Our School Room

 Where Life Happens

Being a former public school teacher, I began homeschooling over 3 years ago with the mentality that I would do school at home.  I had a room designated for school with bulletin boards, a calendar, tons of manipulatives, ABCs mounted on the wall...you name it and I had it.  I had EVERYTHING that one would find in a classroom for 20+ children.

Each year I found myself using less and less and spending less and less time in that school room. I realized that we were using our entire house to learn because that is where life happens.  In the kitchen.  In the living room. On the screened porch.  Not in a tiny school room shut off from the rest of the house.  Many people find that necessary, and it works for their family.  For my family and this season of life, it just wasn't working.

The majority of last year we used the kitchen counter and bar stools.  We enjoyed the kitchen and being in the main "hub" of the house.  So this summer, an idea came to me and the husband was on board.  We brought down the child-sized table and chairs from the upstairs schoolroom and plopped them in the sitting area next to the kitchen.  Now the kids can work comfortably without sitting on their knees.  The bookshelf, chairs, birdcage, and wood table were already there.  Books already filled the cabinets around the television.  It seems like the perfect plan.  One can hope! ;)  

The basket on the wooden table was also already in this area.  It holds our library books.

The bookshelf offers the perfect place to house the few things we do need daily.  A basket organizer for pencils, scissors, glue, etc.  I brought over the pencil sharpener and CD player as well.  The large baskets hold the kid's school books.

This year I did away with the rolling carts we had been using as workboxes.  I love the workbox idea, but this just simplifies our materials especially since this year I will use more of a block schedule.
Here is look inside Crazy Horse's basket:  

Block 1: Math
Block 2: Listen to Mom Read
Block 3: Handwriting
Block 4: Reading & Piano
Block 5: CC Memory Work
*Once we begin Classical Conversations his CC notebook will be added.

Here is Old Crow's basket:
Block 1: Math
Block 2: Listen to Mom Read
Block 3: Writing & Grammar
Block 4: Piano & Reading
Block 5: CC Memory Work
*Once we begin Classical Conversations his CC notebook will be added.

I also added a basket with fun games and activities that correlate with our CC studies.  The kids will be free to grab anything that interests them. 

Books can also be found in the cabinets.

Here's a look in the kitchen where I keep my important materials.

In a corner of the kitchen I keep my teacher's guides, read alouds, calendar, lesson plans, etc.
Everything is easily accessible and right in the middle of where the action happens.  A drawer below holds CC materials and a few math manipulatives we use frequently.  A nearby closet holds our art/craft supplies and things we don't use daily.

Let's continue on with life and learning.  

Previous School Room

When we began to design the plans for our new home, homeschooling was not even on the radar.  Even as we broke ground we didn't realize this was in our future.  Once we felt the calling to homeschool, I knew I would want a "school room"...one location that would contain all of our supplies and where the majority of our learning would take place.  (Although our learning actually takes place all over the house). :) 

So we discussed with the builder our desire for a school room, and we decided to close in an unfinished attic space.  Here is our result:  

I used one corner of the room as our "reading area."  With my rocking chair and floor pillows, I hope we have an inviting and warm place to have our read-alouds and storytime.  I included a pocket chart that holds our weekly Bible verse and character education poster.  I also have a world map to help us follow the travels of early explorers in our Heart of Dakota curriculum.  There is also a "God's Promises" poster I bought from our local school supply store.

We have found that the workbox system is a wonderful organizational tool for scheduling the daily school work.  Each box contains an activity.  For example, Box #1 contains History (read alouds on American Pioneers and Patriots), Box #4 holds our Bible activity, and Box #8 is our math activity.  This 10 drawer rolling cart is ideal for holding books, folders, papers, and any supplies needed for each activity.

Here is our calendar and USA map.  Although Old Crow will not need the calendar activities very much this year, it is ready for Crazy Horse and Memphis Belle.  And I also made sure to include the little desk my Papa refinished for me as a little girl.  :)

This year we will adding Nature Studies to our activities.  I set up a nature center to hold all of our supplies and treasures.  I used a bookshelf my father built and actually turned it on its side so that it would be low for the kiddos to reach everything and have room enough above for our nature posters.  It holds our field guides, nature notebooks, treasures from our backyard, and our roly poly terrarium.     

We had bookshelves built in between the attic trusses to help maximize floor space in the room.  These bookshelves hold all of our manipulatives, games, supplies, and materials that we use regularly.  I also have a second bulletin board that holds our daily routine, our "Why We Homeschool" mission statement, and 3 Rules poster from We Choose Virtues. I left room at the bottom to display Old Crow's projects.  Now I just need the hubby to hang it. ;)

In the hallway outside of the school room is another cabinet that houses our art supplies, file folder games, and bulky items that are not used frequently.

Well, that concludes the tour of our new school room.  Now I can't wait to get in there and let the learning officially begin. 


Our First School Room (Temporary)
We are in the process of building a new home and are approximately 6 weeks from our move-in date.  When we decided to homeschool, our dining room became our temporary school room.  So out went the antique dining table and in came the new activity table.  The china cabinet remains, but it is now covered by a pocket chart.  :)

What was suppose to be a make-shift school room with the bare minimum has basically become a full-out classroom.  My type-A, organization-obssessing personality just wouldn't allow me to leave it half done.  So here it is and we all love it! :)

Below is our calendar board.  Along with the usual calendar time, our weekly ABC Bible verse and our current virtue are also included.  This particular week we are learning
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23 
and our virtue is patience. :)

This is the organizational system we use for our core work.  The workbox system is a wonderful tool to help kids see what work must be completed for that day, and they take pride in working their way down the box.  It also helps me to be ready for the day and not scrambling to get everything at the last minute.  I will use the tree to add each virtue and fruit of the spirit that we see being displayed by the kids.

The black cabinet houses all my files and "teacher" stuff.  The wooden cabinet left from the dining room days now holds all of our manipulatives.  Organized on top of the cabinet are puzzles and our books on cd along with the cd player.  The small desk was refinished by my papa and given to me as a child.  I have kept it all of these years, and I love to see my children now sitting in it.

For a little extra storage we bought this bookshelf from Big Lots.  It holds all of our art/craft supplies, curriculum, teacher resources, and some activities on lower shelves that Memphis Belle can play with and explore.  Next to the bookshelf is our science center.  I will try to include 1-2 centers/experiments each week that supports our unit.