now, etc.). Marco, Isabella, and Anthony also each have their own bin with a sketch pad, drawing pencils, and colored pencils (oils for now).

The last two top shelves contain our nature study books and some boxes that hold more art/drawing supplies. We've been doing our art lessons upstairs as well as our nature study readings. It's a nice change from the school room.

Looking back you see our leather book bin on the floor. This holds reading books, picture books, and library books dealing with art and nature study. It's nice to keep the books organized by subject, as it makes it easier for the kids to find what they are looking for.

Lastly is the learning center shelves. On top I keep file folder games, learning center folders, and take to your seat centers. The bin also contains books with ideas for using Cuisenaire rods, manipulatives, and for creating learning centers. The top two, dark baskets hold activities and manipulatives to use for language arts. Spelling games, Unifix letter cubes, rhyming games, and more are all contained within the baskets. The two bottom baskets hold all the math manipulatives such as our Lego number tiles, buttons, math games, and more.

The boxes to the left of the shelf hold additional supplies and also contain letter writing materials for Marco. This would be paper, writing utensils, an address book, stamps, and envelopes. Twice a month, Marco picks out someone from his address book and writes them a simple letter. I make a copy to file away in in Language Arts binder as well. I also like to keep a tray to help Anthony and Isabella learn to keep things neat and clean (their mess must stay on the tray).

Of course, I always have to keep Christian in mind when making learning spaces. Every so often, I switch out the toy on top of the shelf in order to give him something to do as well! In the end, it all works out well.

So there is my super detailed picture by picture tour of our learning spaces. Some day I will decide to post pictures of our playroom that often becomes a place where we study outdoor little critters and make our messy art projects. But for now, I think I've had enough!!!

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