Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Evolution of the Learning Space

In our home we don't have a classroom like the ones in the schools (not even like the ones in Montessori schools).  Instead, we have a room that we call: "The learning Space."  It was created first of all to keep materials and activities that were not age appropriate for our youngest.  Our oldest could go in there and with company, or independently work on something of her interest.  It is in there were I present anything related to language arts (in Spanish, and English), science, math, cultural studies, or third language reviewing (Mandarin). Our practical life activities are spread around the house, our yard, our deck, and most of all in our family room.  You can see many of the activities in my practical life post.

Here are some pictures of the evolution of the learning space.

Here is how we started (these are from back in November 2012)
We got rid of our home office and dedicated the room to our children's learning space. We are very fortunate to have that room available.

Here is my son right after we changed the room.  I found this canvas at a rummage sale for $1. I love all the bright colors and the emphasis on the shapes.  Under it, I placed a rack of puzzles.  My son loves to find the shapes and to compare them to the ones in the picture.  This is the only area of the learning space that he is currently using.  We get our puzzles for about three weeks at a time from our local libraries.

Our science area, and our geography area.  See more about this on topic related future posts.

Throughout the room we built these small shelves. I purchased them at Target.  They are for organizing toys in little cubes, or for arranging shoes.  They are short enough that my daughter (almost 3.5) can reach anything placed on top of them.  The picture on the left shows what we began with in our sensorial area, by far my favorite component of Montessori education.  We started with the pink tower, and three cylinder blocks.  I made the color tablets #2 myself and I already had the fabric discrimination activity.  I also had something similar for tactile activity in the dog house.  They are little bones made of different fabrics. 

The rest of the classroom used to be very bare. We barely had any materials for the language and math areas. That was it for the first few months. We were lucky to have my mother-in-law support our homeschooling adventure by helping us buy many more materials for the kid's classroom.

Here are new pictures as of March 2013.

After a long vacation in Colombia visiting family, we needed a change in the classroom.  I added some small organizers to place new materials on top of our existing shelves. This over the desk organizers found at Target worked great for placing small items to help with our studies.  Here you see our combined geography area housing all little things related to China as we just started to take Mandarin family classes through Language Stars. The kids and I are enjoying learning a third language.

Next, we also have updated our Sensorial area.  This is a collection that is growing with my oldest.  We still have many materials to buy (or dare I say make?).  As you can see in this picture, the red rods are taller than the shelves.  Here you get an idea of how tall the shelving units actually are.  More than half of the walls are simply bare.  To me, if she can reach it, we don't need it yet

Here you can see some math materials.  To be honest, we are far from being ready for most of it.  I should have read more, and waited a bit before placing my order.  In any case, my kids do love to touch the beads, and to use the numbers and counters.  The hanger for the color stairs is a huge hit that even after some moths still gets their attention.  Next to math, we have our language area.  Here we have just basics and some spelling puzzles in English and Spanish along with materials I have created.

Here is a close-up to my daughter's art work.  Here you can meet the family.  Pink is mami, Yellow is our girl, blue is daddy, and green is our little guy. I found this frames and couldn't resist hanging her work.  I plan on updating it often.

This corner shows our language area.  Mainly what we have is the beginning sound objects in Spanish. These are our most used materials. Under it we have sound object games, and game cards for pink reading in Spanish that I have created.  We have a Spanish movable alphabet, matching activities, and a try to transport  the materials for using the insets.  Next, we have a pocket chart, and the (plastic) insets.  I used a clothes drying stand that my husband was able to cut in such a height that our daughter could put things in and out of even the top pockets.  As of the time I took this picture, we were using the chart to put flash cards to review our vocabulary in Mandarin. It only had the numbers and family members.

Our writing area is right by the window.  We are not big on sitting though.  It is just for using the insets and some occasional coloring.

Here is our marker and chalk board.  It is "bouble sided" from IKEA. Here we practice our letter and I write messages to her.  We also have our calendar that I got on our trip to Colombia.  It has small pegs to place on the date, day of the week, and month.  Also it has two spinners for the time, and the weather. I need to be better at using it as sometimes my daughter tells me that we need to change the date!

Here are new pictures as of May 2013

This is actually a canvas that I found at Target. We are huge fans of Eric's Carle's books.  I placed it on the white board because I am unsure of where to hang it yet. I might just hang it on the door.  I want it low enough for my little guy (2 y/o) to be able to touch the butterfly.  

An updated look of our pocket chart with learning goals and vocabulary practice for the week from our Madarin class.  We are learning about shapes and using this matching games and board (on the table) to review them and the colors.  

Another view of our language materiasl.  After I realized how much more room I needed to start the pink series in English, I had to downsize my initial sound objects in Spanish.  Thankfully there is a smaller version of the really useful boxes, and they come in a great little organizer.  I bought two for all the Spanish letters.


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