A couple of years ago I shared a picture of our homeschool room, which we have since moved to a different room, combining our classroom and play space into one area. Our "formal living room" is now the classroom/playroom. What's the sense in two living rooms, right? It's also where we keep our computer...so we could call it an office too. I love it! And I am quite happy that all of the kids' stuff is in this one room. I am a minimalist, love functionality, and get irritated by toys laying around in every room of the house. It's also difficult for me (because I have tachycardia) to go up and down the stairs helping the kids find their lost toys. So storing all of the toys in this room works. The only exception to this is that we have a puzzle bin, craft bin, and a dress-up bin in a closet. So, here is our classroom.
Right in front we have our Lego table, which is where the kids play the majority of the time. We keep all Lego Duplos, including people and vehicles, in a bin underneath the table.
To the left we have our toys, which are separated into three bins. One is for a wooden farm set, one is for wooden blocks, and one is for all other toys. As I mentioned the other day, we have narrowed down our toys to a few brands that are either non-toxic or less toxic. Most of the toys we have now are Lego, Schleich, Wow Toys, and various wooden and cloth people and animals.
To the right is our play table. This is where they build with their wooden blocks and do puzzles and manipulatives while I'm working one-on-one with the other child.
In the center at the back of the room is our main classroom area. This is where we do our morning routine (Pledge, calendar, 100 chart, weather chart, etc.) and activities for the day. We also store the stuffed animals back here. They usually get a stuffed animal to read with when they're in the reading corner over there to the left.
Here's the reading corner. It's just a couple of bean bags and a bunch of books.This is where I send one of the kids while I'm working one-on-one with the other. They can also go to the play table and do puzzles and manipulatives.
And to the right is our kitchen area. The kids love to pretend to be chefs at a restaurant cooking food for their stuffed animals and dolls. It looks like right now they're eating popsicles. And yes, that's Jesus at the table. We store the dishes inside the sink and the food in a bin inside the oven.
On the top shelf of one bookcase I have our curriculum and workbooks. The next shelf has floor puzzles. We do one each day. The next two shelves have puzzles and manipulatives, which I switch out every couple of days. And the bottom shelf is where I store my books.
On the top shelf of the second bookcase I have art supplies that we use frequently, like markers, scissors, glue sticks, and paper. Only I can get these down. The next shelf has games. We do one each day. The next shelf is where I display books for them to read. The next shelf is where we keep coloring books and a bin full of crayons and colored pencils. They're allowed to get these out any time they want, as they've proven themselves to be over the coloring on the wall phase. Oh, and on the very top we have a bin of regular sized Legos.
And I think that's about it! It's nothing spectacular, but it works for us! If you have a blog where you've posted pictures of your classroom I would love for you to share the link!
I know I told you guys I'd show you our playroom/classroom today, but my camera isn't working properly. So I'll hopefully have that for you tomorrow. I have something else I'd like to talk about though. I've been pondering this lately because sometimes I'll hear parents of young children (preschool-aged or so) say that their children have stated that they want to invite Jesus into their hearts. My first thought when I hear parents say this is, That's great that your child has picked up on the proper church lingo and learned to regurgitate it. I'm sure she received plenty of "Aw, isn't that precious" comments. I know...my thoughts can be sarcastic. I honestly do think it's great that the child at least has been taught about God though. And I understand that when most people use this language, they are merely conveying that they are in a relationship with Christ that hopefully involved what is necessary for salvation: repentance and belief. My children would never say something like that, though. First, they know that Jesus is in heaven and He certainly wouldn't fit inside an organ in our chest. Secondly, they already know and love God. They have since they were babies.
This brings up memories of my own childhood, because I was also a baby when I was introduced to God. And it was always annoying when others asked me at what age I was saved, or what my salvation experience was like. It seemed like everyone else had such amazing stories of turning from their old ways and being born again with life-changing evidence. Most Christians seem to remember a concrete date or point in their life. But I have no recollection of when I was saved. I was born into a Christian family with parents, aunts, and grandparents who, by spending time with them, made it pretty much impossible to not come to know God. None of them beat the Bible or Christian traditions into my head. They acknowledged God in various areas of life--not just on Sundays. By noticing and listening to them, I gradually stepped into a realization of who God is.
A couple of people told me that if I can't remember when I was saved, I must not be. Some told me, "Even though you were raised in a Christian family there must have been some point in your life when you became serious in your walk with God." But, no. That's just not true. I have always been serious about my walk with God. I haven't always been a perfect Christian, and never will be. But every day I learn and grow and my faith in Him is made stronger.
Someone insisted once, "But you have to remember when you became a Christian. The Bible says that your life is changed because of it." I do agree that the course of my life changed when I first believed in God. Had that not happened I would be heading down a totally different path right now. However, I don't remember when I first met my mom, dad, or brother. But my life most certainly changed when I met each of them.
Someone else told me, "The Bible says that you must confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord," inferring that I should have said the sinner's prayer at some point in my life in order to be saved. I believe they were referring to Romans 10:9: "Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." But people often forget about the next verse: "For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation." You see, just as good works and baptism are not a means of salvation, but the evidence of salvation, so is verbal confession of faith. Confession confirms our salvation. How else can we confess Christ as Lord if we don't already believe He is? And remember: confessing Christ as Lord back in New Testament times didn't mean reciting a sinner's prayer. It meant being unashamed, completely on board, and willing to give all of their being for the purpose of publicly identifying with Christ. It meant facing the possibility of losing their job, property, friends, status, and even their life. Confession of faith in Jesus Christ is not a one-time magical formula. We don't just profess Christ once and Bam!--we're eternally secure. Faith and verbal confession is necessary for one's entire life. I am not saying that it is wrong to say a sinner's prayer. It's definitely a great thing to tell God that you want to start following Him, or following Him more closely. But faith doesn't start or stop with a prayer. What does confessing Christ look like today? Of course, Christians who remain committed to Christ despite living in an area that is hostile towards Christianity are the epitome of what it means to confess Christ. But I also believe that those who display scripture in their homes, share Christian articles on Facebook, have discussions about God in public, send their children to Christian schools, and make a deliberate effort to reflect Christ in various aspects of their lives are also "confessing with their lips that Jesus is Lord."
Do I remember when I was born, physically? Of course not. But it doesn't mean I wasn't. The blood running through my veins is proof that I am alive. And the proof that I am alive spiritually is that I have a passion for the things of God, that I enjoy holiness, that I believe His Word is true, and that I have a desire to see others experience His kingdom. How can someone tell me that my Father, my best friend, whom I love with all my heart, is not my Lord, because I don't remember a concrete salvation experience? How insensitive and haughty. I have found that many times those types of Christians are also the ones who believe that all Christians should experience God in the same way that they do. And that's just not possible. We are the body of Christ. Each member of the body has a different relationship with God, different perspectives on His Word, different burdens, different experiences, and for a good reason. The body would not function if we were all the same. But that is another theme for another time...
I know it's been a while since I last posted. My schedule has been hectic. I'm balancing two different part-time jobs, homeschooling my kids, cooking most meals from scratch, working hard trying to heal a cavity...naturally, and working on building up my teacher resume so that hopefully in the near future I'll find an on-line teaching gig and be able to drop my current jobs. I've also been de-cluttering my house! Woohoo! This is what I do to unwind. Plus, my kids had too many toxic toys that needed to go. We're really trying to get away from plastic toys as much as possible, switching over to wood and cloth. I wish we would have done this when they were younger, before they became attached to their toys. It's a challenge now...but I love a challange!
We're going to keep their Legos because they are made from ABS plastic rather than the commonly used PVC which is a carcinogen that especially targets the central nervous system and liver. Please don't tell me anything bad about ABS because there's no way they're giving up the Legos. Lego also a good track record of placing a high priority on customer safety. Plus they're a fun, educational toy. I'm also letting them keep their Schleich animals for now. Although they're made of PVC, they are free of phthalates, which mimic the body's hormones, creating reproductive and neurological problems. But the Fisher Price Little People had to go. At first this was somewhat sad because they have loved their Little People since they were babies. But they are made from PVC, contain phthalates, and the paint chips easily. The company has had numerous recalls for their lead paint, and their ratings on healthystuff.org were not great. Now, I know you might be thinking, It's not like their eating the toys. I thought this too, until I made it a point to watch how often my kids put toys in their mouths. And even though they are 5 and 3 they are constantly walking around with toys in their mouths. It was actually a lot easier to convince them to give up the Little People than I thought. I told the kids that we would buy new toys with the money that we get from selling the Little People. So in exchange for these two castle sets.....
...we bought a Melissa and Doug Royal Family Wooden Doll Set. We already had wooden blocks and Lego Duplos so I just taught them how to build a castle with those. I don't know what kind of paint Melissa & Doug uses, but I don't trust it. Vegetable dye is the only kind of paint that should be used on children's toys. However, these dolls are mostly covered up by clothes and hair which prevent the kiddos from putting them in their mouths. They love these dolls, and I'm glad we bought them because they take up so much less space than the two castle sets we had.
And in exchange for this house and family...
...we bought this KidKraft doll family. And once again, I taught them how to build a house with their blocks. They loved it!
We also sold this nativity set. I haven't decided what to replace it with just yet.
I thought about purchasing this plush Tales of Glory nativity set. But I'm thinking it's probably treated with toxic flame retardants, as most plush toys are. Anyone have any ideas on a non-toxic nativity set? I would really love to find a hand-carved unfinished wood nativity set and then finish it myself with beeswax polish and jojoba oil.
We had some other Little People and plastic figures that the kids really wanted to hang on to. I showed them pictures of many different kinds of wooden toys and they still wouldn't budge. Then I showed them Wow Toys! These are definitely the closest thing you can find to Little People. The people fit inside the vehicles (just like Little People) and there are no small pieces. They are made of plastic, but not PVC, and are phthalate and BPA-free. The company claims that they do not use any toxic materials. They are also measured by European safety standards, which are higher than U.S. standards. We ended up buying some Wow Toys farm sets as well as Arctic Archie. I don't plan to buy any more, because from now on I'd like to stick with wood and cloth. But I'm glad we were at least able to trade out our Little People for some comparable, yet safer, plastic toys.
Overall I'm pretty satisfied with the toys that we have now. I would still like to trade out our Melissa & Doug wooden food (because of the paint) for some Camden Rose knitted food, but there's no way we can get enough money for new food by selling the old. Too bad I can't knit... My goal is to at least break even in this toy exchanging process. So maybe this could be a Christmas gift. Isn't it adorable? I love all of their products.
Tomorrow I'll show you our playroom/classroom!