This used to be our homeschool room. It was a room dedicated just for the kids with all of their toys, school stuff, and kid tables. It was a beautiful space that took months of planning and putting together. And then we moved . . .
Our new home has been a perfect fit for our family, but the one thing we had to give up was the school/toy room. The days of having a dedicated space for the kids were over, so we took each of the Ikea units above and put one in each bedroom, dedicated solely to their individual toys and books. The rest of the school stuff went in our dining room, study, laundry room, kids’ rooms, living room, and hallway, ie. our “school rooms”. Here’s how we put it all together for our upcoming school year.
We started off with this: a room full of every little thing that could possibly be used for school for either my 6-year old or 2-year old. It was an absolute mess!
And bit-by-bit, we slowly ended up with this.
Welcome to our dining room, where all of our homeschool “magic” happens. We had this farmhouse table made (cheaply) especially for this space. I wanted something nice enough to accommodate our large family barbecues and get-togethers but yet kid-friendly enough for crafts, writing, and everything else that comes with school and learning. The table has three chairs on one end and an over-sized bench on the other. Although not necessary, most days, we cover it up with a large black tablecloth, and it looks like this.
It’s the perfect place for it all. Directly behind the table, we have a storage unit/buffet table that we also had made. On one side, it holds my daughter’s Montessori-inspired learning baskets (future post!) and in the other, we have school materials for upcoming lessons. The top holds our CD player, and the center shelves hold our CDs, flashcards, craft supplies, magnets, and a basket for the tablecloth, aprons, and old burp cloths (Those make great clean-up cloths!). The orange bowls were actually decorative planters that almost ended up on Craigslist. Then I got the idea to use them for storage and painted them with chalkboard paint instead.
The wall behind our storage “buffet table” displays the children’s art work. Because the walls in this room were already painted brown, I decided to go with metallic frames. I headed over to Goodwill with my sister and found all 11 frames for $42! Since then, I’ve been replacing the outdated prints with the kids’ drawings and colorings and a personal sketch I had done in college. (When we finish this gallery wall, I’ll make sure to post an update.) One of the frames went on the opposite wall as a chalkboard. I painted the glass with chalkboard paint, and voila! A perfect, and stylish, chalkboard!
To display more of their work, I also have a string hanging over our dry erase board and use small paperclips to hang their art (below left). I also put a bulletin board in each of the children’s bedrooms for their own personal displays. I hung them at their height so that they could easily change out the display as needed. (For my two-year-old daughter, I hung string on the bulletin board so that she could use the clothespins instead of push pins to post her work.) We also keep another bulletin board in the laundry room for our “My Father’s World” badges and any freshly-painted art that needs to dry. When an art piece comes off the boards, I put them in special folders. Because this can easily get out of hand, we go through these folders every quarter or so to throw out any pieces that we no longer want to keep. (We sometimes take pictures prior to doing this.) At the end of the year, I save what’s left in the folders in a keepsake box.
In one corner of the room, (the side that you can’t see from the entrance) we have an old desk that I’ve had since my 15th birthday. It came with a hutch, and we tried so hard to sell it, but it never sold. Finally, we took the hutch and put it in my son’s closet for extra shelving and made this the kids’ computer desk. On the walls, we have their agenda, letter of the week (on an old clipboard I recycled), numbers, and a collector’s map my father gave me. We also keep the large front window open for natural light and to watch the birds that visit our bird feeder and birdbath.
This is our craft caddy that sits on the desk. I found it at Hobby Lobby, and put everything from markers and colored pencils to Do-a-Dot Markers, magnets, stamps, rulers, watercolor paints, and more! Here’s a close up of our treasure. The black cups are used for taking out what they need and transporting it to the table. They can then easily put everything back . . . in a semi-organized way.
The desk drawers make up our writing center. The top drawer holds all of my daily curriculum materials, the “pencil drawer” holds scratch paper and steno pads for drawing, the middle drawer holds their computer games, (They love Church Mouse, Giggles Computer Funtime for Baby, and Hermie and Friends!) and the bottom drawer holds coloring books and crayons.
I also made a few minor accommodations for my two-year old so that this space would fit her needs as well. She is adamant about participating in school activities, so I brought in one of her small table chairs and let her use the bench for her own personal work table. I put her folder games in a small case on the floor nearby and have set up her Montessori-inspired learning baskets in the buffet table. This allows her to easily access all of her supplies from the caddy or baskets so that she can work independently as needed.
The rest of our schoolroom is in our study. On two sides, we have our personal desks, one for my husband and me, and on the back wall, we have our school wall. Here we hang our maps (left) and store all of the curriculum materials and supplies. (More on this in just a bit.) We also have a large dry erase board with pretty tape dividers for each section of our “memory work”, our flag, Bible pledge, and important information. Below it, we have our seasons chart, calendar, and days of the week.
Here’s a peek inside that large cabinet. The top shelf holds all of my curricula, the second one holds dry erase markers, wet erase markers, sharpies, calendar cards, foam sheets, stickers, and construction paper. The third shelf holds special teaching books, including our literature units, and a bin of materials, and the bottom shelf holds another bin of materials, along with folders, plastic sheet protectors, and future curricula that I found on sale.
Inside the office, I also store my handouts and folder games and any other printables I plan to use with the kids in one filing cabinet. In another, I store all of their completed work to box at the end of the year.
And then we go into the hallway, and find even more storage. Introducing our cube shelf unit from Target.
The top six shelves are subject boxes. I put everything my son needs for each of his class subjects. This can include his folder, handouts, workbooks, and supplies not already found in the materials caddy. Here are three of the ones we used this week: reading/phonics, math, and science.
The bottom three shelves are used for storage. One bin has all of our leveled readers, and the other two have more materials. Here’s what they look like along with the other two bins in the wall unit I shared earlier. Click: Homeschool Materials for a download with a detailed list of all of our materials.
Now, I mentioned before that each of the children have books in their rooms on their Ikea shelves, but even then, we have so many more books. These can be found all over living room where the majority of our read alouds and independent reading happens. We love our reading couch! We have our higher-level readers hidden in a decorative suitcase, our library rentals under the coffee table in a special “library” basket. We have some nonfiction books under the end table and our Bible books and other favorites on top of the other end table. We are happily surrounded by books!
In the midst of it all, learning happens in every single one of our school “rooms”. It is a part of our daily lives; it is a part of our family life. We have enjoyed our new spaces and are grateful to God for another new year of it all. Here’s to a great homeschool year to you and yours!
Click here for our homeschool agenda!
Linking up at: Homeschool Link Up