I’ve wanted to show you our play and learning spaces for a while now, and the iHomeschool Network’s Back to Homeschool Blog Hop seemed like a great opportunity to share! We have a sweet little play room that we spend a lot of time learning and growing in, but a big part of our day is spent in our backyard! So I’m going to give you a peek into both play and learning spaces that have a big part in our Charlotte Mason early years preschool.
Our Backyard Play and Learning Space
I would like to tell you that I take my children out to beautiful meadows several days a week to give them hours upon hours of exploring. But that doesn’t happen a lot, especially with as pregnant as this mama is right now! What we DO do is get outside into the backyard every day. Charlotte Mason believed children should be outside 4-6 hours a day when the weather allows. While we don’t hit that number every day, we do spend a lot of time out there!
Our backyard isn’t especially big, and it’s oddly shaped. The actual back part, right behind our house, is not very deep. But we have a good-sized side yard. Right behind the house, we have a patio with a table for dining al fresco, and a water table for warm-weather play. The time spent sharing meals outdoors together as a family has created some of our favorite memories. Through moments like these, we are creating a strong emotional base that is crucial for their future education!
“Never be indoors when you can rightly be without. Besides, the gain of an hour or two in the open air, there is this to be considered: meals taken al fresco are usually joyous, and there is nothing like gladness for converting meat and drink into healthy blood and tissue. All the time, too, the children are storing up memories of a happy childhood.” Charlotte Mason, Home Education. ?
Right behind our patio we have a little rose garden. This is a wonderful place for my children to observe the blooming flowers and the insects that come visit them. We have several different varieties of roses, so recently we tried to see if there was a difference in their scents. Miss H couldn’t notice a difference, but I am sure that one was sweeter than the other! Up above, we are sheltered by a canopy of silver maple trees. We have seen some beautiful birds there! Our favorite visitor so far is the black-capped chickadee. They are regulars at our little buffet of bird-feeders that hangs outside of the kitchen window.
Fire Pit Sitting Area
Last summer, we tore out a weed-infested area and put in gravel, chairs, a fire pit, garden boxes, and planters. I like to think of this as our future outdoor schoolroom, where we’ll come outside with lesson books and sit in comfy chairs, narrating as we read. But for now, it’s a Sunday-night-fire, look at the garden, and chase after the dog kind of space. Every Sunday night when the weather is right, we enjoy dinner outside, and then we move over to the fire pit. Nate roasts us each a marshmallow, and we devour a s’more. This is the sweetest family time. During the day, we spend a lot of time here exploring nature. H and E help me with the tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, and flowers. E has learned that he can’t pick tomatoes without asking me first! Now when he sees me pick tomatoes, he reaches out his hand and in the sweetest little voice asks, “Too, mama?”
The last area in our backyard is a big patch of grass. This is perfect for E to practice his mowing skills, for H to practice tumbling, and for them both to chase after the dog. I know that this time outside is so good for them! They are learning to use their five senses, discovering properties of the world around them, learning about birds and other beautiful beings, and building strong relationships with each other. These are precious days, indeed!
Our Indoor Space for Learning and Play
But we live in Colorado. These beautiful outdoor memories don’t happen year round. When the snow piles high and the thermometer dips into arctic proportions, we stay inside. I’m thankful for our indoor space, which will someday be called our school room. Right now, we don’t do formal lessons, so this room is used for playing, reading, and crafting. Occasionally, when Miss H asks, we learn the alphabet or investigate other topics.
My architect husband is good at making pretty spaces, which I’m happy about since I definitely am not.
This area has undergone a big transformation in the past year. I’ve been working hard to cut out clutter to keep a more beautiful environment and a less stressful atmosphere. I love that this wood wall is mostly empty now so I can enjoy its natural beauty. Nate designed it and used beetle-kill-wood from the Colorado mountains. It has so much character, and, if you look up close, a cool bluish tint to it.
The buckets hanging on the wall that were once overflowing now have just a few things in them. We took down an easel in the corner because we already have big chalkboard barn doors.
Our forward-facing bookshelf got a new home this year. I love this bookshelf because my children are much more likely to choose a good book to read when there’s an intriguing cover starting right at them. The bookshelf moved right next to the child-sized bench that Nate’s grandpa made for him when he was little, and that we reupholstered to take away some of the 1980’s feel. Miss H likes to sit on the bench and look at books by herself, or sit on my lap in the big chair and read with me. We found this big, amazing map (see my Instagram pic!) for $13 at the Goodwill store last spring. The frame is the same exact blue that is used as an accent color in our room. Miss H loves it! She often asks to find places that we read about in books on the map.
When miss H asks, we work on letters from the alphabet using The Mindful Alphabet. This table is the perfect place for sitting together and really trying to observe and engage with the letters of the alphabet!
We love having a huge chalkboard for drawing and organizing! When Miss H asks to learn letters, we write them on the chalkboard. I sometimes write the month or the weather up there, too. Books we want to read, fun messages to each other, and even baby announcements find their way onto those chalkboards!
I strategically missed all of the toys in these picture, but I’m thankful that they aren’t spilling out everywhere like they once were! We have two baskets of toys and a toy box by the beetle-kill-wood wall. Also by the beetle-kill-wood wall is a TV and built in TV stand. This is mostly used for Nate during football season 🙂 But the TV stand also holds our wooden letters and some toys.
So there is the grand tour. No matter what your home space is, indoor and out, our little ones are always learning! The learning atmosphere is more important than the learning environment 🙂
Make sure to see the other homeschool room/spaces posts during the iHomeschool Network link-up!