Ok, it's no secret that I homeschool, how do you think we have so much time to do all these amazing field trips everyweek and run The Salt Project! Field trips are a HUGE part of our learning, but when we aren't out and about we are at home. We have been schooling around the kitchen table since we moved into this fixer upper 18 months ago. (see more of our reno Kitchen, Bedroom, Nursery)
While I LOVED gathering around the table, I really wanted a home base, a HQ for this sometimes crazy and messy life we live. A place that we could dig in deep and explore and create and be inspired. A place I could close the door and walk away from during meal time (you get the picture). A huge thanks for my friend @Al_the_gal for giving me the courage to transform our master bedroom, yep, you read that right, into a functional and inspiring room that we would enjoy spending the best hours of our day in (not a dark cold basement).
This post is two parts, first I'll take you on a little tour of our space including some of our favorite supplies, next I'll take you through some of the curriculum we use and what a typical day looks like.
I often get asked where all of my stuff is from, so I will try to link everything I can. If I miss something that you are interested in just let me know and I'll let you know where I found it.
First off, our trusty trolly. This is a new addition to our room. I've wanted one forever but you know, didn't have a space for it. Well, we finally got one and love it. Each child has a tray for their daily essentials. They can stack it nicely or just throw it in. I don't really care, as long as it goes in the tray. This one is from Ikea but I know target has them too ($30).
We use mason jars to hold all of our supplies, from gel pens, to sharpies, I've tried to get my kids to use washable markers but we all know that sharpies are king. Luckily, we havent had any "incidents" with them.
I get so many questions about this crate. It is an old crate for carrying glass bottles of Sprite (back in the day). I used it to hold my shoes when I was a little girl. Now I use it to hold art supplies. I've heard you can find something similar at Hobby Lobby.
I found 5 old cigar boxes filled with Norman Dixon's childhood bug collection for $5 a box at an antique shop. This collection is so incrediblely preserved. The kids love looking at it, and we don't have to stab a bug to make our own!
These jars can really be used to anything, they are just so cute! Maybe we will extend our bug collection with them.
My husband drilled holes in some tree stumps for our pencil holders. They have been used almost daily for 3 years now. Winning! We use the Lyra pencils, but also have Prisma color pencils for our nature journals.
I spy Fern #wherethegreenferngoes our little chameleon mascott. She just travels around the plants in our school room in hopes of catching a fly. She was a black friday special at PetsMart. We caved when she was literally the only thing on our sons Christmas list 2 years ago. She has been the best little pet.
I've been collecting globes. Whenever I spot one at the DI or thrift store I snag it. Also, my son scored that beaver skull in a trade.
My kids invented this Genius Jar a couple years ago. We wrote down as many random questions and writing prompts as we could think of and put them all in the jar. We pull slips out when we need ideas for creative writing.
We often use Alexa as a timer, but this little one that my friend recommended has been a game changer. The kids love to use it because they can watch the time clicking away and try to beat the clock. It's also nice to have a visual reminder to stay on task. But speaking of Alexa, I don't know how we lived without her. She is like my teacher assistant, helping with spelling, definitions, math, and any random questions the kids have. We also use her for our composer study.
The clock I found at IKEA, plants at our local nursery. I only buy succulets. I can't seem to keep anything else alive. But I love having plants in this space. This is usually where Fern hangs out and we use the pencils on the daily, so I can easily move the tray to the table where we are working and them put it back on the shelf when we are done. Easier than moving each thing every day.
This is our computer station. I originally had dreams of 3 little Mac Air's lining this desk. A mini genius bar if you will. But until then, we have the old family mac. It's big but it's a work horse, great for my photo editing, making videos and the kids don't mind the huge screen.
The kids each use the computer daily for Math and Typing. We use typingclub.com for typing lessons. It's free and it's the best program I have found. Plus the kids love it.
More plants that I hope to keep alive.
I thrifted the stools for $50 on KSL.com. Luckily, I found them the day before we build the desk. We had to adjust the hight from table height to bar height and I'm so gald we did. Sometimes the kids stand to work in this area. It's nice that they have the option.
The chalkboard was free. Thanks again KSL.com it was an old school board with cork on the back side. My husband framed it with some old barn wood.
We also have random weapons around the house, like this shillelagh from Ireland. You know, to keep the kids in line. I kid, I kid.
And some of our favorite books we keep in my grandpas old Ammo box from WWII. I love incorporating meaningful items from my travels or from my past into functional decor. I'll try to get a list of our favorite books together before Christmas to share with you.
Ok, now that you've taken a tour of our creative space I'll share a bit about what we are doing this year. I have 3 full time students this year, a pre-k, and a toddler. Also known as a recipe for disaster. Last year I kept things super simple becuase #readsbonusbaby. This year I felt like we were ready to add a little more, or that "I" was ready to add more. I loved The Good and The Beautiful when I saw it a couple year ago but when I looked at it I knew I would need to be more involved and with a new born I knew I wouldn't be able to pull it off. So I put it on the back burner. As I started to prep for the 2018-2019 year I took a look at it again and knew this was the perfect fit for our family this year.
You guys, if you haven't heard of the Good and The Beautiful, let me just tell you. It is exactly that. It's good. It's beautiful. Every lesson, I am blown away by the underlying goodness that it holds. Not only is it truely good and wholesome, but it is incredibly thorough. Lessons are about 20-40mins long but man, they are packed to the brim with information. Lessons are not segragated as in public school. Rather, they incompase phonics, reading, spelling, writing, literature, grammer, punctuation, art, and in the 5-6 levels they also add in geograpy! All that packed into a single Language Arts lesson? Yep! They sent me 2 levels for Locke and Breckyn to review and I have personally purchased more for my other kids in the last month. It's that good.
We learn all of our subjects together as a famiy. All ages together like the one room schoolhouse vibe. This process works wonders! The littles learn SO much! I didn't even teach my 3rd child math or his letters or really even how to write now that I think about it. We just started 1st grade last year (yes, we skipped pre-k and k). He started at a 3rd grade level in math and he learned to read in 4 weeks. I shared his reading journey in this post. Kids learn SO fast in an organic enviroment where learning is just happening all day every day. It's not a scheduled event where they are taught a lesson. Like I said, I don't teach. Learning is just part of our lifestyle. We learn to walk and talk, no one sits you down and gives you a lesson on those things, you just watch others do it and practice and do it. We just continue that process with the rest of our learning. It's a very natural approach.
We start our morning together like I shared above, with the one room schoolhouse vibe. During this time we cover poetry and hymn memorization. We pray together, read scripture and shakespeare (if you have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, you know where I got the idea). We also cover Character building by reading books with high moral content. (I'll add those books to my list, but this is my favorite) Then I will read from our read-aloud, this book might be anything from history to fiction. Whatever we are intrested in at the time or something I feel we should read and we discuss it together. Our favorite source for history are living books. My kids devour them because they are true stories and teach history in a way that is personal verses using a textbook where the most important thing taught is the date that it happend. We study history so we don't repeat it, not so we can remember when it happened.
After morning time we jump into rotations. The kids take turns moving through Math, typing, & language arts. I usually start LA with Riz first because it is a parent led curriculum at this level. We read together, study art, and work on phonics and writing while the others are working through their child led course books. While alternating turns at the computer.
One things I love about The Good and The Beautiful curricullum is all of the art that is incorporated. They study art as well as create it. Lockes course is using chalk pastels this year and Breckyns course is focusing on watercolors.
Berdee (4yrs) always just joins in with us. She wants to do what everyone else is doing, so if they are painting, she wants to paint, if they are reading, she gets a book and looks at it, or has me read it to her. She requested a work book last year to learn her letters and practices every day. We have started Reading Dynamics with her but we are moving slowly since letters are still a foreign concept for her. I believe in working at the childs pace. Not pushing, when they are ready they are ready and its SO much easier to wait until they are then try to push them along. Can you imagine doing that with a baby learning to walk? It would end in them not wanted to walk at all and they might even be delayed. So much easier to let them take it at their own pace. The same goes for learning to ride a bike, and learning to read.
These days, the baby (11m) just hangs out with us, livin' that homeschool life of his dreams, with so many people to play with. We all just help him when he needs it but for the most part he just crawls around the school room playing and getting into stuff he shouldn't.
Like I said, Berdee is usually coloring or painting until she gets board, then she will wonder off to play dolls or play dress up.
While Riz is working on math, I sneak downstairs for some one on one time with Breckyn. Her course incorporates a parent/child reader that we take turns reading together. I feel like this part of the curriculum is so important. She reads well, but to have this time together alone is a gift, something that wouldn't happen if it were not part of her course.
We were originally going to put this couch in our school room but decided to put it downstairs in our front room so we could have a quiet place to read but still be close to the school room. I found the couch on amazon, I know right! I had been eyeing an identical couch from article, but found this one for a quarter of the price. score! And it's so comfy (and the cussion doesn't come off like our last couch. Huge problem when you have 5 kids).
We got this table from wayfair for a killer deal, my sis actually ordered it for her dining room but it got dinged up in shipping so wayfair sent her a new one and she hooked me up with this one. I wanted something with a smooth surface for painting and writing. It has been perfect!
This is Bokeh, he will be 8 this year so basically he just hangs out and lays wherever he thinks you might step next. I swear he gets stepped on 100x a day but he just loves to be underfoot at all times.
If you are wondering what on this good green earth would ever make someone actually choose to homeschool, check out my personal blog post about this very topic. And please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you have. Even if your kids go to public school, I still believe that the most importants lessons are learned in the home. These resorces are great so suppliment if you child is struggling or you feel like they have holes in their education.