Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Learning Headquarters

With less than two weeks before the kids head back to school, I wanted to get our new Learning Headquarters set up with all the supplies the kids would need.  I wanted an area that would be centrally located in our home so that I could easily help with homework, even while I'm working on dinner or folding laundry.

I decided to use this spot in our living room.  It's near a half wall that separates our living room and kitchen.  Currently, only the kids' computer table has been utilizing this space, with plenty of extra space for a larger work table and a shelf to hold other supplies.

I started by moving in this old coffee table to use as the work table.  It was previously used as a craft table, but will definitely serve its purpose as a work table since my oldest starts with homework this school year.  On the table I have these colorful buckets that hold supplies that the kids might need like pencils, crayons, markers and other tools (like scissors, erasers and glue).  I got the buckets at Ikea for just a few dollars each.  They were actually flower pots, but I loved the bright colors, the fact that the supplies would be visible and easy for the kids to find, and the ease of being able to take out and put away the supplies.  I used scrapbooking adhesive letters to label each container.

I kept the computer table as well, since most of the computer games we have are educational and will offer good practice for both kids.  Some of their favorite computer games are Living Books, Jump Start, Reader Rabbit, and Type to Learn Jr.

With school starting, lots of toys are being rotated back to the kids' rooms, so one of our toy storage units was available.  This one had just enough space for other supplies. 

Two of the smaller totes are labeled for each child, where they can keep age/grade specific workbooks, flash cards, and their practice notebooks and journals.  The three larger totes are labeled for the three subjects Math, Reading and Science.  These totes have games, manipulatives and other activities related to those subjects inside. 

The last small tote is our sensory tote and will have items in it to go along with the season, the holidays or specific themes the kids might be studying in school.  Right now, our sensory box is all about summer and the beach.  The kids can use their senses to explore the objects and draw/write in their journal about them.

On the top of the shelf, I've dedicated one basket to small easy to read books, especially those books that the kids make in school.  They are great to keep out for rereading and sight word practice.

There is also another basket for word books.  We have a picture dictionary and other word books like Arthur's Really Useful Word Book and Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.  These become a great resource to refer to as the kids begin writing - words, simple sentences and their own stories.

I'm hoping to utilize the shutters on the wall as well.  Currently they hold greeting cards for birthdays and the holidays.  But, I'm sure I could use them for something else when they are not in use.  Maybe for displaying invitations to school functions, tricky sight words that need practicing, spelling lists or the letter of the week.

If your little one is a big kid now and heading off to school, it's definitely important to make them a learning space all their own.  Whether it's a big space with a work table or a small space with supplies in a tote or basket, it will give them their own space to work, learn and be creative.