Sunday, August 23, 2015

"School Room" Tour 2015

As a new school year approaches, here is an updated look at DJ's "schoolroom," which I put in quotes because this is actually our living room.  We don't have a spare room large enough for all of his school supplies but I also like having his school work as part of his daily life and not something we do in a special space.  Making learning a part of life is one of the many reasons that I choose to homeschool anyway.  Of course, the downside to having school in your living room is that you never get away from it.  It's always there in front of us, for good or bad.
In the first shot above, I'm standing near DJ's little table where he does a lot of his work and looking back towards the kitchen that is in the far left.  Moving from left to right you can see the television mounted above a set of school shelves, the door to the kitchen, a tall set of shelves with more school work on the bottom levels and shelves for the parents on top, the family piano which DJ will begin lessons on in the winter, DJ's houseplant that he is responsible for keeping alive, a set of shelves with doors that are DJ's daddy's domain and finally the sofa.
When I move to the center of the room between the sofa and television and look the other way you can see (from left to right) DJ's table with two child size chairs, his art easel and art supplies, a brown box of books, another set of school shelves, a basket on the floor with his farm and the front door with our daily calendar.  Most of the work that we do happens on the floor here or at his table.

A traditional Montessori school would have shelves dedicated to each of the preschool subjects, which are Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Culture (including Science and Geography).  I have followed this design as much as possible, but sometimes I just have to do what works for the space available.
One change you'll notice from last year is there are no "toys" in the living room anymore.  All of DJ's cars, trains, tool boxes, games, etc have moved upstairs to his bedroom and play room.  This year, this shelving unit is mostly for language and science with some sensorial and art.  The left section of shelves is entirely language, with metal insets on top, various card sets (sequence cards, opposite cards, go together cards), phonics books, the movable alphabet, sand tray, some miniature phonics objects and sandpaper letters on the bottom shelf.

You'll notice the movable alphabet box is HUGE.  This is described on the vendor's website as the "small" version.  I have no idea where I would have put a "large" one!  You'll also notice the sandpaper letters are laying down on the shelf with their storage boxes pushed to the back.  This is because I don't have room to make a space tall enough to allow them to stand up in their boxes without losing valuable real estate for other materials.

On the top of left side of the shelving unit, I have a digital photo frame.  This is my solution to the "art folders" described in the Montessori albums that I use (Keys of the World).  Typically I would have printed photos of famous artwork from around the world.  I just can't afford the cost of printing that many images, nor do I have the space to store them.  Instead, I've sourced a variety of famous artworks from around the work from the internet and they automatically play as a slide show on the digital frame.  The image I caught in this picture is part of a Chinese mural painted by Qiu Ying in the 1500's titled "Spring Morning in the Han Palace".

The remaining shelves on the left include some science materials, life cycles miniatures, books on the 5 classes of vertebrates and 6 biology puzzles.  The lower middle shelf has sensorial work including sandpaper touch boards and tablets, the binomial cube and the trinomial cube.  The blue basket with the #2 holds a variety of printed/laminated cards such as classification cards, 3-part cards, and sorting cards.  Each set of cards is in a ziplock bag and then all the bags are kept together in the basket.
Moving to the shelves under the television we have a selection of geography, math and sensorial works.  The top shelf holds our geography materials.  On the left are three puzzle maps, the world puzzle, North America and the United States.  DJ doesn't know it yet but I'm getting ready to add the South America puzzle when we officially start school September 9th.  You can also see his continents globe, stacked bowls which are his land/water forms, a small box of miniature animals from around the world and two continent boxes.  The white one is for Antarctica/Arctic and mostly holds the content of the Polar Kit from the Brainy Kit series.  The orange box is our North America continent box which you can read about here.  The rest of the boxes are still in storage but South America will be making an appearance soon!

The shelves on the left are math shelves.  They include the Golden Bead material, large number cards, spindle box, sandpaper numbers, cards & counters, introduction to decimal system box, number rods, small number cards and the Geometric Cabinet on the bottom.  Other math work is tucked on the left shelves including the ziplock bag with the decanomial square in it and the Teen Board and beads.  The rest of these shelves are sensorial works including the brown stair, color boxes 2 & 3, knobbed cylinder blocks, knobless cylinder boxes, geometric solids and the pink tower on the stand to the right.
The last set of shelves is more miscellaneous.  The top shelf has DJ's lacing cards, sew 'n sew block, a Melissa & Doug puzzle and the bag of Guidecraft Feel & Find shapes.  The middle shelf hold the botany cabinet, cards for both the geometric & botany cabinets and two spare wooden trays.  The pig holds coins for whenever they might be needed.  On the bottom shelf is a box of playdough supplies, the Melissa & Doug pattern blocks & boards and a basket full of miscellaneous "busy bag" activities that DJ is mostly beyond and I just haven't removed yet.
And finally, because the living room is already so FULL, the bells cabinet is housed down the hall in the dining room.  My wonderful husband made the cabinet to hold our bells and I printed a variety of pictures of children playing musical instruments to inspire DJ.

So that is a view of our schoolroom for the the start of this new year.  This will be DJ's second year of Montessori primary although as a November baby he would be in PK3 in traditional schools, which is typically the first year of school.  I still have some materials in my storage closet upstairs that DJ isn't ready for yet and a few more primary materials yet to purchase (namely the math bead cabinet).  You'll notice there is no space available for the math bead cabinet or any other materials, unless I kick my husband's things out of his set of shelves in the far corner of the room!  (Which isn't likely to happen).  So only time will tell how we make it all fit, but we'll manage somehow.

Happy learning!

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