November 5, 2014

Chaos to Order: A Variety of Shelves and Spaces

I teach Ethan that home is special and where we want to be. And the same principle hold true for his stuff. Everything has a home and get's sad when it's not back in its home when all is said and done. But more than that, the "house elf" will take what's left out and he cannot be sure when or if the elf will ever give it he has to be responsible with his things. (randomly the elf make return things for good behavior)

I wanted to write down some shelves and spaces I have and their functions, to give an idea of how this helps keeps us organized.

Ethan's Book Shelves

  • BedTime & Classics Books: bedtime books are specific stories I feel help remind Ethan he is loved or that provide security and calm before bed. We read these to him for now and there are about 6 of those. Plus we bought 16 kids classics from B&N that we will typically alternate with bedtime stories to do one a week or so, a few pages at a time (building his familiarity with Classics in a kid version).
  • Sunday & Character Books: about the Gospel or Max Lucado books (which I love), or character qualities (Franklin Covey 7 Habits for Kids stories series, etc.). We also read these to him and there are about 10-15.
  • Reading Time Books: this has about 10 books at a time that are simple for him to pick up reading on, should he choose, and we rotate through those as he gets bored, or as holidays/seasons change (or for age appropriateness). This helps him get familiar with certain books and words to build his sight-reading.
  • Other: we also have a sprinkling of language-learning type fun storybooks (Slangman are good) or Paul's childhood books that we like to throw in for variety that we keep up with the Sunday books so Ethan doesn't see them, but we can pull them out at random times. He loves the element of surprise (especially when the House Elf has brought him a different book)
  • Library Books: these always stay in the reading room up high so they don't get confused with his others or mangled by toddlers, but I try to limit it to 5 a week now, instead of 20. Which generally adds up to one new book each weekday during our noon storytime half-hour (which we read a new one, a familiar one and then
  • Special Shelf:  This one isn't specifically for books, persay; but it's for things that Ethan feels are special and includes two books that are actually "his" and not the "family library" like the rest of the books. The two books are You Are Special (board board version) and The Book of Mormon. 
Having these shelves keeps my organized and provides a good framework and provides variety and also surprise potential. It's also fun to have different areas. The formal books and reading time/library books are in our formal reading room. His bedtime books are by his bed, but up high.

Side note about treatment: I use to give my kids all the books they had, regardless of location and age. Now, I've come to the perspective that if they can't treat the book nicely, they can't have it. (or if it gets damaged it goes away for awhile and is taped/fixed quickly). This builds respect for books (and it's use as a tool and "friend") and responsibility for taking care of things (stewardship). ('s still hard with my two year old and her ABC book, with no biting on we aren't by any means perfect at this...but we try).

Ethan's Spaces
I think I'd go crazy if I lived in a one-room house with all the family and tried homeschooling (at least in Winter or if we couldn't get out much). So we've made different areas of interest for Ethan (and my sanity).
  • His Bedroom: has his special shelves right next to his bed for only his stuff (a few books a box of duplos and his lil' critters, and his special shelf)
  • His Closet (Book Nook): has his memory board to hang things he wants to look at or remember, his car mat/blanket thing and a bucket of cars, and his mini-wagon parks there.
  • The Reading Room: This is our classics room that has our nice books (Gospel shelf and Classics Shelf, etc.) a world Map, etc. It also has his learning shelves: one for reading time books/workbooks and his "project basket" (threading, paper stuff and "tools" we're focusing on that week). And the other for his learning tools (chalkboard box with crayons and such, abacus, letter and number magnets and puzzles and his backpack (holds his character book for the week, scriptures, his journals and basic coloring supplies)
  • Secret Garden/Fort: we have a special sheet I grew up with that looks like grass and butterflies, etc. So we use that to cover a fort, where'er it may be in the house. This is his "secret garden" (named after the book--kid version we read to him). So he loves setting up camp anywhere...which provides a good deal of variety in his quiet times that have to be somewhere quiet and isolated (this is helpful when I need the reading room, or his sister is sleeping in his room and I'm not sure where else to put him.) And he just hinks it's cool to be somewhere different and under a blanket.
  • Outside: His campus! Go explore...mommy needs a break.

Toy Shelves & Boxes (see post on simplifying toys)
  • Great Room/Main Space: there are a few boxes in the main area where the kids and I spend a majority of our time. They are actually different themes:
  1. Music & Movement Box: shakers, flutes, drum, scarves, etc.
  2. Story-Time Box: puppets and little critters to tell stories with (or for an easier version of hide and seek I don't have to find awkward spots to hide in or search all over the house for a real person)
  3. Building Blocks & also a Pattern Blocks Box: Endless creative building and helpful in conjunction with other toys
  4. Wood Train Box
  5. Nellie's Toddler Bin
  6. Ethan's Tool Box
  • Ethan's Room: 
  1. Dress up Box
  2. Closet Toys: a wagon and a box of cars
  3. Stuffed animals
  4. Sunday Box up on shelf (just pull down on sundays): sunday puzzles, books, Noah's ark toys, etc.
  • Reading Room (already explained some of this above)
  1. Project Basket (for threading or paper-folding things he's working on)
  2. Learning Tools (magnet letter and numbers, tangrams and various puzzles, cards, games, etc.)
  • Garage shelf: an easy place for him to park his bike/scooter and to put his bucket/wheel-barrow/shovels on the shelf above
  • Basement Box: hidden away are some other toys he likes or other-age-appropriate toys he doesn't need at that time that we rotate through (like rotating through books, it keeps the element of variety/surprise alive)

Other Shelves
  • 6 small Clothes drawers are low and in a logical order with a manageable amount of pieces(6 small drawers: pants, shorts, short-sleeve, long-sleeve, underwear, pj)
  • Shoe shelf in front closet so he know where his shoes "rest" for the night
  • Blanket and pillow shelf for his few extra blankets if he needs more fort material or if he peed the bed and needs to take care of it.

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