I have not done a WFMW in quite a while…both due to lack of blogging time and lack of good ideas. 🙂 I rearranged the playroom last week, though, and LOVE the idea I implemented for Caroline, so I just have to share. I converted the playroom closet into a preschooler’s office. The cute table was less than $20 at Ikea, and I paired it with a Junior Chair from Ikea. Not pictured, to the left, are shelves with trays to hold paints, paper, and other crafting materials. A box on the floor holds playdough. Big girl toys, like Legos and stringing beeds and such, are on the shelves, too. On the wall to the right hangs a white board with Caroline’s magnetic tesselations. And the bins on the wall hold other supplies like the stapler, tape, and white board markers. Above her desk is a curtain rod from Ikea to hang her art work. I still have room on the higher shelves of the closet for out-of-rotation toy storage.
Sure, the desk gets cluttered and messy as she works on her creations, but the closet has a door to hide the mess of her works-in-progress. The most important part, though, is that door also keeps away baby sister, the toddler — who has been known to rip masterpieces and eat art supplies.
Caroline escapes here daily and can truly spend hours working on creations. I love to see what her little mind comes up with to make from scraps she finds around the house. My favorite so far is a case for her rock collection. She took an egg carton, used a pipe cleaner to create a handle, and decorated the outside with pictures. She stores a different rock in each egg spot (it’s a dozen-and-a-half carton.)
Yesterday, I oriented St. Julian’s kids to our new Godly Play atrium! I shared my Godly Play journey with them before I unvieled the room: Before Caroline was even a far off thought in my head, I knew that our church’s children’s program was Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I remember excitedly telling John what I knew of it, and we figured out that it was the program his mom used when she taught him and his friends in their small emerging church in suburban Chicago. By the time Caroline was born and old enough to enter the children’s program, our church was no longer using Catechesis, so I started researching it and ways to implement it at home. That is how I discovered Godly Play, a protestant version of Catechesis, and many of the Montessori principals I have used with the girls at home. When we learned of St. Julian’s being planted in our neighborhood, I met with the vicar to ask about his plans for the children’s ministry. He said he was open to my suggestions, and we quickly agreed on Godly Play. Meeting in a school hallway, as we’ve been doing since September, made implenting Godly Play tricky, but we did our best. Now, though, we have a temporary meeting space that does not have to be assembled and disembled every week.
At our orientation, I told the kids about the sacred space of the room and how we will “walk more slowly” and “talk more softly” there. Others are talking to God, so we want to respect their space. I showed them the materials and how the room is set up and stressed that every thing in the room had a place, so to pay attention when they worked with an item so they could be sure to put it back in its place. I felt like I was back in my middle school teaching days, spending the first short week of school on procedures a la Harry Wong (but, hey, it works!) The kids had some time to explore and work with some of our response materials (lighting a candle and remembering his baptism was a big hit with one four year old.) Then we gathered for our Feast. Per Montessori principals, we use real materials as much as possible — avoiding disposables and plastics. So, we have a beautiful array of linen napkins for each season. (In this picture, you’ll notice we are missing white — because they are now pink thanks to my excellent laundry skills. I will never be asked to be on Altar Guild, that is certain. And the blue of Advent and purple of Lent run together in this photo.) We passed out the napkins and showed how to unfold them to make a place for their snack. Then we passed out glasses. Yes, real glasses. One of the boys, as if pointing out I had made a horrible mistake, said “Um…I think these are glass.” Yes, they are, I told him. We don’t have to use throw-away cups now that we have more room in our own space. This is better for us and the environment. “And I trust you to be careful.” They were delighted! Another boy gave his glass a little clink on the floor to test its durability. “I trust you to handle our materials carefully,” I repeated. And with a shy grin, he did.