Saturday, August 30, 2014

Homeschool Tour 2014

The lazy days of summer are fading into a distant memory, and back to school commercials have begun.  Starting is always the hardest part, but it was time.  Kids run out of things to do and start to argue with each other, and I had begun to worry that their brains were turning to mush.  So, I dusted the shelves, reloaded them with new books, paper, art supplies, fun new learning games, etc. and sooner or later, the kids began to drift over to our school area and look through everything with curiosity.  The quickest way to get their attention is to clean an area up.  To them, that means a clean slate to dive right in and make a mess!

We began the 180 day grind the second week of August...

As you can see, we added one more student to our class!  I'll give you a quick tour, and then I'll show you our class in action...

My homeschool "room" is basically our dining room area and our foyer.  Our home is an open floor plan, so this means that I cannot just shut the door at the end of the day.  Therefore, we try to clean up at the end of school time and at least keep it neat.  Someday, we will have a real room, but for now, we are grateful for the space we have!  So, as you tour, keep in mind that we don't have four actual walls surrounding our space.

This bookshelf holds it all...our curriculum, practice books, math manipulatives, art supplies, readers, and so much more!  I have things labeled and organized by subject and by child.  Organization is the time for searching during our school day!

This is the main table.  It is where both big and little kids gather to begin our day with prayer time and our Bible lesson.  We have "calendar time" with older kids helping the younger ones with their calendar notebooks.  We move on to the pledge and the national anthem (Yes, we do those in our homeschool!).  I lead some fun songs with plenty of dancing with my younger two kids, but my older two always want to join in...and we don't mind!

You can see my calendar in the background, which we use to learn weather, seasons, counting, time, money, months of the year, days of the week, and SO MUCH MORE!  Calendar time is very important for younger students!  You will also notice the numbered carts of boxes on the right side of this picture.  These is a modified version of the "Work Box System."  This is the method that I use to keep both myself and my children organized and on track.  All four of my "students" have these boxes, even my preschooler.  I have organized their daily work in each of the boxes, and it is done in such a way that they do not all need me at the same time.  It takes a lot of thought and preparation, but once we work out the kinks, I just easily reload the boxes at the end of each school day, and the kids are ready to go after our Bible and calendar time.

Both tables have school supplies on them.  In the past, we used personal school boxes, but this is just easier for everyone.  I keep plenty of sharpened pencils and everything they need within easy reach. They each have their own crayons (some take better care of them than others), but we still keep them within easy reach.

I have a couple of fun shelves that have learning toys of all sorts.  Even my preschooler knows that if she finishes her work early, or if she needs help but mom is busy, then she can choose something off the shelf.

This is a really cool set of learning toys that are modeled after the Montessori style of learning.  It is called "Spielgaben," and the man that created "Kindergarten" created this cool stuff!  I will have a separate post on that later.  Each box is filled with wooden toys/manipulatives that can be used for preschool through 6th grade.  You can cover many areas of learning with this kit.  I have binders stored below it that are guides for me and play mats for the kids to use with the Spielgaben toys.

 I begin the teaching and instruction on the other side of the schoolroom.  This is where my younger two kids have their work boxes and everything I need to teach them.  I found that it is better to start with the younger kids first.  My older two work through their work boxes independently while I am instructing the younger ones.  This table has smaller chairs, which allows my little kids to be able to plant their feet on the floor while learning handwriting, etc.  You can also see a magnetic board that is the home for our reading and spelling program.

This board is used for "All About Reading" and "All About Spelling."  My preschooler uses the puppet, "Ziggy" while learning about letters, letter sounds, rhyming, syllables, etc, and she loves Ziggy!  My 1st grader uses the same board for both spelling and reading instruction.  I highly recommend this program!  He easily learned to read within the second week of kindergarten, and this is my child that lives in his own happy, little world!

This is actually a shoe shelf, and it blocks my front door (although could be tossed aside in case of emergency!).  It houses everything I need to teach our reading and spelling program for my younger two kids.  We have fun things for practice too, like stencils, sandpaper letters for crayon rubbings, etc.

We also have a reading nook.  This space spills over to our great room, but it is a cozy place to read.  I curl up in this area, right along with my first grader as I read his science or history books to him.

Some things are portable and can be carried to another room.  This is a bag filled with "Write Shop" activities for my 4th grader.  It is a great writing program filled with fun activities that actually guide children into being better writers...willingly!  My 7th grader and 1st grader also use this program, although theirs are geared toward their ages.

So what does "Little Miss" do while we are learning?  Well, I have tried to set up a fun zone just for her.  Does that mean she plays over here while we have our school day...?

Of course not!  She wants to go to school too!

There are some mornings that I just wear her around in the baby wrap, and she is pretty happy being carried.  On those days, she gets a good little nap, and I can get quite a bit of teaching done without a lot of distraction.  

Now that school has begun, we have worked out our routine.  Although we are super busy, we are super blessed as well!  I love spending the day with these five wonderful blessings!


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