Please check out the other classroom setups to see shelf ideas, activity ideas, and the way our setup has progressed. After some research and feedback in some great Facebook groups, we got a little more shelving and got rid of some of the color. I also took cues from Alexander and moved some of the items that he didn't find interesting. So far, all of the unused materials are stacked in his playroom closet! We'll get a closet/cabinet of some sort, but that's down the road.
Let's take a tour!
Here's the whole area now. There are some new shelves under the window. And he has a table. The table came with 2 chairs, but right now, he is more interested in pushing the chairs around instead of sitting in them. We'll bring them out again in a week or two. The two chairs plus table were $25.00 from IKEA. Not bad! And I like that the shelves and table/chairs are white. That's something we can keep throughout. White shelves are easier to find than wood-colored ones.
The top shelf. The first two items are all about numbers. I've got a few books that deal with numbers or counting. Then there are his number stick "flash cards". And in the bowl are a selection of beads plus a string for stringing and de-stringing the beads. I need to find a better string for that activity! With this one, most of the beads just slide right off, so it's hard for him to string them himself.
Shelf two has a wooden hammering toy. And then there are some puzzles that he's really into. I have a Tower of Hanoi puzzle. It's a logic puzzle, but he just stacks the rings (generally separating them dark from light). The owl puzzle is still there because he likes it. And I have a collection of nesting dolls, so I've left two of them for him to explore. So far, he loves them, but he doesn't nest them. He just puts them together separately.
The third shelf is animal stuff. First, it's a touchy-feely book of wild animals. In the back are two finger puppets (a duck and an elephant). And then there are some animal flash cards that I made and laminated. There are 3 of each animal: a daddy, a mommy, and a baby. Many animals, the mom and dad look the same (to me anyway), but it's still something fun to match. And finally, it's the wooden dog pull toy.
The bottom shelf is things that go. There's a book filled with trucks and tractors and construction vehicles. And then there are some actual things that go, like a wooden truck, fire truck, and mail man. The mail man is his favorite! I put them on a tray so they couldn't roll off.
I updated his book box. We read all of the books that were in the box last time, and there were several he just didn't enjoy. So those are put away for now, and the ones he did enjoy are left here in the box. I also removed the connecting rings from the wall.
I cleared out the toy chest, and all that's left is some colorful building blocks. These are painted wood. They're good for sorting colors and also building. The chest is way too big for them, though, so I'm considering donating the toy chest.
Finally, his puzzle area. You can see he has 11 puzzles now. And the foam floor letters are stacked underneath. Funny enough, he hasn't pulled them out at all, so I may move those upstairs to storage for now. That will also give me more room for puzzles. There are a handful of jigsaw puzzles, and the rest of very simple ones (where a piece fits perfectly into a single slot, you know?). He really prefers the jigsaw style now, so I'd like to start accumulating more of them.
One cool thing that has happened in just a few weeks is that, about 75% of the time, Alexander pulls 1-2 toys off of a shelf, takes them to his table, and then puts them back onto the shelf when he's done with them. A bit of repetition and modeling, and he's already starting to clean up after himself!
Another thing is a snack station. There's no place where I can leave a cup of water and a snack for him. I would like to incorporate that somehow, but I need to find a table or surface that's an appropriate height. I don't want to use his little white table because (a) it will get messy and (b) I don't want him to confuse snack time with learning time. Like, I don't want him to start thinking that table is for eating. It's for school stuff, and snack time is a separate thing, in my opinion.