Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homeschool in a Small Home series: Making a Classroom

Welcome to the first part of our Homeschool in a Small Home series!


So, as you all know, last week was our first official week of homeschool preschool. I know there are plenty of homeschool families who don't opt for a homeschool classroom, and I know there are plenty who do. In the end, the best advice I've heard is to do what works for you. In our case, I really love having a little space dedicated to Sister Stinky's preschool materials and toys, and so does she...hence, a "preschool space," as we call it. 

Also, major disclaimer: my mom was a preschool teacher when I was growing up, and I practically lived in her classroom before and after school (and soaked up every minute of it). So this space is definitely inspired in part by the sorts of things she had in her classroom. :-)


So, as I've mentioned before, our house is on the smaller side. We don't have a whole room to spare for a homeschool classroom, so it has always been clear that, if we had a homeschool classroom, we would have to carve a space out in a bigger room. This new and improved homeschool space is on the far side of our living room. It's on the opposite side of the room from where we used to have our tot school space.


Feature #1: A Reading Corner




There are plenty of books nestled into this little corner, and a felt board has also been added since these pictures were taken. I love how cozy it is; Sister Stinky curled up in that little arm chair quick as a wink, once she sized up the set-up! I also love that everything is her size, and I am especially tickled that I was finally able to follow the inspiration of the Pinterest world and make my own Ikea spice rack bookshelves. It really adds something to the space!

Some of the toys here are for role-playing/acting out type games (the barn and the finger puppets and stage) and some are just there for fun. Her math materials are in the yellow bin, and we've done some of our reading aloud here during our actual homeschool time. 

Feature #2 : Pretend play corner



Because Sister Stinky is so imaginative (and because pretend play is a staple of any preschool!) I wanted to dedicate a corner just for her pretend play. Different toys will be rotated in this corner, but the current set-up is her pretend bakery. 

Feature #3 - A Writing Center


Obviously, we aren't quite to the level of actual writing yet, but this is a little corner with tabletop paper holder (for drawing and coloring), a mailbox for pretend play, some crayons, a clipboard, and metal insets for stenciling work. Some of it she has already shown interest in (the mailbox was a fast favorite...many thanks to Amy for this toy!), and the paper has gotten a good amount of use. The metal insets will need some more introduction, but I'll think she'll like them when she's ready for them.

Feature #4 - Sensory play area



We have a sensory table downstairs, but I wanted to have a small spot for sensory play in the preschool area, too. Right now, that spot is occupied with things for light play (the homemade light box pictured here has since been switched out for a little battery operated lightbox I picked up at a rummage sale a while back). All the see-through things are fun, and I'm especially excited about the hand-powered flashlight.. Sister Stinky actually only really just discovered this basket today, so I'm interested to see what direction she goes with it.

Feature #5 - Prayer corner/mini-atrium


I've written many times about my love for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. During my grad school years, I had the opportunity to be an assistant in a Level 1 atrium and I loved every minute of it! I actually was pregnant with Sister Stinky for the second half of that academic year, and I am beyond excited that the baby who first spent time in an atrium in-utero is now old enough for CGS work.

My goal for this corner (which is still very much a work in progress) is to turn it into a mini-atrium. Right now I have our Joyful Mysteries playsets out, but they were out for all of Advent, so I think Sister Stinky is ready for something new at this point. Stay tuned for updates on this space! I've been gradually accumulating what I need to make her a Mass kit, and I need to finish up her priest doll and his vestments. I'm looking to purchase this Catholic Montessori album to give some guidance to our catechetical journey.

All told, this entire "preschool space is probably about 5-6 ft x 13-15 ft? (I don't know the exact measurements.) Small, simple, and lovely.

So, if you have your heart set on a homeschool classroom but you live in a small space, take heart...it's totally doable! You just need to be creative and utilize the space you have to its fullest capacity.

7 comments:

  1. I'm drooling over this entire 'classroom,' but seriously HOW do you keep it clean?! I feel like I'm policing my boys all day long and nagging them into cleaning up and I've even gone so far as to toss most of their toys into the basement so that my house doesn't look like hell all the time. But the clutter…I'm having a mild anxiety attack just thinking about turning Joey loose on that reading corner...

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  2. Beautiful! We live in a teeny tiny house and I've homeschooled for four years, multi-purpose room are definitely the way to go :) Sometimes it's the kitchen table, right now I have a work space for our oldest in the rec room in the basement.

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    1. By teeny tiny, I mean 780 sq ft before I finished a 400 sq ft rec room last month!

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  3. This is so cute! I can't wait till my son is ready for preschool and we can start doing these things :-)

    Are those Ikea spice racks for the shelves? I'm thinking about putting those up for some of our books, but I'm worried my son will try and climb them like a ladder...

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  4. What a beautiful space! But I'm with Jenny--my toddler would terrorize all those sweet little peg people in the prayer corner. Just yesterday I found three of my spice jars that he'd hid in the train/truck toy bucket. But perhaps little girls play a bit more peacefully. :) Truly, that is a fantastic room.

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  5. Well done! Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing. May God bless you!

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  6. This is my first visit to your site and I'm so glad I peeked around. We are slowly transitioning into a preschool homeschool here. I loved reading this & have some ideas now to implement with our space & resources. I'm excited to read more. :)

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