Project Simplify ~ Homeschool Storage Room

I recently read Organized Simplicity while on vacation and LOVED it.  I wasn’t expecting to love it, but I did.  I figured it was just another organizing book, but for some reason this one hit me differently, THANK YOU Tsh!  When I saw the Project Simplify was happening in March, I decided to jump on board this year.  I had already dedicated March as our “GET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER” month, with no plans of blogging about it.  When I saw this opportunity, I thought it would be fun to snap a few before and after shots of some projects and join in!

This week’s theme area was KIDS.  I chose to tackle our homeschool storage room, which I originally blogged about here.

Before I show you the recent BEFORE photos, I must share my dilemma with you and how it got this bad.  This room was intended to be homeschool storage only, managed by MOM.  As the warm weather hit last year, it was overcome with bikes, skateboards, rip sticks, roller blades, scooters, and MORE.  Since we live in the inner city and people will literally hop the fence to steal a scooter so they can scrap the metal for cash, we have to put every riding toy inside, every day.  Sine this room has the door that leads out to the riding area, guess where the new toy garage was located?  Yup, the homeschool storage room; aka ~ garage, utility shed, mudroom and more.  I thought we would get a grip this winter when we stored the toys, but the weather stayed mild and we never stored them.  So, I knew I had to revamp the room.  It got SO out of control thanks to my little ones just throwing their toys everywhere.  I couldn’t get to my school stuff to put it away properly so the piles began, and continued, and grew.  It was horrible, really horrible.  I have proof…

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This wasn’t even on a really bad day, as some of the riding toys were outside when I snapped this.  As you can see, I literally could barely walk in there, let alone find what I was looking for.

Not anymore!!!!  We are in the process of building a small outside storage area for riding toys so they don’t get stolen, and in the meantime we have them all stuffed into an outside deck box thingy. I can walk!


Here is our learning toy shelf {the shelf is from Ikea}…

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My favorite thing about the new learning toy storage area is my new click boxes from Target {below on left with green top}.  I love that they are clear and that they can be unclicked and brought right into the schoolroom and put on a tray.  I emptied as many toys as I could out of their cardboard boxes and stored them all together in our basement {in case I give them away in the future and need the box}. I also got rid of at least 25-30% of our stuff.  I blessed another homeschooling friend who has 3 little ones younger than mine, giving her all sorts of good stuff!

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About a year ago I wrote a post about storing our sensory bin items.  In that post you can see that we stored things in this area shown below.  We still have sensory bins now and then, but not nearly as much as we used to back then.  This is also the area that stores misc. Tot Tray supplies.  A year ago I sorted our small items by color, but it was time to change that since all 3 of my kids know their colors!  Our poor sensory bin area got pretty bad too, as you can see on the left, I cleaned it all up as you can see on the right!

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The drawers still store our small items, they are just not sorted by color groups now, but by like items.  Here are 2 drawers…

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This is the door that leads to the outside play area and it had gotten out of control too. I didn’t take any before shots.  These are the after, all set up for springtime weather.  I added a shoe organizer to the back door, I was sick of the big pile of nasty shoes in the basket.  On the left is an assortment of items my kids use regularly outside in the warmer weather.

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I did one more simplifying task, on the door that leads into the school storage room!  I bought a nice shoe organizer from Target and made a school/office supply zone.

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I can’t share the cards I made since I grabbed most of my images straight from Google, but here are the categories I have in case you are curious:

  1. rulers
  2. watercolor paint
  3. scissors
  4. colored pencils
  5. paint brushes
  6. tape
  7. index cards
  8. notepads
  9. pencils
  10. pens
  11. highlighters
  12. Sharpies
  13. Dry Erase Markers
  14. Vis a Vis Markers
  15. Modeling Clay
  16. See the Light Art tools
  17. Chapstick {since we are all always losing it}
  18. glue
  19. gluesticks
  20. shaving cream {for fun like this!}
  21. craft cups {disposable}
  22. erasers
  23. sticky notes
  24. index cards

My thought process was categories that many family members are commonly look for.  This door is in our dining room which connects to both our kitchen and schoolroom.  It is a very central location for all of us.


One last thing I did to help simplify homeschooling craft time was to clear off our hutch in the dining room and create an area to store paint supplies. IMG_1421

I got the silver tins from Target recently for $2.50/each.  In them: cloth napkins {for meals and art}, small paint trays & baby wipes, a few tempera paint bottles {our smaller ones}, paint shirts/smocks, paper towels.  It looks so much cleaner and more simple, and has already been a big help!.


I am so thrilled to have this all done and I honestly don’t think I would have gotten it completed in such a short amount of time if it weren’t for Project Simplify!  I was determined to get my after shots done on time! Next week is the KITCHEN/PANTRY!  My husband is loving this!


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Transportation Theme Printables & More

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Downloads


Monster Trucks Preschool PackMonster Trucks Printables


Transportation Sensory Bin

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Thomas the Train Tot Book

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Cars Tot Bookimage

Cars Preschool Packimage

Cars Pack in action on our blog…image

Old, New, Red, Blue Pocket Chart Printablesimage



Big Machines Tot Book

 

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Tot School Printables ~ Tt is for Train

{Transportation Vocabulary Development Theme}

Letter Tt Printable for Toddlers Letter Tt Printable for Toddlers 2


From my Friends…

Transportation Preschool Packimage

Blog post featuring this pack in actionimage

Transportation Unitsimage

Racing Racecars Gameimage


Are you on Pinterest?

imageYou can check out my Transportation Finds here!


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Jake and the Never Land Pirates Kindergarten Printables

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Jake and the Neverland Pirates PrintablesI had NO idea how popular Jake was until I posted the “coming soon” update on my Facebook page!  Apparently my son isn’t the only one who enjoys Jake and the Never Land Pirates! These were released over on my Facebook page last week, so be sure to “like” 1+1+1=1 so you don’t have to wait for the blog post!

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I hope many of you will be able to enjoy the following activities with your kids!

Using a number line…

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Greater than and less than, using the alligator mouth as a visual aid.Slide4

Identifying coins…

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Counting by 5’s…Slide7

Basic Fractions…

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Sorting…Slide10

Matching descriptive sentences…

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Easy reader…

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Rhyming Words…

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Sight Words, fill in the blank, use tracer for younger kids, fill in the blank for older!

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Labeling characters…

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Write a sentence…

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3-part cards, use for matching words to images or play a memory game with them!

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I hope many of you can use these new Free Kindergarten Printables

and I hope to have more soon!


Here are a few more ideas that would go along well with Jake…

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Legos Kindergarten Printables

Lego Kindergarten Printables

I have been working on these for awhile now and finally found time to finish the Lego Kindergarten Printables up! I decided to use the Lego mini characters for most of it.  I will be incorporating some of my other Lego finds  for a “Lego Week” in the future!

I hope many of you will be able to enjoy the following activities with your kids!

Using a number line…

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Greater than and less than, using the alligator mouth as a visual aid.Slide4

 

Identifying coins…

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Odd and Even, or simply numbers 1-30.  The directions say to use 2 colors of Dot Paint to make a pattern to emphasize odd and even numbers.  You can also just use this as a counting 1-30 mat, be creative!Slide7

 

Basic Fractions, be sure to use real Legos for this {as a hands-on extension} if you can!!

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Sorting…Slide10

Matching descriptive sentences…

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Easy reader…

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Rhyming Words…

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Sight Words, fill in the blank, use tracer for younger kids, fill in the blank for older!

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Labeling characters…Slide19

 

Write a sentence…

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Lego ABC mat, use this however you want!  I loved the concept and wanted to include it to allow you to be creative!Slide22


 

I hope many of you can use these new Free Kindergarten Printables and I hope to have more soon! To download this file, look for this button and click on the words below it!

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Behind the Scenes ~ Following the Lead of the Child

I thought it might be helpful to give you a peek inside of my heart and mind as Ladybug grows and I make decisions for her educationally.  The path we are on together is much different than the path I was on with Krash at this age and I am thankful that I now have experience with 3 different toddlers of my own to compare to better share experience with my readers. image

For those of you who don’t “know me” well, I graduated college with an Early Childhood degree with a certification in Birth-Kindergarten.  While in college I completed internships with a concentration on young children and also Montessori.  After college I taught public school Kindergarten for 4.5 years.

I have been writing an eBook for years, just have never felt God nudge me to pour the hours needed into finishing it.  I have published a portion of it, on my website, which outlines what I believe about educating young children. If you have read that, you will see that I don’t mention worksheets for tots in ANY way!!!  Then why in the world do I have a Tot Time Notebook, a Tot School Printables program with many “worksheet” type of activities, and now a new Animal ABC program with a set of worksheet extras?

The answer is very simple…I am following the child’s lead.

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Ladybug shows interest in these types of things and even though I do my best to direct her towards toys, hands on experiences, and what I feel are more “normal” and developmentally appropriate tot activities-she gravitates towards a writing instrument and something to write on.  It is something I resisted at first but finally followed along and I have had a MUCH happier tot since then.

Most of my Tot Packs and Preschool Packs contain items that are more hands on.  An example would be the Heads and Tails matching game included in the Brown Bear Pack.  Ladybug would NOT enjoy this.  If it looks like cards or something more hands on-she resists.  However, if I put the same idea into more of a worksheet form-she embraces it and has fun!

She boggles my mind and has given me the ultimate lesson in following the child’s lead.  I used to think that meant holding off on stuff like this until later and not PUSHING the young child.  Now I also see that it can go both ways.  It also means not holding a child back.

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Do I think Ladybug is some sort of genius child? NO!  She is very advanced in a few areas, and has been since early on.  She was “professionally assessed” when she was around 20 months {back when she was struggling with her walking and they were evaluating her for services}.  You can see her specific results here, noting that she scored highest and beyond her age in both cognition and fine motor-both areas she has continued to excel in.  She is in the normal range for language and is still below for gross motor.  I am certainly not pushing her, quite the opposite actually.  I don’t want my baby girl to learn too quickly-I love this early childhood stuff!  I want this stage to last as long as possible, she is moving a bit too fast for my personal taste to be honest!

Ladybug spends more time at a table than I ever thought possible for a tot.  She BEGS and even cries to do school if she hasn’t for a few hours.  To her-doing school means sitting at my desk with me and working with me, or by herself.  IMG_9622She created the term “doing school” now it has become a common phrase and request from her.  She hates days off and I will often allow her to “do school” on off days just to make her happy!

When Krash was a tot, I wrote a post entitled, The Advanced Tot, which addressed tots who were more like Ladybug and advancing beyond what their moms expected!  Now I have one of those and it is weird!!!   There are some really great comments from moms on that post too, so if you are intrigued by this topic, be sure to scroll down and browse!

Does Ladybug still play like a normal tot?  YES!  We are on the floor engaged much more than she is ever sitting and working at a table.  She LOVES to read and be read to, way more than the boys ever did-so we spend tons of time cuddled up with our noses in a book together.  IMG_3144

She really enjoys puzzles, play dough, blocks, sensory bins, stickers, painting, drawing, and more intricate fine motor activities.  A few hands on things she really enjoys…

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This is also the little girl with 2 older brothers who she follows.  She sees them writing, so she wants to.  She sees them sitting, so she wants to.  She follows their lead and in turn I follow hers, while also trying to encourage her to stay young and enjoy the lovely things of tot-hood!IMG_6600

Part of the reason I wanted to take the time to write this post is because I used to be the mom with the wild and crazy tot who wouldn’t sit still to color, read, or anything at this age {that would be my sweet Krash}. Krash is now moving along at a very steady pace-not above or behind for his age.  I am very pleased with his progress and academic abilities! I also had a tot who wasn’t quite as wild and crazy {PacMan} but who still could have cared less about anything resembling school until well after age 3.  A tot who didn’t learn to identify letters until closer to 4, and didn’t draw a recognizable picture until almost 4 too!  PacMan wasn’t really into books, didn’t enjoy anything with a paper and pencil and much preferred the hands on world of toddlerhood.  He is now excelling in 4th grade!

When I was parenting the boys as tots, mostly Krash, I would read blogs of moms who had tots more like Ladybug and get a pinch of jealousy.  I never want anyone to read my posts about what Ladybug is doing and think that this is what I believe is correct, normal, or preferred for children her age.  When I wrote about Krash at this stage he fit right in the crowd, but now, I imagine I have a few readers who wonder if something is wrong with their own toddler who won’t go near a pencil and paper!  I assure you there is nothing wrong with your child-not simply because they aren’t interested in anything resembling what you would consider school!  Most tots prefer to be active, loud, and totally hands on.  Most tots learn best that way.  There are a few out there like Ladybug-some even way beyond her.  Those few prefer a different learning path and we just follow them.  It is a delicate balance to follow along while not pushing or holding back.  I pray that’s what I am doing for all 3 of my children and now especially Ladybug at this young age.

I know in this land online it is even more difficult than before to NOT COMPARE OUR CHILDREN, but really-don’t do it!  There is healthy comparison-just to make sure everything is OK, and then there is the type of comparison that makes you feel badly.  That’s the type I encourage you to stay far, far away from!  Let your own tot guide your path for Tot School in your home.  Gather ideas from others but don’t force them upon your tot.  There will be plenty of time in the future when your child will need to do undesirable school assignments!  It just isn’t that time yet at this tender age.

As homeschoolers, we are more able to follow the child’s lead.  In a classroom setting you follow the lead of the class as a whole and focus on what is developmentally appropriate for the age range you are working with.  At home, it is much different and this has been a difficult adjustment for me as a former early childhood educator.  I am so used to the “norm” and with Krash he followed that norm.  Ladybug is not the norm so following her lead is more of a challenge.  As you plan for your own tot, please remember to follow the lead of your own child.  Most important-have fun!

See more Behind the Scenes Posts here!


I have a post in the works going deep into Developmentally Appropriate Practice and what this looks like for us as homeschoolers!  Stay tuned if this sort of thing interests you!

If you are a certified/trained early childhood teacher with classroom experience AND homeschooling mom who is teaching or has taught your own young child{ren}, would you please email me?  I would love to get your thoughts on my upcoming post about DAP and homeschooling, and also ask you some questions!