I wanted to share how I organize my materials for our homeschool. I thought about breaking this up into more than one post, but then it is already part of a series … so that would be a bit confusing. Sorry it is rather long!
We live in the midwest, where everyone has a basement but we don’t yet have a bathroom or bedrooms down there, just a big play/living area. Because of that, we do most of our schooling upstairs in the kitchen. I keep all my extra supplies in the basement (like extra manipulatives, craft supplies, books by topic, etc) while we aren’t using them on a regular basis, but our everyday school materials are kept upstairs on the main living floor.
Ideally, I will one day have a “school room” where we have pretty shelves and all of our materials are organized in there- I would do our core instruction together in that room, and the kids can do work they need help with in there with me, and do independent work wherever they want-outside, their beds, a desk, etc. But that won’t happen until there are bedrooms finished downstairs and I have an empty room upstairs. =)
Until then, this is what we are doing:
Coffee Bar Storage-weekly binder, extras basket, weekly outline frame
In the kitchen I have a picture frame (I lined it with scrap book paper a few years ago) that I write our weekly lesson outline on- our poem, Bible verses, topics/themes, etc. It hangs over our workboxes. (The workboxes have been great for us, and help her feel independence about her learning time. She feels a sense of accomplishment when she returns a completed activity to its box and moves the label from the left to the right side of the box.) These are next to the coffee bar, which is mostly not used for coffee anymore .. haha. Suddenly in this pregnancy I don’t like the taste of coffee! Random, since a month ago I couldn’t live without it. Anyhow, on top of the coffee bar sits my weekly planner binder and a few other resources; on the top shelf are some books, Lexie’s art tote, and our white basket with lots of extras- Max’s crayon’s, extra construction paper, etc. The very bottom shelf of the coffee bar (not pictured) has two baskets that contain puzzles, foam ABCs, patterning blocks, etc.
Below is what is inside the “extras tote”- mostly stuff for Max, and things I don’t want little hands on all the time.
Here are our workboxes. I purchased these on Amazon- all the awesome blog posts i found about workboxes use these pretty, colorful drawer units, also on Amazon (or JoAnn’s). But the colorful ones are not as sturdy, and many homeschoolers complain they aren’t heavy enough to hold their books/supplies and the drawers fall out. So I went with the white and black unit; so far find it perfect for what we need. I really like that they come with a try on top for me to organize my supplies- like pens, highlighters, paper clips, a small hole punch. Again, if we were in a room where I had a desk, those things would be elsewhere. but for now it works great for us!
Calendar/Circle Time Board
Then we have the other side of the coffee bar where I have made what I am calling our “spring/summer/fall” calendar board. We have a wonderful calendar/circle time area downstairs (picture of that below as well) and we all LOVE it. But during these days of beautiful, warm weather we like to get outside as soon as we can after waking; I am also anticipating the baby coming and I know for the first 4-6 weeks I won’t want to round everyone up to get downstairs. So, I threw together some things we already had, a made a calendar routine area. *My very dear friend Ginny gave me the idea and motivation forgetting this done! So thank you, Ginny!*
The top frame is our calendar- it was hanging in our pantry as a menu planner, but I have since started using a paper system and this calendar board was unused. I need to redo the calendar grid, as it is made for menus and wastes a lot of valuable space for a learning calendar. For now, it works!
Then the bottom board is a bulletin board we were using right where it is at- it held Lexie’s violin certificate, and daily routine chart.
Now the bulletin board holds our numbers chart, weather chart, character lesson printable, and an ABC chart for Max. It is a work in progress, I still need to make and print the days of the week and months. Also missing is our shape of the week ring- I have this really great printable set of shapes that I keep on a binder ring for us to focus on each week/biweekly.
You can find all the great printables for our calendar area at Delightful Learning , 1 plus 1 plus 1, Homeschool Creations, Sarah’s Sweeties, and Confessions of a Homeschooler (1), and 2. I can’t wait to print her actual calendar pieces for our calendar, once I get our grid fixed up.
Downstairs learning/play areas
Downstairs we still have our learning and play areas. I linked to my old post at the top of this page, but here are a few updated pictures:
Here is our calendar/circle time area downstairs. The kids really like playing with this calendar, Lexie “teaches” Max. =) And we will probably use this a lot more when A) it is winter, and B) Baby #3 is taking morning naps and we need to be quiet and away from upstairs.
(please ignore the workout equipment- Lexie also likes to do her “out-work.” I didn’t clean up the basement as you will see. It is just real life pics, friends!)
So here is one corner of the basement: our snuggle chair, Lexie’s little chair, my cabinet with out extra books organized by category, a filing cabinet with more books, and our milk crates for Max’s things.
My mom gave me some of these awesome magazine holders that we use for our books- I made labels and organized our books by category. There are two shelves that look like this, and a shelf of craft supplies in small totes and labeled.
This is Mister’s favorite area. There are small board books, musical books, the big books I made in college, and some fine motor toys he enjoys. That filing cabinet houses TONS more books, really. (this is what happens when your mom is a 25 year school teacher- you inherit BOOKS! How awesome is that?!)
Our other favorite area: the light table. My husband built this for us a few months after we made the big move to Nebraska. It is so fun- probably Max’s other favorite area in the basement. They both love playing with the Magna-Tiles; those are a constant in our home.
Then I have our Sonlight bookshelf- This is part of our very large entertainment center in the living room. Because we use these as part of our learning time, and I don’t want them getting scattered about the house, I leave them up high. Each morning I just grab the books we need for our read alouds that day and we go from there. (I will have a third post about how we use and organize just our curriculum.)
That is pretty much it! Nothing special, just how I have things arranged (for now). I am always changing things, but for the last month this has worked great for us, so I don’t see changing it anytime soon. =)