Back To School is here for many and it’s kind of crazy, am I right? Our mornings are fast and busy. My oldest is 4 years old and just started Pre-K and my 3 year old stays home with me so this is a HUGE adjustment for us. My 3 year old, Abel, really wanted to start school this year like his brother so I went ahead and put together this little learning center/command center. I repurposed an old changing table we had stored away and put it to good use! I picked a small spot in our living room area that was convenient for everyone.
At the very top I have a globe that I bought from the Dollar Tree! It’s an inflatable globe and it was cheap so I don’t have to worry about my kids breaking it or anything like that. Next to that I have some of our favorite subscription boxes including – Kid Wonder, Kiwi Co, and Green Kid Crafts. These subscription boxes are great for afterschool hands on activities with your kids. They include great STEAM projects and really make learning fun! Most of these boxes have 3-5 projects so they last use all month. Both of my kids really enjoy these boxes and we cover a lot of great material every month that is educational and fun!
We purchased the organizer on a local resell page but this exact storage system can be found at IKEA HERE. I organized the bins based off our most used items and added vinyl labels for a nice finished look. You can easily use a label maker or any other type of sticker signage for the bins or leave blank, totally up to you! We stocked it with a ton of goodies from the Target bullseye section, especially during the back-to-school season. Everything from felt letters and numbers to little chalkboards and dry erase worksheets. One bin is designated for electronics they like to play with – tablets, Nintendo DS and games, and so on. This keeps electronics out of reach and minimizes the use of electronics before they do learning activities.
I created a quick, easy “to-do list” for the boys, specifically for Adrian, for after school and another for bedtime routine. Adrian’s teacher incorporates this at school and has the class use clothes pins to move to the next part of their day and he LOVES it! I have found that if you tell your child what the next step is before it happens they are better prepared and sometimes excited. My boys really enjoy checking off on their routine so I’m glad I added these. You can make a “checklist” many different ways but I bought a few of these $1.00 reusable dry erase pockets from Target for two reasons – first, they were ONLY $1.00, I obviously couldn’t pass that up! Second, they are multifunctional. I use them for worksheets, chore charts, and writing practice. I also picked up the small red storage bin at Target to hold the dry erase markers, chalk, and crayon since we use all of those almost daily. We also have the kids pick a book for the day or week and once bedtime rolls around they check off the last thing on their to-do list, grab the book and head to their beds!
A monthly calendar is important to have so that I am able to see a full overview and plan ahead. I recently came across an adorable calendar and stationery shop, TF Publishing. They were kind enough to send some goodies and included this amazing My School Year calendar. It helps us stay on track with school activities, appointments, and upcoming events. It is also undated so you can start using yours at any time! Each month has its own section to fill out above, like the ‘All About Me’ section. Adrian has enjoyed filling out the calendar himself and I’m happy I get to keep all his Pre-K memories together in one calendar. The ‘My School Year’ calendar can be found HERE.
Backpack and shoe organization is a must! If there is anything I hate the most it’s looking for my kids shoes at 6:45am when we’re rushing out the door because lets face it, we’re hardly ever “on time”. This helps get the kids into a routine after school and makes it easier to find what they need. We’re two weeks into school and my son knows to put his shoes at the bottom and hang his backpack for the morning. I let my kids personalize their own side by painting their handprint and then I added their name using vinyl. To get the backpack to hang I screwed in a small hook into the side but you can easily use command strips as well. Their shoes go in the bottom basket after school where both of them can easily find them and slip them on themselves. I will also put anything extra they may need for the next day, like a jacket or umbrella when it rains.
These adorable school bus boxes are from a shop I came across on Instagram called SLPRShop. The boxes are made from cardboard and are very sturdy and spacious! They can be found HERE on Amazon. I stored paper worksheets in one box which I laminate for the boys to practice with and reuse later. The other box holds workbooks we’ve purchased as well as Leap Frog materials for the LeapPad. The last box holds toys the boys enjoy playing with that can be used for educational purposes, like magnetic tiles to use for shapes, building, and colors, toy cars to use for counting, and more! These boxes are just such a cute addition to our small center!
So far, this has worked very well for us. It took the boys a few days to get into a routine but we are going strong with it! As the school year goes by and what they are learning changes I may switch up a few bins. I really love that it takes up minimal space since we live in a small apartment and that we can fit all our learning material in this one spot.