I finally finished working on the learning room. This is an activity that must be accomplished for me to get any planning done over the summer to prepare for the next year. I’m pleased with the results.
I begin by emptying all shelves – everything comes out of the room and is stacked in the hall. Books are re-grouped by subject. Shelves are dusted. I stand back and envision how I need the room to function for the upcoming year. There’s always a toddler around, so I take his needs into consideration organizing certain materials up higher – like glue and other materials down low – like blocks!
I place furniture and desks first. Then, I look carefully at the shelves around the room. Our Montessori shelves are always down low. I have very little wall space in the room, so I’ve had to get creative and have furniture “float” in the room. This allows me to use the wall space I have for storage and display.
After furniture and shelves are cleaned and placed in the room as I like them, I begin adding back books and materials. The shelves on the wall are arranged and grouped by subject.
A quick word on the content of the room. I’ve been homeschooling from the beginning – so that’s 8 years now. I’ve been a homeschooler in my heart (reading and planning) since before I even had my first child – so that’s 15 years! I’ve been collecting that long. I’ll be at this (God willing) for at least another 18 years, possibly longer if there are more children 🙂 The furniture, books, materials you see around the room have been collected over the years a little at a time, not all at once. The materials are an investment in my children, who are priceless. If you are new to homeschooling, looking at this room would be overwhelming! You cannot duplicate everything you see all at once over the summer. Your husband would kill me! If you find an idea for organization here or in set-up that would be useful to your family, please use it! I’m sharing for that reason. But, don’t be overwhelmed by all you see – this has been a labor of love for me for several years.
This is how I’ve set up our nature and science center for next year.
The shelves hanging on the wall contain resource and living books and are grouped according to the branch of science they pertain to. The lower shelves always contain and display the current topic of study. For the summer, I’ve set out general nature study items – binoculars, bird watching guides, bird identiflyer, flower press, nature sketch books, collected items and treasures from favorite nature walks, and a few lovely books for summer reading. We don’t do a lot of nature walking during the most intense parts of the summer – it’s just too hot and humid! So, I add treasures that we enjoy revisiting on the shelves. We watch hummingbirds and other birds from our windows.
Turning 180 degrees and you see the Montessori side of the room – well, the lower half is Montessori. As you can see from the pictures, the shelves are pretty much empty. I don’t leave materials out over the summer with the exception of a couple of favorite activities – Peanut’s scissors, some ABC magnets, math property (+,-,x,/) boxes of equations for summer work. We start the year fresh, with empty shelves and add materials as they are presented. This is to ensure that materials are not abused or mis-used over the summer when attention is relaxed.
The Geography Maps have been a favorite resource of ours! They continue to see use over the summer. In re-arranging, I had to move our collection of globes and cultural materials to the other side of the room. I don’t like it, but it was just necessary. I like subject matter to be grouped together.
My supply cabinet (on the left) will be emptied and re-organized next week. I’ll have pictures up when I finish. The cabinet contains all of our school supply materials, my copier/printer, the CD player, all of the liturgical year material for the Feast Table, etc. I’m not sure if all of that will stay in there after I re-org. The upper shelves to the right of the cabinet contain all of our arts and crafts materials. I have a bit of a weakness there.
This is where I work. The desk is actually Sweet Pea’s, but I don’t have anything else to sit at, so I borrowed it from her room until I can find a suitable table or desk at the Thrift store to replace it. Behind my desk I keep all of the teacher’s manuals and resource materials I need to plan out the year. On the upper shelves behind me I keep the children’s books for the year. This area still looks a little messy because all of my planning books are set out in bins to be addressed and looked over during the summer.
And finally, my big purchase for the year…the Picture Book Library…isn’t it lovely?
Um…can I admit another weakness for picture books? ‘Cause this isn’t all of them! The Catholic Mosaic titles are stored elsewhere, and there are picture books upstairs, and in baskets throughout the house, and you might even find a few in the bathrooms 🙂
What do I love about this little library? Well, for starters, it’s mobile. There are heavy duty casters on the bottom that allow it to move up into the learning room, or into the living room next to the couch, or up next to the stairs and out of the way. I love that I can store *most* of the picture books on the lower shelf, and then I can display the featured books for the month/week on the display section up top. It is very sturdily built and well made. All of the children find this irresistible. As soon as I set out books in the display section, they began bringing those books to me to read. I’ve been looking for a book display for the past year in thrift stores, but have had no success. I’m really glad to have this library/book display shelf – it meets all of my needs in such an attractive way!
So, that’s a tour of the learning room. Next week, I’ll organize my storage cabinet, and then begin the planning for the next year.