Monday, September 6, 2010

Learning Through Environment

I'm spending my Labor Day working at the computer and putting together Language Arts Lesson plans... but I like it that way ;-)

While I was working I looked up at our wall map of the world and thought of something my 12 year old said recently...


We were preparing to go and listen to some friend's tell us about their trip to the Holy Land.  We were reviewing our "Circling the Globe" book to brush up on facts about Israel.  We got sidetracked talking about some of our Missionary friends who live and work in Africa.  My daughter instantly pointed out Uganda and I asked her how she knew that so well.  She told me that when she takes showers and baths she studies our shower curtain map! 

I was instantly grateful I had purchased this tool and that it was serving its purpose! 

I have had people say they don't think they could have their house double as a classroom all the time.  I say, why is it such a stretch?  When you integrated learning tools into the everyday spaces your children look at and use, whether they are homeschooled or public schooled, you are giving them a hand-up.  I know it isn't for everyone.  However, if you have a knack for integrating your regular decor with your child's tid-bits for learning... it is worth a try!

Not every room in my house has maps or things of that nature on the wall.  As a matter of fact, the kids' bathroom and parts of our rec room are the only two places this is done in an obvious way.  We have bookshelves piled with books because a) I love books and b) I pray the kids are encouraged to read by their home library (they play library sometimes!).  Here are some alternate ideas if you have a small space or you don't want to use common space:

-  The children's bedroom is a great place to hang a calendar (to work on various calendar skills), maps of places they are studying, ABC charts or Number Charts, a chalk board or dry erase board with spelling words and/or a cork board to post various other learning tidbits and skills they are working on.  You don't need to use the entire room, but one area of a wall could be dedicated to this.  When possible, make it interactive so the kids WANT to learn with the materials.  I had a large classroom calendar hanging straight across from my pre-k/kindergartner's bed for a few years.  She would look at it before she went to sleep every night, ask me questions about upcoming events on the calendar, days of the week and generally learn all the calendar skills she needed.

-  Coat and pantry closet doors, on the inside, are a great place to hang charts and information.  I currently have a poster about measurement on the inside of the coat closet door.  I have one about Mass on the inside of the pantry door.  Every time they go for a coat or a snack, they are coming in contact with information measurement math skills.

-  The refrigerator may be coveted in your home.  Or, it may be plastered with the kids' latest artwork!  Our refrigerator sits across from the counter where my kids eat breakfast and lunch.  I have a chart about measuring time hung on it.  The adjacent door, which they ponder and discuss the contents of daily, has a chart about temperature measurements posted on it.  My children have been learning the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit and what temperature water typically freezes and boils at... without me cracking open a single workbook!

These are just a few ideas.  If you have any others, please, share them here! 

Also, I wrote an article last summer about "The Process of Being Organized".  In it I explain how to take small space and make it work for your homeschool incognito!

Happy Schooling!

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