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Our Kindergarten Learning Area

This year before we started school, I asked Kaleb if he wanted to continue using the workboxes {we used the Trofast system from Ikea} or use workfolders like the others. He has been asking for awhile to use the workbox grid cards like the older kids, so this year we made a fresh start with his things.

Kaleb’s workspace is at the end of our homeschool classroom that is right near my desk. Both he and Zachary are closer to me so that we have a ‘triangle’ of sorts to work together, because they are the two that are most hands-on at this point.

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Pictured above: Desk – Vika Amon birch tops w/ Curry legs and red Snille chair Pencil rack is Bygel rail with blue Bygel containers. Bins from the Ikea Trofast system.

When we moved the bigger Trofast system out of the schoolroom, it opened up some space next to Kaleb’s desk, so I re-worked the layout there to tailor it to what we’d be focusing on this year. Essentially, I just made it more fun for him {grins}.

Kindergarten workspace-1

Pictured above: A Guidecraft Nordic rocker, our monthly calendar pocket chartUS Wall Cling map, and our All About Reading Level 1 bag of goodies.

Kaleb is the one that primarily uses the pocket chart calendar, so that was moved next to his desk. Each day he figures out the color pattern {he chooses a new pattern each month} and will then count for me, tell me the full date, and explain the pattern is. {This is one of his favorite things to do ~ grins}.

On the wall right below, we have a US Wall Cling map {sometimes there is a similar one available on Amazon}. This year we’re talking a lot about where we live and the world around us, so the map has been a great hands-on tool for Kaleb.

We also keep his bag of All About Reading Level 1 books and the folder games in a bag on the floor so that we can pull it out when we are working on reading. Right behind the bag you may notice a few cookie sheets. One is for our Read! Build! Write! mat and letters. The other {red} sheet is a magnetic Kidboard from Barker Creek that we’re using to build sentences and read together.

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Pictured above: Bygel rail with blue Bygel containers and 12” square corkboard tiles.

Kaleb’s desk area has all of his markers, pencils and more right within reach. Hanging right above his desk are pockets that we use to hang things that we are working on {currently a poem from First Language Lessons and our weather spinner}. We use it to also show off Kaleb’s artwork or other fun things. {shhh….Ziggy the Zebra is resting on the desk}.

Kindergarten workspace-3

Between McKenna and Kaleb’s desk is another Ikea Trofast tower. Kaleb stores all of his ‘extras’ in the bottom two bins. The white bin is for his workfolders and the red bin is where he stores his history binder and other large items so they don’t take up desk space. On top of the Trofast system, is a red bin {left} where he puts any of his completed work. The two binders between the two red bins {top} are his daily calendar notebook and McKenna’s.

That’s just a quick look at Kaleb’s kindergarten workspace. I’ll share a little more next week about how Kaleb’s overall routine is with his workfolders and weekly workbox grid and how we’ve tweaked the workbox system to work for our family.

More Preschool Links

Our New Homeschool Room

Updated: If you would like to, please take a video tour of our homeschool room – I’d love to show you around!!

Homeschool Room

We’ve officially been in our new homeschool room  for 2 weeks now and it has truly been such a blessing to have everything we need in one spot and organized! While we still have a few things that need to be finished {trim work and securing bookcases to the wall}, we’ve been putting it to good use.

Since our room has some odd wall angles, I measured and re-measured and did a lot of online planning to make sure that pieces I was considering would fit in the room. Almost all of the furnishings are thanks to a day-trip to Ikea and the patience of a wonderful friend who helped talk me into {and out of} a few things. I went with a list in hand, but still managed to forget one thing ~ a Trofast shelving unit that is supposed to hold the bins between the kid’s desks. Oops.

Maybe you all remember the disaster of a space when all the books, supplies and what-nots were moved from their various hiding places all over the house and into their permanent learning spots. Yikes! But, it finally came together. I’m not kidding when I tell you I had blisters thanks to the little Allen wrench and a whole lotta screws.

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Pictured above: a big, fat mess

I have to tell you that the color of paint in the room {Benjamin Moore Stem Green} scared me to DEATH when I first saw it on the walls ~ before the furniture was in the room. Thankfully, my hubby and good friend were right when they told me it would all be ok {and talked me out of repainting}.

Ready for a little tour of the new schoolroom? Here’s the view from my end of the room {when you come up the stairs from the garage}.  We have a larger table area that all of our chairs fit around when we are working together for some subjects {history, Bible, etc…}.

New Classroom-1

The table {Ikea Norden} also folds down so we can slide it to the side of the room if we want a little more space. It also has 6 handy drawers where we keep some of our extra supplies like paintbrushes, some art supplies, card games, etc…}.

New Classroom-6

The view from the other end of the room where you come in through the upstairs {via the girl’s room}.

New Classroom-2

There are two desks on each side of the room ~ we split the kids up boy/girl on each side. They are SO excited to have their own workspace {and I am so happy to not hear ~ “Move your stuff out of my spot!” ~ just sayin’}.  Kaleb and McKenna are on one side of the room. There will eventually be a shelving system in between their two desks {the one that I forgot to pick up on the trip}.

New Classroom-3

Pictured above: Desks – Vika Amon birch tops w/ Curry legs and red Snille chairs. Pencil rack is Bygel rail with blue Bygel containers. Bins from the Trofast system.

Kaleb’s desk area is something I’m just loving. I know it’s a little more busy, but he has all of his ‘stuff’ around him and is so excited about it!His desk area has posters from his All About Reading program, a place to hang the ABC crafts he completes and a space beside his desk for his workbox system.

New Classroom-4

Pictured above: ABC posters from All About Reading, trofast system from Ikea, Bygel rail with blue Bygel containers and 12” square corkboard tiles.

The boys’ desks are closest to my end of the room so that they can pull up their chairs to the other side of my desk if we need to work together. I got a swivel chair for myself ~ just because. :)

New Classroom-5

 

My desk area holds all of the main text books {all the teacher’s guides, etc….} along with all the fun stuff too {a.k.a. the laminator and all the teacher supplies}. Top shelves are all of the books we’ll need for this year, shelf level with the desk holds the day-to-day things, and lower shelves hold all the ‘we use it at sometime’ stuff. We had to rig the top of the shelving system because of the slant of the walls. Instead of the top that comes with the system we screwed a white shelve to the top to hold it in place {shhhhhh!}. That way it can sit flush against the wall and things won’t fall out the back.

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Pictured above: My desk is Expedit bookcase and the Expedit desk and Snille swivel chair. The file boxes are Lingo boxes along with green Kassat boxes {to hide stuff}.

One of my favorite parts of the room is the bookcase setup around the window at the end of the room. I LOVE the little window seat area that we were able to create with the bookcases. This has been one of Laurianna’s favorite places to sit and work during the day. I also love that the bin under the bench pulls out to store the kid’s coloring books and such.

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Pictured above: Bookcase setup includes 2 Expedit tall shelves, 2 Expedit bookshelves, and a Stuva storage bench with red chair cushions.

All of our Calendar and Morning Board things are set up in one of the corners of the room {you can read more about our Calendar setup here}. Our All About Spelling board leans up against the wall so that we can move it around if we want to. :)

The bins on the bottom shelves of the nearby bookcases hold some of our day-to-day things: calendar supplies, our All About Spelling teacher manuals and cards, and also our science curriculum. The  kid’s easel is folded up and between the wall and the bookcase.

New Classroom-7

Pictured above: Our monthly calendar pocket chart, We Choose Virtues poster, Calendar and Morning Board, US Wall Cling map, and our All About Spelling board.

The shelves on either side of the window hold all the rest of the ‘stuff’ we use during the year: games, history books, Bibles, early readers, chapter books for the girls, puzzles, and just general fun stuff.

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Pictured above: Bins are Kusiner green/blue and red book bins from Really Good Stuff. Tabletop paper holder from Ikea. Chair is the Guidecraft Nordic rocker.

So…that’s it! We’re in and almost settled. My hubby is working on the trim and hopes to have it finished soon!! Most everything is linked to underneath each of the photos, but here’s the short list:

Where Did it Come From?

I would love to also see your classrooms too ~ wanna share? The best part of putting our room together was gathering ideas from all over the web! I’ve included a linky below for you all to join in and include a thumbnail image of your room.

Homeschool Calendar and Morning Board ~ Telling Time

I was re-organizing my calendar board for the new school year and trying to get it just right when I stopped over and visited Michelle’s at Delightful Learning and got an idea for a little something to add to our board.

We have several different clocks in our house ~ from the old-fashioned chiming kind with Roman numerals to digital clocks. Michelle was putting her calendar together and made something similar, and I knew that it would help a few of our kids right now. :)

What Time is It? Calendar printable

mini Judy clockIn the blank area of the printable, I have a mini ‘Judy’ clock {it’s about 4.5” squarish}.  I printed the time sheet off onto cardstock, laminated it and then attached the mini clock on with four velcro dots so that we can also take it off the board if we want too.  So far it’s been a great addition to our morning board routine.

Here’s a look at our re-arranged calendar board. The numbers below all link to the documents/sites where you can find the printables. The board itself if a large piece of foamboard that you can pick up from either Walmart or Target for around $3.

And you can totally ignore the fact that the kids were playing with the hands on the clock…and I didn’t realize it until I was posting this picture. :) It was correct when we did it this morning!

Since all four of the kids will have different verses for Awana this year, I took the verse cards off the board and we added a few things to pray for: our President and our Compassion child.

calendar and morning board

1. Today is… This is a printable that I downloaded from Carisa at 1+1+1=1.2.

2. Days in School ~ This is a sheet that the girls use to fill in how many days we’ve been in school.

3. Make the Date ~ This is another great printable from Carisa that you can find on her Calendar page.

4. Skip Counting Charts ~ I have a plastic page protector taped to the board and can slide our skip counting charts into this slot {or another 8 1/2” x 11” sheet}.

5. What Time is It? ~ to work on both analog and digital time

6. 4×6 picture of our President and the Compassion child that we sponsor {if you have space on your board, you can sponsor a child too!}.

7. Today’s Temperature ~  This printable has two thermometers on it where we mark the indoor and the outdoor temperature.

8. Weekly Weather Graph ~ Our weekly weather graph that Kaleb and Zachary both do.

You can also see our our calendar and morning board layout from last year. Be sure to check out these other great resources/ideas for calendar and morning board printables:

Carisa @ 1+1+1=1…Calender page

Michelle @ Delightful Learning

~ Mama Jenn’s Calendar Board

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Guidecraft School Library Cart ~ Review

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When I taught in the school system, Guidecraft was a familiar name to me. My classroom had several products that we ordered out of their catalog, but my homeschool classroom hasn’t.

Until now!!image

Trying to keep all of the kids school supplies, books and whatnots in one location and then find room for all of my teaching books and manipulatives was getting a little tricky. We had shelves, drawers and baskets overflowing with all of our school gear…and truthfully it was beginning to drive me a little more than nuts. When things around me are scattered…I am too.

This gorgeous School Library Cart showed up on my doorstep one day from Guidecraft ~ IMG_5105and our UPS guy was nice to bring it inside for me. Trust me, this is one solid piece of furniture! It weighs over 40 pounds, so I opened the box when a friend of mine came over to visit and roped her into helping me put it together.

 

Overall, it was pretty easy to put together. The assembly instructions for the library cart were easy to follow and all done using pictures. At times, the wheels were a little tricky, but from start to finish we had it put together in about 45 minutes. It is definitely a two person job {ok, maybe one if my hubby would have put it together, but I was too impatient to wait for him to get home!}.

Aside from a screwdriver, we didn’t need any additional materials, but I would highly recommend using a socket wrench to tighten everything…otherwise, you’ll be turning the little wrench that comes in the kit for much longer. Besides, using a socket wrench is fun and makes a lovely little noise that makes you feel handy. :)

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Laurianna was the official photographer since my hands were otherwise occupied, but here we are about 45 minutes into our endeavor with a successfully assembled library cart that was ready-to-use!

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The library cart fits perfectly into the corner of our dining room and is going to be wonderful to use this year. I’ve organized it so that one side has all of my weekly teaching supplies on it {teacher’s manuals, extra books}.

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On the other side each of the kids have space to put their books and extras. Instead of putting shelves on the end, we used some removable 3M hooks to hold the kids pencil cases so they can grab them quickly.  The bottom shelf holds our extra manipulatives, our spelling curriculum bin, reading bin and extra school supplies.

I love that it has wheels and we can move it around as needed during our school time. It takes up much less room that what we had previously {hooray!!} and there is still plenty of room to fill it up as we go through our school year ~ and trust me, we’ll use it!

…..THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED…..

 

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. The contest will be open until Tuesday, August 3rd at 8pm EST and a winner will be chosen using Random.org. {GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED}

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Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2010-2011

This year our oldest three {Zachary ~1st, McKenna ~ 3rd, & Laurianna ~ 4th grade} will be working together and focusing on Early American History. This list focuses on the curriculum that we will be using for our older three {preschool excluded…since I’m still tweaking that!}. Otherwise, this is what we have in place for each subject this coming year along with the how often we’ll be working on that subject each week.

Language ~ First Language Lessons was a great addition to our library last year. I love the scripted lessons and the depth that they cover {making it easier for me!}. Zachary will be working through FLL Year 1 and both girls will be working through First Language Lessons Year 3. Is it wrong to say that I am almost giddy that the girls will be learning how to diagram this year?

If you are using First Language Lessons Years 1 & 2 don’t forget the poem printables I made to go along with the memorization. I’m working on the ones for Level 3 right now and will share them soon! {Daily}

Math  ~ Teaching Textbooks is our primary curriculum for the girls. They have been working on lessons this summer and should be moving up to the next level mid-year. For now, McKenna is using Teaching Textbooks Level 3 and Laurianna is using Teaching Textbooks Level 4.

Zachary will be using ABeka Arithmetic 1. He really liked it last year, so we’ll continue it now until he is ready to move into Teaching Textbooks. {Daily}

History ~ This is the ‘core’ of what we’ll be focusing on this year. We’re blending two things together ~ Homeschool in the Woods Time Traveler’s units and Beautiful Feet Early American History for primary grades.

The literature, read-alouds and independent reading choices for the year will primarily come from the Beautiful Feet book choices. Our hands-on activities and lapbooks will all be from Homeschool in the Woods and their Time Traveler’s units {they are absolutely amazing!}. We’re starting with New World Explorers and working up all the way through the early 19th Century. {Daily}

Science ~ This is one area that I am very excited about this year! We’ll be using Nancy Larson Science 1. Science 1 can cover between ages 5 to 9, so we can all use this together {hooray!}. During the year, we’ll be focusing on Life Science {bug, trees, human body and more}. The Science 1 Homeschool kit comes with everything I’ll need to use for the entire year…so I don’t have to go searching for things to do our projects and lessons! {Bi-Weekly}

Spelling ~ It shouldn’t be a surprise that we will be using All About Spelling this year. :) We’re working on Level 1 with Zachary and Level 3 with the girls. As they progress through the level, we’ll move onto the next one. We’re also going to be using All About Homophones with everyone during the year. {Bi-Weekly}

Handwriting ~ A Reason for Handwriting was new to us last year and the kids enjoyed it. The girls will be continuing with cursive with Levels C & D. Zachary will be working on printing with Level A. We will also continue to use ABeka K4 cursive for him since he has enjoyed learning cursive {grins}. {Daily}

Bible ~ All four kids will be attending Awana again this year, so we’ll be learning the verses that go along with their books and using our Awana printables and I’ll be making more to go along with the Cubbies book, Truth & Training and the new SkyStormer book.

I’m also working on some more family time devotions that will incorporate the Seeds Family Worship CDs, but have yet to sit down and get all my thought out for that. {Daily}

Writing ~ The girls will be using Complete Writer Level 4 and Zachary will be using Complete Writer Level 1. These are books that I have cut the binding off and can duplicate to use with other children since they have a copyright permission for families. {Daily}

Independent Reading ~ The girls will be reading books that are suggested in Beautiful Feet.  Zachary will be working on our All About Reading books {and I can’t wait for their new program to be released this fall!!}.

Spanish ~ All three kids will work on Rosetta Stone Latin America Level 1 {Homeschool version}. The homeschool program allows up to 10 users to work on the program at their own pace, so Rick and I are planning to work along on Spanish also. Should any of the kids finish Level 1, we’ll move onto Level 2. {Bi-Weekly}

PE ~ We’ll hopefully be participating in a class at a local college again and also have classes at co-op. {2-3 times Weekly}

Art ~ Twice a month we’ll be doing an artist study and using the book Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl to try our hand at some different art techniques. The book has art activities for kids based on famous artist along with a brief bio on each artist.

Additional Resources:

If you are unfamiliar with some of the curriculum choices/names above, you can follow the links below to learn about a few of the products that I’ve previously written reviews for. I will be sharing more about Nancy Larson Science and Homeschool in the Woods soon and will update these links as I do.

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Linking to:

Not Back to School Blog Hop

The Weekly Grid Workbox System

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Last year we first started using workboxes and for the most part, we followed along the way it was supposed to go ~ except we used workfolders rather than workboxes. This year, after talking to the girls a bit, we revamped our system to make it work better for us. Ginger-Snap-Shots did this very thing last year with her girls with a little bit of a different twist.

This year, instead of using numbers for both the girls and Zachary, we’re switching to a more visual system. This way the kids can see what is expected of them each day. We also ditched the number strips because it was getting plain ol’ tedious for me to pull, switch, and sort the numbers everyday.

The Workbox Weekly Grid Layout

Our new workbox system will have the entire week laid out ahead of time. I have planned out what days we’ll be covering certain subjects and can lay out each child’s week in a short amount of time. Their new card system is closer to the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and each day has it’s own sheet.

Here’s a peek at Laurianna’s Weekly Workbox Grid so you can get a visual of what I am describing:

Workbook Weekly Grid

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the velcro that attaches the workbox activity card is actually on the corner of the card {I used 3/8” sized velcro coins}. The front of each of the cards has another 3/8’” velcro dot in the top right corner. When the kids are done with that subject/activity, they can simply flip the card over {see the picture below}.

Workbox Weekly Grid example

Here’s a look at the entire week laid out as individual days. It is a lot of tags, BUT I don’t have to keep resticking them since they get flipped over. :) Friday is always skimpy since that’s the day that we have co-op and end up playing with friends.

Workbox Weekly Grid Cards

The cards for each day have all been put together on a jump ring and they hang on the wall from that ring. Each child has their own special color of the Weekly Workbox Grid {because you all know that I color-code my kids}. The first page of the workbox weekly grid is actually their chore and daily ‘to do’ list ~ click here to see our chore system. :)

Workbox Weekly Grid Storage

Using the Workfolders

We are still using the workfolders this year, and they will hold the worksheets and books that the kids are using for the entire week. Instead of having numbers on each folder this year, each page will have a subject card showing what should be in that pocket.

Here’s a little peek inside a folder to show you how we’re tying the workfolders into this system.

Workbox Workfolders

In the left pocket are Laurianna’s math cd-roms along with some scratch paper to do her math work. In the right hand pocket is her spelling progress chart. You can see a ‘Mom’s help’ tag on the pocket too ~ showing that she is going to need my help with this subject. Our folders have a total of 12 pockets, so the remaining pockets have subject tags for language, writing, history, science, Bible, handwriting, reading, etc…

Laurianna has been excited about this because she can actually work ahead in her school week if she would like to! If she wants to do three math lessons in one day, she can do that and then flip over those cards on the upcoming days.

 

Big and Bulky Items

Larger Workbox items

We’re still using the same system for ‘big and bulky’ items that we did last year. Each kiddo has their own special big bin on the bottom of Kaleb’s workbox station. He’ll use the top 8 bins and the bottom four are for bigger items like puzzles, leapsters, games, etc… I’ll explain more about Kaleb’s workboxes later in a preschool post.

Yes, it’s a lot of laminating on my part. And lots of tiny velcro dots. BUT in the long run, this is the system that the kids and I have talked about and will work best for us. Sometimes keeping my sanity is more important {grins}. Having the cards all in one place and not scattered over our table or everyone’s cards in a bucket helps me out immensely. Since our schedule doesn’t change much from week to week, I’m able to quickly flip cards and re-stock their workfolders in one sitting.

I’ve included some additional links for you all below to help you out if you are using workboxes or want to use a system similar to mine. :) If you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment with your email address so that I can answer you!! I’m sure I’ll be posting updates about our system to further answer questions, but this is it in a nutshell!

Workbox Resources

~ Workbox Weekly Grid ~ pdf download of the pages I put together for our kids including pink, purple, blue, green and white pages for Monday through Friday.

~ Jump rings – essentially these are key rings that open up easily so you can add to them. We use them in the top corner of our Weekly Grid so we can flip through the days easily.

~ Workbox Picture Activity Cards ~ Overall, there are a total of 32 picture cards, 24 minute cards, and 4 blank cards for you.

~ Preschool Number Cards ~ Number cards with some fun characters {if you are using the traditional workbox system}

~ Scotch laminator ~ this is the laminator I use and until July 31, 2010 there is a $20 rebate when you buy the laminator and a 50 pack of laminating pouches. I love mine so much I bought a spare {sad, but true}.

~ Workbox system using number strips and workfolders {our system last year}

~ Velcro in BULK. I purchased the 3/8” velcro dots from Textol Systems but have also found larger coins at even better prices from Feiner Supply {and they have free shipping this month!}

~ Lots of great workbox links, ideas and ways to adjust the workbox system.

 
Note: You might notice that some of our activity cards differ from the ones that are in my Workbox Picture Activity Cards pdf file because they are specific to our family ~ and are images that are not from Microsoft clip art. I have not included them because although we are using them for our family, they are not copyright free {First Language Lessons, Teaching Textbooks, Complete Writer, Awana, etc…}.