The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

Blog, She Wrote: The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

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Reading. It’s what every parent hopes for their children from a young age. It’s the primary educational goal for young students in school. In fact, even after children learn to read, schools concern themselves with how well they are reading- with leveled reading books and reading comprehension exercises designed to improve fluency and understanding. This post is all about how to build a reading culture in your home without a structured, prescribed method but by immersing your home in story and books.

As homeschoolers, we have a unique opportunity to engage our children in the world of reading and most families I know want to take advantage of it. How do you go about establishing a reading culture at home? Let’s take a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

Build a Home Library

For certain, one of the best ways to make reading a priority is to make books a priority. Surround your children with a print rich environment from the start.

  • The book basket- When our 15yo was a baby, we had a basket of books in every room he hung out in his nursery, the living room, the car, and the kitchen.
  • The bedroom bookcase- Make sure your child’s room has books! We’ll talk about organizing books in a bit, but having them where your kids are is important.
  • Buy Books- The library is a wonderful resource, but nothing beats owning books.
  • Get books at Library Sales- This is my favorite way of getting new titles because there is so much available at low cost.
  • Growing Your Home Library without Breaking Your Budget- A post on how to get books the frugal way.

Choose The Books for Your Library

Once you decide to build the library, how do you know which books would make a good library? Lucky for us, there is no shortage of resources and information on the topic! Here are some of my favorites and links to other bloggers with their own ideas.

  • Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families- I love this book by Sarah Clarkson. She shares compelling reasons for making books a priority in your home. If you choose just one book to take away from this post, it’s this one!
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart- A classic book on using books with your children. I have one of the original editions and the newest edition which addresses screen time. You’ll find a nice anthology in this book to give you a hand with choosing titles.
  • Honey for a Teen’s Heart- Based on the same idea as the first title, this book focuses on books for older kids which is a much needed resource! I love this one because it shares how to communicate with teens using books. Imagine advice on enhancing the relationship you have with your teen based on shared books!
  • Charlotte Mason Series: Living Books- Cindy West tells all about “living books” and what to do with them. If you’ve never heard the term, living books are books written by one author who cares a lot about a topic. They make a much better read than text book type books which are edited by more than one person- less personal and more cursory on the topic.
  • Choosing Good Children’s Books- A look at how to go about discerning a good book for kids.
  • 50 Great Books for Young Readers- A lovely list of titles for elementary readers. I love a good list. Don’t you?
  • Emergent Readers to Super Readers- Wonder what books to put on the shelf for kids just leaving phonics and working on fluency? This is a must read!

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organize Your Home Library

Once you have a lot of books, you’ll need ways to organize your books as the collection grows. I’ve found a system which really works. What’s your preference?

  • Organizing Your Homeschool Library- Ideas for how to organize your books by topic. This is an older post, but we still organize books this way. Only we’ve added many titles since then!
  • Face the Covers Out- Find a way to face some of the covers out like they do in bookstores. I like to put books in a plastic shoe box so we can flip through them like papers. It saves bookshelf space too. The orientation of the books makes it easier for kids to see the books and choose to read them.
  • But Where Do We Keep the School Supplies?- A fun look at a homeschool library. I love the sheer volume of books from the basement up in this unschooler’s home!
  • Organizing Children’s Books- Another look at how you can organize books for young children.

 Set Up Your Book Environments

It’s important to have lots of areas with access to books. What does your home library look like?

  • Educating the Whole-Hearted Child- Sally Clarkson does such an outstanding job of explaining how your homeschool world could look. In it you’ll find suggestions from a veteran mom on how to encourage book reading at an early age. Trust me. This is inspirational!
  • Provide plenty of reading nooks and/or places where each child and go on their own to enjoy the book.
  • Help Your Child to Become a Confident Reader (and lover of books)- Great ideas on providing time for reading and a cozy reading environment
  • Homeschool Extras within Sight- Keep your books in your kids’ minds by setting them out on the mantle. Great tips on getting kids to notice books.
  • 10 Homeschool Centers- Include reading nooks. Love this tour of the Hodgepodge school by Tricia.

Blog, She Wrote: Library Shelf

Establish a Library Shelf

One of the best things I did for our homeschool library was to find a bookcase that I could use only for library books. Who among us doesn’t use an inordinate number of library books at any given time? Benefits of a library shelf:

  • One stop for all things library- easy to keep them there and have them returned there when a child is finished with a book
  • Easy access for exploring the books- when they are stuffed in the bag you bright them home in, they aren’t likely to be remembered or seen because they get forgotten about in there.
  • Makes a great way to find the books that need to be returned to the library- cuts down on (though doesn’t eliminate) the panic of finding a book on the due date as you try to scramble out the door!
  • The top makes a fun place for themed displays. (see link)

Read Aloud to Make Friends with Books

Reading aloud to your kids from a young age and long into their teenage years is a great way to make friends with books and to deepen and continue the relationship. It also soothes away the grumps and helps to refocus your kids on school. Need proof that it’s worth your time? Check out these posts and articles.

  • The Read Aloud Handbook- This is a topic near and dear to Jim Trelease and in this book he compels the reader to make the time for a host of undeniable reasons. Included with this book is a thorough annotated bibliography for extra help in choosing the right books.
  • Trelease on Reading- If you want to hear more on how reading aloud affects the ability of kids to read, check out Jim Trelease’s website. You’ll find a lot of great information here. One of the things I love about Mr. Trelease is his unwavering opinion that reading aloud does take a lot of time and it’s worth all the time you can give it.
  • The Reading Promise- This is a book about Alice Ozma and the books she shared with her father. It’s mostly about their relationship and the commitment he made to reading aloud to her. Their “streak” lasted well over 3,000 days. I’d love to see more about the books they read than the interpersonal goings on, but with regard to the reading commitment it’s very inspiring.
  • Tips for Reading Aloud- Ideas for how to have a successful read aloud time with your kids.
  • List of Our Favorite Read Alouds- This is the Baker’s Dozen version of a Top Ten list. Which ones does your family enjoy the most?
  • Introduce Your Kids to a New Series or Book- Often if I have a child who is reluctant to read a new book or author, I will start reading it aloud until they are drawn into the story. Then they will voluntarily read it by themselves- and love it.
  • Handwork Ideas for Read Aloud Time- Fun ideas for keeping hands busy while you read aloud.

Blog, She Wrote: Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture

Engage in Activities Based on Books to Have More Relationships with Books

My kids have always been taken with stories and making activities to go with books has never been a problem- even from when they were tiny. Here are some links and tips:

  • Create more fun from a book they love- without using any books at all, I would make up activities based on what I noticed them enjoying the most out of a book. For example, my oldest loved the book Too Many Pumpkins. One page he would spend a lot of time on is the page with all the jack-o-lanterns lit and covering two pages. I made a felt set of pumpkins of different shapes and sizes with the face pieces for him to decorate. I especially made sure to make the letters for his favorite pumpkin which said, “Boo!”.
  • Five in a Row- in all its forms including Before FIAR, Beyond FIAR, and even Above & Beyond FIAR. From preschool to middle school, this curriculum will introduce your children to books and the many layers of learning you can experience with them.
  • Picture Book Activities- this book has less formal activities such as snacks, fingerplays, and crafts that go with picture books. It’s written for preschoolers.
  • Picture Book Art- This is a lovely book with art lessons in imitating children’s story book illustrators. These are easy to follow making the process enjoyable and the results fabulous!
  • The Gentle Ways of Reading- A lovely post about how to incorporate books and reading into every day life with your children.
  • Summer Reading Fun- Ways to enjoy books all summer long with activities and incentives
  • Literary Adventures- An Adventure Box them to take your kids on a literary voyage. If you want a way to immerse kids in a fun learning experience, check this one out.

Host a Book Club  & Other Ways to Involve Older Kids with Books

As your kids get older, you can try a lot of different ways to interact with books using more sophisticated conversation. Book clubs are a great way to read books you normally wouldn’t read and to try new foods and activities. Best of all, it gets middle and high schoolers talking about books and relating them to their own world. That’s a win!

  • The Kids’ Book Club Book- A nice volume all about planning & implementing a successful book club from tweens through teens. You’ll find out how to make the guest list, where to meet, how to invite, what to do and what to eat. There are also book suggestions with ideas for club meetings.
  • How to Host A Classics Book Club- Find out how to choose books and activities to go with classic book choices. Middle and High School students are often surprised at how enjoyable classic literature can be. One favorite idea is to watch the movie after reading the book and comparing the experiences.
  • 5 Reasons to Host A Book Club for Girls- We’ve been hosting a book club for girls since September and this post details all the benefits of girls enjoying a book together.
  • How to Start a Book Club for Kids- This post from World for Learning includes a free checklist to go through as you prepare for a book club. You’ll find lots of practical ideas on how to put a group together and what to do each time. Take a look at the bottom of the post where you’ll see activity guides for three classic literature pieces.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool Part 1

Use eReaders to Boost the Reading Habit

Book lovers are sometimes reluctant to embrace the eReader, but it’s been a lovely addition to our reading culture. Enjoy the following eReader resources:

  • Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool- This is part one of a post on using Kindles which focuses on the eReader format.
  • Quick Acquisition- One of my favorite reasons for using a Kindle is that you can have that book within a few seconds of browsing for it. This is great when you forget to plan ahead or you didn’t count on the one title you need. Sometimes a Kindle book is less than the cost of gas to get you over to the library!
  • Built in Dictionary- Kids don’t think it’s a big deal to look up a word they don’t know while they are reading. Works for adults too! Don’t get me wrong. I love a good print dictionary and everything you can do with it, but we often don’t bother to look things up and the ability to linger your touch on a word in the text and have the definition and other information appear is simply magical.
  • Ten Reasons to Use a Kindle in Your Homeschool (Part 2): The Kindle Fire- The Kindle Fire brings color and interactiveness to the book party. It allows you to view picture books. While this may seem crazy to some, it does open many possibilities for taking large numbers of books with you on vacation! I love the Kindle Fire for reading pdfs and non Kindle ebooks over the eReader.
  • Free Kindle Book Series- Judy at Contented at Home keeps a fantastic list of free books you can get by series for the Kindle. Follow along with Judy so you can get all her latest book from Amazon.
  • eReader Homeschooling on Pinterest- See my collection of eReader ideas for homeschooling and reading.

Surrounding your family with good books and reading them together is never wasted time. At this point in our homeschooling, we have grown four excellent readers- some reading earlier than others, but all going from just starting out, to emergent reader, to fluent reader, and finally to being a fully engaged voracious reader. Even my 8yo is a reading hound. His greatest love right now are computer manuals as he tries to learn new programming languages!

Enjoying books together has always been a part of our family culture and it pays off in big ways as your children become teens. Ethan, my 15yo is taking literature classes both at home and at our co-op. Reading and discussing books with your teens is a fun way to stay connected.

Invest in your homeschool library! Establish the reading culture early on and enjoy the benefits of learning together with books.

Other bloggers with the iHomeschool Network are sharing Ultimate Guides today. The topics are terrific so make sure and stop by to see all the resources waiting for you!


Blog, She Wrote Top Ten Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten for 2013It’s been a great blogging year for Blog, She Wrote. In January we moved from Blogger to WordPress and streamlined our look and organization. I’m still working on some of that, but I’ve tried more than ever to create relevant content for you all.

Most Popular Blog, She Wrote Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play

Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play- This is my ultimate list of long lasting toys for creative play. We love the things on this list. Do you enjoy any of the same things?

Blog, She Wrote: Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}

Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}- This post is very popular! Enjoy a look at how we use Life of Fred math from elementary through high school and why.

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library- This is an older post that is still viewed often. I need to update this post to show our new home’s arrangement, but the basic organization is the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}- This was part of my five day series on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool. Full of ideas, projects, how to mentor are all there. Have a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day- I love this post. It shares the elements that make a joyful and productive day of homeschooling in our home. Among my favorites are reading, projecting, and collaborating. What makes a great day in your homeschool?

Blog, She Wrote: Adventure Box Themes

Adventure Box Themes- The first in a series of Adventure Box ideas in a ten day Hopscotch Series. This one features a video on exactly what Adventure Boxes are and how they can pour into your kids’ passions.

Blog, She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated High Schooler

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Tricks- The details on how we work with our high schooler to set goals and help him to see them through. I tried to share how we work with a student who isn’t always ideally motivated. I bet a lot of us have smart kids who like to sit back some.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Fun Close to Home

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List- Otherwise known as how to have fun close to home in the summer! We were grounded from traveling when my husband fell and had a severe sprain in his ankle which resulted in five large blood clots in his leg. We aimed to enjoy our time near to home and it was a fabulous summer.

Blog, She Wrote: Robin Cam

Robin Cam- Does anyone remember our robin cam from the spring? Dan set up a camera to capture the nesting season for a pair of robins who set up camp in a potted plant we were given as an encouragement when Dan was injured. Right on the table on our back porch we got an up close look. The videos are still viewable if you’d like to do a little spring dreaming. Just go from the bottom up to see the series.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Learning Environment

Our Learning Spaces: A Tour- The title says it all. This is the grand tour of our homeschool spaces. This post makes me smile.

Thank you for being a reader at Blog, She Wrote. If you’ve never taken the time to subscribe, please do so now and enjoy Blog, She Wrote in your inbox.

Happy 2014! I can’t wait to share more practical homeschooling advice and encouragement in the coming year.

Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Study

Do you ever get going on your homeschool day and think, “How would I ever homeschool with out this?” Today bloggers at the iHomeschool Network are sharing their must haves. I’m sharing must haves for unit studies.

Must Have Unit Study Curriculum

Five in a Row- this is the mainstay of literature unit study curricula and one we have used for years for our kids through 7th grade. We’ve used FIAR from preschool to middle school at all levels.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies- We are fans of the original four week unit studies. I do dabble in Download n Go, but we’ve enjoyed many topics with AB units.

Unit Studies Made Easy- Hands down my favorite book about unit studies by Valerie Bendt. The magic of this book is how Ms. Bendt explains putting together your own unit study.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Reference Material

Books- a large home library full of the good stuff. Essential.

Library- we use our local library for extra resources on topics.

Notebooking & Lapbooking Resource Books- such as Dinah Zyke books and The Ultimate Lapbook Handbook. These have a treasure trove of ideas on how to present information kids learn in a unit study.

Reference Books- Dictionaries, Atlases, thesaurus, etc. We also have general reference books on various topics of science and social studies. I like having something on almost any topic my kids can come up with as a starting place for research.

Maps- both large wall maps and map software. Being able to see where your studies take place is important. We like to check the wall map for a quick look and being able to print good quality maps is crucial to a thorough unit study.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Technology

Computers- We have two desk tops and a laptop for our children which they share. We use Open DNS as a filter which allows us to control access at the router level. Two of our kids have Android devices and we turn the wifi on and off of those at regular hours as well. The internet is such a wonderful resource for doing in depth research.

Google Earth- Replaces our globe. So many possibilities with this software. You visit a lot of places pretty vividly with Google Earth.

eReaders- We have two Kindles at our house and four devices with a Kindle app. I love my Paperwhite and my daughter adores her Kindle Touch. I love the Kindle for books and short stories in the public domain. The flexibility of downloading a book within minutes is huge for us and keeps our day going.

Video- Whether its stop motion animation or more conventional video, our kids enjoy making videos of what they are working on.

Printer- What homeschooler can live without a printer? I bought a new one last month which can print duplex. Swoon.

Blog, She Wrote: Must Have Items for Homeschooling Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Supplies

Craft Supplies- Such as paper of all kinds, paints of all kinds, adhesives, stencils, etc. The two most important things about craft supplies are quality and accessibility. Make them available and watch your kids create. The result is worth teaching them to be safe with the materials from a young age.

Notebook Paper- This is a non-negotiable at our house! It is one of the most used items in our unit studies. Click the picture or the link to see how we use ordinary notebook paper in our homeschool.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Study

Blog, She Wrote: Our Must Have Items for Homeschool Unit Studies

Must Have Unit Study Bonus Material

Games- You can find board games and card games based on specific topics to enjoy with a study.

Learning Activities- Bingo games, flash cards, maps, songs, music, etc.

Thank you for joining me here at Blog, She Wrote. Please consider following by email by clicking through in the right hand sidebar.

iHN Must HavesJoin other bloggers with the iHomeschool Network for a look at their must haves!

Our Learning Environment

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

It’s time to share our learning spaces with everyone! We’ve been homeschooling for eight and a half years and our learning environment has changed a lot over that time. When E14 first started homeschooling half way through first grade, we had just one small table in our living room and a bookshelf for his school things. As we added more children to the official homeschool roster, we added books, larger tables and we dedicated part of our playroom to homeschooling. Last year when we began looking for a new home, we knew we were looking for some place special. It had to have space for our learning materials, our homeschool library, and our project spaces.

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Requirements for Our Learning Environment

Our focus is not to recreate a school classroom in our home. However, with four kids immersed in learning throughout the day, it’s hard to miss that we homeschool. Here are a few “must haves” for our learning spaces.

  • Bookshelves for our homeschool library- while we do use the public library extensively, it’s important to have a variety of print material in our home. Bookshelves are essential.
  • Media Area- for the computers the kids use for school and projects. We keep them in the media room.
  • White Board- classroomish I know, but I often use it for explaining things. Or to write down assignments and reminders for the day. And sometimes the kids work problems and their own explanations on the board. I keep portable white boards on hand too for working math problems and playing games.
  • Large Table- for school work and projects. Though the kids can go to any area to do their work, they often work there together. We put it right in the large window so there would be plenty of natural light.
  • Storage Cabinet- or closet for homeschool materials that are not books. We have one large wooden cabinet which was a very special gift from specials friends and we have bookcases in our basement which hold everything else.
  • Project  Work Space- We wanted to provide a place where each of our kids could work on their own and plan and work on projects. Click to see how the kids (and parents too!) have set up their project workspaces.

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Using Walls for a Homeschool Learning Environment

While it would be homier to not use posters and maps on our walls, the extra immersion is great for growing minds! The only thing I’d change? I’d put wooden frames around each one if I could!

  • Maps- both US and World. I’d love a large physical map of the world too. We have a laminated set I bought at Staples many years ago.
  • Periodic Table of the Elements- I went for the one that has pictures of the actual element by Theodore Grey.
  • Calendar- a regular wall calendar is all you need, but I was compelled to buy a pocket calendar. I do not have calendar time! Conversation about the calendar has successfully taught all of my children the nuances of the calendar year. However, I love the calendar printables from Carisa at 1+1+1=1 for a fun fact finder and theme. Since J8 is starting his entomology club, I put the insect theme in for August.
  • Bulletin Board- for student work and other displays
  • White Board- previously mentioned. I also love a good chalk board and had both up in our old learning space.
  • Student Work- on display this could be work hard earned, work done well, and art work. Love to display art work.

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Homeschool Technology

We make ample use of technology in our homeschool. Here are a some examples:

  • Computers- two desk tops and a lap top for student use.
  • Open DNS- is the filter we use for content at our house. It’s not perfect, but it works well.
  • LEGO NXT- we’ve had NXT for many years. Our kids are active on FIRST LEGO League Teams and Dan coaches. We are eager to be able to purchase the upgrade EV3.
  • Project Time- can include programming the NXT, Scratch, Alice, and other programming software for kids. Other software applications for word processing and presentations are encouraged.
  • Digital Microscope- We have the Intel Qx3 which is a nice video scope and can take stills and video of the object.

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Tips on Using a Homeschool Library

We have books in almost every room of our home. Here are a few tips on handling homeschool books and making sure they get noticed and read:

  • Rotate books- especially if you don’t have room for all the books to be out or on a shelf
  • Reference Books- should be easy to find and use. We have a magazine rack that is our reference shelf.
  • Library Shelf- to shelve books we have borrowed from the library.
  • Display Area- this is the top of the library shelf for us, but I use it to put out books I want the kids to notice and leaving the book open is very inviting!
  • Coffee Table- is a great place to leave books you want kids to notice. Both the coffee table and the display area never fail to promote interest in a book. Try it!

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Blog She Wrote: Learning Environment

Other Learning Environment Links from Blog, She Wrote

Take a look at these other posts on our learning spaces- they are all still in use today.

  • Homeschool Library- more detailed instructions on color coding book genres and how to organize the books. As soon as I have time, I’d like to update this post to include our new home library.
  • Our Supply Cabinet- this is where we store our paper and art supplies for school. This post gives a list of what we have on hand in there.
  • Learning Spaces Full Tour- from last fall. Things look nearly the same thought we’ve added more books!
  • Displaying Art- a post on how we use student work all over our home.

Thank you for joining us today at Blog, She Wrote for a look at our learning environment. Please sign up to receive updates in your inbox so you don’t miss the rest of the Not-Back-to-School Hop and the weekly Geography Quests here at Blog, She Wrote!

Visit other homeschool bloggers to see their learning spaces this week.


Project Workspace

Blog She Wrote: Project Workspace

This post contains an affiliate link. Thanks for your support.

With all the talk about project time and having a space carved out for working, I thought I would share with you our workspaces.We finally found a spot for J8 to do his many tinkering tasks and I’m ready for the big reveal.

Our main goal was to establish a place for each child to call his own for projects.

R13 has had an art desk in her bedroom for years. It was a gift we built for our creative girl for her birthday. The boys had some shared space at our old house, but the move last summer open up more possibilities. Additionally, each of them started doing more project work. We had the tables before, but had not established them for project work until we moved.

We inherited two more tables as part of the move and we set them up in the basement for the boys. The basement is warm enough, even in winter and it is a great location for the type of projecting they are doing which involves paint, solvents, glue, and construction materials.

Why did we make their own space a priority?

  • The less we disrupt a project in process, the more depth we can see in the product.
  • When each child has her own space, they can plan and implement without worries over workspace.
  • Tools of the trade don’t have to be hustled away, so there are less interruptions to the work sessions.
  • Our kids love to retreat to their project spaces to do work whenever time allows.
Blog She Wrote: Project Workspaces

E14′s workspace- a large table which he uses mostly to build his custom LEGO Star Wars minifigs.

Blog She Wrote: Project Workspaces

R13 has had an art desk in her bedroom for a long time. It was a birthday gift that we built for her years ago. She has her sewing and art studio here.

Blog She Wrote: Project Workspaces

She keeps a stack of sewing books handy and there’s room for her sewing machine and serger. Lots of tools for her trade are handy!

Blog She Wrote: Project Workspaces

Part of her workspace now includes a whiteboard. She uses it to plan projects and keep track of her to do list.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

She has a set of art clips on her wall as well. These hold finished projects mostly, but the clips allow her to bask in her work!

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

I11 uses his workspace to build model airplanes and rockets. He faithfully reads his manuals and creates flying machines.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

His space is cluttered with evidence of much activity. He built this rocket stand from directions in his Handbook of Model Rocketry.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

J8′s table is a new addition. We’ve had the table a long time, but we moved it and cleared it for his use. He does his entomology here now and he is the proud owner of a lot of new chemical glassware. This is his tinkering spot!

What goes into creating a workspace?

  • Provide a work surface- tables are easy and we’ve found a lot on craigslist (as we search for bookcases!)
  • Provide the tools for the job- what is your child working on? What do they need to do the projects they want to do?
  • Provide ways to display work- so kids can see their plans and finished pieces along the way. You want plenty of reminders for inspiration. I love that about my own workspaces.
  • Remind kids of any boundaries- For example, J8 would choose to mix any household material together if he was allowed. For safety reasons, he has to get authorization on certain projects.
  • Limit the number of rules for the space- outside of safety, you’ll want kids to feel free to try things and figure things out. Too many rules will put a damper on investigating.
  • Choose a location that is right for the type of work- you don’t want a nice, carpeted room for paints and saws. Consider where you will be more relaxed when they are working!
  • Make a space- even one small card table is better than no space at all. Having lived in a small space for many years, I know a portable table and a plastic box for each of my boys would have been a great alternative if they could not have a permanent spot. Kids’ rooms make a great place for a corner to call their own. Think creatively!
Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

Dan’s office workspace. Actually, he has a few but he spends a lot of time here. Many computer project quandaries are worked out here and this is the place where my blog was migrated to WordPress! The tower to the left is our home server…

What about workspace for parents?

  • Moms & Dads need work workspace too!
  • We model project time by engaging in our own space.
  • Having space for our own work gives us purpose.
  • Workspace may vary depending on the project. Dads may have workshop type space for handy work and a desk for other sort of work.
Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

This is my writing and teaching space. The corner of our dining room. I blog from here (unless I take it to my happy space on my back porch) and do homeschool planning from here. My newest addition is the dry erase calendar for writing deadlines. Love. Just wish I could put my hands on that lampshade cover!

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

My studio space aka: My Secret Lair. This sits opposite Dan’s computer corner. This space was a gift for finishing my masters degree. Dan built it for me!

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

Sewing, scrapbooking, and paper crafting happen here. It’s also an alternate spot for writing. Have laptop, can travel.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

The shelving was adapted from three long board shelves in our old house. Dan split them and put them on brackets. Totally adjustable. And lovely.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

Can’t miss the full view! The file cart holds paper and other fun things in the drawers and wheels easily so I can use my sewing machine.

Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces

Right above the window adjacent to my studio space is this tribute to creativity. It’s the first room we painted here (having moved last summer) so that the shelving and desk could be rebuilt in this house.

Once you’ve got space and parameters defined, it’s time to let your kids work, research, and create!

Watch the evidence of good work appear. I like to be available for consultation and mentoring, but I try my best not to offer too many suggestions. Problem solving is a great skill for kids to practice.

You might enjoy some blogging results of some of our kids’ projects. R13 blogs at Miss Bliss where she shares her creative pursuits- the blog won a blue at the county fair. E14 blogs in two places. BrikSmith Customs is where he catalogs his work from his workspace making custom Star Wars minifigs, although it appears he’s making them more than blogging about them. He recently started a writing blog called Of Bows & Arrows, Swords & Spears which also won a blue at the county fair. They collaborate quite a bit on these blogging efforts. R13 is gifted with composition on pictures while E14 is great on the editing end. They trade skills which has turned into some fun blog headers for them both!

What about common project space?

In another post I will share the areas in our home which are common project areas either for materials and supplies or for collaborative work.

For additional thoughts on project workspace, enjoy reading Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners I love Lori’s approach to kids’ work and how we can facilitate good project work with our learners.

Thanks for joining us. Happy projecting!