Monday, August 08, 2011

Not-Back-to-School: Our "Room"

Through the years, our school room has literally moved all over the house. 

I started at the kitchen table when I was homeschooling my youngest brother. My teenage sister was living (and unschooling herself) in our spare room, and our own daughter was two. Our foster daughter joined the family at the age of 15, and she joined us at the kitchen table for some of her lessons, and worked at the desk in her room for others. (Her favorite algebra lesson was one done with permanent markers on the outside of partially full brown paper grocery sacks that were all over the kitchen table. It had been one of those days. I had managed to get the groceries in and the perishables put away. It was getting close to dinner time and I was bound and determined that we were indeed going to get algebra finished, but the table was still covered with the bags of groceries, so.....)

I got sick of trying to juggle schoolwork and cooking and everything else at the ONLY table in our house. When my sister moved out and moved into the dorm room at college, I converted her room to a school room. I loved that solution. That little room stayed the school room for most of my daughter's schooling. But, when my mother needed to move in with us for health reasons, we had to relocate.

I spent two or three years trying to arrange one side of our basement recroom into a school room I was happy with. And I never really succeeded. Oh sure, it looked like a school room, but I was never motivated to go down into the basement to do school.

We spent all of last year with our materials and books downstairs, while we hung out on the couch and did school at the table upstairs.

I've thrown in the towel this year and moved everything up to our small living room. But, I'm pretty much a clutter magnet. I didn't want the living room shelves crammed full of books and looking all cluttered and crappy. 

 I had visions of beautiful organizer boxes, color coordinated for each of my two children, all lined up looking neat and pretty. Those visions lasted until I started hitting stores and pricing those lovely looking boxes. At $6-$12 a box, there was no way I could the ELEVEN boxes I wanted to get to sort our school books into.

But check out what I managed instead. I'm so thrilled with this!

This is a little hand me down shelf tucked under our living room window. See how nice the containers are? Want to know how much they cost me?

$5.24 TOTAL, plus tax and a little time and effort.

I used a few cheap plastic magazine organizers which I had out in the garage, and I made a few other boxes, using the cardboard boxes our curriculum had shipped in.

I bought a can of brown spray paint ($3.24) and headed out to the driveway to spray everything down to make it uniform.

Then I covered the front, the top, and an inch or two of the sides of each box with shelf paper from the dollar store. (Two rolls at $1 each.)

Last, I made labels using some paper and cardstock I had leftover from my scrapbooking days.

The other thing I'm really pleased about is that when it time to do math with my boy, we just grab the Math box off the shelf and carry it to the kitchen table. Then it goes back to the shelf when we grab the next box. No more stacks of books everywhere. No more twenty minute trips downstairs "to get a pencil".

Two more boxes like this wound up on the bottom of our video shelf. We also had to take over a three shelf case at the top of the entry stairs. Our basic school supplies went into plastic organizers on the top shelf, our rotating library books are on the middle shelf (still looking a little cluttered, but c'est la vie.) And the bottom shelf is our history resource books and portfolio binders.
The large clear plastic boxes on the bottom of our supply shelf are a great find I made last year. I got a flat tackle organizer from the fishing department. It comes with small plastic dividers that can be used to create a variety of compartments of different sizes and shapes. Ours holds crayons, colored pencils, markers, and a few other things, like glue sticks and scissors.
So, while we don't have a "school room" this year, I am happy with how we have our books and supplies organized!

Tour where and how others do school on The Heart of the Matter.


Dawn said...

Great solutions. We are on our second space in this house and it is much better than our first.

Breezy Point Mom said...

Oh, I love an organization system like this one. Especially one that doesn't cost hardly anything. Great solution! (and I know all about the 20 minute visit to another room to get a pencil). Have a great year!

Sarah said...

Good idea to fix up those boxes. Hope you like the new solution.