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Tag: Organization

We will be switching to Singapore Primary Mathematics 1B this week and in planning the lessons, I started organizing our math manipulatives. Then I went on to clean and organize the whole Learning Loft. This includes our Math Manipulative Closet which I don’t think I ever mentioned it before. I’ve gotten a few emails asking where I store/organize everything, so hopefully this will help others who are looking for ideas.

The narrow closet is just off our loft area. It works perfectly to hide all our manipulatives. Since I’ve entertained using quite a handful of math programs, I ended up with lots of math manipulatives, starting with our MUS blocks. I admit that I’m a helpless addict to this kind of stuff. In this closet, I try to keep the supplies Satori might want to take out to play with on her own on the lower shelves that she can reach. She just loves playing with her math manipulatives.

The lowest shelf holds our MUS blocks, ManipuLite Pattern Blocks and Color Cubes, Geometric foam solids, Math Links, Linking Cubes, 1″ wooden blocks, Cuisenaire Rods, Math dice games, Place Value Kit, 1″ plastic square tiles and a few other various counting items like shiny rocks and beads. (To see any photo larger, just click on it.)

Next shelf holds more manipulatives and some logic games. We’ve got Tangoes Tanagrams, Large Rubber Vehicle Counters, smaller Kid and Wild Animal counters, transparent disc counters, plastic coins, tanagram shapes, blue and multicolor centimeter cubes, Unifix cubes and disc counters. We’ve got a few logic games up here, but we keep some in our game closet downstairs. Here you’ll find Mighty Mind, Logic Links, Block Buddies, Rory’s Story Cubes, Hundred Mat, and magnetic fractions. You can see I went wild with the labeler!

On the floor rest our math balances and scales, time clock and long pointy thingies like yard sticks, big thermometer, and a pointer.

Top shelf holds science and social studies stuff: Microscope and slides, Animal flashcards, timelines, Magnet kit, Little Passports suitcase… The shelf below it holds workbooks we’ll be using very soon. I’m entertaining moving ALL our math and logic games and storing them on the second shelf, but I’m not sure there would be enough room.

Things we use on a daily basis are taken out of the closet and stored on the bottom shelf of a small bookcase we have in the middle of our Learning Loft. The red tote holds our math manipulatives and math cards so we can easily take it all out while we do math. The abacuses we use all the time are also within convenient reach. I’ve decided to store our Singapore math books down here too as they are shorter than our normal binders and workbooks that we store elsewhere. We put a children’s dictionary here too, Satori uses it often. A new manipulative we’ll be using soon are the Unifix and linking cubes.

Just wanting to throw down my latest thoughts…


We started “first grade” this summer to ease  ourselves in a bit more into being a bit more rigorous. We still just do 1-1.5 hours a day at this point. This fall I’d love to increase our workload to 2-3 hours a day, but that is including some creative stuff like art and music. I’ve got our curriculum all finalized and almost finished working out our Fall 2010 daily lesson plans. I’ve been following this 50+ page thread on WTM forums on how to organize using files/crates, and gotten some good ideas from it. I don’t think I’m going to go that far, but it has given me some ideas and inspiration. I may get some use out of the Workbox system and Loop, although again, I probably won’t follow the method 100%. I think I’ve gotten ideas from all the major planning/organization methods that are making their rounds this time of year.

I’ve divided our subjects into three groups. Core, Support, and Enrichment. (I just came up with those names  out of the top of my head just now, hehe.)

Core is most important and first on our priority list. Right now they are only Reading and Math (although that may change). This fall, we’ll have finished our formal phonics reading program, but we’ll continue to practice reading and gain fluency. We’ll keep working on our ETC workbooks for as long as they work for us. For Math, our main math program is RightStart, and we’ll do 20 minutes 4 times a week. Because Satori now doesn’t like to finish the RS worksheets, we might try a bit of Math Mammoth worksheets everyone has been raving about.  I’d love to incorporate MEP too a few days. This supplemental math will take 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Total for our Core is one hour a day. We’ll be tackling these first and then take a short break. We’ll be doing these Core lessons everyday, in some way or another.

Support subjects are those lessons that support our core. Some of these might make it into our Core down the road, but right now I’m not too worried about them. These subjects may be ones that Satori excels at and I’d actually like to slow down to give priority to our core. Or they are ones that I don’t think are crucial at this time, but they are definitely important and nice to work on, so I give them secondary priority. Our second hour will be filled with Support subjects. These are Handwriting (we’re starting cursive), Spelling, Grammar, and Writing. Due to Satori really enjoying creative writing, some of this might seem to go at an accelerated pace for a first grader. Handwriting and Spelling will be our usual curriculum – Handwriting Without Tears and All-About-Spelling. Grammar and Writing we are trying out some new stuff, while still keeping First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease. These two programs seem too easy for Satori, but I like the memorization, narration, and copywork that these programs promote. We will be adding Growing With Grammar Grade 1 and Write Source Grade 1. Support lessons will be done 2-3 times a week.

Enrichment subjects are subjects like history, science, vocabulary, art, music, logic, geography, etc… Not totally necessary, but so much fun! I plan to really ramp up our Art now, and we are thinking of starting Notebooking for subjects like history, science, and nature study. I’ve made some changes to what we’ve done in the past so we shouldn’t get so far behind in history and science. Enrichment subjects will be tackled 1-2 times a week.

By thinking of our subjects in this way, we’ll get our priorities in order and make sure we get the most important things done for sure and done first.

When I get some time, I will flesh out our First Grade curriculum Fall semester, as I do every semester and talk about our choices in a little more detail.


I’m adding a bit of creative inspiration to our great room, I’ve got some great ideas for an art table, writing table and birding watch to place in our main room, while still hopefully retaining a room that we can still hang out in and not be overwhelmed by messy homeschool stuff. We’ll see.

Here’s a photo of David putting together our new art table:

Today was just a lazy Monday, I am trying to clean for a special guest on Friday. 🙂 An extended playdate… Yeah, it usually is a huge endeavor when we expect guests, with a little girl, 1 dog, and 3 cats, a house never stays clean for long! I also took some time to do organize the schoolroom. First, had to ensure that Satori was occupied! Here she is just outside the schoolroom making some creative sculptures. Our new Super-Lightweight Paint Apron was a hit with Satori.


In the meantime, I built our paint station – pulled the easel out of the garage and assembled a bunch of washable tempera paints in a storage basket – 10-pack set of paints and basket all from Lakeshore Learning. No, I do not work for Lakeshore Learning, but I love that store! 😉


Ah… gotta love being organized! Simply pop the caps open and you’re ready to paint. I should’ve bought the matching paint brushes. When done, I close the lids and store them under the sink. 🙂


Satori couldn’t wait to get her hands on the new paints. She proceeded to paint a picture of her kitty, Soma, a spotted Bengal cat.


Finally, I made a homemade bulletin board. Last week I purchased a white foam board, and today I selected some fabric, stapled it to the back and put it up on the wall. If we get bored of this fabric, I have tons more from my Attached to Baby days when I used to send fabrics to work at home moms to make baby carriers. Mei Tais were my favorite by the way. 🙂 Looking at all the fabrics reminded me of all the Sachis, FreeHands, AngelPack Mei Tais that were exclusive to ATB, and coincidentally, was one of the main reasons customers loved us when we started back in 2005!