Refreshing the Learning Spaces

As promised, I'm here to give you a glimpse into our year-considered.  There is nothing that gives me more delight than this time of year!  The plans are carefully considered, and books are delightfully arranged in baskets, on shelves, and in stacks, inviting all to look step inside.  The learning spaces are freshened and updated, and children are eager once again to embark on new adventures.  Does it sound overly romanticized?  I don't mean for it to sound that way, but I am unapologetic about my love of learning anew through my children's eyes.  It is a joy!  So this isn't an inaccurate impression of the atmosphere in our home right now!  We are eager, the children and I!  It is a time full of potential treasures to be uncovered within the covers of those books!

I thought today I could give you a peek into the learning spaces for this year.  I offered a ridiculously detailed look last year (LOL!), and your response was amazing - so I know you enjoy peeking in!  Though our room is the same, and the sunshine is always streaming in, the children and I enjoy a bit of re-arranging and freshening so the room appears a little different.  It helps with the transition, and making a clear impression that we have moved on from one year to the next.

Looking in and around the space...

You recognize it, right?  We just moved a few tables around.  See how something small makes such a big difference?  And the kids get so excited with a little freshness like this - a small thing like putting a table in a new position or area translates into some excitement!

Above is the view looking in from our long bowling-alley hallway.  See that big open entry space over there on the left?  The one in which my map is hanging...get ready...we're walking over there next and looking in from that opening standing next to the picture book cart...

Bright today, isn't it?  Very nice!  You can get a good idea of the overall room from here!  If you're new, I should let you know up front that this room is a reclaimed dining room.  We did the best we could with it.  Drawback:  I have no formal dining room which I sometimes miss!  Benefit:  It's one of the sunniest spaces in our home, central to, laundry, play areas.  It makes living the day much smoother being here in a central part of our home.

Books are arranged in ways that help our family make use of them.  I group by subject matter, and then further sub-divide from there.  We're blessed with a number of wonderful books, many of which I inherited from my mom's homeschool library!  In order to be a good steward of these resources, I think it's important to keep them organized so I can put my hands on a resource immediately!

You've seen my storage cabinet if you've looked through last year's Learning Spaces post.  Being in a dining room, I have no closets for storage and there are just some things you don't want everyone to see!  How I love my storage cabinet!!

Now, for the next picture I'm going to move to my left again...look above....see that area just to the left, where the little blue table and my desk meet?  That's where I'll be taking the next picture from.

This looks out through our room, through the hall, and into our living room.  See those book cases there on the back wall of the living room?  Those contain my treasured living history library, grouped by century, and sorted within that.  My shelves are too small, but I've decided that I shall have to be content this I had to group and arrange creatively!  It worked!  I made more space!

Let's look at the spaces for the little people!

This year, I put the little table right next to my desk.  I like being very close to the littlest people!  They have a small basket of favorite poetry books on their table right now.  You can see their picture book cart is near them as well!

The large blue chair you see parked under the side of my desk is our *meeting* chair.  The big kids meet with me once a week and review our plans completed, the plans upcoming, and discuss ideas for improvements, projects, and needs.  It's a great way for me to offer and receive feedback from my older students.  With 4 in the learning spaces, it's all about managing time wisely!

The Doodlebug, who is 2 1/2, LOVES to be read to!!  And, she of course loves to draw!  Peanut, my 5 1/2 year old is just beginning to read.   Many of the things they use during their day are contained on the shelf pictured below...

Doodlebug's day consists of lots of time for play and she is read to...a lot!  Peanut enjoys some Montessori work, lots of books, and art and music time!  It's gentle and generous!  A perfect combination!  I know you're wondering what I'm using...I'll talk more details about the specifics in a future post.  :)

If you are sitting at the little blue table and look to your left, this is what you see.  This is our smallish geography center with our map cabinet and our puzzle maps of the seven continents. 

To the right of the map cabinet is our humble collection of favorite geography resources.  There are several living geography books here, as well as our favorite National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World.  I get so irritated with inadequate atlas'!!  For example, some student atlas' have just a couple of detailed maps of a region.  This is so irritating if you're reading about an area and can't find it in an atlas!  And, I intensely dislike twaddly atlas details - like silly little graphs of useless information.  It's a small pet-peeve (which, upon re-reading what I just wrote...seems not-so-small.  LOL!!!)  I hunted and hunted for an affordable, accurate, detailed, and lovely atlas.  I'm very pleased with the National Geographic Collegiate Atlas.  It fits on the shelf nicely, and contains a great number of details within!  If you're looking for the creme-de-la-creme atlas and you've got lots of space - look no further than the National Geographic Atlas of the World 8th edition, complete with "Ehlermann binding, which enables the atlas to open completely flat so that no information is lost in the center".  For the rest of us, the Collegiate works great, thank you very much!


A friend shared these alphabet rummy playing cards with me, and I fell in love with them!  So, I used double sided sticky tape and split up the cards, hanging the 26 letters for Peanut to see.  They're pretty.  :)  If I hadn't been so blessed as to be gifted these pretty botanical alphabet cards, I was considering these lovely Letters Flash Cards done in a traditional/vintage style for hanging and displaying.  Wouldn't they be great?

Here's the art center!  Still so fabulous for us!  Not sure if the little basket of finger puppets was there last year, but the kids do enjoy those!

Thought you'd enjoy taking a quick look at my desk before we head over to the big kids' work area and the science and nature spaces!

I am always inspired by Edith Holden, so I keep a copy of the Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady out and open to the right month.  A friend recently shared that there are a number of other books inspired by the style of the Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady and I was astonished...and drooling - had to share!

Here's my diminutive, but helpful little file basket.  I keep important papers here - notebooking pages, lesson plan outlines, home learning notes masters from Small Meadow Press, ideas and inspiration, weather study worksheets, etc.  It's a place for those things commonly used to land and be at my fingertips.

My new notebook for the year...decorated and assembled!  I love blue!  (If you're interested in more about making pretty notebooks, check out my other notebook post.)  My inspirational quotes this year are again from Charlotte Mason:
The Life of the Mind Grows Upon Ideas
Be inspired by an Idea.

...and I had leftover paper to cover my little steno note book!  Perfect...and charming!

Now...don't you want to go refresh your notebook planner?  Pretty scrapbook paper and a 3 ring binder is all you need to get started!  You can print inspirational quotes and verses on your home printer! we are in the big kids area.  We sort of alternate each year between having tables floating in the room...and having them up against a wall.  The nice thing about mounting brackets with adjustable shelves (above the chair rail and wainscoting in our room) in a space is that it leaves the lower half of the wall free to accommodate small shelves or...a table underneath.  What makes it even more convenient is that located on the shelf above the table...are all the books and supplies the older two children need on a daily basis.

Before you ask...let me explain the difference between the books on the shelf and the books in the baskets.

Shelf books:  These books are used throughout the year.  Each child's Book of Centuries is here, as well as their copywork notebooks, nature journals, and other notebooks.  My 9th grader has some books that look an awful lot like textbooks on that shelf.  Please don't tell anyone!  LOL!!!

I also found room for an electric pencil sharpener, and the favorite markers and color pencils used for daily nature observations/journaling.

Basket books:  These are living books used during the current quarter of work (except for that one 5th grade math book that I see I forgot to move up to the shelf...hmmm...mental note!)  Many times, we read only a portion of a book for a quarter.  Details on what's in each of these baskets soon!

Now turning to science...which received a total overhaul!!

I had to rearrange the offerings in my science area in order to make room on some higher shelves for chemistry and biology equipment and supplies for my older students...that my younger students  Rearranging meant taking over the top of my supply cabinet for experiment kits & storage. 

I thought it looked nice to display a few of our collections in these clear jars...and they camouflage the stacks of kits behind them...well, ok..they camouflage them somewhat.  The inexpensive plastic containers were just sitting in my pantry unused - so I drafted them into service!

This is the new science area.  It's really very similar to the set up we had before.  Another broader view of the entire area...

...with all of my living science books, field guides, reference books, etc.

Here are the Doodlebug's little shelves.  We finished up our little butterfly theme and this area needs to be freshened with something new!

So that's it!  Our happy little learning spaces freshened for the year.  If we're not in'll probably find us out here...

...visiting with this little fella!

We're ready to roll here - we start our lessons again next week!  I know many of you are just starting your summer break though!  I hope your summer is refreshing, joyful, and leaves you invigorated as you anticipate the year ahead and the gift of learning through your children's eyes!

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