It occurred to me today as I was shoveling the junk out of the basement, that I have not shown you all our learning spaces lately.
Does the impending new year make anyone else want to clean all the clutter and junk out and start fresh? To me it is more compelling than spring cleaning. I need to start the new year and the new semester nice and neatly. As soon as the presents are unwrapped and enjoyed (for a little while) I am itching to have the house put back together and ready for the school days to start again.
Sick isn't it. If you stopped by here looking for ways to have a mentally healthy Christmas break you are in the wrong place.
So early this morning, when only the baby was up with me for company I took a bunch of trash bags down to our basement playroom/learning room and I jumped in. NINE trash bags later and two bags of donations I was done. I'm kind of hoping it lasts until we start up school again on the fourth.
Let me show you around….
Evidently there is a smudge on my camera lenses. Sorry. This is the wall you see as soon as you come down. I spiffed up the bulletin board for January but left the December calendar up. The December board was cluttered and chaotic and I am going for a more serene look right now.
Moving to the left is the work table for the twins and sometimes Kelli and Kevin. This used to be our kitchen table and is a really well used table. Every year or eighteen months I sand it down and poly it but the niceness of that never lasts for very long. In the square basket are mason jars holding pencils, colored pencils, paint brushes, as well scissors, rulers, sharpeners and my stamps (I give the little ones a happy face stamp on their completed work). The round basket is filled with crayons. The book is the Usborne for Book of Doodling which Kelli received for Christmas and has hardly put down since. Bridget's new Melissa and Doug triangle crayons are in the blue box.
Moving more to the left is one of two large bookcases. The top shelf is all early readers of the Henry and Mudge variety. Next shelf down is chapter books I use mostly for read-a-louds. Lots of Little House and Anne of Green Gables, that kind of thing.
Next shelf are more living books/literature . The next two shelves down are history; living books, Usbornes, a set of history encyclopedia's and the bottom shelf is religion. All of our saint picture books, picture bibles, prayer books, catechisms…
Then we have some baskets of books, The left corner is Shakespeare, an ongoing study here, next to that on the right is board books and some Little Bear books, next to that is a basket of my planning books, and under the outlet there are some new books received for Christmas. We've been working through them the last few days.
Keep going. That couch is black and white toile, very comfy and very worn which is why it is in the playroom. Above it is a shelf Dave made for me. Right now it holds our globe the dry erase markes (Brendan loves to get his hands on these) and some flash cards and card games. I use this shelf to display things we are working on, away from little hands.
Here is the dry erase board where I write out copywork and math problems. That desk is one of five elementary school desks I have from our local Catholic school. The rest are in the storage room right now in anticipation of our upcoming New Years party.
Here is the school/craft closet. Up top are paints, play-doh, glues and glitter, beads and clay and anything else I don't want toddlers having free access to. Next shelf down in those polka-dot magazine holders (IKEA – years ago) are resources labeled by subject. Things I will use as children get bigger, lesson plans, project plans, art books, just anything I might need. Next down are some time-telling resources, Continent boxes, a stack of Faith and Freedom readers, a stack of Fr. Lovasek books, a big basket with craft kits, new binders and some art papers (will be used in the next semester of school). Next down is a big bin of math manipulatives, next to which is an abacus sitting on a stack of cafeteria trays (great for toddler school) a puzzle holder (in which NONE of our puzzles fit) and then in the corner there are all the puzzles. On the floor in the red bin (left) are coloring books, then the green striped one hold three cans of play-doh and a bunch of those toys (I am only willing to have three opened at a time) and those other bins are various craft supplies; ribbon tissue, wooden items pom-poms, egg cartons, cardboard, etc… Keep in mind this has taken years to evolve. I didn't just buy all this in one fell swoop.
Next to the craft closet is the toy closet which is painted in chalkboard paint (the painter thought I was nuts when I asked him to do this, by the end of it he was convinced I was a genius). I neglected to take a picture of the toy closet which is organized by shelf in my hyper-control-freak way. Now I'm too lazy to go downstairs and do it. It's neat and organized for the moment. It won't be in 24 hours so you'll have to wait until I clean again for a picture :).
That closet behind Brendan's little cart is for extra housewares; tablecloths, out of season curtains, platters, serving bowls. The cupboard holds all of the paper, scrapbook, construction, scrap, copy paper, stickers, things like that. Behind the door is a storage room which holds the household drek I don't know what to do with and a shelving unit with board games and other toys I rotate in and out.
This is the second bookcase. The top is books that are too big to fit anywhere or that don't fit into any category I an think of. Then we have a little collection of birds that make the right noises and some woodland creatures. The little people like to play with them when we read. Under that are some vintage golden books and some of our favorite picture books; Dr. Suess, Laura Numeroff, Curious George, and some poetry books for small people. Next down is reference books. There is a set of Childcraft Encyclopedias which we use often. The set is from the 1980s and the kids get a real kick out of some of the photos. There are a few dictionaries, a thesaurus, Everything You Need To Know Series field guides, The Ecyclopedia of the Natural World and Plants and Animals Reference Book. Under that is the science shelf. Those white books are a Weekly Reader Science Series which are long out of print but I scored for $10 at a garage sale a few years ago. Here is a used set on Amazon. Mine look older but they make an excellent kindergarten/first grade science curriculum. Stacked up are some nature journals and another dictionary that didn't fit above. Then there are a bunch of living science books. The bottom shelf is just picture books loosely in seasonal order. Stacked ever so neatly in the corner are the winter books which will shortly go in a basket but first I want to read through them and get some craft ideas or make some copies for the bulletin board.
Just in case that wasn't enough detail for you here are a few more corners…
The train tracks are always out. We add new Plan City stuff every Christmas.
Well did I torture you with details? I hope not. I would love to see your play/learning spaces so leave a link in the comments and share if you would like.
Have a lovely evening.