As many of you know, this past fall my husband and our two children and I moved to a new house. We had lived in our previous house for 10 years, and while it was a lovely house, we felt that with homeschooling and a home-based business, we needed more room.
One thing we were looking for was a basement that could be a combination classroom/playroom for the children. The house we chose not only had a spacious basement, but it was a walkout with sliding glass doors leading to our backyard and a large picture window (lots of natural light!)
In our last house, our learning area was in our family room, and it was a bit cramped; here’s a picture as a refresher:
At the time that picture was taken, my son was 7 and my daughter was 4, so much of her work was in our kitchen (pouring and other practical life activities). Since I couldn’t be in two places at the same time, it was hard to work with both of them or even be in a place where I could observe both at the same time.
Our new basement was unfinished when we moved in (which basically means cement walls and floor) so we’ve spent the past three months waiting and watching as construction crews put in walls, lights, outlets, carpeting, and all the other things that go into finishing a basement. They finished right before Christmas and we were thrilled with the result!
I’m going to be blogging about each area of our classroom, although I’m still working on it (arranging shelves, cutting out materials), but here’s a picture of our main work area to hold you until I can do more with it:
The sliding doors at the end are a storage closet for me, giving me plenty of room to store the materials we’re not using (something I never had before!) I’ll be blogging more about that too in the near future.
In the meantime, I wanted to talk about our art area. I’ve blogged about art areas before, specifically on setting up your primary art area and bringing art to the elementary classroom. In the past, I usually put out trays of art activities already put together (as shown in the two art posts).
This time, however, I decided to do things a little differently. Now that my children are older (9 and 6), I decided to simply put out lots of different art materials and let them create their own art projects.
When we designed our basement, we put in a tiled area, some cabinets, a counter top, and a sink. This seemed like a natural place to put our art supplies:
From time to time, I will still give them specific projects (for instance, we painted a Styrofoam set of planets last week to make a Solar System model) but mostly they are on their own. We do have at least one time period set aside each week for art, but they choose their own projects and complete them with minimal help from me.
Here is our art counter:
We have some additional supplies on a shelf nearby:
…including things like stamps and stamp pads, beads, craft paper, origami paper, and collage materials like craft sticks and pompoms.
So far, our art area has been a huge hit, especially with my daughter, who often goes down there first thing in the morning after waking up and has completed a few projects by the time I make my way downstairs!