I’ve really been trying to wait to do this post, because there are a few more things I have on my to do list for this room. But, after uploading some of the pictures, I just can’t wait anymore! I will just do an updated post when I finish my other projects.
As you know we are planning to homeschool for preschool. We have started Before Five in a Row, just for fun to get her introduced to doing some learning activities. I will post what our “learning routine” consists of below. JTom has been just as excited as me to get our room put together. He is all about us learning at home, and having fun. He is amazing and just as excited as I am about teaching Lexie. He has supported me in getting the materials I want/need for the kids, and our learning room. My kids really enjoy learning and I’m considering sending them to www.littlethinkerscenter.com, a place my friend recommended to me. My mom has been a school teacher for 20+ years, and has TONS of great material. I’m so excited she will be retiring in the next few years, and we will get lots of wonderful learning tools then. She has already started helping us on our journey with some reading rods, patterning blocks, etc. Next time I go to Memphis we are going to go through all the older resources she doesn’t use anymore. I can’t wait!
|“playing” with the reading rods
Lexie loves playing with these. She connects them, sorts them, reads the letters, says their sound, etc. I don’t really direct her play with the manipulatives. If she asks me to play, which she always does, then I will. But I follow her lead.
|making a heart with her blocks
This is our room! Well, part of it. Across from all this is her “pretend play” area. It isn’t completey finished yet, and some things have changes since this picture. The gray filing cabinet came from JTom’s old work; we bought it from them for like $25, I think. It holds all the children’s books that I rotate out. Lexie has been really improving her reading recently so I’m needing to replace easier books with some that are longer. She is a creative child so the main thing that draws her to a book is the one with the best Children’s book illustrations. I have to bear this in mind whenever I’m browsing for new books because I want them to be informative while also being engaging with the pictures. The big cabinet is a china cabinet given to me by my grandmother, it was her mother’s. It holds my teaching books that I find useful, and thematic units that my classmates and I did in college, some of our art supplies, and our BFIAR books I don’t want Lexie reading yet (because I want them to be a surprise when we start them).
In the bottom are my empty binders, folders, and other supplies, along with coloring books. We LOVE doing calendar; it’s our favorite part of the day. The calendar is this one, it came from Amazon and was one of her Christmas gifts. Hanging on the calendar is our ABC bible verses; we do a new one each week. The posters came in a big tote full of thematic units given to me by a friend. The bottom one is an ABC chart, which we do the letter sounds song to. The top is a number chart that goes to 20. Lexie can (usually) successfully count to 16 on her own. The poster to the far right is a diagram of how a bean grows, with pictures of different plants and their seeds. We are currently talking about spring and how plants grow, so this fit perfectly with that.
The rug was for our old house, but not used. Choosing a rug can be quite a difficult task, but we certainly made the right choice. If you’re looking for a new rug but want a few tips before you buy one, visit https://info.bazaarvelvet.com/rug-design-guide-how-to-choose-a-luxury-rug. I have since cleaned it and it works great for our “circle time.” Max usually plays on the quilt while we do calendar, then we read together.
My favorite part of the room (right now) is probably the BIG table! Yes, I know! I love it. I found it on craigslist; the ad had been up for a while and I just knew it was already sold. When I emailed her, she said it wasn’t and to make her an offer! So I did. $40 and a trip to Lincoln later, we have a huge learning table and 4 chairs! It is great for the felt board (as you can see), manipulatives, coloring, puzzles, playing pretend, etc. It is just perfect for Lexie. Lexie likes to pretend it is her eating table after she cooks a delicious meal in her kitchen.
After we get the bathroom put in (not any time soon) and we have access to a sink, we will put a plastic office floor cover under the table and use it for painting and messy play. But with no sink down there, it doesn’t make sense right now. So we do that stuff upstairs.
Here are some more pictures:
I really want to get two of these Closet Maid Cubicles for all our manipulatives, puzzles, and other learning materials. I would pull the table out a bit and put them behind it, but horizontally so Lexie and Max can reach everything.
They also have these awesome drawers that go in them:
I would put a few of the green ones scattered throughout the shelves. All of this isn’t in my budget right now, but in due time. =)
|Guest bed area
|Pretend play area
|On top of the cabinet is our laminator (woo hoo!), the cricut, our weekly binder and our BFIAR journaling binder. In the cabinet are puzzles, manipulatives, small blocks, and lacing cards.
I would like to eventually put everything that’s inside that cabinet on the closet maid cubicles, and put some of my supplies like laminating sheets, cricut cartridges, papers, etc in the cabinet. I have childproof locks for it so it would be off limits for little hands. The big chair doesn’t look in place where it’s at, but it’s perfect for all three of us to cuddle up and read in. I also want to add one of these in the natural color to hold the books we are currently enjoying:
I am in the process of making something that is very special to our family for the walls. I began my journey as a stay at home mom because I felt truly called by the Lord; I truly felt it was my responsibility as my babies’ mama to raise them, and God just put it in my hear that is where I needed to be. I feel the exact same way about our time spent learning together. Maybe even more so now, than I ever did before. It’s just amazing to be with her when she learns something new, or makes a connection of two different things we have learned, read, or talked about.
A few weeks ago we talked about how God gives us gifts. I asked her an example of a gift God had given us, and she said, “Baby Max! From you belly!” (then proceeded to squish my
muffin top belly. Then today it was pouring down rain and sleeting (Yes, in April!) on our way to gymnastics and she said “Rain is a present.” Puzzled, I replied, “a present?” She said, “From God! Thank you God, for the rain,” in the absolute most precious, melt your heart voice. It’s just one way God is working more in my life, to be a leader in hers. I love it, and although it is hard, and many days I feel like a failure, it’s a conversation like this one that reassures me if we keep doing what God is calling us to do, our mistakes will not outweigh the positive imprints we are making each day. So, all that to say, that what I am working on is definitely going to be my favorite part of the room, and a special part.
As we update, rearrange, and organize the room some more, I will do a post. =)
In the meantime, here is what out “learning routine” looks like.
After breakfast and a few chores, we head downstairs for what Lexie calls, “calendar and activities!” We begin with our Bible verse and a prayer.
I plan on adding a few pocket charts for sight words, Bible verses, pictures, and other things we are learning about. The great things about pocket charts is you can change out whatever you need to, and it is always there for the children’s reference when they need it.
Anyway, after calendar we do the number chart, ABC chart, and talk about the seed diagram (which I will change out for something else when we are done talking about spring and seeds growing). Then it is time for reading! Lexie’s second favorite part… she gets to choose if she sits in the floor, in my lap, or if we all snuggle in the big chair. She really likes to sit in the floor with Max. I let her play with the blocks or hold something in her hands. It helps her sit still and she soaks in every word. The second time we read a book, she can fill in random words all throughout. We read our BFIAR book for the week, and a 2 other books that go with what we have been learning about. So this week it is “The Little Rabbit,” “The Tiny Seed,” and “Ping Pong Pig.”
Then she practices her gymnastics (mainly to get the wiggles out for the rest of our morning …) This includes tip toeing, walking backwards, forward rolls, hopping, skipping, galloping, bear walking, kicking, walking on her heels, cartwheels, frog hopping, walking side ways, running, back bends, bridges, hand stands on the wall, etc. After that she gets a sticker, picks a special toy or book if she wants, and it is time for independent play! Whew, you tired yet? 😉
(in there somewhere, Max goes down at 8:50 for nap- sometimes we are done with “learning time,” sometimes we put him down and go back downstairs to finish.)
She does independent play in her room for 45min-1hr. During that time I pay bills, prep dinner if it’s a crockpot night, do laundry or other chores, take a shower … just whatever needs to be done that morning.
So, we don’t do her BFIAR activities until the afternoon, usually. Sometimes we may do a few things before gymnastics practice, but usually we do it after nap (so between 2-3pm). This isn’t ideal, but for now it’s what works. I can usually do a few things with her, then she has a game or coloring she can do quietly on her own. This is time that I pick up, do something with dinner, play with Max one on one, etc. Lately we have been doing some Bible reading from our family Bible; it was given to J.Tom and I when we got married by my Granny and Grandpa (thank you!). It has been in it’s box in the China cabinet for a long time. We each had our own Bible that we made notes in, etc. Now I am so excited to share our family Bible with the kids! Lexie really likes reading from it. I haven’t found just the perfect place in our day to do this on a daily basis. I would really like to do it at breakfast and then one other time in the day… we are just going to play around with it and see.
And that’s it! That is how we use our learning area and play room! We don’t do that every single day, probably 3-4 times a week. But I can tell you, our day (Lexie’s behavior) is MUCH better when we start off with this routine. I guess it gives her brain the stimulation it needs, her the attention she needs, and the fun she needs at the beginning of the day. On days we don’t do it, she is like a little wild animal all day. She definitely enjoys the play, learning, and structure of it all. And I feel very blessed to be part of it. =)