Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Learning Spaces- A Tour

After much work and rearranging over the last several months, our learning spaces are finally finished! And I've finally acquired all the updated photos and fiddled with them to make them fun and informative. We use the living room and dining room for our devoted learning spaces, but our entire home is a place where we learn together. This post shows our living room and dining room spaces along with a glimpse of the family room, but I will consider a post about our basement (and the kids' rooms) which contains a lot of education potential itself. We have project tables down there, toys of all kinds, and extra art and craft supplies that used to be in our craft closet in the old house.

Here we go, enjoy the tour:

The living room is our main learning space. It has a lovely set of windows to provide natural light to the table where the kids work. You'll see we have a loveseat, lots of bookshelves, and a lot of materials. I had to give up the chalkboard and the whiteboard and stuck with just the whiteboard. The chalkboard is going on the wall in the basement along with our metal wall.


Another perspective... from the front to the back of the room. So many wonderful windows and doorways...cuts down on wall space for furniture and wall hangings! It required some adjustments.


I love the reference and library corner where we have the shelf for reference books and the library shelf with the bulletin board. I love to display work and items related to our studies. A library shelf is a great way to keep all the library books together. If I want to encourage the reading of a particular book or three, I set them out on the shelf or on the coffee table and chances are someone will take notice and read. 


If you follow the Blog, She Wrote Facebook page, then you know I recently scored an IKEA Expedit large shelving unit for $25 on Craigslist. It is a total WIN! It took up all the items from our smaller cubbies and then some. In these pictures you'll see I began to add more and change things around.
 

Every school room needs a flag! R12 and I have been working on a quilted flag and it's all done except for the starts. Which will be buttons. We may go colonial and do 13 or we'll keep on and go with 50. Let's see what buttons we come up with first. I found a large frame at a second hand store and we based the size on the frame we found.



I had a great little art center on the shorter cubbies, but it's split up now. I did reserve a space for the jars to hold our supplies. I love to just pull a jar and put it on the table for the kids to use- we have scissors and highlighters, Ferby pencils, regular pencils, Prismacolors, and some other colored pencils.


The smaller cubbies I decided to put together as an island in the room. It is really a great way to get more stored in the room, but it does take up space. The bonus is the top surface on which I put the cutting mat for fabric and the ongoing sewing projects R12 starts. Underneath we have lots of math manipulatives and other games for learning. I had to have some place to put all the things I had at the perfect height for kids when I had the cubbies on the wall. For now, it's working although we may move where they are in the room for some variety.


What would a homeschooling mom do with her space to work? I was able to snag a corner of the next room we have devoted to our homeschool- the dining room. With the carpet on the floor, we ruled this space out for actual dining. Instead, we have my desk, the school cabinet, a bookshelf, and the student computers in this room.

My corner has my writing desk- a desk I had made by an Amish man when I got my first teaching job along with a small cubby bookshelf to hold all the books I'm working with right now as I plan and implement lessons. I have plenty of bookshelves, but books would pile up around my desk as I didn't want to return them to the shelf across the room only to need them again. On top of the cubbies I have a basket from my classroom teaching days. That is the precise spot where the kids put their work when they are done and I can pick it up to provide feedback. Admittedly, it's a bit school-ish, but it helps me to stay accountable to make sure I look at all their work for the day.


Part of moving to the new house was adjusting to the new space. Of course. I knew we could not fit in as many toys and art supplies as we'd had all in the same place in the old house, so I was on the lookout for a solid piece of furniture to house our art and school supplies. After several unsuccessful attempts to get one from Craigslist, a friend her early American cabinet. Having five children grown up and gone she wanted to know what it was we were looking for to see if she had anything to fit the bill. Did she ever! It is PERFECT and I'll share in another post what's on the inside. It's simply a gem!

Prior to getting that piece, we built the wall shelving unit in that corner. I wanted it fairly close to my desk so the dining room was a good place for it. At the time we didn't know what else we'd end up with so although it's not ideal next to the cabinet, it is doable. One thing I wasn't sure could stay upstairs was the butcher paper roll. We always have fun uses for the butcher paper and after 10 years we finally had to replace the roll! That is a bargain friends. While on the topic, I prefer the 50lb, 24 inch weight paper for wet and dry media. We used to have it on a shelf Dan built for it, but it fits nicely on the floor beneath the shelves in it's dispenser.


The computers are in the opposite corner of the dining room. We have enough room for the printer shelf and the long table. The basket on the floor holds extra cords and controllers and the printer crate shelf (an early marriage purchase from IKEA) holds paper and software. The chairs once belonged to the folks we bought the house from- they left quite a few things for us actually and these chairs are a great bonus.

My favorite part of having the computers here is that they are substantially separated from the school table in the next room. That allows the kids who need to do research or write papers or practice math to work without interrupting the rest of the kids seated at the table working.




Here's another view of the dining room with its openings to both the kitchen and family rooms. Of note is the animal table. The tanks used to be on a dresser in our former dining room which we moved into the boys' room here at the new house- since we actually have room for dressers in the bedrooms! We had not found a good home for the tanks until we started looking for a table to fit in just that spot. Craigslist to the rescue again...the drawer holds the food and with the lid on the crab doesn't go on the second shelf. But we're working on that.


Of course we don't just learn in two rooms of the house. Our home is full of dedicated learning spaces. I'll make sure to share those too, but for now I have just a few. The first is the family room window where I have placed a set of binoculars and a bird guide. We don't have tons of land, but we have wooded property that backs up on an 18 acre park that also has wooded portions. So, the birds do come along with lots of other wildlife.


Throughout the house I have also displayed the kids' art. Below is one example, but in our powder room I have four nails currently holding pumpkin and apple pastel drawings framed in twigs from the yard and twine holding them on the nails. However, I am collecting used frames and use them in different places. I have received a lot of compliments on seeing the kids' work around the house. It's not expensive and speaks volumes to the children about the value of their work.


I hope you've enjoyed your tour of our main learning spaces. I'll definitely come back and post some of the other places we have tucked away and other ways our home places value on scholarly pursuits.

Lastly, I'll share a few thoughts from Sally Clarkson in her book, Educating the WholeHearted Child. In it she emphasizes setting aside a purposeful place for your kids to learn in one room and everywhere so that they will know that math is more important than setting the table for dinner.

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Here's one of my favorite thoughts: "...when one entire room or area is permanently dedicated to home education and other dedicated learning places are strategically located throughout the house, it speaks volumes to your children that their learning is so important that you want to give them special places for it.
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5 comments:

Kim @ Homestead Acres said...

Oh I love your learning room!! Thanks for sharing. :)

J. Conn said...

wow that is fabulous! i love it! we have 2 small cabinets and one 1'x1' metal cube hanging on the wall... but I only have a kindergartener. I hope that by the time all of my children are being schooled we'll have more room. I think with all of the books we'll need it! :D

Hodgepodgemom said...

You know I love every bit of this. So very practical - making learning easy and fun!! Nature window, arts and crafts supplies, displays of art work. Wonderful!!

jengod said...

Wonderful! You have very lucky kids!

Tracey said...

That is awesome Heather! Bravo! I love the window to nature. Maybe you will see a Sasquatch instead of a bird in the woods.