Picnic Table Talk: Organization

This weeks Picnic Table Talk at ABC’s and 123’s is about Organization. One of my most favorite topics.

I absolutely love organizing – when I’m inspired to do so. With my children’s educational things and art supplies and kitchen, I found that being organized helps them and me find what we are looking for.

After seeing a concept similar to this on a website once, I created a hands-on exploration unit that my kids have free access to. I change things up as we get new things or if I get in a reorganizational type of mood.

Here is the unit all at once. It’s comprised of a 3×3 cube unit from Target and a 2×3 unit from Lowes. It contains hands on activities for montessori sensory activities, math and language activities and science activities.

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Closeup of the math and language and montessori side
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I found this neat idea using pencil pouches for storage of educational games I purchased at Walmart from Chasing Cheerios.

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More educational games I found at Walmart (opposites puzzles, animal/habitat puzzles, bear counters, and alphabet letters magnets with magnets of objects in corresponding beginning sounds).

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This is the science side:
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Rocks and mineral collection with books on rocks and minerals. I found the Usborne book at a garage sale.

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The optical shelf – with bug viewers, kaleidoscopes, optical illusion tops and a few other things.
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Magnets and magnetic objects with a children’s book on magnets.

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Shells and nature bits (acorns, pinecones) – there’s more shells in the white box below the basket with a reference book on shells and a story book about the seashore.

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What’s on top of the units
stuff that doesn’t fit below and a few kids science magazines –

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more natural history finds – geodes and fossils and arrowheads and such.
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Discovery bottles and magnifying glass and binoculars.
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And here is our art storage near the dining room table where they do their art:

It contains playdoh and accessories, stamps and stamp pads, stickers, watercolor and small containers of tempera paints, and brushes, and some fabric scraps, google eyes, shapes cut out of construction paper, and other bits and bobs.

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Art Paper

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The crayons, pens, markers, scissors, colored pencils go on a lazy susan on the dining room table.

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I also organized the kitchen to be more kid friendly too, based on Montessori principles. With things well within their reach, they are more apt to help themselves to their own snacks, and help with setting the table when they can reach their dishes.

Creating a Kid Friendly Kitchen

Oh…and to participate in the book giveaway contest, please see this post below:

https://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/book-review-and-giveaway-brain-child/

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26 Responses to Picnic Table Talk: Organization

  1. Shanna says:

    Where at Walmart do you find all the great educational stuff?

  2. Jenny says:

    I love your system! I am going to bookmark this, so I can refer back to it. I so need to do this!

  3. growinginpeace says:

    Shanna – I usually find the things around the toys or back to school section, or the office supply section.

    The only thing that is hard to find is the opposites and animal/habitat puzzles. I found those a few years ago and they were like Kid Connections brand…or something like that. I haven’t been able to find them since.

  4. Mama King says:

    So organized! Thanks for sharing your tips. I like the pencil pocket idea. Looks like a great environment to learn and have fun.

  5. branflakes says:

    I love how you have your space set up. It looks so nice and clean and easy to access.

  6. Diana says:

    I love your science area. That is one area I feel I really could do more in. You have given me some great ideas. Thank you!

  7. growinginpeace says:

    Thanks Mama King… and you’re welcome. It is a fun environment to learn and have fun in. The organization became necessary because we have a small house, but lots of interests.

  8. growinginpeace says:

    Branflakes – Thank you. The girls are mostly really good about putting things away. But I have fun straightening it up, because I like the stuff as much as they do!

  9. Susana says:

    I’ve seen some of your space before in other posts on your blog. Let me just say–your set-up is truly my dream:-)!! I love all that you’ve done from the units/cubbies and containers you use to your montessori learning trays!! Can’t say enough about how much I love all that you’ve done!

  10. growinginpeace says:

    Diana – I’m glad I could help. Just remember that I didn’t do this all at once. I just started keeping my eyes open for things at garage sales, children’s museum’s, thrift stores, other stores. I try to avoid the homeschool stores, but occasionally I find things there I can’t find elsewhere (like cheap geoboards and the horsehoe magnet with metal edged bingo chips).

    Lakeshore Learning has a science section that you could look at for ideas, then try and find cheap alternatives elsewhere to buy or make on your own.

    For instance – their 50 dollar discovery tubes I made for pennies.

    Here’s the link to similar ones Discovery Bottles

  11. growinginpeace says:

    Susana – thank you for such a lovely sentiment. I am truly happy to have created this for my kids and grateful to have come up with something that actually works and we are all pleased with. It is fun for them and they can learn something about the world around us with. It’s fun for me, because I feel good knowing that everything is accessible and neat for them to freely explore when they want. It really warms my heart when they go up and take the rock/mineral collection on their own and the magnifying glass and sit and study them.

  12. Sheena says:

    We have those same cube storage things from Target and I’ve been looking for something that I could put in them to store smaller items. Your three-drawer plastic thing is perfect for what I’m looking for. I could use pencil boxes as well. So simple, why didn’t I think of that? I love how everything is out so that your kids can get to it by themselves. I’m so afraid to leave stuff out in fear of it getting broken or my walls drawn on. Great post!

  13. Karen says:

    OMG!! I love your space!! soo organized!! Thanks for sharing it. I love to see how other handle so much material!! We use Montessori too and I love your blog!! Thank you sooooooo much for sharing!!

    Karen
    http://www.miescuelitamontessori.blogspot.com

  14. growinginpeace says:

    Sheena – thanks. My youngest is now 4, but I had this arrangement since she was 3.5 or so. She’s not always great about putting back what she takes out, but she does when I help her to do it. And they don’t take everything out, just one thing at a time.

  15. growinginpeace says:

    Karen – Ideally, you know Montessori would just have one item per shelf, but I am limited in my space, so I have to do it this way. It still works out well because they just take what they need to the table they are using.

  16. Heather says:

    You have a GREAT classroom! I love looking at other people’s spaces. Your’s is set up very nicely. I like the idea of easy access and the science area as well!

  17. I love your space!

    I use clear produce containers to store just about everything. They are perfect because they snap shut tightly and stack neatly, but the kids can see exactly what is inside.

  18. Oh-

    Another thing that I wanted to mention: I have a low coffee table that I picked up at a garage sale, on top of which I have placed some large floor cushions to make a little couch.

    Baskets full of books fit neatly underneath and the cushions can be moved to the floor if the kids want to convert the reading area into a craft table.

  19. growinginpeace says:

    Starr – I have to ask. Those clear plastic storage containers, do you mean you recycle the ones they produce comes in? That’s a great way to recycle them. I will have to check them out and see what I can put in them (like my 4 year olds bottlecap collection for sure!).

    I love the idea of multifunctional reading bench/craft table. What a space saving and kid-friendly idea!

  20. growinginpeace says:

    Heather – thanks for the compliment. It’s not so much an actual classroom as a supplemental resource center, though. I send my kids to public school, but they do lots of hands-on, discovery based learning outside of the school day.

  21. Yes, they are recycled produce containers. We eat a lot of berries:)
    Another thing I have done for storage is to fill a garage sale bookshelf with $1 wash tubs. That houses larger items like blocks. Mine doesn’t look nearly as neat and pretty as yours does, though. I love the cubby hole shelves!

  22. Ticia says:

    Awesome job putting all of this together! I’m amazed at what you’ve done. I have grand designs of doing something like this, but never get it done well enough.

  23. Natalie says:

    I really like how you set up your space for easy access. I am aiming for the same access when Anna is a little older. Right now she still needs a lot of “encouragement” to put things back where they belong and, of course, I am not ready to use some of the supplies without keeping an eye on her. That’s why she has manipulatives in her room, but we do arts and crafts downstairs in the kitchen, where cleanup is easier.

  24. growinginpeace says:

    I’ve had a until like this since dd2 was 3.5. When she was younger, I didn’t have the small things too accessible. Now that she’s 4, I don’t have to worry about the tiny things.

    We all work together to clean up things. It’s just easier on all of us when I am close by to assist. But I like not having to be there to get what they want off a high shelf.

    This is also the reason why this unit is in my family room and the art supplies live in the dining room. I can keep an eye on them while they use the materials and make sure they are reminded or helped if needed to get things back in order.

  25. Erica says:

    Wow! You’re inspiring me to clean up! Thanks for sharing!

  26. KJ says:

    I’m just seeing this post…..such great ideas! I’ll be linking to this today!!

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