Homeschool Room Tour 2014-2015

It’s the day before school starts!

Not going to lie, I’m a little excited LOL.

I’m still working today on our school room and getting everything ready, but since this is probably as clean as it’s going to look for a while I wanted to share our homeschool room with you even though it’s not finished.

*Background*

We live in a three bedroom house – we only need to sleep in two of those rooms.  So, a few years back Chris and I moved out of the master bedroom and into the “guest room” on the other side of the house – the main reason, the back bedroom is at least 10 degrees cooler on any given day than the master suite is.  That left us this HUGE space (not even kidding, the room measures approximately 17ft by 11ft and is nearly 1/3 the floor space of our entire house when you include the bathroom and closet parts of the suite).  Until about a month ago, this room was the “multi-purpose room”, it held my office space, our homeschool space, an exercise machine (collecting dust) or two at any given time, and all my craft and sewing stuff.  It was often messy and cluttered.

Our homeschool space at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Our homeschool space at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

I worked out a corner of the room to hold our supplies and do school in last year.
Fast forward to May and the decision to work hard toward selling the house.  I/we did A LOT of purging in this space (still ongoing but mostly done).  Countless trash bags full tossed away, boxes and boxes of fabric and craft supplies donated and thats just some of what we got rid of.

Then the real work started.  We spent well over two weeks scraping popcorn off the ceiling, painting, cleaning, rearranging furniture, and organizing.

Technically the room isn’t done.  The ceiling needs a second coat of paint, we will be ripping out the carpet and replacing it with flooring, and we also need to replace the baseboards and curtains, but school is about to start and I needed a functioning space, so those projects will all have to wait.

In the mean time, I want to show you the amazing transformation of this room.

First let me give you an overview of our main school space.

Like I said, it’s not 100% ready yet, but it’s pretty close.
Inara and I have separate desks this year, which are in an L Shape.  Her’s is my grandmother’s wooden desk and I have a five foot folding table.  You can also see our we chose virtues posters hanging on the wall (I used tape so as not to put holes in the walls) still trying to figure out what to do with the cork board since again I don’t want to put huge screws int he walls to hold it.  The 7ft tall bookshelf holds what feels like the whole world.  It’s got all our curriculum, manipulatives, some chapter books to use for read aloud time, and still has extra space.  Next to it I have a rolling file cart that holds extra file folders and paper, the top drawer holds extra supplies and the middle extra manipulatives.  On top of that is a paper sorter for our colored paper (I’m super excited by that little gem).  You can also see Inara’s new neon pink wiggle seat, I’m excited to add this tool to our classroom this year.  For those unfamiliar it’s a 14 inch round disk inflated to about 3 inches high, but not firm.  It’s got two different textures on the top and bottom.  It allows for sensory input/simulation, noise free wiggling, core strengthening as they attempt to balance on it, and extra bonus it’s fun to sit on (yes I’ve tried it) or play with.
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This is a more detailed view of our bookshelf and supply area.  I’m going to try something different this year with our AAR and AAS (all about reading and all about spelling) letter tiles and store them on a magnetic board separately and use a small white board rather than the big wall mounted board.  In part because, again, I don’t want to put holes in the walls to hang the big board, and also because I found the large board more awkward to use last year.  It’s not far away so we can still use it, maybe sitting on the floor, for other things or at certain times, but not daily. (and yes, I love my label maker and my boxes from Container Store)
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On the back wall of our space I have an awesome school mailbox that a friend gave me, it will function as our workboxes this year.  On top I have a small display of flags (purchased from Smallflags.com) which will be used to say the school pledges, which are printed and laminated next to them.  I also have our US map hanging (I did use push pins for this – sorry Chris) since we will be studying US geography this year.
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On the wall opposite our school area is the new family computer area.  Chris and I both have our computers set up sharing an 8ft folding table.  Chris is working to implement networked logons, so any of the three of us can log on to either computer and find all our appropriate files and settings.  Chris just finished setting all this up on Monday afternoon while I was at co-teacher training.
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Next to the computer area is our new reading area.  I’m more than a little excited about this cozy spot, even if it does still have computer cables and parts stacked on it from Chris’ work in the space on Monday.  I love that Inara and I will have somewhere else to sit during school to read together, and somewhere for me to retreat to at other parts of the day where I can curl up with a book or do my quiet times.
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Not pictured is the fourth wall of the room, which will be our movement area.  We have an exercise bike, and will also be putting Inara’s trampoline in that area.  It’ll be a place for her to get some energy out during school.  We often do memory work (poetry recitation, bible verses etc) while she jumps on the trampoline, or I’ll have her bounce and count to 20 or 100 for math practice.  She also enjoys using the bike to get some energy out and some movement going in her legs.

Well, there you have it, (most) of our school area.  

I’ll be sharing this post here: nbts-blog-hop-2014

Custom School and Life Planner

Well, it seems like just yesterday I was posting the last installment of my Life Management Binder, when in reality it was over eight months ago.

 

And here I find myself at a juxtaposition.  I still really like the binder I made, the system worked great for me, and I LOVED the size – especially when it came to stashing it in my purse.

 

Here’s the problem I faced, as a homeschool mom, I had no where to plan lessons, keep track of school related to-dos, projects shopping lists, or anything like that.  I ended up creating a separate three-ring binder for my lesson plans, and by the end of the school year last year found myself totally disorganized regarding school related items.

 

So, I wanted to combine the two… I started shopping.

I’ve said before I love the look of Erin Condren Life Planners – but man, the price tag – and it still wasn’t customized really.  Personalized yes, but customized no.

Somewhere in there I also realized that what I needed was a school planner, not a life planner.  I needed a place for school stuff!  I did more research and actually bought a copy of The Well Planned Day, a homeschool specific planner. 

When it arrived, I opened it up, and it dawned on me – it didn’t have a “normal” calendar area.  DUH!  This was a teachers planner, not a life planner that included teacher stuff.

I shipped it back.

I did more research.

I forced to conclude that what I wanted doesn’t actually seem to exist anywhere.  I wanted a full and total life planner.  I wanted something that would combine my daily calendar and my lesson plans.  Extra awesome bonus if it looked pretty, and free cookies to all if it also included areas for my cleaning lists, notes, birthday lists and other stuff.

Yeah, no such thing exists.

So then I came to the conclusion, if thats what I wanted, I’d have to make it… 

again

 

Then began the hunt.  I started going back through my Pinterest boards, looking for stuff I’d pinned when planning my Life Management Binder, also looking for homeschool planner stuff.

In the end I found two things that really helped – extra bonus they had free downloads too.

First I found Mama Jenn and her Homeschool Planning Pages.

I love that her pages have a system that easily translates into planning out Inara’s workboxes, as well as divisions in the actual subject areas for two part lessons.

Next I needed a day planner.  Something with a full week, space broken down for scheduling during the day, a to-do list area, and a place for small notes (like what Inara’s AWANA verse that week is or something similar)

Enter Miss Allison’s Art, and her homemade planner. Extra bonus here, the download documents are totally customizable, and she shows you how she put hers together.

 

Downloads in hand (or on disk) I spent some time customizing the planner sheets to include what I wanted.

Then, I printed.  I printed one set of each download and did some tallying.  I figured out how many weeks of active school we have, and thusly how many homeschool planning weeks I needed.  Then I subtracted that figure from the number of weeks in a year.

I figured out I’d need 33 sets of school planning pages and 19 sets with no school planning pages.

Off I went to Office Max.  The nice guy there helped me figure out the self-serve copy machine and I made back to back copies of what I needed.  As I flip through my book first I see the weeks day planner (our normal family planer), then when you turn the page it’s the weekly homeschool planner.

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Next I needed to figure out what the rest of my planner needed.

In the end I had six sections that would need to be divided out.

Off I went to the craft store next, on the hunt for “pretties”.  I hoped to find a nice card stock scrapbook page for the cover, but nothing caught my eye.  Instead I found a “normal” type scrapbook paper with fun rainbow style diagonal lines.  I took the theme and ran with it.

I bought the scrapbook page, and also sheets of solid colored 8.5×11 card stock following the ROYGBV color pattern.  I also grabbed some extra purple (my favorite) for some decorating.

I trimmed the rainbow sheet and glued it to the red card stock.  Found a template for a marquee shape and using MS Word, that template, and my extra purple sheet I created a design for the front cover.

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On the inside of the cover, I printed out and glued on a basic at a glance style school year calendar and also used the same (although much smaller) marquee for a name plate.

IMG_8746I like a bold outline, so using a sharpie I outlined the marquees and the calendar, I added it to the pile to be laminated (more on that in a second)

Right after the cover is my cleaning list areas.

I used my trusty FlyLady plans and printed out my daily routine, weekly plan, and detailed zone lists, all of which would get laminated.

The next section went behind the orange sheet and has about a dozen pages copied back to front for notes.

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Next up, behind the Yellow divider is my first school specific section.  Here I included the curriculum shopping list for the year, our school supply list, and a school years worth of monthly reading logs.

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Behind the Green divider is a copy of our school’s academic calendar.

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In the Blue section is my family birthday and anniversary list

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And then lastly behind the purple section is where my actual calendar and planer pages are.

 

After I had everything copied, printed, organized, and planned, I went to our local teacher store and laminated what I needed laminated.  I laminated the cover to try and keep the pages glued together longer, the cleaning pages so they could be used as checklists with dry erase makers, the school academic calendar for longevity, and the same with the birthday list.

After everything was laminated, I went back to office max (or maybe it was Office depot the next time) and had them bind it for me.  I chose a black plastic spiral binding, and also paid the extra couple bucks to add a nice sturdy clear plastic cover over the front of the whole thing, and a black plastic cover on the back to add stability.

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All in all, I spent several hours of my time, and somewhere between $40-$50 for supplies, laminating, and binding.

In the end though, I have a 100% customized whole life planner for the school year that I LOVE.  In the month since I finished it I’ve used it lots, and can’t wait to see how it holds up over the course of an entire school year.  The only thing in hindsight I didn’t include and wish I had was an area for menu planning and shopping lists.  But now I know that for next year. 🙂

Homeschool Curriculum: 1st Grade

It’s time for back to school and, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m EXCITED!

Our curriculum is all here (well, I’m still waiting on a couple of readers to arrive from Amazon, but the main parts are here) and I’ve begun preping it.

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Being part of a University Model School, a lot of the curriculum choices were out of our hands, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our own choices too.

We were very happy at Summit Christian Academy last year overall, but there were some areas that we just didn’t feel meet Inara’s needs academically, so this year, we’ve made some changes to what we will be including on our home study days.

 

Math

math

Saxon Math 1

 

Reading and Literature

Reading

All About Reading Level 2

We Loved AAR last year, and it’s what I would have chosen even if we were’t at Summit

We will also have and use various read-aloud books throughout the year for Inara to read, as well has have daily reading time for her to listen either to me or Chris read to her, or have her listen to audio books.

Spelling

Spelling

All About Spelling Level 1

 

Handwriting

handwriting

A Reason For Handwriting Level A

We will also incorporate Copy Work throughout the school year.

Science

This is where we take the biggest Detour from Summit

Summit uses the Christian Liberty Press curriculum God’s Creation Series

OFW

Our Father’s World

Inara has a very STEM mindset, she loves to explore and find out how things work, her spatial cognition is amazing, and this science just did nothing to encourage her in this area last year.  She and I both found it drab, and fairly dumbed down even for a kindergarten level (Last year’s curriculum was from the same series, but it was The World God Made).

So, this year Chris and I decided to find a different science program to use at home.  One with more hands on items, that explored the scientific process better, and encouraged Inara’s STEM interests, extra bonus if it also had a Christian, or at least not overly secular, point of view,  Enter A Reason For Science. It’s the same company that makes our handwriting curriculum, and it’s full of great illustrations, and very age appropriate (but still challenging) material – bonus it comes as a complete kit so I don’t have to track down 101 things every time we do an experiment!

So, on our home study days we will also be doing science

A Reason For Science Level A

 

Bible

In class at school, they use Betty Lukens – Through The Bible in Felt.

god'snames

During chapel this year at school they will be utilizing God’s Names by Sally Michael which we will also use at home.

WCV

Also at home we will be continuing with We Chose Virtues, and Inara will be participating in AWANA at our church.

 

Electives

At school Inara will most likely participate in PE and possibly Drama in after school electives.

At home for electives we will be alternating through Art, Spanish, and Critical Thinking/Logic using the following things.

Spanish

Languagenut spanish

We will mainly be using Languagenut.com for spanish, but reinforcing that with the Teach Them Spanish Grade 1 workbook.

Art

DWN

This summer we started using a Draw Write Now book and Inara has enjoyed it, so we will continue that this year.

Logic & Critical Thinking

logic MB

We will be using Logic Links, and Mind Benders Warm-Up Grades K-2 and Beginning Books 1 and 2

 

I’ll be sharing this post here: nbts-blog-hop-2014