Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writing Shelves

I reorganized our writing shelves this week in order to give the boys free access to a couple more materials.  In order to do so, I had to add a few shelves to the bookcase. I need to do some minor woodworking and fabricate some shelves the right size and shape, but that is a job for this summer.  For the time being I stole a few white shelves from a bookcase upstairs.  I knew a few of you would likely spot the odd change in the background of our school days photos so I thought I would just give you a tour right away.

The first thing I'd like to say is that I never imagined that we would have an entire bookcase devoted to handwriting.  A shelf maybe, but a whole bookcase?  I reassessed our needs in this area and frankly we  use everything up here very frequently and it is all important.  I remember the drudgery of the traditional handwriting worksheet  I used in school and I am grateful that we have so many fun ways to work on handwriting at our disposal.  I do, however, look forward to the day when we no longer need these materials.  This bookcase will be prime real estate for other work later in elementary.

What follows is a shelf-by-shelf tour.  You should be able to click on any of the photos to make them larger if you need to view more detail.

The very top shelf with the colored bins hold Mommy supplies. Underneath that you'll see the stack of paper organizers.  I am very unhappy with these because they are so tall.  I wish they were half the height so I could store more varieties of paper in the same amount of space.  The trays hold the types of papers that I discussed in my Montessori Paper post.  The little white papers attached to the left-hand side of each tray is a small cut-out section of each paper so the boys can easily know which paper is in each tray.  The sunlight bay window behind me as I take the photos is blowing out the picture, and I picked a cloudy day to take these.  If I am able to get a better photo another day, I'll post one.

The blue tray to the right of the paper trays holds holds materials for using with the various blackboards we have:  mini sponge cubes, small glass bowls to put water in to use with the sponge cubes, towels for drying the boards or mopping up small spills, and printed/laminated letter formation charts (available free here).

On the next shelf down (the top white shelf) you will find a big basket of wood pieces for capital letters accompanied by laminated paper patterns for the capital letters.

To the left of these you will find:

This section holds: a small glass bowl of little chalk bits, a pencil cup full of pencils with and without grips, a white basket which holds big erasers and manual pencil sharpeners, slate chalkboards for practicing numbers and capital letters, and behind those a large blackboard eraser.

There is a very narrow space between that shelf and the second white shelf below which holds long paper  strips we use for writing phone numbers and two little gold boxes.  Each of the gold boxes holds a set of colored pencils that the boys use for various purposes including the metal insets.  They each have the first letter of their first name on top of one of these boxes so they don't argue.  Behind the stack of paper strips are a few paper strips that I have written the phone numbers of various family members for both number practice and memorization.

The next shelf below is black again.  It holds a small tray of inset paper and three double-lined blackboards.  This is followed by the shelf that holds the metal insets.  The boys have been resistent to working with these.  The handwriting they do on the blackboards makes it painfully clear that they still need a lot of work with them.  They have a lot of trouble controlling curved letters, particularly "s."

This brings us to the bottom shelf which holds the following (from left to right):  large black movable alphabet, large red movable alphabet, capital sandpaper letters (print), double sandpaper letters (print), and single sandpaper letters (print).

Believe it or not, we are even making use of the space on the floor under the bookcase.  You will see that this was good place to stash our sand tray.

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  1. Awesome! I am currently working on getting some things together for handwriting since Bunny needs to work on it so badly! I love how you set everything up!

  2. I love a good handwriting shelf. We have a huge one at school! I have found though that making handwriting a priority has had more good effects than simply good handwriting. It has a huge impact on spelling and composition. I am not familiar with handwriting without tears but I like the look of it!

  3. Your new writing shelves look great! We have a similar shelf with our insets and HWT materials. I am using the Pre-K book with my almost 5 year old. He was getting frustrating with lowercase letters and could recognize uppercase letters so decided it as the best match for him. I like your idea for the paper trays.

  4. Did you order your inset paper? On my to do list is make a set of inset ideas like this one posted by To The Lesson.
    I am hoping this will motivate my son to revisit the insets. When he was attending Montessori School the inset table was his favorite place to hang out and socialize.

  5. Anon, Yes, I order mine. It's about $4 for a big stack and I just get it when I happen to be ordering something else. One less thing to do I guess.

  6. Eavice:

    I remembered where I got the idea:

    Combine that with the HWT "wet, dry, try":

  7. Wow!! you're absolutely right!! what a wonderful ways of work with handwriting!!!