As this is the start of our home education and tot schooling journey, I have no doubt that our home will evolve as we find what works for us, but for now, we have decided to isolate the core of our planned learning orientated play in two spots in the house. Firstly, the garden, where is a work in progress, where one day we will have plenty of room to run riot, nurture a vegetable and berry patch and grow other things, care for a wildlife corner with wild flowers, and enjoy our space which is already occupied with a new grandad and daddy built sand pit and a large water table.
The other is our kitchen, which is also a work in progress (all very much dependent on weather, finances and the energy of my dear husband to fit it all) but we love it in its working condition, even if it does need a little more work- we are getting there!
We know that we will do a lot of our work in the kitchen as that is where I know I can engage with him better myself, with less distractions, let alone how it may positively impact Squirrel! It just feels good in here, like wondrous things are ready to happen!
As I know that I am one of many home educators who are limited on space, I thought that I would write a reflective post regarding our set up for now, and how we have prepared ourselves for our first ever unit.
I should prewarn you now, I’m the messiest semi organised person you could ever meet! This does indeed extend to my ability to display plans on a chalkboard, and further to my horrific handwriting. (I’m a lefty with a baddy hand, I’m allowed!)
First of all, we clustered together everything that we already had. I used to run my own business which involved a lot of storage boxes and many unusual stock items to keep in, and props for display purposes, then in extension to that I have kept a huge amount of things from previous themed parties, plus having been given a few things along the way also, so on the whole, I had a good amount of hoarded things to dive into and make use of for our activities and also for our set up.
Among those things, were our lovely basket, our Melissa and Doug easel, a small indoor water table, a collection of containers including these delightful buckets and a vinyl blackboard, perfect key parts to our first set up.
We have put up the vinyl blackboard across our wall in our kitchen, where we wanted to briefly outline key parts of the current unit to keep us all in the loop. We also added a few toys, printed pieces and such to create a small display before it inevitably gets surrounded in themed artworks and projects. Leo stood and looked at it all for a long while, pointing out what he recognised among the toy animals, asking to look at some of them closer, and recalling signs and words that he already knew.
We set up our tower of trays beside our fridge, and this is acting as our unit activity base site. It contains materials for each of the activities that I have set up (those that don’t use large materials or props), are in easy reach for me to grab, and are semi prepared. The night before we start a new unit, I plan to prepare all the craft material and pieces in advance so when it comes to an opportune moment to introduce an activity, it is right there and ready to dive into (unless the area we are working in needs preparing at all!)
So for instance, one draw has his themed puzzles in it, another has all the materials cut up with a container for glue and some wobbly eyes and pipe cleaners, all ready to grab for a craft. Another has a laminated geo blocks pattern and the geo blocks in it, so on and so forth.
Above these we have a basket full of the other things that will be used but either don’t fit in the draws, or are used repeatedly, and also consistent tools and materials like colouring pens, dabbers, glue sticks, etc.
This week, I also added another bucket of our beautifully, freshly washed (during an activity) shells and rocks that we foraged for on our day trip, as these will be used throughout this unit with playdough activities, small world activities and sand pit digs!
The easel makes a bright and interesting backdrop that draws Squirrels focus to a surface area to play, where we keep the small water table, useful for its lidded surface and also for its duel basin function for other activities. We also keep a Squirrel sized beanie cushion here for him to sit on if he chooses to, and a small folding shelf unit which we can use to put any tools or things that are needed for his activity that may not fit on his surface.
We have our dining room table as well as his high chair, and I dare say that we will be making fair use of all areas of our kitchen for our learning! I hesitate to call it a classroom, because it feels completely different to anything that could possibly resemble a classroom, but I’m yet to find a name to refer to it as. It will come!
So here is our little abode, ready for our new life, with my little tiny spare room-come storage area-come office-come art studio upstairs where I prepare and store everything, including do our printing, trimming and laminating.
It all feels rather good!