Learning happens in every area of our home. Perhaps most of the learning including language and maths happens in our kitchen or outside. We have a children's table on our back deck where we work when it's not windy, but we also have this little corner of shelves at the end of our lounge/living room. This is what I call my three-year-old's 'work area'.
I want to share this space with you as compared to examples I've seen online, this is a very simple set-up. We don't have a playroom or a study and that's ok, we do the best with the space we have. I have a general formula for setting up the work area. While the materials are rotated frequently depending on what my child is working on, the language, science, sewing, cutting, and maths activities stay in the same spots. Our work area currently looks like this:
- day/weather station - this is fantastic for creating awareness about seasons, weather, and the day including yesterday/today/tomorrow. Importantly, updating this little station every day is a part of our daily rhythm.
- language - we rotate this very often depending on the activity we are working on. This is usually initial sound work and sandpaper letters (we use these with our sand tray outdoors).
- science - we usually have a science activity here like magnets, a small experiment, a magnifying tray. Here we are using our microscope with nature items and a few prepared slides.
- sewing - we have many sewing activities that we rotate in this space.
- cutting - using scissors is such a fundamental skill we usually have out a cutting/scissoring activity.
- maths - this is still very simple for my three-year-old, here we are using some counters and number boards.
- work rug - the child uses the work rug if he is going to work on the floor. The work rug helps to define the area and keep materials together
- world map
- flowers - we like to add some natural materials like a small plant, flowers, foliage or a small nature display here.
Our nearby art shelves contain our play dough, pencils, markers, paper, and we also have an art tray or two out. We have practical life materials throughout our home.
My three-year-old is now in the habit of using a work rug. He still needs reminding about putting activities away. But when he does put them away it's always back to the right spot. Here he is using some new counters and maths bars.
This is completely organized but I am always tempted to overfill the shelves. Do what works for you, I always find less is best.
Although we rotate often, it's more like our activities naturally evolve. We might really be interested in magnets and have a few magnet activities out before moving onto shapes. Our sewing tray might be sewing today but weaving tomorrow. I definitely don't rotate everything at once and I don't rotate things I know my child is really engaged with.
He is really engaged with cutting animal shapes with scissors. This is easier than cutting out animals with lots of details, here the child cuts out the square, rectangle, circle shape. The more dangerous or adventurous the animal the more my child likes them. Some of our favourite cutting strips are here.
Can a three-year-old use a microscope? Absolutely, but be prepared to supervise and guide them. This digital microscope has a large screen which makes it really easy to see and to share. Here Otto is looking at a Honeybee Leg. We also like this children's microscope. Using a microscope encourages my children to be inquisitive, to look deeper, to ask more questions, to be a scientist.
We have out a combination of nature items and children's prepared slides. But my children love to look at everyday items including how gross their fingernails look under the microscope! Here Otto is looking at an ant.
We also have lots of children's books in my three-year-old's bedroom. We have toys outside and toys like Lego/Duplo, train set, and blocks in our living room. This work area intentionally does not have any toys in it.
Resources: Sandpaper Letters, Digital Microscope, Similar Prepared Slides, Day/Weather Station, Montessori Work Rug (23.6" x 31.5"), World Map (AU) (100 x 70 cms), Children's Scissors, Counters and Maths Bars
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