Tuesday, February 11, 2014

100th day of School!

Wow! This week we will have had our 100th day of school! I started this blog wanting to be a regular poster, but of course a few months have gone by and NADDA! I will someday get the hang of this! One of my favorite things to look at on other homeschool blogs is to get a feel of their routines and school "environment". I know there are plenty of homeschool families that gather around the kitchen table or find a comfy spot on the couch and learn. I think that's great, but it just didn't mesh well with how I wanted to teach. I knew I wanted a separate space where most of our learning happened, where I could keep all of our school "stuff". We moved to a new house right before the school year started. Even though we downsized quite a bit, I'm grateful that this new home had a converted garage where we have extra space for school. This room is the perfect size for our needs right now. I thought I would share a few photos, and also explain a little bit about our new system I set in place. Not sure how it will work, but we have the rest of the school year to test it out and see if its a keeper for the year to come! First, here is our room as you walk in!! I hope it seems bright, cheery and inviting--that's what I was going for! I wanted our space to be fun and happy!
The school table it pushed up against the wall in that photo--which is what we usually do when school is through, just to have more space to play. Here is a view from the table:
This back wall of storage holds A LOT of stuff! the lower boxes hold lots of tot/preschool puzzles and games. I have several "busy bags" for my 2 and 4 year old to use during the day. File folders are also here {but I plan on moving them soon, since I finally laminated the 20 that I've had in my "to-do" pile and will need more space for them!} We have quite a few packs of hot dots jr that the kids love, buckets and BUCKETS of magnet letters, numbers and objects to use on magnetic trays {aka cookie sheets!} Several sets of pattern blocks and tanagram puzzles, many of our math manipulatives, and on the tippy top---markers and playdoh---because I cant leave those down with my frisky boys, the house would be covered in them! In the unit closest to my desk I have "mom" storage with monthly folders filled with seasonal themed worksheets, a bin of that months "Friday activities" {seasonal games, sensory bin stuff, project pieces} and the seasonal monthly books. January and February have had a lot of snowman, MLK, valentine and president themes} On the shelf to the other side I have our Science/Math/Geography/History books separated for easier access. Our other fiction books are in another bookcase.
Here is my newer storage area. Before we had bins of toys. I wasn't crazy about having our toys in our school room, but we didn't have any other space in the house for them...until last week when I realized I could take the bottom bunk bed out of our boys room and have toy storage under there! This is where my new "system" is housed. I really liked the idea of "workboxes" and after looking more and more into it felt it could help my 1st grader become a little bit more independent, and if it goes well, I think my preschooler will do really well with its motivating features next year in kindergarten. Instead of having the pull out drawers like a typical "workbox" I use color-coded magazine holders as each subjects box. The work for each student is in their folder in each of the boxes. I thought this was a pretty great idea, especially for teaching multiple children. All of my kiddo's are "color-coded" in school and in the house. {towels, toothbrushes, etc.} Brigham is blue and Oliver is purple. So the plan is for Brigham to go the first box {orange=language arts} and grab his blue folder. In the folder he has to complete the worksheets or whatever activity is in there. I have a Velcro sticky orange square on the folder. When he's completed his assignment, he sticks the square on underneath the boxes {I have a Velcro strip adhered to the shelf} When 2 colors are completed, he can do a "task tray" as a fun break. These are kind of "big kid tot trays" they are all fun, but educational. Most are language arts/math based, but he is still not the best with scissors, so I will have a fine motor cutting activity mixed in there too} The example of a task tray that I included in the photo is our ketCHup condiments game. The ketchup bottles all have CH written on them, and the mustard have words that either begin or end with CH. He has to pair them together in the right order and record the words. {Those cute ketchup and mustard cutouts are from the Dollar tree} Science and History are not every day, so he has 5 separate activities each day. Whoops. That's not true. I didn't include our Scripture activity that we all do together first thing in the morning, his calendar/morning notebook and we have a latin program that is not featured in this year's rotation because I had a problem with our dvd/dvd player--and decided to save it for either this summer or next year} Pretty much the same thing we were doing, but I think this system allows for a little bit more independence and structure that I like, and think my boys will thrive with. I think. I hope, I pray! If not, we'll try something new. Its trial and error at this point, but so far so good!