Tuesday, February 18, 2014

School Room Tour: 2014, Part One

Welcome to our school room!  Do you even recognize it without two kids in their pajamas and four work rugs full of projects?  I am constantly moving things around in here, but this is how it looks this particular week in February of 2014.  As of the date of this posting, Kal-El is eight.  He would be in second grade if he went to a traditional public school or lower elementary at a Montessori school.  Me Too is six and would be in kindergarten this year.  If he went to a Montessori school I don't know for certain whether he would be in primary or lower elementary.  That would be up to the judgement of the guide.  He is slowly starting to cross over, but still behaves much like a child in the first-plane rather than the second.  Either way, our classroom looks much more like an elementary classroom rather than a primary one these days.  

We'll start with some photos of the big picture so you can get your bearings.  Later on this week I'll zoom in a little closer so you can see what is actually on the shelves. If I zoom in on every shelf today you will all suffer from information overload.   If you have any questions about anything, please ask in the comments and I will answer.  The first photo (above) is taken from the foyer right next to the front door of our home.  This room is intended to be the formal living room and is about 12.5' x 18.5'.  I always say it but I'll say it again anyway, there's no hiding the homeschooling at this house!  

This photo was taken from the opposite side of the room.  You can see into the foyer on the right.  To the right of the couch are two baskets.  The large brown leather basket toward the front holds timelines and other large charts that can be rolled.  Behind that is a tall white basket that holds work rugs.  Behind even that are some large items that don't fit anywhere else such as the corkboard for the geometric sticks, history question charts, fundamental needs charts, and the multiplication checkerboard (If it's not too late, buy the fabric one.  It can be rolled up!)  

Note:  There are no affiliate links in this particular post.  (You can read my disclosure policy here.)  The links in this post will take you to other posts on this blog that show particular materials, areas, or cabinets in the classroom that have already been written about in detail; or, occasionally they may take you to a website that explains a material in question.  

Starting to zoom in a bit, this is the coziest spot in the room.  My husband talked me into keeping the couch even though I knew I'd need more shelf space (and I do).  I'm so glad it is still here.  The two green chairs are pretty obviously public school castoffs.  Shoehorned into the corner are actual shoe shelves.  The grey hardware drawers on top of the shelf next to those house our miniatures collection and our very glamorous roll of paper towels.  Okay, it's' not glamorous but I was really proud of myself the day it finally occurred to me to keep a roll in there instead of having the kids run to the kitchen every time they used a dry erase marker.  (Now, if only we had room for a trash can...)  The white shelves in this corner together comprise the music/biome/grammar corner of the room.

There are three tall black bookcases on this wall of the room.  The top two shelves on all three are for ME, at least until the boys get taller.  They house teacher's albums that are not available in a digital version (The bulk of my albums are on my iPad.).  I don't recommend black bookcases.  They show dust within minutes of dusting them and they also show all of our fingerprints and smudges.  As for the contents of the lower shelves of the bookcases, these shelves are mostly botany (green bins), zoology (red bins), continent boxes, and language.  The woven baskets on top of the bookcases hold things that I rotate very frequently.  This includes:  continent box innards, word study, and grammar. Works that I rotate less frequently or haven't gotten to yet are in my basement storage space

To the left of the black bookcases we have what I call "the spelling corner."  We have a little chair tucked away over there for the boys to use when they work on spelling at the magnetic dry erase board.  Also in this corner are my Dad's old set of metal hardware drawers that I painted turquoise. The hold specimens, science equipment, a lot of our history materials and more.  The clear plastic and black drawers tight in the corner are a work in progress but mostly contain specimens. 

The white shelves on the far wall hold mainly math, geometry and geography materials.  This is my most frequent viewpoint in this room.  Although, there is usually someone hard at work at the table.

...but it's not usually that guy.  I asked my husband to take photographs of the school room for me for this post.  I wasn't having too much trouble taking close shots of the shelves (which I didn't even use in this post) but my broader photos to try to show the space as a whole were just awful.  I was out of the house at the time he took them and I laughed really hard when I found this photo among the others he took.  Apparently our resident minion had a go at the binomial cube.  See how much he enjoys this work?  

Finally, the last wall of the school room.  All the way to right we have our bead cabinet (and our kombucha brewing).  All the way to the left is a shallow bookcase that holds rotating reading material.   Right now most of the books have to do with the fourth Great Lesson, The Story of Writing. On the window seat we have our fraction cabinets, geometric cabinet, tone bars, and temporarily a collection of plants the boys picked out.  I need to find a new spot for the plants.  Right now they are occupying Kal-El's favorite place to do his fraction work.

Stay tuned this week for a closer look at what's on the shelves.

If  you had quizzed me before I looked up the following links, I would have sworn that I have done a school room tour every year in January or February.  Well, color me surprised, it has only been every TWO years.  If you would like to look at how our space has changed over the years, here are links to the past school room tours:

School Room Tour 2012
School Room Tour 2010 (previous home)


  1. I love the minion! My husband, had I asked him to do such, would have smiled and said (sweetly) "I love you, but I don't do pictures!" So I love that he helped you out with that! I am always in awe of your room - my desire is to one day have a room that isn't in such a central location of everything else in the house. We turned our dining room in to a school room for this year, and as it turns out (maybe because it is so close to everything else) the children like to get their work - and then retreat back to the living room. And there is so much changing in our house right now, it just looks like Montessori(ish) threw up all over our shelves! It's really quite a mess and the organizational part of me is going nuts - I don't even want to look at our shelves, and yet really want to tackle the project and straighten it all back up again! I LOVE your room!!!! (have I mentioned that already? hahaha)

    1. Do they take the work to the living room or take out the work in the dining room and then escape to the living room leaving the work out?

  2. I so need to do this - a full-on "tour" - just for variety. We don't have a dedicated room, so it's all over the place (850 square foot apartment; I work from home, running two businesses and we have a library in my bedroom - and no, I don't LIKE clutter ;) ).

    Your husband is hilarious!

    1. I think it's important for people to see that! Do it!

      Also, I'm always sad that you don't do "school days" posts from your house.

    2. My "excuse" is scheduled to post on the 24th ;) You got me thinking about a question I've pondered for a while, but now I've found the words for it.

      Thank you for that - because I think I have also clarified for myself something - I have been "jealous" of other people's school spaces a bit - not envious, but definitely a level of coveting. But I think we have a comfortable (crazy!) glove thing going on over here - we don't have a set school time anymore, we don't have a set school space - it all just blends and merges and maybe, just maybe, I can let go of the disappointment in myself for not meeting my own ideals of how I wanted to homeschool my son (nice school space separate from the rest of our home, even if shared space --- that sort of thing).


  3. Love it! Thanks for sharing! I do have a question about something more specific. Just ignore it if you are going to discuss this detail in another post. I wanted to know where you got the small storage cabinet with the drawers on the bottom of the far left black shelf :). I've seen it in other pictures and kept meaning to ask you. I need something similar to house my future insets for elementary.

    Oh yes and the minion is hilarious! We have a set of 3 of those same ones I think. My daughter loved the picture!

    1. It's a $30 cabinet from the craft store. I don't like it. It doesn't fit as many insets as I hoped and it is clumsy. I am ordering the equivalence material and Pythagoras plates this spring and will be buying a $125 geometric cabinet to go with it just for the cabinet.

    2. Have you been able to find an "empty" cabinet, or are you buying insets and just storing them elsewhere?

    3. I'll be buying a geometric cabinet full of geometric insets I don't need (already have) because it's the cheapest way to get a cabinet. The white cabinet in the photo holds the botany insets that came in our botany cabinet. I emptied out our botany cabinet, put several drawers of the geometric insets in it, and then filled the former geometric cabinet with fraction circles, fraction squares, and fraction triangles.

  4. Your classroom is beautiful. It actually looks a bit smaller than I expected from your other pictures. Makes me feel better because I kept thinking our classroom is small and I wish it was as big as yours. I think really, I just need more organization and taller bookcases. You have done such a great job organizing that room, its gorgeous!

    I love the minion picture. My husband would have done something like that. We have tons of pictures of random toys/objects that he has taken at 20 different angles. If I were to ask him to take pictures of our classroom I don't know what I would find on the camera along with them LOL.

  5. Well, for some reason it wouldn't just let me reply to your comment. They do take the work from the shelves and then bring it in to the living room space (although there is plenty of room to work where our shelves were) - the bigger ones didn't surprise me, they just like to work at a table. I thought the two younger ones would prefer the floor, but even they like to stand at a table rather than sit on the floor. They don't leave their work unattended - well, most don't - I will admit that I still have to remind Buddy Boy to get back to his work or put them up.

  6. I am going over your school room post as I am making my brain hurt trying to plan a new classroom. We are finally in the house and I bought a tape measure. (We already have three in storage but I couldn't wait.) So the space is actually not that small...maybe it feels small because our basement was configured completely differently. It is about 12.5'x20.5'. Windows on one wall and another wall has a door. Kind of like yours...but the short side has windows and the long side has the door. I am amazed at how much you packed in to your space without using any islands. I am having trouble divvying up space between low primary shelving and taller elementary shelving. And finding linear space for two levels...like tone bars AND bells?? I would keep bells for a couple more years for D but T and S...I'd like them to do tone bars as early as this winter. Arrr, I feel it is like one of those brain twisters that you can't quite figure out how to back-out-the answer and the combinations and permutations seem infinite.

    I also have this thing about sitting orientation. It is a very eastern Feng Shui thing. But I have it bad...and people can't be sitting with their backs to high traffic areas, doors and windows, if at all possible, the eye and energy needs to flows smoothly, so not too many sharp edges, and dark corners need to have interest, energy and structure to be inviting. I am also trying to manage to fit in a sitting space for me for observation.

    So now our game-room/classroom smells like that low-tack painters tape because I've taped out where I want shelving and tables, and I am anxious to start but have to wait until we install wood flooring through-out the second floor before I can even bust out a wood saw to begin making shelving. That is going to take a few weeks at least and then we'll be into...I don't want to think about it...before we start.

    *sigh* wish me luck. Wish you were here to *see* the space and consult. :)

  7. Wow my room feels rather inadequate after looking at yours! Its amazing and so well stocked...your boys are so fortunate :)

    We only have enough rooms in our home to have the "classroom and bedroom" in one. My sons are 2.5 and 4 and they are still sleeping in my bedrooms so essentiallythe bed in their dual room is now just there for when they are ready to sleep there on their own. Im worried that its a mistake to set up their classroom in their bedroom leaving them no "play space" of their own. What would you recommend?


    1. Hi :)

      I would need a lot more information to help you with this one. What is the oldest age you plan on having your oldest child sleeping with you? That will give me an idea of the timeline.

      Also, if you would like suggestion of someplace other than the unused bedroom to put the school room, it would help if you could give me a list of the other rooms in the house and what you use them for.

      If you give me some more information, I'd be happy to help.