Tuesday, March 4, 2014

School Room Tour 2014, part two: What's on the shelf?

Part One of this year's school room tour showed the general lay of the land.  Today's post gets into the nitty-gritty of what's on the shelf and where.  I started with the first math shelves and worked my way around the room clockwise.

Math Shelf #1:

  1. Golden Beads (45 1000 cubes)
  2. Felt mat for the 1000 chain
  3. 45 wooden hundred squares, wooden box of unit beads, stack of plastic condiment cups for holding units 
  4. Large and small wooden number cards
  5. Trays
  6. Arithmetics Signs box (X, -, +, =, /, and number cards)
  7. Dot game and washable markers to go with
  8. Tabletop number rods
  9. Pythagoras Square
  10. Tiles for the multiplication checkerboard
  11.  Money Game
  12. Hundred board, tiles, and file folders full of many different kinds of skip counting activities.
  13. Division Racks and Tubes.  When I last reorganized the shelves I made room for some big works that I know are imminent.  It is no fun reorganizing the shelves just to bring out something new a week later and realize you have to reorganize again.

On top of this first math shelf is a rotating display of objects from different continent boxes.  Until recently we had items on display that a good friend who lives in Pakistan brought us while he was visiting.  My in-laws just visited South Africa and brought us some really nice new things for our Africa box.  AND this all reminds me that I am long overdue on sharing a beautiful collection of items from Gambia that Tina, the daughter of my long-distance friend Viv, collected specifically for my boys.  I am absolutely putting that to the top of my to-do list!

Math Shelf #2:

  1. Kal-El's word problems basket
  2. Kal-El's "finished equations" box (a little treasure chest in which he puts loose equations from the memorization works when he has finished them)
  3. basket of greater-than/less-than alligators
  4. Me Too's "finished equations" box (see #2 for explanation)
  5. elementary negative snake game (we haven't gotten to that game yet, but use its parts for the addition and subtraction snake games)
  6. Division bead board and multiplication control board.  This item has already be taken off the shelf and replaced with the division finger board (Kal-El) and the multiplication bead board (Me Too)
  7. Bead Bars (decanomial box)
  8. Demonstration tray for point/line/solid/surface work.  This is only here temporarily.
  9. Stamp Game
  10. Math cabinet.  This has changed a bit since I last posted about it.  I have since pulled out they story problems drawers and re-filled them with grey number cards, operations cards, parenthesis and coin envelopes for doing elementary numeration work.
  11. Me Too's story problem basket
  12. Large and small bead frame

Geometry/Geography Shelf #1

  1.  Extra sets of geometry command cards.  Not Albanesi.  We aren't really using these right now and I should probably put them in storage.
  2. Geometry nomenclature materials (elementary three-part cards and control booklets)
  3. Albanesi geometry task cards/command cards.  Me Too LOVES these.
  4. Geometric Sticks
  5. Learning Resources Mini GeoSolids (set of 32)
  6. Again, making room for not-so-far-in-the-future work:  Cubing and Cube Root material
  7. Puzzle maps each in their own slot.  In extra space below are the control charts AND most of our new pin maps (homemade).  I need to add a little shelf divider here.  I plan to post about the pin maps on Monday.
  8. Atlas.  There is a second, much smaller atlas to the left of the cubing and cube root material that I forgot to number.
  9. The little red bin is a place for boys to put artwork when completed.  This is the small bin.  There is a larger bin to hold 12x18 paper under the second math shelf (I forgot to label that).

Geometry/Geography Shelf #2

  1. New geometry cabinet.  Mostly holds the etymology and classification labels from ETC Press Geometry task cards.
  2. Constructive Triangles
  3. Concentric Figures
  4. Geometric cabinet control charts
  5. Detective Adjective triangles
  6. Primary and elementary geometric solids
  7. stands and faces for the geometric solids
  8. binomial and trinomial cubes
  9. Platonic solids
  10. Waseca continent stencils
  11. Various geography cards and command cards
  12. Colorforms
  13. Home Science Tools Rocks and Minerals collection

Our solar system model, rotation model, volcano, and many other things are up on top of those math and geometry shelves.  Tucked away in the corner of the room you'll find what I call our "spelling corner" and the hardware cabinet.

On top of our hardware cabinet turned educational supply cabinet, is our word study area.

This is home to our word study charts, Brock Magiscope, our globe, a mason jar full of dry erase markers for the board, and our school bell.  Also at home here temporarily is the little engine and trailer that we used to learn about suffixes.

That brings us to the black bookcases.  You might remember this photo from the general tour.  These are the only bookcases that have room dedicated to ME.  Before I show you what is on the shelves for the kids let me show you what I keep handy in here for my "guiding."  

On top there are lots of baskets like these.  Many of them hold items for the continent boxes because I rotate the contents of those.  However, I have a few other baskets:  Command Cards, Word Study, Grammar Presentations, and "Reading."  The "Reading" basket holds materials I made for the Word Study we do from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.

Black Bookcases, Far-Right Top "Mommy's Stuff"

You can click on these pictures and make them larger.  If you do that for these you can see practically everything on the shelves so I won't number and list by location.  Basically, this section contains:

  • Green "spare parts" basket.  What is in here varies according to what is on the shelves.  Over the years this has held everything from the extra small cube from the pink tower, to golden unit beads, to stamp game skittles, to rubber feet for the chairs in the room.  
  • The black basket and materials next to it are our Spanish program.  
  • We use Answers Bible Curriculum for Kids for Bible study at breakfast and for some of our Great Lessons work.  
  • Also here are the Montessori Research and Development Biology albums.  I have them for the lessons that go with the Kingdoms Charts that I use to replace the Second Great Lesson.

Black Bookcases, Far-Right Top "Mommy's Stuff"

  • Red Basket:  Handwriting supplies (chalk, pencil grips, miniatures sponges, drying cloths)
  • Blue Basket:  Math Booklets.  You might have noticed that I make small notebooks from squared paper with my comb-binding machine for almost all of the boys' math work.
  • Black Basket:  Completed Readers.  I make "readers" out of almost all of the stories from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading .  These are the ones Me Too has finished.
  • Blue Basket:  Readers.  These are the readers Me Too still has left to do.
  • Handwriting Without Tears workbooks and supplies (the boys can reach these)
  • Montessori Research and Development Grammar Albums

Far-right black bookcase, top shelves of Mommy's stuff

You can click this picture and practically see everything on the shelf, so I won't number and list by location.  Generally, these are my language and classical teacher materials. Including:  

Also on the shelf, but not usually there are Sharpies, packing tape and super glue for finishing pin maps.  You'll SEE Gorilla Glue up there because I was trying it the day I took this picture.  Don't use Gorilla Glue on your pin flags.

Far-left black bookcase, kids' shelves, middle
Botany Shelves

Here you'll find some of the ETC Montessori Botany Nomenclature materials (read about our booklets, cards, and charts here).  The labels on the black shelves are just done by printing from the computer to be white text on a black background.  I cut them out and stuck them on with poster putty.  Nothing permanent.

Far-left black bookcase, kids' shelves, bottom
Botany Shelves
  1. Continent Boxes
  2. Kingdoms Charts (Animals, Plants, Protists, Fungi, Bacteria)
  3. Five kingdoms chart and state quarter map (don't fit on the shelf)
  4. Remaining Botany Nomenclature Materials
  5. "Plant Stories" material from ETC Montessori
  6. Cabinet for the leaf insets.  I stole the botany cabinet for fraction materials and replaced it with this white one from the craft store.  It's not a great solution.
  7. Botany cabinet control charts and homemade tree identification guide for our specific area

Center black bookcase, kids' shelves, middle
Writing Shelves
  1. Colored pencils for grammar work(parts of speech colors)
  2. Regular pencils
  3. The boys personal sets of Prismacolors
  4. Big rubber erasers and KUM Pencil Sharpeners 
  5. chalk
  6. sandpaper letters, soon to be switched out for cursive ones
  7. HWT handwriting paper, wide, horizontal
  8. HWT handwriting paper, wide, vertical
  9. HWT handwriting paper, regular, vertical
  10. Large Bead Frame paper (through Keys of the Universe)
  11. Squared paper/graph paper (1 cm)
  12. Two sizes of staff paper (Jumbo and merely large)
  13. Homemade grammar paper
  14. Small bead frame paper
  15. More continent boxes

Center black bookcase, kids' shelves, bottom

  1. Magnetic, dry erase boards
  2. HWT blackboards with double lines
  3. clipboards
  4. HWT small chalkboards
  5. encyclopedias

Far-right black bookcase, kids' shelves, middle
Zoology Shelves

  1. Field Guides
  2. Mom's pencil cup (usually up a shelf)
  3. Viewmaster
  4. Waseca Animal Adaptation game and external characteristics of vertebrates cards.
  5. Zoology nomenclature:  ETC Montessori Main Characteristics of the Five Classes material and Montessori Print Shop "Parts-of" animals booklets and cards (with definitions) . Also, Animal Stories material:  ETC Montessori

I just noticed I cut off the shelf at the bottom.  The green tray holds pin-punching materials (wool pad and punch).  To its right are the charts that came with the ETC Main Characteristics material.

Far-right black bookcase, kids' shelves, bottom
Zoology Shelves

Again, I cut off a shelf.  This time at the top.  It holds two continent boxes, the three-hole punch for the work binders, and each boy's own box of green "puzzle" word/sight word cards (Dwyer scheme).

  1. Work Binders
  2. Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary.  I just noticed the Scholastic Children's Thesaurus is sandwiched between the work binders where you can't see it.
  3. Research Skills Book
  4. double sandpaper letters, soon to be replaced with cursive ones
  5. Phonogram dictionary
  6. Dwyer Reading Folders

Music/Grammar shelves

The music and grammar shelves are to the right of the black bookcases.  There is a bit of loose space here (I can move the sewing equipment, etc.,) so that there is will be room for grammar command boxes and sorting boxes very soon.

  1. Sentence analysis symbols
  2. Marionette from one of our verb lessons
  3. Sewing basket.  Sentence analysis charts beneath
  4. Music green boards and charts
  5. MY shelf.  This is where I put my iPad during school and the work journals.  In this photo it has some story problems stacked on it that I had just laminated and was cutting up.
  6. Basket of blank sentence strips and a scissors for grammar work
  7. solid grammar symbols
  8. Nienhuis music notation materials
  9. xylophone
  10. rhythm instrument basket
  11. Floor table

Our miniatures collection lives on top of the music/grammar shelf.

These shoe shelves are a handy size for the 6x9" brown kraft envelopes I store a lot of our card sets in (I wrote a post all about card storage).  Eventually all of the cubbies will be filled with biome work.  To date we own the Introductions to Biomes card sets and the cards for North America.  I plan to add a new set/continent every year.  The introduction sets don't have any color coding, but I am color coding the continent sets.  All of the envelopes for North America have the orange coding on the left corner (the Montessori color for North America).  The right corner is color coded according to the Waseca scheme for each biome (yellow for grasslands, orange for desert, etc.,).  While we have room other things have found their way into these cubbies:  music notation cardsmelody cards for the bells or tone barscards that go with the mute kingdoms chartsSpeed!, etc., On top of the cabinet are our biosphere nesting boxes as well as my music and biome teacher's manuals.

The last wall of the room is pretty simple.  To the far left is a shallow bookcase for rotating books on various topics.  Moving to the right is the fraction cabinet.  For more on that go to this post:  What's in the Fraction Cabinet.  Next, you'll find our tone bars and the boys' plant collection.  Last on the right  side of the window seat is the geometric cabinet.  And then, finally, the bead cabinet (with kombucha brewing in front of it).  

You may have noticed that our metal insets were no longer on the writing shelf.  I removed the duplicate shapes from the geometric cabinet and snuck the metal insets in their place.  

The boys prefer tracing the metal insets over those in the geometric cabinet, but I didn't want to sacrifice the linear space to them anymore.  Also, this arrangement encourages the tracing of many of the other shapes.

There you have it!  If  you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments.  


  1. Now that you have hooked us on Waseca biomes I have to ask if you like the continent stencils? I was thinking about making that my "splurge" material for next year. How do you feel about the specific continent card work sets? I haven't seen those, only the Intro cards.

    I have the potential space in my basement to do what you have done in your schoolroom and I go back and forth at least weekly on if I should do it or not. Argument for is obviously the ability to keep many more materials available (which would be huge for us) and not having it in my dining room. Argument against is that there is little natural light in the space available and I'm worried I wouldn't want to be down there as much and then its out of sight when we have friends over and what will happen with the area? I must keep pondering this.....

    1. We love the continent stencils. They are beautiful. Also, if you are not doing pin maps they can take the place of the waterways and mountains map if the kids label the rivers and mountains that they stencil on. I only have the N.A. set so far and I really like them in place of a NA continent box. The boys haven't really worked with them yet. You'll see more pictures and such as they do. I want to get some use out of our NA set before I decide whether I want them for other continents for which we DO have good continent box materials.

      If I were you I'd probably be torn on the school room too. It certainly would be different if this were in our basement. When we house hunted some of the houses we considered would have put school in the basement, some in an extra bedroom (we considered making the "master" the school and sleeping in a smaller bedroom ourselves in some places), and other had an office or living room like this house. In my case I still would have set the school up in the basement, but there would have been drawbacks too. Pray about it.

      When friends come over I usually ask the kids to leave the school things alone and I have a baby gate to gate it off if necessary.

      There's right answer and that's what makes it hard.

  2. Holy cow you are organized! I am NOT that organized. One thing I love about your room is that it is on your main floor and you guys can flow in and out as you like. My guys can't do that since there is a door between levels. (On the other hand when we have friends over it is nice just to say the classroom is closed.) One day our room will be as organized as yours. Speaking of organization, I need to put some more shelves up so we have a bit more linear space. How did you "add" shelves to your bookshelves?

    1. The bookcases have lots of holes up and down for adjusting the shelves. Mostly. So, I just bought additional pegs and cut the prefinished shelving material to fit. There are some places that don't have holes that I wish did. You should, ideally, add holes if needed before you assemble the bookcases. Otherwise you need a SMALL drill to fit inside to drill the holes. I had to borrow one.

    2. Ahh, I'll just have to pre-drill more holes into our shelving, after planning very well because as you can see, I don't have finished bookshelving units. Ours are made out of 1X12 unfinished pine, so anything we "remove" would leave a hole, that wouldn't look to pretty with wood putty in it. A project for after Lent I say. (Little D needs some more materials out on the shelves!)

  3. I loved seeing your space, and it really inspires me to keep working hard. I have been looking forward to a tour of your space!!!!

  4. Thank you for this post, it's extremely helpful. Can you tell me where you found the black shelves? Also does a fast food tray fit nicely on them?

    1. The shelves are Carson shelves from Target. It depends on the size of your tray :) My fast-food-like trays from Oriental Trading fit well horizontally but not vertically.

  5. I'm wondering where you put things like extra books that are not in use, art supplies and extra teacher stuff? I have an entire 6 ft shelf just for our extensive art and craft supplies (my child would spend all day "crafting" if allowed), another 6 ft shelf for my teacher/curriculum books and extra books we aren't using at the moment (this doesn't include a huge shelf in the basement filled to the brim with books and the collection of bookshelves all over the house), and another 6 ft shelf filled with various manipulatives, hands on stuff that's not necessarily Montessori and a collection of board games and puzzles. I keep trying to shift stuff to other areas of the house, but find they often just get forgotten or I've run out of room. I hear people say they get their books at the library, but I find I just can't find many of the books I need from the library or they take months to get in, so I've ended up building my own "library" of books that are to my liking and are the appropriate level of my child. I find certain manipulatives get forgotten (and, therefore, not used) if they are not in a main traffic area such as the classroom. It's crazy, but I seem to have accumulated all this "stuff"! Surely, I'm not the only one with this problem?

    1. I've blogged about most of the things you listed. Here are some links to make things easier for you:

      Art closet: http://whatdidwedoallday.blogspot.com/2012/02/art-closet.html

      Home Library: http://whatdidwedoallday.blogspot.com/2012/08/home-research-library.html

      Montessori supply storage (things that are not in use): http://whatdidwedoallday.blogspot.com/2012/03/montessori-supply-storage.html

      Our board games and puzzles are in a built-in cabinet in our family room. I've never blogged about it so don't have a link.

      Hoe that helps!

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