Friday, October 8, 2010

♥ School ♥ – week 2, part 1

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”

– Henry Ward Beecher

blog sept 060

So, I’m playing around with what to title my school posts.  I’m looking for something catchy, and I’d like to make reference to the quote above, since I love it and it’s what I try to keep in mind while we are “doing school”: listening with my heart, following my maternal instincts, etc.  However, Mama’s School of Love doesn’t quite sound right, hee hee. ;) Any suggestions?

Wondering why this is just “part 1” of week 2?  Well, we started week 1 out with colds, and ended week 2 with an out-of-town funeral.  My husband’s very sweet uncle, Bud, passed away on Wednesday.  So, between recovering from being sick and then packing and heading out of town on the spur-of-the-moment, only a tiny bit of school was actually done.  I’m going to carry my plans for the week over into another week.  Honestly, I’ve been running behind on everything since my grandmother’s funeral at the beginning of the summer.  Another funeral and all the stuff attached to such an event just makes it harder.  I hope to get back on track next week!

For now, I thought I’d give a quick explanation of how I have M’s shelf activities set up each week.  I bought these last spring, but have not gotten around to posting about them until now.  Here’s how they looked over the summer, for the most part (this was right before M’s birthday, so I had cleaned off a couple of shelves to make room for new toys):may  2010 053

I have been playing a trial and error game with rotating M’s toys on these shelves; I’m not sure it’s working like I envisioned, but I plod on anyway.  Now that we are doing more preschool-ish activities again I’m using the shelves on the right for school activities and the ones on the left continue to hold toys.  

Some things are out permanently (more or less): the music instruments and songbook (shown on the top left in the photo above, but have been relegated to the corner on the floor at this point); M’s ABC collage and trace book; his phonics box (mentioned in this post); and whatever math work we are doing, which is currently bead bars and number cards.  I also have his flannel board tucked in beside the shelf, and all our flannel board sets in the folders on the bottom shelf. The remainder of the shelves hold rotated activities.

I’m trying to rotate a total of 6 to 8 activities every week.  I put out 3 or 4 activities each Monday and 3 or 4 every Thursday.  Each activity stays out for one week, unless it’s something he’s really loved and shows an interest in continuing to do.  Or, if it’s a one time thing – a craft or just a little something fun – then obviously once it’s done, it’s off the shelf.  If I have something to replace it with I will, but if not I just move everything around so the shelf looks full again. :)  Initially I planned to only use the top two shelves for school activities, but I can not put out enough activities for M, as he absolutely loves them, so I decided to use the entire 4 shelves of the one unit.
shelvesRecent activities on our shelves

I’m trying to use more attractive baskets and trays for his activities and I do think it helps grab his attention when things are presented in a pleasing way.  I made this cute little “work mat” for him too, for when he’s doing something potentially messy (using markers, etc.). work mat (4)

Most of the activities I set out are related to language or math work we’ve done, or are fine motor skill practice of some sort, for which I get most of my ideas from Montessori practical life activities.  I also try to include one sensory bin or sensory activity per week, although this doesn’t always happen.

The activities on M’s shelves are meant to be semi-independent work.  This means it’s something he knows how to do and can do completely on his own, or it’s something he will bring to me for instruction on how to do it, then complete it on his own.  I have to say I am usually in the room with him doing something and we keep up a running conversation regarding what he’s doing and how he’s doing, with a lot of me jumping in and out of any particular activity as needed.  There are a few activities that totally engross him and it’s then that I say a prayer of thanks and try to think in something more than 20 second intervals. ;)  We also have “together” activities, not on the shelves, which are things that we, well, do together.

I think this all sounds like more work than it actually is.  I actually have fun planning and preparing M’s “work” for him, both shelf activities and our “together” activities.  And I love, love, love spending time with him actually doing them.  I just wish I didn’t need to sleep so that I could have everything perfect, all the time.  But I can’t.  I’m already tired enough. ;)

I’m linking this up to Preschool Corner, and Weekly Wrap-Up.  Go check them out to see what other moms are up to with their kiddos!

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. ooo loved seeing how you have things setup! Sounds like a really great setup! I love those activities that they know how to do so you can fold laundry or whatever while they work on them in the same room :-)

  2. I like your rotation idea. That sounds great.

  3. How about something with the words "learn" and "love"? Like "Loving Learning" or "Learning with Love" or "Learning and Love"?

    Are we secretly related? We have a set of white shelves in our playroom that I use to rotate toys and set out activities. Ours have plenty of trucks on them too. :)

  4. Great set up Nicole and he seems to be thriving on the Mntessori inspiration!

  5. What about Learning by Heart? or Heart of Learning? Love of Learning through a Mother's Heart?

  6. I love that quote! I'm not very good at snappy titles either, but the first thing to come to mind was something like "The heart of our week" or "the heart of our homeschooling," etc.

  7. I like what joyful learner said, Learning by Heart....or maybe something like "Heart School"??
    Great quote!


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