How We Homeschool In A Small Space (part 2)
Well, after last week’s marathon post, thanks for coming back for part 2! (If you want to take a look at our living room space and how we make it work, check out part one!)
I do need to start with a disclaimer, and I can’t BELIEVE that I forgot to write this at the beginning of last week’s post…
My house never looks like this.
This is not real.
What you cannot see in these pictures are the piles of “crafts” and cut up papers, half-eaten snacks, random hot wheels, coffee mugs, stray dog toys, and various and sundry objects that I shoved out of the frame before I snapped the picture. Said pile then got shifted again, as I turned to take a picture of another corner.
Just being honest here.
So, with that out of the way, now that your expectations and assumptions about my stellar housekeeping have been brought down a few notches, we can proceed.
Today you’re going to get a peek at our dining room area/library/cafeteria/art room/science lab. Anything that requires actual sitting (as opposed to sprawling out on the living room floor) happens here.
Here’s a view into the dining room from the living room:
On the right hand side is our (slightly leaning) crate tower which holds all of our text books and materials. On the left, you’ll see our chalkboard that I hardly ever use in the traditional sense. It’s currently holding our Bible verse for the year. It started out being a one-week memory verse, but we all needed a healthy reminder to PERSEVERE this year…so I haven’t erased it yet. Under that is the little shelf I grabbed for $2 from the thrift store and painted yellow.
More on those in a minute.
Back to the leaning tower of homeschool-goodness:
Yes, its leaning ever so slightly. Don’t worry. As scary as it looks, it’s not going anywhere. The top shelf holds all of my books – or at least the ones I keep track of. This is where my lesson planning books go, any Teacher’s Edition books, and any read alouds that don’t make it into the living room basket.
The second shelf holds my third-grader’s books, and the bottom shelf holds my Kindergartener’s few workbooks, notebooks, pattern blocks, stray dust bunnies, and the occasional Lego that has gone MIA.
The top of the shelf holds my little $2 milk glass vase from a thrift store, my vintage ball mason jar – turned paintbrush holder, our wooden calendar set (ours came from Target awhile ago, but I’m loving this set), and our globe.
Oh, how I LOVE this globe with my entire being! I snagged this a few years ago, and it’s gotten good use! Believe it or not, I got mine for $12 on clearance!! If you can swing the price tag on a new one, it’s totally worth it. It comes with a programmable pen, and when you touch various places on the globe with the pen, it tells you everything you could possibly want to know about that location – population, religion, music, brief history, major topographical features….it’s incredible. There are also games that you can play and it’s a GREAT hands-on tool for teaching geography!
Here’s a broader view. (sweep much?)
The basket on the floor is another Bolga Basket that I snagged locally (I sang the praises of these baskets in my last post…oh I heart them.) This contains our things for church (we call it our “church basket” – it transports snacks, water bottles, quiet toys, and coloring paraphernalia that we take to church.) It usually gets left out because a.) we use it for day trips as well – not just church, and b.) I have a small house therefore I’m limited on where things can go. So smack dab at the foot of the stairs works for me.
Above that is our pin board.
It’s a little sparse right now because we are getting ready to switch history units. This is as close to “classroomy” as I get. At the top, I pin our art study pictures (I found the pictures in a little calendar and ripped out the pages), and we also have the printable verse chart that goes along with these AMAZING cds. Everything else has personal meaning – there’s a picture of our “adopted” Aunt and Uncle who live in Israel, a weaving from some close friends who live in Ecuador that my hubby and I visited a few years ago, and a little poster that we made to remember to pray for Pastor Saeed, the American who is wrongfully imprisoned in Iran.
Then, if you turn and look up the stairs, there’s my son’s repurposed crib frame.
My son moved to a “big boy bed” and this huge rectangular piece of metal was crying out for a new home. So, on the wall it went.
It holds the kids’ most recent art work or school projects (like our 3-D flower from muffin cups and pipe cleaners.)
(Everyone has that in their hallway, right. Yep, I thought so.)
Now, we’re back downstairs at the chalk board. The little shelf, like I mentioned was a thrift store find, as was the little metal basket that I found for $1 . (You can find a similar one here.) The basket holds all of our “classics”. These are the books that I read to my 3 and 6 year old and many of them I’ve taken from our Five In A Row Curriculum.
The Aztec print bag I found at Walgreens for $3 and it holds an assortment of music books for our Homeschool Co-op. I hang it here so that it doesn’t grow legs and walk off, only to resurface in someone’s bedroom. ahem.
We’ve been talking about explorers in History this year, so our little ship found a new home on the yellow shelf.
This is also the home for stray pencils. It’s amazing how pencils are in abundance while we are doing art, and then are nowhere to be found when it’s time for math. Weird.
And now, over to the middle of the room.
(this picture makes me laugh, because my table is NEVER this tidy!) This is where science projects, handwriting lessons, and geography usually happen. I love my dining room table, as dinged and scratched as it is. We experimented for a while on the best place to “do” school, and as you’ll see from last week’s post, our favorite is on the couch. Most of the learning takes place while we’re snuggling, and I’ll keep it that way for as long as it lasts!
However, I also love doing school at the table. I played around with individual desks, but there was NO extra room. Plus, I love being together, and the wide space allows for the 2-year-old to join us and color or eat a snack while we’re doing our lessons. For the size of home that we have, the table really is the most ideal space to work. I wrestled with it for a while, because we were constantly losing things. When meal time rolled around and the table was still strewn with books, we found ourselves just stacking things and putting it somewhere just to get it out of the way so that we could eat. We’ve been better about filing things and the crate book shelves near the table really helped with that.
So, until we move to a larger place, the table is where it’s at.
The white bench was a thrift find by a friend, as was the blue art caddy (formerly an Amish tool box that looks like a smurf threw up on it)(It was a bad painting experience. I don’t want to talk about it. )(However I will say that the bright blue makes it easy to find…) The Smurf box holds our crayons, colored pencils and scissors and the small brown basket holds math flash cards and cards for our pattern blocks.
Behind the table on the wall is our enormous world map. We bought some little heart stickers and placed hearts on every location that either my hubby and I have visited, or places that hold special meaning. It’s made for great dinner time conversations, and makes lessons easier when the map is in such easy view.
Above the map is our canoe oar. We sold the canoe a few summers ago because it wasn’t large enough to hold our entire family anymore. We saved the oar and I hung it on the wall, because pinterest told me to.
What our table normally looks like:
And finally, our buffet.
Starting at the top and working down, my large pot for canning (and huge batches of chili!), my Bolga Basket that goes to the Farmer’s Market with us every Saturday, and below those, my stash of books. Most of these are specialty books – my Encyclopedia of Country Living (love.this.book.), Prescription for Nutritional Healing, and then my collection of books on the Biblical Feasts. These are all “mommy’s books” and it’s nice to have a shelf to myself that won’t end up over run with picture books.
Most of the other items are decorations that correspond to our studies or that have personal meaning. On the very bottom shelf, there’s a basket for our table linens (place mats and cloth napkins) and then the blue suitcase. Oh, my blue suitcase. This belonged to my great grandpa and I use to store Barbies in it when I was little. Now, it holds extra posters, charts, diagrams and things that don’t need to be displayed regularly, but that also need to be stored flat.
…and that my friends, is the whole shebang.
Hopefully this helped give you a few ideas, and let you see that it really is possible to homeschool multiple children in a small space.
What about you? What tricks do you have for schooling in a small space?
(*This post contains a bajillion affiliate links. If you make a purchase by clicking on one of them, there’s no additional cost to you, but it helps support our adoption from Ethiopia!)
linked to Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Welcome Home Wednesday, Homemaking Linkup, Simple Lives Thursday