In our household having a toddler friendly homeschool room is essential. One of my biggest challenges is keeping my littles, 3 years and 18 months, busy while I’m working with Izzy who is 9. So I’ve worked really hard to create a toddler friendly homeschool room.
Come and take a peek at our toddler friendly homeschool room…
Our school room this year is off of our kitchen and dining room. It’s a smaller room that is encompassed by walls on 3 sides. It’s also the room where our wood stove is so there is a very large baby gate around one whole area of the room. But, it should be nice and cozy this winter when the chill hits as our only source of heat is our wood stove.
Learning resources for little hands in our toddler friendly homeschool room
I’ve organized the areas in the classroom based on who I want to have access to them. We have two Ikea Expedit (now Kallax) shelving units. These are my MUST-HAVE for a homeschooling family. They look great and hold a crazy amount of stuff.
I took one of our shelves and have it turned on its side so that both levels of the shelving unit are accessible to little hands. This unit is filled with books, toys and learning resources meant just for little hands.
With large pieces perfect for little hands they are the perfect addition to a toddler friendly homeschool room. And I like toys that can grow with them. Peek-a-boo bunny comes with 60 card challenges that use from 2-4 pieces. The kids then replicate what they see in the picture using the pieces. The pound and tap xylophone has many options too aside from building dexterity. From matching the balls with the right colour hole to exploring music, this one has graced our shelves for several years now.
Come find out our full preschool curriculum plan at Our Preschool Curriculum Reveal 2017-2018.
And what toddler friendly classroom would be complete without books?
We have books EVERYWHERE! Between the toys on the shelves I store our board books and kids story books. (The ones that aren’t from Usborne anyways…. those have a special book shelf because my
addiction collection takes that much room.)
A few more learning resources
The bottom row of cubby’s has 2 cloth storage cubes that hold all of our Duplo. The other two spots are currently open while I figure out what I want the boys to have open access to. I figure more is less so i’d rather have open space than too much out.
Above their book shelf is the calendar board (printed out from Confessions of a Homeschooler). I want to start introducing the little boys to songs about the days of the week and months of the year. The second cork board holds all of our pen pal letters and correspondence from family.
Totally off topic, but the globe was an awesome find from my hubby! It was slightly damaged at the store and they were just going to throw it away! So he brought it home and it is totally fine!
Include lots of different types of activities
On the wall beside the small boys book shelf we have an awesome metal board that friends of our made for us years ago. It’s magnetic (being metal and all) and we have several different leap frog magnet activities that can be used here.
We don’t have a lot of them out at the moment because my little hands really just like to listen to the songs the magnet holders play. And, they throw all the magnets on the floor.
One aspect that we’ve really had to work hard on was making sure that whatever was in the classroom and accessible to little hands was not overwhelming to clean up. Right now they can pretty much throw every single toy (including all the pieces of duplo) on the floor and we can have it cleaned and sorted in under 15 minutes.
Little hands and little feet require little tables
We have two small tables in our classroom area and I actually just switched them around. I like to change up things every now and then. It keeps the room feeling new and exciting. The other thing I alternate is whether or not the Melissa and Doug Car mat we have is out or hung up over the baby gate. It’s free for use at any time but this way it doesn’t become something they just always walk over.
The learning and work table
We have two small tables to alternate between activities and to provide space for the little ones to spread out.
The first table is an old rubber wood kitchen table that we cut the legs down on. On top of it is a we large white board sticker that we found at Staples. It’s great for letting the little kids draw on. Sometimes I also draw race tracks on it and they drive little hotwheels cars around it until all the pen comes off.
This mat has also been really useful for our schooling. Instead of needing constant bits of paper for calculations and teaching examples, we doodle math calculations and other learning tidbits on the table. It also allows us to draw out these learning concepts on a larger scale.
The lego / train table
We have had this sweet table since my oldest was just a toddler (about 15 years ago!). It could use some refinishing but it’s such a functional piece for us.
On one side we have a painted picture table for setting up train tracks and any other play items that we don’t want on the floor.
The top of the table is reversible and on the under side we created a lego table by gluing down 6 base plats in the center of the table.
One awesome fact about lego baseplates – we originally created this table for use with lego. However, our little boys like to put it in their mouths so they don’t get to play with it. (Another reason why we needed to create a toddler friendly homeschool room!) But, their duplo also connects to the baseplates for building!
Second book shelf and the reading nook
It’s not really much of a reading nook, but I love sitting in the rocking chair and reading to the boys while they play. This is where our morning basket time usually occurs. Not sure what morning basket time is? You can check out this guest post I wrote for Amy over at Encouraging Moms at Home.
The rocking chair is a special addition to the classroom. It’s an antique that my mom picked up when she was pregnant with me. She rocked both my brother and myself in that chair. And now I’ve rocked all of my children in it.
Behind the chair is our second Ikea Expedit shelf. The top row of cubbies holds our resource and reference books – mostly for nature study. The next row has our current curriculum for Izzy (you can learn more about what we’re using this year at 4th Grade Curriculum Choices for an Adventurous Boy).
Books, books and more books
And next to Izzy’s curriculum are more resource books that we pull from time to time. These ones are more geography and social studies focussed. One of our hidden treasures on this shelf is this book:
Have you heard of this book? It goes through many of the countries of the world at looks at what families from different areas eat in a week. It shows the size of their family and what their weekly grocery shop look like. It’s really eye opening for the kids to see how people in other parts of the world live!
Easily accessible toys for imaginative play
The last 4 cubbies are filled with the same cloth storage cubes as the other shelving unit. These ones house the other toys the boys like to play with; wooden trains and tracks, rescue bots, dinosaurs figures and our Wow toys collection.
Again, I kept these things where the boys can get them our freely without needing help. They have also been pared down greatly to keep clean up easy and overwhelm to a minimum.
I love imaginative play for kids and try to keep most of our toys and resources, ones that can be used in more ways than one. We’ve had many different play kitchens over the years, but because our space is much more limited now, we have this great little one from Hape (which is pronounced happy – did you know that!?).
Mixing the old with the new
Beside the play kitchen is our work table. And then next to that we have our old steamer trunk. We actually have 2 of them but only one is currently in the house. My grandparents emigrated to Canada using these trunks.
The one we have in the classroom is an upright wardrobe trunk. It has lots of really neat features to it. The original wooden hangers are still there. They hang on metal rods that slide out to allow you to see everything that is hanging up. The top “drawer” on the other side is actually a flip down organizer with room for many things. And then there are two drawers below that.
We keep all of our costumes and dress up items in the trunk.
The very last area of our classroom
And that bring us to the final shelving area. These ones are built in shelves. They house our board games. Aside from being a family that reads, we enjoy playing board games with the kids. Most of our older games are stored in other bedrooms, but in the classroom we keep quick easy games, toddler and preschooler friendly games, and a few of our all time favourites.
We have baskets filled with puzzles large and small. There’s a basket of musical instruments. We recently got 6 recorders so we’ve been teaching ALL the kids to play. (Modern day Von Trapp family wanna-be’s!)
And the bottom bin is filled with wooden cars and trucks.
But here’s the truth about our school classroom
Aside from keeping the little kids busy and enjoying some reading time in there, we don’t do a lot of school work in our classroom. And we never have. We have had several different classrooms and set ups and we still always end up on the couch or at the kitchen table to do our work.
And I think it’s the most practical place for learning to occur. Izzy is close by me if he needs a hand during independent work time. It’s easy for us to cozy up and learn together. I love this sweet one on one time.
It was something that we added to our homeschool routine a few years ago. I attended a workshop by Bonnie Landry and she talked about protecting the relationship with her children above anything else we have to get done in a day. (I have a giveaway going on my blog right now for her video workshop: Homeschooling with Joy! You should come enter!!)
I want to take this time each day to connect with my kiddos one on one.
And so, sometimes that happens with the littles in the classroom while we’re playing, sometimes its at the kitchen table or on our couch. But where ever it is, I cherish those moments and know they are the real classroom, where all the real learning takes place.
Did you find some inspiring ideas for your homeschool? Want to share this with a friend who is homeschooling with little ones? You can use this pin to save the post for later.
I hope that you have a space that you love for homeschooling. Whether it’s big or small, it’s amazing what we can make work! But more than anything, I hope that you enjoy your children this school year.
I’d love to know more about the space that you are using this year to teach your kids. Do you have or need a toddler friendly homeschool room as well? I love getting your comments and you can leave me a link or send me an email with your classroom set up!
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This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Back to HOMEschool Blog Party.
Come and take a look at this weeks collection of homeschool classrooms for school room week. There are posts on schooling in small spaces, schooling with no dedicated space, and a peek into our homeschool room. Have a post about your homeschool classroom? Come and link up with us!