Tour Our Schoolrooms

Tour Our Schoolrooms

Come tour our schoolrooms at Layers of Learning, where the actual day to day studying takes place and see how we store all our supplies.

Our schoolrooms aren’t terribly fancy, they’re not super huge or super cute, but they’re functional and neat and they make it possible for us to keep the rest of the house neat as well.  Neither one of us enjoys cluttered homes with science experiments and posters and drying paper mache lining every surface.  We’re kind of neat freaks so the real purpose of having a school room is to corral the clutter.  Though we’ll be the first to admit that there are times when the clutter gets away from us.

Michelle’s Schoolroom

This is the room where we actually do most of our schooling.  It lives a multiple life as our dining room, craft spot, family gathering place, reading room, game room and entertaining room for friends.  It’s part of the kitchen, which is across a big peninsula counter to the left in this photo.

Kitchen Table Schooling

The kitchen table was one of our first purchases as a newly married couple.  The chalkboard was made from a piece of thin board from a home improvement place, a bit of sanding, and several coats of chalkboard paint.

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Love the Chalkboard

I use the chalkboard every day, multiple times a day, during our schooling.  One of the lessons I’ve learned from classroom teachers is the value of copying for children.  We use worksheets, but more and more we’ve gone to blank sheets of paper and the kids copying and writing their own information.  We also use the chalkboard for writing up our grammar lessons, spelling words, and bits of memory work.

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Bookshelves, Of Course

On the other side of the table is a big beautiful set of shelves, another early purchase in our marriage.  This room was a long time in the making.  Some of the books on that shelf are educational, but most are just plain good reading.  The only things I collect are books and children.

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The “School Room”

Besides the room where we actually do school we have a room we euphemistically call the school room.  It is adjacent to the dining room, but not being the home of the fireplace it is cold all winter which is a full six months of the year in North Idaho so in spite of intentions to the contrary we don’t do much studying there though we do use the room incessantly, because it is the home of our computers.

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Computers, and More Computers

We have eight people, each with a personal computer, internet connected, and a desk upon which to set it.  I know it may seem obsessive.  It kind of is.  But we love it.  We’re a computer family.  I work on the computer lots running this web site, writing the Layers of Learning curriculum, doing volunteer work, and planning school.  My husband and two sons also are doing full time online schooling.  No one else needs 24-7 access, but you wouldn’t believe the problems it prevents having a device and desk for each person.

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Lots of Storage

All those upper cabinets hold school supplies, especially art and science, and office supplies like reams and reams of printer paper, envelopes, ink, etc.  The lower desk drawers are full of Layers of Learning files, household files, pens, tape, glue, the hole puncher and assorted detritus.

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A Desk For Everyone

These two desks belong to the two oldest boys, one graduated and one on the verge.  They keep their school books, laptops, and supplies inside the desks.  The basket on top of the black chest is clear full of crayons and markers. The chest itself holds our microscopes, some other science supplies, assorted paper from card stock to graph paper to construction paper, the math toys bin, and in the bottom drawer our “random stuff”.  I have always kept a place where we store toilet paper rolls, empty spools, food packaging, brown grocery sacks, and empty bottles for craft or school projects.  It used to be in a bin in the basement storage, but the bottom drawer of this cabinet is huge and perfect for the job.

schoolroom tour

When the Kids Break the Chairs, Make Stools

This is where the four younger boys have their desks, constructed by my husband from lumber from the home improvement store.  When we redid this room a couple of years ago we decided everything would be this light wood tone, creamy white, or black, all easy to find classic colors.  The stools at the desks are an old dining set we had with far too spindly backs that broke off one by one in the hands of six rambunctious boys.  We ceded to fate, removed the remaining backs, and painted them all black to be used as stools.  Having no backs means they take up less space and can be completely slid under the desks.

Nailing Things to the Wall Keeps It Tidy(er)

As much as possible everything in this room is nailed to a wall.  Most of the monitors are mounted, the pencil boxes, also constructed by hubby, are nailed to the walls, the desks are firmly attached.  It helps keep things neater.  Though I have still not won the battle of the cords.

This is one of my favorite things, sturdy pencil boxes nailed to the walls and headphone hangers next to every desk.

Where the Kids Keep Their Daily School Supplies

Above the desks is a sturdy wood shelf that holds the four school boxes when they are not in use.

Each child has his own box filled with all of his binders, workbooks, and textbooks that he needs for school.  We pull these out to the dining table every morning and the kids put them back after school is done.

My School Supplies

This book shelf holds all of the books I actually use for school on a regular basis and my school basket, which has a file for each week of the year with all the printables we’ll be using that week and my school plan binder.

An Art Center

All the most used craft and art supplies are on these narrow little shelves and in the buckets beneath them.  Above we have a small bulletin board for school projects that don’t fit in binders.

The little buckets were $1 each at WalMart (I had to spray paint them black) and the hooks they hang from were hand forged by my big boys.

Karen’s Schoolroom

Like at Michelle’s place, we rely on a school room to corral all of our supplies in an attempt to keep the rest of the house clean.  We migrate here there and everywhere, but home base is the school room.  It’s an attic space above our garage.  My kids spend a lot of time here all the time, not just during “school time.”  It’s a cozy room that we all love.

Our school room feels separate from the rest of the house. We can’t hear the doorbell or anything outside of this room, so it’s the perfect spot for no interruptions.  If you go through the little corridor on the left you enter the rest of the house.
We have paper mache planets hanging from the ceiling. You will notice a lot more stuff – color, art supplies, and “visual noise” in my school room than in Michelle’s. My family is much more extroverted and excels in a busier environment, while Michelle’s more introverted family thrives in clean, quiet simplicity.

Comfy Meeting Place

We have a few areas that I’ll give you a tour of.  First, one of my school room requirements is comfy seating.  We have a perfectly soft couch and 2 recliners that the kids fight over we use every day.  Their friends also have movie nights in here even though we have a nice family room with a big screen tv.  People just seem to migrate here.

This is where we have our morning meeting, a lot of group lessons, and all of our reading time.  Our white board, calendar, and timeline are on the wall there.  This section has a tv that is connected to a computer, allowing us to use it as a “smartboard” of sorts, and also watch movies for school.  The kids also like to go hang out on the couch to sketch in their sketchbooks, read, or even do math.  It’s pretty common to find a kid or two wrapped up in a quilt over here.  I let them work anywhere.

Our Center Table

We also have a table in the middle of the school room.  If I’m working with all the kids at once on a project, you’ll usually find us at the table.  This is where we make maps, work on book projects, paint, and make lapbooks.

Our art cart parks right beside the table so we grab our supplies easily.

Work Stations

Every kid has a desk with a computer and headphones at it, a cupboard to store their books, and a supply drawer.  All of the chairs roll, and we’re constantly rolling around in them, moving from one spot to another.

They call their cupboards “lockers” because the main thing they feel they are missing out on by being homeschooled is not having a locker. Before lockers they thought they were missing out on bus rides.  Then they rode a bus and decided they weren’t missing anything after all.  They keep all their books in the cupboards. Their drawers have flashcards, calculators, pencils, and other personal school supplies they need.

Each kid has a mailbox too – the little Ikea containers hanging above their desks.  This is where they store projects they are in the middle of and also where I put their schoolwork I just corrected, little notes, or anything else they need to keep track of.

My Desk

I also have my own desk space and computer.  I have a few extra cupboards, mostly to store my own craft and sewing supplies.  My vinyl cutter also resides on my desk.

The magazine rack attached to the side of my desk has a slot for each subject we’re doing that week. I put all of our printables, etc. for the week in there so I’m ready when I need to grab them.  The wicker basket on top is our “turn in basket.”  The kids put their finished work in there for me to look over.  The black file on top holds all my printables for the year, organized by week.

You can usually find my blue binder open on my desk.  It holds my homeschool planner, and it’s blue so I can’t possibly lose it (my binder may or may not disappear regularly).

Science Center

Our science counter is small, but suits our needs perfectly.  There is a sink as well science supply storage underneath.  The giant filing cabinet holds all of my files and resources.  Under the counter I have rolling drawers with science supplies.

Book Cart

I got this library book cart from an auction and couldn’t resist.  My inner librarian screams louder than a librarian is supposed to.

Right now the front is holding books and the back of the cart has my glass jars with art supplies. I haven’t yet gotten my shelf set that will be holding the jars, but hopefully that will be soon! We have an office in the house that has huge bookshelves that hold most of our books, but I keep the books we use a lot on the shelf, including lots of fun stories to read to my little ones. Right now we’re stacking all the books we’ve read on the middle shelf and the ones we still need to read on the bottom shelf. We’re seeing how fast we can get all the storybooks read.

Subject Cubbies

I have a set of shelves along one side of the room that has little cubbies devoted to different subjects.  We have lots of science kits, a geography bin with maps, foreign coins, and travel mementos.  There’s also an art cubby with how to draw books.

I like to organize my supplies in a really open style in the schoolroom.  I want the kids to be able to easily see and grab what they need, and just as easily be able to put everything back in place.  This is our little writer’s workshop section with all the supplies my kids need to write – paper, little booklets, story starters in cans, and pencils and things.

Learning Toys

We also have a shelf on the other side.  This one has shoe box bins on the bottom shelf that house beanbags, lacing games, math toys, jump ropes, and other learning toys.  The books on this shelf are ones we use during our morning meeting.  And the blue and green tubs hold more art supplies.

Stellar Work Bulletin Board

I don’t keep projects for very long because we’d be overrun by them.  Things my kids do a particularly excellent job on get to go up on our special frame.  This was built by my husband, Bob, from a family tree that had our initials carved in it after the tree perished in a storm.  I should mention that he also built all the wooden counter tops in our school room.  We love them.

Keeping The Mess Contained

Other than books, I don’t have school stuff everywhere all over my house.  My kids can go anywhere to do their work. You’ll never find word strips on my kitchen cupboards or science supplies in my kitchen drawers though.  I haven’t always had a school room, but I love that the rest of my house stays tidier now.  We keep the messes contained in here.  And this is the sign on the door as you leave the school room.  This is the last thing my kids see every day as they walk out…

Family Style School

Perhaps based on our schoolroom descriptions you can tell that we both like to do lots of family style school.  This means we study some of the subjects together as a group, all ages.  Karen’s family all gather together to watch videos or view images on her smart board TV, hear her read aloud, color the same maps for geography, do the same dissection in biology, watch the same history documentary, and work on the same art projects.  Michelle does the same things using her chalkboard and her ipad as the movie screen at their kitchen table.

We are able to do this efficient style of homeschooling because of the curriculum we wrote.  It’s designed for family style schooling.  So whether you’ve got two or ten kids, you can work together on history, science, geography, and art.

Come take a tour of our curriculum and see if it might be a good fit for your family.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for stopping by to check out my schoolroom! I really like your idea of storing craft supplies in mason jars. I find that it’s always easier when you can see inside your storage at a glance. I also agree that in homeschooling learning happens all over the house (and out of it too!) and like how you’ve incorporated that into your homes. I hope you both have a great year!

    1. We are indeed pretty spoiled. When we started homeschooling it was all at the kitchen table and I kept our books and supplies in a couple of the cupboards. We’ve grown! When we built our house this school room was on the top of my wishlist. We spend most of our time in here, and we LOVE it.

  2. Nichole

    What a blessing to find you ladies! Your schoolrooms are amazing! Ours is super compact, but similar in the ideas of organization and schooling as a family (ours are 10,9, and 8). I love your ideas, and am perusing through your curriculum. You have done all of the VERY hard work to make one, and inspire me! I don’t even remember how I stumbled across you two, but, WOW, am I grateful!

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