Classroom - Ideas for organizing without one

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:39 pm

Classroom - Ideas for organizing without one

Unread post by JoyfulDancer »

Guest wrote:Hi ladies!
I need to know for those of you who do not have a school room how you organize your childrens school books that they use everyday. Do they each have there own box with pencils, and their books. I am limited on space and need some very practical advice.

Also where do you keep your teachers manuals that you use everyday. I don't what to have to go in the other room and pull it off the shelf everday and I want my childrens books to be organized so it is easy for them to get to each day!
Hi Renee,
We have school at the kitchen table. Against one corner I have a narrow 3-drawer plastic rolling cart. Each of my dc has a drawer to keep their pencil box, art materials, current small projects, etc.

All other school materials are in the dining room, along with the computer. In the dining room I have 2 low white dressers lined up (kind of like a buffet) against the wall, and a tall white cabinet. I have our every-day books lined up on top of the dressers, easy for my dc to get to, along with an in/out file, drawing books and a basket of nature pocket guides. I keep weekly books and tms, scrapbooking stuff, kids' notebooks and the vacuum inside the cabinet.

My dh put up a shelf above the computer, where I keep my organizing and year plan notebooks, hole punch, *MY* art pencils, computer paper, etc. In another corner I have 2 more wheeled plastic drawer units, one with a file drawer, that hold more school papers and craft supplies.

Well, that's it. It's not beautiful, but it's sort of working for us for now. I'm looking forward to good ideas from other moms.

Posts: 207
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:26 am

Unread post by LSH in MS »

We have very limited space but I like how our system is working.

OUr schedule goes something like this. After breakfast, we go in the Living room to do Bible, memorization, and read aloud (Children's Homer).

If the boys are on a new lesson in math we watch the DVD for MUS. ( TV is downstairs).

Then we go upstairs to do 3 rs. My boys share a large bedroom upstairs so we do their 3 rs up there. We have a card table with chairs, a bookshelf for their 3 R books . They each have a plastic drawer that stacks on top of each other for their personal books (English notebook, Math etc). While older boys are working on Math, Vocabulary, and Handwriting I do K with younger 2. There are toys up there and MFW preschool toys that younger ones use while I finish 3 Rs with the older ones. When everyone is finished they clean up room while I fix lunch.

After lunch and a break, The history, science, and art we do in the living room on the coffee table (or at the kitchen table if art is messy. I have bookshelves in the living room for all of their history books, read alouds, Bibles, science books, etc. I keep my CTG teacher's manual there too.

I like changing settings during the day. It has a feeling of "real school is over" when we come downstairs, now for the fun stuff!

wife to Clifford, mother to ds (17), ds (16), ds (15, ds (13), ds (8), and ds (3)
MFW user for 10 years
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Unread post by Fly2Peace »

We usually do our school time in our living room. We like our LR, because of the HUGE picture window and LOTS of natural light.

I have one of those plastic "file" basket / boxes for each child that contains their books, notebooks, and most supplies. We also tend to just leave our school stuff all over the table in there for the week. It might get put away for the weekend, but not always... I have a bookshelf in that room that the plastic files can slide onto, and my manual fits between them. It is far from perfect, but it gets done.
Fly2Peace (versus flying to pieces)
Posts: 120
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Unread post by SandKsmama »

I have one 3 shelf bookcase in the living room (where we do most of our school), and keep everything on there. One shelf holds library books/National geographics, one shelf has school books/teacher manuals/one shelf has paper and art supplies, and then on top I put pencil boxes.

It's not a perfect system, but so far it has worked out well for us.

Posted by SandKsmama » Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:49 pm

We've been homeschooling for 4 years - we use the living room - almost always the living room floor, actually. We are almost never at a table. We sit on the couches, or sit in the floor. :-)
Amanda, Wife to a great guy since '99, SAHM to 4 fabulous kids! DD(7/96), DS(1/01), DD(8/03), and baby DS (3/09)!
Used MFW K, 1st, ECC, CTG, RTR, Ex1850, and currently using 1850-Modern!

Here's our system...

Unread post by Guest »

Hi Rene,

We have a large schoolroom, but my children are rather nomadic in their homeschool habits, so I have a "traveling" system that works rather well for us.

I'm a bucket and basket kind of gal. I got really tired of finding homeschool "aftermath" spread from the front door to the back, so each of my younger two (ages 6 and 8) are now the proud owners of their very own basket. That basket holds all their individual workbooks, writing paper, and a pencil box with their OWN set of crayons, prismacolors, scissors and glue sticks. (The aversion to sharing around here is pitiful! LOL.) At then end of the day I send them both on a search and rescue mission........ "Load up your buckets," I say, "and put them back in the cabinet!"

We have a short cabinet in our homeschool room that I really love. It has two doors on the front of it and it is quite attractive. I paid less than $100 for it on sale at Office Depot. (We actually have two of them set up like a credenza in our hs room.) The cabinet is deep and has a shelf inside. It houses both the baskets easily, plus buckets with art and science supplies and a few hs catalogs (things that aren't necessarily "pretty"). That stuff looks so much better behind closed doors than on open shelves. A piece of furniture like this would work very well as an end table or nightstand somewhere and it is very handy!

We are just starting Adventures, and are brand new to MFW. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how easy this is on me as a teacher. This last weekend I made myself a basket like my kids have! Everything I need to teach MFW is in one basket! Love it!!! Now I can sit in the kitchen or den and school with them without having to jump up and run to the school room a million times. In my basket I have........manilla files with necessary resources (such as copies of my student pages, our paint and marker cards for art), all the books we are currently using, a clip board for each child, my TM notebook, maps, a small plastic picture frame which holds our state bird and flower cards, and a little mug with pencils, red pens, a sharpie, a pair of scissors and a glue stick. This system is brand spanking new so I can only speak of the high hopes I have for it rather than tried and true results. So far it is working great, and I love having such a "portable" school system!

A friend of mine who homeschools in her kitchen uses a large, three drawer plastic cart from Target. Her supplies are in the small upper drawer, student books and workbooks are in the second (middle) drawer, and her teacher manuals are in the large bottom drawer. She wheels it out for school and then wheels it back in the corner when they are done.

What I don't have in my school room is much wall space, so our timeline and Jesus poster are both in my den, on a short wall under my kitchen counter. I like this because I can see it from the den, which is where we read aloud.

Each of my boys has a large, three ring binder. (The kind with the clear plastic front so they could decorate their own.) They also have a smaller USA notebook, which is part of Adventures. All their work gets three hole punched and put behind various dividers in these notebooks. The notebooks are too large to fit in the cabinet with the buckets, so they are kept on a shelf.

Our "book basket" time comes from a literal basket which sits by the fireplace. They are Sterilite brand and I believe I got them at WalMart. They are a hard white plastic with little holes in the sides. We have a few pretty wicker baskets with fabric liners (our book basket is one of them) but they don't hold up as well when drug, slung, stepped in or on........... and whatever else it is that small boys do with baskets. :) They do not have lids, which is good, because sometimes books stick up too far. I pull books from our personal library, as well as check out library books and videos from the recommended reading list in my TM for this basket.

I also have a painting bucket. It is a plastic shoebox with all the supplies in it we need for our art curriculum, I Can Do All Things. I have a set of brushes for each boy, two plastic paint trays, four bottles of acryllic colors, a sleeve of dixie cups for water and a flannel backed vinyl tablecloth (A MUST) that I got for $1 from Walmart in that bucket. I find that having those supplies all in one place makes it more likely to make art a part of our day.

It is always fun to see how other homeschools tick.

Happy Nesting!
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Unread post by Tina »

Hi Renee:

Here, room is a problem. I have 1,400 sq. ft. of living space and three grown adults, three children, one dog and a cat! It makes for cozy living and cozy schooling and does call for an action plan and a "place for everything" if there is such a thing in this house!

In the living room is where I keep all school supplies. I have a shelf for books that we use (it is actually part of the entertainment center, right next to the tv). For example, I am doing ECC right now and the books we use for that are in there; geography game, window on the world, hero tales, books not used everyday. They all go on this shelf. Then I have cabinets (almost like a long dresser) in it is all art supplies, construction paper, teaching aids, etc. On top of this cabinet both school children have a milk crate with their own books in it. Their three ring binders, journals, writing paper, vocabulary boxes, etc. Each child has a milk crate that belongs to them. This is my first year using this kind of system. Then, the book basket is actually an 18 gallon tote that I keep near the couch with a lid so the toddler doesn't get at them all the time. All pens and pencils are kept in pencil boxes in the cabinet of art supplies. Those boxes go right into the milk crates during the week so it is easy to grab each morning.

No matter what the size, we seem to always adjust to what we have, and we praise the Lord for this little, old house that he has blessed us with and the homeschool we can have together.
Tina, homeschooling mother of Laura (1996), Jacob (1998) and Tucker (2003) In MO
"One of the greatest blessings of heaven is the appreciation of heaven on earth. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."--JIM ELLIOT
Linda, TX
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Unread post by Linda, TX »

My d wanted a backpack like her college aged brother, so she keeps her notebooks reading, papers, math, spelling etc. there. Even the pockets are filled with (not the whole supply of art things) but pencils, erasers, scissors, rulers, small paint set etc.

It has turned out handy for the times hs turns out to not be at home--in the car, at Dr. appt, grandmas etc.
We us the kitchen table and a three drawer cart. The living room is pretty much a big bookshelf and we have a "pantry" full of craft stuff. Our home is small so going to the "other side of the house" is not a big deal.
Daughter Dallas (1997) and son Steve (1986)
Sue in MN

Unread post by Sue in MN »

I have my dc's books and binders all on bookshelves in the living room. Our living room looks more like a library because all walls either have bookshelves, desk or piano on them. I've used the big plastic drawer method in the past but I prefer the bookshelf method now. My teacher's manuals are all in a file cabinet in the living room. We homeschool all over the house but the pencil boxes are kept in the kitchen.
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:25 pm

Unread post by MJP »

We do have a school room, but my children are also nomadic. This year what has helped the most was buying plastic stacking bins from Walmart for each child's school stuff. They have handles and no lids, and they are stackable (brand name--Mainstays). The three-ring binders fit. The boxes are 12 inches high and 17-18 inches wide. You can fit a lot of stuff comfortably.

Each child has a different color. We also do that with notebooks, etc. The oldest is green, the next red, the next purple, etc. That way if any notebooks or boxes are left out I know immediately who to call and fine. I did not buy one for myself for teacher's manuals, but I am wishing I had. What color should I be?
Wife of 1 for 18 yrs. Mom of 7--ages 1-15--1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th grades & (one on the way)
Psalm 16:8
Currently using--1850 to Modern Times
Previously--MFW K , 1st, CtoG, RTR, Exp. to 1850
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Unread post by Rainy »

Our school is compact and movable for travel purposes. Each child has a plastic container with a handle for all their school books. I also have 2 of them for the teachers manuals and one small one for computer cds. The ones I have are made by Sterilite. With the tops off, everything is easily accessible. With the tops on, everything is cleaned up, out of sight (and ready to travel.)
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Unread post by TriciaMR »

Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:52 pm

My thoughts: keep your supplies "in a place" so you can find them easily (in boxes, shelves, whatever, in your school room), but school where ever you want.

Math, spelling, writing, and any "independent" work is done at the desk. Reading and read alouds are done either in the living room or family room. Or, I've even done reading aloud at lunch at the kitchen table or outside while the kids are swinging.

That's what we love about home schooling - home can be anywhere.
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Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:14 am

Unread post by Mommyto2 »

Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 7:00 pm

We school almost exclusively at the kitchen table except for reading and book basket. Anywhere else in the house and there is too much "outside interference" to distract him. He knows the rule is when he is at the table it is seat work time and the more he concentrates the sooner he will learn it and get done and be able to play.

Next year I would like to try to have him do more work independently with a science project board surrounding him to block out all the "visual noise". We'll see.

mom to ds 9 and dd6
Posts: 12
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School Room?

Unread post by Andrea »

Alison wrote:I was wondering what some of you do as far as setting up a school room. Do you just work at your kitchen table and read in the living room on the couch? Or do you have an actual room dedicated to school?
Do you have desks for your children? Just wondering what works best for your family to get some ideas.
I used to spend so much time trying to plan a school space/room. I could never get it to work out for us!

Now we just do writing work at the kitchen table, read on the upstairs couch, have book basket in our downstairs family room, independent reading in bedrooms, and our main read-aloud book on my bed at night. The variety keeps us happy! I keep our supplies in a cabinet in our family room and each dc has a tote bag (from Lands End -- they stand up) to keep their notebooks, math books, journals, etc. We keep the bags in the family room and they can easily be moved when we have company. It's been working great this school year so far.
wife to Dave (1994)
Jacob (10)
Grace (7)
Kayla (5)
using K and RTR this year
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Unread post by lisa062797 »

I've been itching to take more picture of my new house, so I took some pictures of our school area and blogged them. :-) ... -room.html
Lisa in MN
Wife to Nick
Mom to
Vincent (11) Completed MFWK, MFW1, ADV, ECC, CtoG, RtR, and currently in EX1850
Andrew (6) Completed MFWK, and currently in 1st
Isaac (4) Currently enjoying MFW preschool toys
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Unread post by kellybell »

We have a "school room" but in reality it's basically a little room with the map, the books, and an old computer. The kids "do school" all over the place (couch, swing set, top bunk, etc.). We read all over the place too. Usually on the floor in the family room, but when we need a break, it's on the basement futon, someone's bedroom floor, my bed, etc.

That's why it's called homeschooling.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).
LA in Baltimore
Posts: 120
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Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes!
We have used the dining room table for school.
Works fine until it's time for lunch and there are books all over the table. (We've never had the luxury of an eat in kitchen.)
We have had a schoolroom.
(One of our houses had a fourth bedroom so we turned it into a schoolroom.)
That did work out well. The oldest one worked in another room because all our singing with the program we used then was driving him crazy! but even he joined me for his Teaching Time in the Schoolroom.
We currently have a round school table in the family room.
It has a nice big window for sunshine and a large enough table for four of us to work together on. Once we finish with our together time. They each go to a different area for their seatwork (math, etc.) We do use desks because it is fun for them to have their own spot. We'll need to get 1 more and I have noooo idea where we'll put it! One is still working at the dining room table. Space is definitely an issue with desks if you have several children, but for us, it is worth their enjoyment with having their own personal space.
We do our read alouds on the living room couch.
We do science in the kitchen.
We meet back at the school table for History. We usually do that right before lunchtime. That keeps the dining room table ready for food!
We also work outside. Nature Study and Nature walks work best that way! :)

One thing that has NOT worked out well for us is letting them work in their bedrooms (unless it is practicing an instrument). They often get distracted and off task and it is hard for me to notice. Only the instruments are loud enough to know they are doing what they are suppose to be doing!

As you can see, anything goes.
Your family's personality will determine what will work best for you.
Hope that helped!
Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
Currently enjoying Rome to the Reformation
Graduated oldest May 2010, Three more to go!
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Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:12 am

Unread post by Jenileigh »

Right now our living room is a combined schoolroom. It looks similar to Lisa's pics but instead of a table and chairs we have a couch. My girls each have their own school desks. They use them to keep their current work in. Most of the time we do our bible and reading on the couch. The girls move to their desks for their independent work. They do sometimes use the kitchen table if they want to be near me while I'm doing lunch or starting dinner.

I have shelves lining one wall for my library. I have a small 3 tier shelf, just a cheap little thing that holds everything we need to do our school day. Every book needed for My Father's World, spelling. math ect... Our computer is in here and right now my sewing machines and ironing board is too! It's a chaotic organization so to speak! But I like having all school things in the school room. I don't like things scattered.

This is the first year I've organized things this way and its worked out beautifully. My school shelf is within my reach so I can interchange books without having to get up. Convenience at its best!
Daughter of the King
You can find us at
Homeschooling 2 dd's
Youngest-MFW K, 1st, Exp-1850 w/supplement, moving into 1850's-Modern w/supplement
Middle Exp-1850, moving into 1850's-Modern
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Location: South, USA

Unread post by hsmomof5 »

We use our dining room and I just converted our guest/coat closet into a storage area for our supplies for more room. We have bookshelves on the walls and some posters. We have an open floor plan so I have to work with it. :)
ds 19 (college freshman), ds 12, ds 12, and ds 10 (ECC '08) (CTG '09), dd 3 (Preschool)
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am

Unread post by TriciaMR »

Our "official" school room is the formal dining room, as we have an eat-in kitchen. Each of my kids has a desk, and I have all our stuff spread out on the formal table. One desk I picked up for $3 at a used curriculum sale. The other two are my husband's and his brother's that they had when they were little that my father-in-law restored for my boys. (My husband wasn't home schooled, but his dad liked restoring old things. They wanted them to have a place to do homework. These desks are from a one-room school house somewhere in Iowa, I think, so they're kind of special.)

We do Bible and any reading for Geography and Science on the couch. Read alouds are done at lunch. Geography game is played on the floor.

When my dd was little, we did phonics drills on the swings in the back yard. I've spread letters out on the floor through-out the house to jump to as we practice sounds. I've done drills with dd on the mini-tramp in the basement.

On the door to the basement, I hang math facts that we are currently working on and Awana verses - this door is visible in the dining room. On the coat closet door, I have all my boys "preschool" stuff - a dry-erase calendar, days of the week, months of the year, their names, phone number, Awana verse, etc. So, that is where we do preschool stuff, and on the couch, and on the floor of the living room. If the boys want to do a "worksheet" - either color the John 3:16 page from ECC, or one of those "complete book of kindergarten" pages, they do those at their desk.

My dd has even done a math page or two in the car... :)

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
My blog
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Unread post by courthart246 »

We have our main school time in the dining room. I placed one of those cool shelves in there that has nine squares. It looks nice and also keeps all of our things organized. This was something we already had and were using it for decoration - works great for storage, especially with separate compartments. We also have another unit with canvas storage boxes. We do our seatwork in there and most of our reading on the couch in the living room. Independent reading is done on their beds or wherever they are comfortable. I've always wanted a room just dedicated to school, but since our home doesn't have that space, this arrangement has worked for us. We just push the books aside for lunch.

We thought it might be awkward to have all of our school stuff in the dining room when we have people over for dinner, but actually our timelines and projects have made for good dinner conversations....especially the ant farm!!!
Married 20 Years to Jamie
Loving MFW along with my three kids:
ds - 16 (World History and Literature)
ds - 13 (Exploration to 1850)
dd - 10 (Exploration to 1850)
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Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:16 pm

Unread post by wisdomschool »

We have a one level ranch style home(1200 sq. ft. at best:) We do most of our school on the couch or the kitchen table. Sometimes the floor, outside, etc....

We do have a very small "bedroom" that we use as our "school room", but though we do it call it the "school room" it isn't because we do much school in there , but that that is where we keep all the supplies.......

I think we all learn to do with what we have :) I would love to have more space (a dining room, closets, shelves etc....) but I do with what we have, and I think that is what I hear from others too(though what each family "has" to do with is different--it can all work!)

Blessings as you find what works for you,
Momma & Teacher to my super seven:

Elijah-3 y.o.
Micah-2 y.o.
Eden-3 mo.
Posts: 159
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Unread post by tiffany »

We have a four seasons sunroom right off the laundry and kitchen area that we use for homeschooling. It was actually one reason we bought the house. When I saw the built-in cabinet unit complete with drawers and storage slots, I was sold! All the windows make me happy. I need lots of natural light. We worked in the basement at our old house, and that did not work for me.

This year my older children, grade 8, 6th and 4th, are working in the adjacent dining room. I really needed to separate them from my Kindergartner and my 2nd grader. We needed more focus for learning to read. This is working out well too. I store some of their supplies in my china cabinet and the overflow goes into a cheap bookcase I bought at Target. Their science supplies sit in plastic tubs for them to have access.

The older 3 have desks/tables in their rooms, but they probably only go there for about 20% of their work. I find they like to stay nearby.

I think your need for a schoolroom kind of depends on your organizational style and the number of different students/curriculum you have going on. For example, if you are going to work at the kitchen table, do you mind clearing off the books for every meal? That worked for us okay when we had fewer children and fewer subjects, but it would drive me crazy now. Other moms might not mind.

Your post brought back memories of our old house. We had a small ranch too, slightly under 1000 sq. ft on the upper level with a family room downstairs. One bathroom too! We were there until baby number 5 came along. It is a challenge when everyone is home all day and space is tight. Somehow we made it work, but we were busting at the seams!
Wife to Tim ('88)
Mother to Sophie 16, Jonathan 14, Joey 12, Noah 10, Matthew 8, Eli 4
Have completed MFWK, MFW 1st grade, ECC, CTG, RTR, Exp.-1850,1850-Mod., HS Ancients, HS World
Fall of '11 ECC,HS Ancients, HS U.S. History to 1877
RJ's Momma
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Unread post by RJ's Momma »

Our house is around 700 sq ft and it doesn't have a dining room or room for a dining table at all. So we do all our school work in the living room. I have a child's size fold up table (which dd is starting to outgrow) in the corner of the room with a large plastic tub that holds all our MFW books in it that fits under the table. Mostly she does her school work on the couch or on the floor, but I do have her do her writing (handwriting and writing strands) at the table.

We have a building that at one time was a garage (they enclosed it and we use it as storage now) that I had planned to use as a school room, but it was hard not to be able to do a load of laundry or dished when I wanted, and we would have to come in for lunch, so we aren't using it:)

Wife to dh 12 years, Momma to 'RJ' 10 years old
CtG - July 2009 (5th grade) ECC-4th grade Adventures-3rd grade
Used ABeka for 1st and 2nd grade MFW-K
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Unread post by LoveBaby »

My husband and I were blessed to be able to buy a home w/ a full walkout basement 1 1/2 yrs. ago. The front half of the basement has 3 large windows and runs the whole length of the house. On one half of this long room is our family room w/ couch and T.V., the other half is our school area w/ bookshelves, a long table, my computer desk and then all of the children's toys. We have the maps hanging on one wall and I painted a magnetic chalkboard on another. I *love* being able to eat lunch w/out having to clear the table of school books. I also love it that the little ones can be playing (quietly?!?) by us while I teach the older ones.

In our previous home, I had a 3-drawer rolling cart that held all of our school supplies and bookshelves in the kids room for books. Every day we'd carry everything out to the dining room table and them put it all away for meals. We lived w/ my MIL in a very small 3br. home. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't walk downstairs to my school/play area and give thanks for the blessing of our new home!!
Jesse, homeschoolin' helpmeet just trying to do the Lords will! Starting MFW 1st and CtG 9/12!
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:15 pm

Unread post by momsquared »

Originally DD and I were working at the dining room table, but it was uncomfortable for her since she is so young, so she asked that we do her work on the kids Ikea table in the family room. She likes it because the table and chairs are her size, it is next to the fireplace and her baby brother can be close by playing with toys or books.

We keep all of our current books in a Rubbermaid bin just to have them in one place (we really don't have a ton, and it mostly stores math mainpulatives). She has a rolling drawer cart of art supplies she can use any time and an easel set up in the dining room with a chalkboard side as well. She also keeps her Leapfrog Tag reading system out all the time so she can use it when she wants. It is working well for us...and I am short so I can sit pretty comfortably at the little Ikea table.

Reading time usually happens in her bed, my bed or on one of the couches. Must more comfortable.
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