Do I Really Need to Teach Spelling?

Recently, our 10 year old Gino had a chance to see his “old” spelling books. He then asked me, “Ma, why didn’t  I have words? Why was there just one letter per number in my spelling notebook? ”   He was giggling. I said, “Because you wanted to join your 3 other siblings in Spelling but couldn’t spell yet so I just asked you to write the letters as I called them out.”  That’s funny. “Spell, K. “K” as in kite.”

My teen son who was homeschooled for 10 years and is now in level 10 in a regular high school told me once that I shouldn’t bother too much about Spelling anymore with his younger siblings because they can always spell check or use auto-correct.  I disagreed.

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www.jesseneo.com

Auto correct merely “corrects” the spelling of a word but does not consider the context in which the word is used. So you can have so many homophones mixed up.   I wouldn’t want any of the students who “graduated” from our homeschool struggle in using the correct word and spelling. What if the computer or smartphone autocorrects and types “rice” when you meant “rise”,  “blue” when you meant “blew” or  “weak” when you meant “week.” No, no, you can’t rely on Auto-correct or Spellcheck.

You can be very academic and search for studies that support SPELLING in the classroom but I guess at the end of it all,  it is just a known reality that being a bad speller can create a whole lot of negative impressions, and limit their opportunities if this is seen as a weakness in future jobs/ duties, and you wouldn’t want your children to have to deal with that.

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Some say,  loads of reading may be enough to create good spellers.  I,  however have seen  and experienced the wonderful world of what the discipline can offer. For one, you can deal with vocabulary words and create sentences that can further lock the meaning as mental hooks into your student’s brain and memory.   For the beginning writers, this could be a good time to practice those strokes and basic letters. Correct pronunciation is also enhanced when the children hear the actual word being uttered.  And then, you have the glorious and funny opportunity of coming up with sentences that uses all the  Spelling Words of your students in 1-2 sentences. Oh my dear,  I remember days of using four spelling words in a sentence when our classroom was full with 4 children! There were  times we would be in tears because how some sentences ended up being so silly!

I initially used the Sing, Spell, Read and Write Spelling Exercises for our preschoolers. I eventually shifted to the SpellWell series where I learned to create different activities to foster mastery in Spelling. You can see a lot of options in the eps.schoolspecialty.com for many areas of literacy.

SpellWell introduces a Spelling list of words that share a common sound or syllable and provides the teacher to include several other new words that child may encounter in other subjects such as Reading , Science, History or even Math!

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Pre-test and Post tests are set up and children correct their own mistakes. page1-300x408

Daily exercises involving the week’s Spelling List.

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At the earlier years, you can use the suggested Spelling lists. However as the child matures and begins to have more reading material, you can actually build his own spelling list from the  new vocabulary words he encounters in reading assigned chapter books, in Read-A-Louds, and in every subject actually.  Doesn’t it make sense to say “Spell circumference” when he is daily computing for circumference in Math!    If he is doing  a writing exercise and he asks, “Ma, how do you spell ________? ” Take note of that and include it in his list for the coming week.

My memory of Spelling in my early elementary years is my Spelling Booklet.  I don’t remember using  exercises for my newly spelled or newly encountered words.  We just hat to spell, letter by letter.

As we completed all the levels of SpellWell for four children, I learned to create my own exercises on the spot, notebook style!

Notebook Exercises
Notebook Exercises

or dry erase board style:

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Here are other ways of promoting good spelling part from reading:

1. Writing Cards/Letter Writing

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IMG_51782.  Written Work  (essay, poems, interview,  timelines, directions,  mini books, summarizing, timelines etc)

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Oopss! “milimeters!”

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3.  Note-taking/ Dictation

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4. Writing Lists (Things to do/ Chore Chart/ Books Read/ Christmas Wish List)

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Oops again, “clening”, “exersise” and “puting” !!!!

5. Word Games such as crossword, word search, etc.

6. Using a Language curriculum that incorporates Dictation and Spelling

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6. And of course, READ, READ, READ.

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At the end of the week, or maybe two,   allow the children to review their Spelling words and take a post test or be different a bit and ask them to create a story using 5 or more of their Spelling Words.

Last weekend, my two children wrote  “Anniversery” and “Aniversary”  in a card for their grandparents.  Haha! They were certain that this word would come out in their Spelling List this week.  “Ok, kids, spell ‘Anniversary'”.

Just for some fun, why not take this Spelling test of the 25 Commonly Misspelled Words!

 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

 

 

 

Sharing Stories and Digging Deeper

My earliest memory of “sharing” is about M & Ms. Yes, the all time favorite chocolates !  Nine  cups and M & Ms.  When my parents would come home with a bag of M&Ms, out came the nine cups from the cupboard, and the “assigned” dealer dropped one piece at time, like playing what most Filipinos know as “sungka (small shells being placed in circular holes in large wooden piece or plate), and went around the cups until the chocolate bag was emptied.  The older siblings got the extra pieces that could not be evenly distributed: Perks of being older!

If there is one virtue I learned early in life, it was this: sharing.  Having been the youngest of nine children, we shared practically everything: the toilet, rooms, cabinets, beds, clothes, toys, nannies and we had to share our parents’ available time for the children.

Being close to my heart, it was but natural to just prioritize “sharing” as I had one child after the other.  I had the perfect setting of four children who were two years apart!

Having multiple children who are closely spaced, you will definitely find yourself in situations where they all like the same thing or food.  I have learned through the years to welcome such situations rather than stress about them. When and where else can they learn these valuable truths?

Mommies,however, have that God given instinct to sniff, recognize and even extinguish or avoid a possible melt down of grabbing, pulling and screaming.  We are the best CSI  when it comes to these things.

I truly believe that,  ” Character is caught more than taught,”  We must as parents live the values and morals that we desire our children to learn, imbibe and exemplify.  So I guess, if our children see in us  compassion, empathy, generosity and yes humility in seeking others first, then the positive behavior of sharing can be more easily learned .

Nothing beats seeing your own children learn this. Though a bit a manipulative, I distinctly remember our then six and four year old boys wanting to be the superhero Daredevil. My eldest then, a master of conflict management, whips, ” Marco, I am the real Daredevil and you are the cartoon Daredevil.” The younger four year old could not care any less,  he heard he was Daredevil and he was fine with that.

There was another situation when we created a giant red car from a balikbayan box, my younger children then, Raya, 5 yo and Gino 3 yo, wanted to have their “initials” in the license plate for this cool car. Mama, another conflict management facilitator, comes to the rescue, “Ok, Raya’s initials will be at the front license plate and Gino’s will be at the back. And from time to time, we will exchange those so yours can be seen from the back and yours from the front.” Satisfaction achieved. 500,000 points for Mama. Whew.

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Initials and birthdate formed the license plate

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While they were younger, both Raya and Gino always wanted a go with the ATM machine or even with stirring sugar and creamer in my coffee in restaurants.  So here is our usual routine.  “Ok, Gino, you get to insert the card, and press a few buttons.  I will have to put in my PIN number.  Raya, you press how much cash we need and take the card and get the cash. Then next time, you guys will reverse roles!”  Another whew!

We may laugh at it now but there were times  I had to say, “Ok, you sprinkle and  stir the sugar then your sibling will sprinkle and stir the creamer for my coffee.” Triple Whew!

Of course, I can recall a whole lot of times when equal sharing was not possible at all.  Or any amount of creativity or distraction didn’t do the trick.  When my 2nd son was barely a few days old, our eldest Vince really punched him because “Mom carried the baby all day” in trying to set the milk in for breastfeeding (he also didn’t sleep when laid down in his cot!). But generally, for as long as  you try to invest a bit early on and teach those life lessons when the “perfect learning moment” arises, I believe, you will be eventually be able to raise children who care enough to share .  That punching episode was never repeated since  then.

“Sharing” per se is just an outward manifestation of what is going on in one’s heart . As the Bible says in Luke 6:45, ” A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The key then is laying the foundation of love, compassion, empathy and  humility. All of which are in the life of our Savior, Jesus!  Jesus is our perfect example. The Ultimate SHARER, “who gave HIs life as a ransom for many.”  Sharing is merely an outward behavior and children need more than just to be told, “You have to share!” They need to know why, they need to see  and know how, they need to  find the strength to do so and they need to know from whom to draw this strength.

All outward behavior emanates from within. So whether it be in “sharing” , “being patient”,  “speaking in polite manner” and the like, they all are merely mirroring what is really within.  So let’s  not get so engrossed with the outer manifestations but rather take time to purposefully guide our children’s inner being! For indeed the natural fruits of a “inner life raised in the fear of the Lord” will eventually shine!

 

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

When Life Gives You Lemons

I was not in the best of moods as we began homeschooling today. With puffy eyes and a heavy heart, the kids started their Bible reading and Math drills. I was catching up with them as I started to map out the day’s agenda. Strangely, everything in the agenda that I was trying to plan and cover for was all non-homeschooling related. Unlike teachers in regular schools who can at times shut out for a couple of hours, it’s very difficult for homeschooling mothers to shut the rest of the world as we tackle the lessons for the day. It is much tougher to shut out the whirlwind of emotions that flood ones heart and mind amidst all sorts of trials. I have missed many days of school for one reason or another so I knew that the teaching and learning must go on, I guess. Like most occupations, you can’t say, I don’t feel like working today.

Then my daughter hummed a line, “When life gives you lemons…” (I really don’t know where she picked this up or if she composed it)…. then I answered, trying to sound as if I knew her song, “You make lemonade.” Then she sang, “Lemon pie!” to the top of her lungs, and we just couldn’t stop laughing as we kept adding to the list.. Lemon Chicken, Lemon meringue….

 Photo Credit: http://doyourhw.org/2013/10/01/a-lemon-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/
Photo Credit: http://doyourhw.org/2013/10/01/a-lemon-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/

 

In a very innocent yet charming way, my daughter drove a very important point that shook my heart. God was using her to tell me that I will have my rainbow, not after, but during the rain. God was reassuring me that He will see us through and help us see the silver linings, the half full glass, the light inside the tunnel and not at the end of it, and yes, experience the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7) My daughter at that very moment was “homeschooling” me.

For our Read A Loud, we have been reading the story of a Christian missionary named, George Muller in the book series, Christian Heroes, Then & Now. George was a man of God who ached for the poorest children in England and set out his life mission to be a “light to those around me, and help me find a way to reach the orphans before it’s too late.”

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And then it struck me that even today’s chapter was a direct message to me.

If God is in this, He will supply. ‘“ Three-fourths into George Muller’s story, a truly striking and remarkable virtue seen in this man’s life is his faith in God and his “waiting in faith”. And these were rooted in knowing His loving Creator. Oh how I need to know God more so I can always look up when, “Life indeed gives you lemons.” And then, I remembered what I read this morning in my devotional, Abiding in Christ by Cynthia Heald and I quote,” …. He is our Father, who is continually working all things together for good. And so He tells us to rest—to be calm and peaceful; and to wait –to anticipate , to count upon, to watch for Him. …”

Our Sovereign God has set me where I am now. This is my portion, my lot. He is with me and so I am assured that He will supply what is needed, in His time. What a wonderful promise of hope!

Homeschooling proceeded with a more upbeat, fun mode. I began asking probing questions that made my children think deeper, as they pondered on the events in Mr. Muller’s life. “If God wills it, will it necessarily be easy ?” Or, “Will it be tough because you are being tested?” “If it isn’t His will, will you encounter problems? “How will we then know?” Wow, who would have thought tween kids can actually think about these this early. I am grateful that we have so many examples and stories in the Bible, even in our very own lives and yes, of George Muller’s and the remaining chapters in our homeschool Read-A-Loud to shed light on this.

So, the song still echoes in my mind now and I am now smiling… “When life gives you lemons…”

 

“It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our live. Our faith will be a tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us.”

Charles Spurgeon        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art Series: Red, Yellow and Blue!

After doing several activities on  Lines, More Lines and Shapes and  jumpstarting the Color series with the throwing, shaking and splattering  with our Marble Art and Splattering Mural, we can now take our time with the basics of Color.

Remember what we did  ?

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You can frame your art works!

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Begin with the primary colors: RED, YELLOW and BLUE.    They are primary because you cannot create them by mixing other colors. However,  they can be mixed to produce other colors that completes the colors of the rainbow.  The primary colors form the foundation of the color wheel.

With your student/s,  gather many items in the house with these solid primary colors . Try to include items that are solely RED, YELLOW or BLUE.

Brainstorm on  ideas and feeling associated with each color.

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http://www.styleandglaze.com

 

You may get answers such as:

  • RED –  hot, war, angry, love, passion
  • BLUE – water, cool, sad, calm,
  • YELLOW – cheerful, sunny, freedom, warmth

You may even just check out famous posters or slogans and see what primary colors they use.

Group all the same colored items together and try to get some observations about each color.  For younger preschoolers, remind them that when it comes to physical manifestation of color, we use our sense of sight.  However, challenge them to imagine what would RED if it can be heard, sound like?  Or feel, if it can be touched. You’ll be amazed at the answers and this will also help children express themselves better as you encourage them to speak clearly in complete sentences.  You can turn this into a writing activity for those who can be challenged their thoughts.

Students may say that there are different shades of RED. Some are darker or lighter. Move to a well lit place with your items, and then squeeze into a dark closet (yes, have fun doing that) or under the table.  Maybe close all the curtains and try to ask your student to describe how the color changes depending on the amount of light that surrounds it. You can also place the items of different colors close to each other and see the effects on each others’ colors.

For older children, try to cover the following concepts as you deal with primary colors:

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Tint
  • Shade
  • Intensity

Find activities that focus on one color. One example is to have a child pick red, blue or yellow.  Then cut out magazine pictures or images of the color chosen and create a collage.   Or you may have Art activities that involve all three primary colors. Don’t rush or get too excited with secondary colors . Stick with these Big 3.   If you feel up to it, this can be done together  a Unit Study on the Philippine Flag!

This  Art activity was inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue

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Strings dipped in black paint were pressed over the paper to create some form of grid and the shapes were colored only primary colors

 

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For the preschooler, this was using sponges in various shapes/ sizes. It is some form of “stamping” or sponge art

For a richer experience with primary colors, choose some story books that use these colors.

The Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young is a very brilliant storybook with lots of bold colors.  The blind mice encounter something huge and they’re all trying to guess what its it.

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Though, you can start with this excerpt from Genesis as you move into COLOR, you may also end with the story of Noah and the appearance of the rainbow after the great flood. Discuss further what the rainbow meant. This can be your way to segue to the secondary colors too.

Hope you have fun with color this week.

Genesis 9:16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.

 

Homeschool Room Dreaming Part 2

In the previous post, I mentioned that I was going to bring you to a “place” where you could choose from a selection of  awesome homeschool or office furniture and accessories.  So this it. Let me take you to the land of desks that would make you want to study and work longer, chairs that will give your back a “spa”like feeling all day,  drawers and organizers that will make your accessing to stuff (you don’t want to see because they  to create a cluttered look ) really a breeze, and shelves that are so cool , they even have sliding panels that can be your  “glass paneled board” and coziest bean bags ever.

Yes, there are such stuff for our Dream Homeschool Room in BOOGI in LRI Plaza in Makati. BOOGI is actually the nick name of my German brother in law, Burkhardt Zipperich married to my sister Nenette.  Both have decades of experience in the  European furniture and accessories market.

They recently opened their lifestyle store in  Makati and here are my favorite finds out there.  You may have to save for some pieces but these are durable, high quality and timeless pieces worth your investment.

Here are some of the featured  spaces that showcase their products :

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Landscape 1 Portrait 3 LAndscape 4 Authentics

There are many homeschooling parents who have home based businesses as well.  Wouldn’t it be so neat to have such a “home office?”

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Am actually trying to save to be able to get one of these.  Drum roll again, please.

The PRO chair

Winner of the  Interior Innovation Award 2012, Reddot Design Award 2012, IF Product Design Award 2013, and German Design Award GOLD 2014. Designed by renowned German Industrial Designer Konstantin Grcic for FLÖTOTTO, a leading furniture brand in Germany.

Google more about it.  But you need to have the real experience of sitting in one to know why it has won so many awards. Come to the shop now and try it.

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And guess what?  Trust the Germans to make sure they’ve got everything covered… these seats come in homeschooled kids sizes! And they’re are color coded standards  to ensure that a child with a specific height has the appropriate chair!

 

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But our kids need a space to work on! So let’s look into their selection of desks!

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If chairs have size standards to take the child’s height in consideration, the desks have too!

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With the variety of organizers and drawer and lockers,  and table top options,  you can really pick one that suits your specifications and needs:

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The glass table tops can also come in different dimensions and colors:) IMG_7799

The Bisley drawer system comes in various colors and sizes!  The organizers that can be fit into every drawer can also be decided based on what items you intend to put in these drawers. I am dreaming of upgrading my daughters sewing desk/drawers to organize all her sewing materials! I am also  a very Arts and Crafts person! So imagine how this system can help the scrapbooker, calligraphist, baker, hobbyist in me and I guess, bring some sanity into our home!  Boogi16

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These trays come in various heights/configuration to fit many drawer sizes and to accommodate all sorts of stuff for school, office and crafts/hobbies

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If  you however love to lounge with your children, stay together in a room and  have movie time or share a super comfy bean bag as you read stories together…. drum roll again, why not try the best bean bag in the Philippines called the Sitting Bull.

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Look at the variety  of ways this bean bag has been enjoyed!!! It is simply the best!  I know of a doctor friend who loved it so much, she bought 3 pieces!

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Haha! Now that’s comfy!

They also have loads of shelves to choose from.

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This is another favorite!  A floor to ceiling shelf with a glass sliding panel that can 1) hide some clutter 2) serve as a “blackboard” for your homeschooling classes’ needs!

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Boogi02  Boogi22

 

Homeschooling takes us out most of the time and here is another one in my wish list.  The CACOON! Well,  do I  have to have a giant tree first  to hang this?   No, a  separate support system may be purchased with this amazing  hanging “chill out” space!

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Oh my! You really have to go to see more of their amazing stuff in Boogi!

For now, you can see more via their website, FB page  and Boogi IG account.

Have fun and enjoy ! This is a photo with my sister,  Ate Nenette, trying all sorts of ways to enjoy this printed “Sitting Bull”.

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And here is a photo of the lovebirds who have worked  together for 18 years and have this magnificent collection in their shop. Please visit them at the 3rd Floor, LRI Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia, (formerly Reposo) in Bel-Air II, Makati. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:30 pm.

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(Good News, by the way! They’ve also set up an installment scheme for BPI with a very affordable interest for those who would like to purchase and spread out payments! )

Homeschool Room Dreaming Part 1

Featured Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens ( www.bhg.com)

In all our 12 years of homeschool, we’ve done our classes in a spacious but quite dark basement,  in a 6 sq meter hallway along the railing of stairs in a rented townhouse, in a 3×4 meter  ground floor room with lots of windows and now in a 3×3 meter bedroom subbing as a homeschool room as the kids have opted to share rooms to sleep and play.  I’ve always dreamed of having a gazebo with floor to ceiling windows in a huge garden as our homeschool room .  I always imagined that the children still “dressed up” for school and walked to their “school”.  But, we don’t have a huge garden, and even if we did, I don’t think we could afford to create a separate homeschool room with my “dream” specifications.

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thelushome.com
Outdoor-Playroom-Dwell
http://blog.modernica.net/

 

 

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Oh to be able to homeschool in such an environment with lots of space, greenery and yes, cool climate!  I am so glad that studies show that the success of education still lies in in the  quality of one on one engagement of the student and the teacher. They have shown that the  strong bond of student and teacher  and the dynamic learning that takes place in lively discussions outweigh the other factors of the learning environment: facilities, materials, technology, etc.

There is however nothing wrong to dream and maybe even work towards creating an organized and positive space that is conducive for learning as your homeschool area or room. Now, who wouldn’t want to work, even overtime on these areas I have chosen as I searched online for  my best homeschool rooms ever:

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Imperfectlyperfect.com
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justanightowl.com

 

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landofnod.com
blog.tealbirdconcepts.com
blog.tealbirdconcepts.com
mysmallpotatoes.com
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timelessandtreasured.blogspot.com
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bhg.com
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bhg.com
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moffatgirls.blogspot.com

Though I am swooning and drooling as I view  all of these,  I  have resigned to the fact that I will just have to keep our area organized and more clutter free.  We have graduated 2 older students who are now in high schools in regular schools and there are no more preschoolers who benefit from lots of space, educational toys and hands on activities.  So our homeschool room now is more practical. It   also becomes a work area for the older kids after school when they need a bigger area to work on.

Our "current" homeschool room
Our “current” homeschool room
We do most messy activities and experiments in the kitchen.
We do most messy activities and experiments in the kitchen.

I still have to find our older photos but this is what I gathered from the past years. More or less, this is what our homeschool room looked look from 2007 – 2011

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Look at my preschooler bursting in the seams, it seems! Chubbiness at its cutest!

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We go to our small garden when we need to get wet!
We go to our small garden when we need to get wet!
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This was the most students I have had in one room ( except for the times when cousins would come and join our homeschool sessions) . This was a crazy season but truly fun and memorable.

As I looked for ideas, this article was very helpful in summarizing what makes a cool homeschool room .  Though we may be limited by space and our budget, there are many DIY and inexpensive ways for sprucing up your homeschool area/ room.

However, as mentioned, there is nothing wrong with dreaming right?  Stay tuned for part 2 of this Homeschool Room Dreaming series  as I share with you a newly opened store  with lots of amazing homeschool and home office furniture and accessories in our next post! Happy Homeschooling!

Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.