Thankfully, the last three homes we've nested in have had adequate space for me to set up a more structured place to lead the children through their yearly academic tour. I'm always arranging, and rearranging, bringing stuff in and tossing stuff out. But, after seven years of easing into our homeschool groove, I can honestly say that there are five essential elements that I have found to be necessary goods for our classroom.
|I snapped this photo just before the daily destruction. You don't think it always looks this clean, do you??|
1. Whiteboard or Chalkboard
Okay, this may seem too basic, but I really do love having a great big whiteboard in our classroom. Not a day goes by that we don't use it. Boys are busy creatures, and when they're given a chance to get up out of their seats to work at the board, it gives them a nice break from the desk. I have found that it's also perfect for little ones, who are just learning to write, to be able to gain penning confidence by beginning first with exaggerated motions using a colorful chubby marker.
2. Proper Seating
I know that having the proper table height for little learners might seem a little over-the-top, but having that "just right" size table or desk really does help them to stay focused on their work. When they can rest their busy feet on the floor and sit with good posture, their penmanship and their focus both improve.
I bought this table years ago from a discount school supply store. It works over-time as a playtime fort, a puzzle platform and extra meal-time seating during family functions and social gatherings. The older boys have certainly outgrown it, but have graduated to the next level:
My inspiration for their workstation, which was built by an Amish craftsman, came from Pottery Barn. The P.B. model was perfect but, for us, a big budget breaker. Luckily, I found a gentleman who was willing to build it for me for a fraction of the price. It doubles as bookshelves (the opposite side is identical to the facing side), and when the school days are done, it will make a great place work on creative projects.
I love, love, love a beautiful set of maps. This dual set of World and U.S.A. pull down maps have been a solid investment for our school. Steve built the frame out of scrap wood pine, then we painted it to give it a bit of polish. Each week we learn the location of a different country and waterway. I love to enter the classroom and find the boys studying different locations on the maps!
4. Clock and Calendar
Never underestimate the value of simple basics in the school-room. As adults we take for granted the ability to tell time and to understand how a calendar works. For children, repetition and routine are great ways for them to learn life-long concepts. Every day, we study the calendar, the weather, and the boys use the clock for time management.
5. Toy and Game Basket
If you've ever tried to teach with a toddler around, you know it can be a challenge ! One tip I love to share is to keep a large basket filled with a variety of toys for toddlers in the classroom. Every week, change a few things out to keep it fresh. Using a basket keeps the toys contained, and holds the amount of toys underfoot down to a minimum. We also keep a few learning games, puzzles and manipulatives in clear storage boxes on the lower book shelves, so that they're easily accessible. Using clear boxes makes it easy for non-readers to see what's inside. Place a label at the narrow end for big kids, who help with clean-up, to get the objects into their proper place at the end of the day.
Charlie loves to dig into his basket! Thankfully, he's great at entertaining himself!
- Words -
Great quotes have always been an inspiration to me throughout my life. When I saw this sign in a vintage decor shop, I knew that it would have a permanent place in our schoolroom. It's the first thing the boys see when they walk in!
- Rewards -
A few weeks ago, Jen at Conversion Diary shared a link to A Philosophy Degree and Fifty Cents blog. While browsing through some back-posts, I found a sweet little tip on giving candy as a reward to your precious Poe's when they recite a poem each week. The boys all work on poetry memorization throughout the year, but I have never given them a reward for their achievements. I can't wait to see how many stanzas they master this year!
What are your favorite classroom essentials??
Higher expectations for more exciting 5 Faves can be met here.