... otherwise known (occasionally) as the dining room. :)
Helen is hosting the next Loveliness Fair on Monday September 4th ~ a virtual tour of home learning spaces. So here is a peek into ours! Mind you, we learn stuff all over the house, (so our stuff is apt to be found all over the house), but we have dedicated this central area of our home - the dining room/kitchen/family room juncture - as the place to be for our home learning adventures.
This table originally belonged to my grandparents; it is the smaller of the two tables in the room, but it fits the five of us just right. We use this table for meals and the boys do a lot of their seatwork here. I'd like to get (make?) placemats for it since tablecloths tend to get pulled off or spilled upon regularly. Placemats could be removed for lessons and then set back out for meals (theoretically speaking).
Our learning room is lined with windows on two sides; the windows look out at the birdfeeders and, though lovely, the view can be distracting sometimes:
Six times two is ... hey look at that woodpecker!
The Magna Carta was signed on ... omigosh - a hawk!
Above you see Crackerjack watching our old friend Tough Nut, a friendly mother squirrel who visits our feeders regularly. We're considering making her our "school" mascot. :)
This is a basket of school supplies I made up to keep within the boys' reach. Right now it holds pencils, scissors, ruler, pen, hilighter, prayer book and holy cards. Honestly though, I'm on the lookout for something more, shall we say, durable, to hold our supplies. The be-ribboned basket and Ball jars - pretty as they may be - sort of just call out to Earlybird - grab me, pillage me, toss me down!
I'm thinking maybe something made of thick plastic, bolted down with galvanized steel.
We use this room not just for our own learning, but with our weekly co-op as well (12 kids and 4 mums). I once posted a wide shot of the room to show how we set it up for these wonderful Friday afternoons.
Also above you see the unofficial "teacher's shelves" - a bookcase dh bought me this summer. It was a great buy at a local unfinished furniture store, and just needs to be finished to match the rest of the woodwork. (True to form I couldn't wait and filled it up right away.) Top to bottom it holds:
- the globe
- the atlas
- the CD player
- favorite homeschooling books
- books on reading and literature
- my bill-paying and correspondence basket
- pencil jar
- tape dispenser
- grocery planning materials
- Martha Stewart Kids magazine collection - great for craft ideas
- children's nutrition books
- preschool board books
- favorite Catholic resources
- old journals (for reference)
- math journal resources
- handwriting materials
The chair at the end of the table serves, more or less, as my desk, though I hardly ever actually sit there. I'm more apt to stand at mom central - but it's nice to have the space should I need it. :) This table - longer and darker than the first - once belonged to my husband's parents. In fact, he grew up eating around this table! It comfortably seats 8 which comes in very handy at the holidays (when the books and pencils are stowed away and the space is pressed into service as a true dining room). In between those times, we keep it pushed up against the front wall where, being a horizontal space, it attracts all kinds of materials, resources and whatnot:
Front to back:
- my journal
- my homekeeping binder (on left with floral cover)
- my daily clipboard (ironically, blank today)
- my new favorite pen (a VBS memento)
- current research: our new science spine Earth Science the Easy Way
- my fancy-shmancy in-box (white dishpan on left)
- my reading basket (for the care and feeding of the maternal mind)
- my yearly file system*
- on-going reseach: middle ages resources
- color-coded curriculum binders (alarmingly empty)
- a box of Saxon Math that arrived today
*A bit more about the yearly file folders. This is a system I cooked up a few years back. I use a crate to hold 12 hanging folders. Each hanging folder holds two months worth of weekly file folders. So for instance, inside the September-October hanging folder sit eight weekly letter size folders, one for each week in the 2-month autumn season. Inside the hanging folder also go any general materials for that period of time (a list of apple picking farms, fall craft ideas or pumpkin recipes, for example) and inside each weekly folder go materials specific to each week along with a weekly lesson plan/to-do list. Over the weekend I pull out next week's folder - look through the materials and tweak the list. Throughout the week I pop in e-mails, photocopies, bulletins etc., and at the end of the week I make a few notes and then file it at the back of the crate.
Clear as mud? :)
I also have to show you these piles of old Martha Stewart holiday issues (part of my pre-Christmas planning kick). The index cards in front of the piles were placed there by Bookworm, who generously and efficiently organized the issues by year and month and then set out the cards as labels. "So people will know," he said. (The boy loves to be organized.)
A while back I showed you a picture of our bulletin board, as yet unadorned. It hasn't come too far, but I thought I'd show you there has been some progress - an atlas themed border (from the teacher's store) and index cards designating what subjects will be present on our board each week: math, reading, writing, poetry, religion, French, art, music, history, geography, current events and early learning. Our formal school year starts next Tuesday so I hope to have it filled out by the end of the weekend.
Finally, here is one more home learning bookcase. This one is out in the family room, sandwiched between the computer desk and the sectional. From top to bottom:
- craft box, bird guides, Birdsong Identiflyer and tin of DVD's
- autumn book basket, history notebooks, nature readers
- curriculum resources
- early readers basket and various kids' magazines
- more early learning books
~ Another corner of the learning space that sees a lot of action is the kitchen island. We use it for messier types of activities - science experiments, baking together, sharing snacks and doing all kinds of crafts.
~ One more spot I wanted to show you is the new desk and study area in the boys room, but that will have to wait for a future post (in other words, it still needs work). And I'm still working on the early learning areas for Earlybird - more on that project later too!
"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." ~ Mark Van Doren