Organizing homeschool stuff in our home is… interesting.
Six of us live in a 3 bedroom home. While our home is spacious compared to some, it is small compared to most. But, who is comparing? I believe in loving what you have because it is all a gift from God. So, as I seek to be content, I got a little creative with how we stash away our homeschool supplies.
Basic Supplies and Printables
Since the number of children I am schooling is increasing and the amount of supplies seems to be doubling, I did something that I didn’t ever think I would… I evicted my china from the hutch.
Previously, I had the china stashed in the top behind the glass and our homeschool files in the bottom behind the door, but all good things must come to an end and I had to put it away in a kitchen cabinet.
On top of the hutch, I have a plastic bin for math manipulatives, language arts and writing manipulatives, and play dough. Inside the cabinet, I use pencil boxes, empty wipes containers, and plastic shoe boxes to organize our basics: crayons, markers, chalk, counting cubes, pencils, alphabet stamps, and such.
Moving down the hutch, I keep my teacher’s manuals and reference materials in the middle. I have a two-shelf desk organizer for the children to get scratch paper (bottom) and turn in their work (top).
Some of our supplies just do not seem to have a home anywhere or I want them clearly set apart from everything else so the children remember that they are HANDS-OFF. Those items go in the drawer of the hutch.
If you are wondering where I found those nifty drawer organizers, they are the wooden trays from Melissa and Doug toys. Reduce, reuse, recycle… right? Besides, they are perfect.
The bottom of the hutch only changed slightly.
The purple crate is full of files for seasonal and subject-specific printables. The smaller file box is reserved for preschool ABC printables. Behind that box I have stashed all the workbooks that we rarely use but I like to keep handy if someone needs a little extra something to do.
Workboxes and Table Space
Our workbox system has really changed since we first started homeschooling. I truly love our workcards and how the children can keep their books right inside the drawer. The system takes minutes to reset each day and the caddy can move where ever I want it to go.
The children typically have school right around the kitchen table together. I had avoided that previously because I was afraid they would distract one another. However, I think they spent more time being distracted (and I had to run around a lot more) when they were set up in different places through the dining area and living room because they were getting up to go look at what a sibling was doing instead of staying on task. Now, they can see at a glance who is doing what and the curiosity is satisfied.
Some days, we do mix it up a little. This year, I bought lap trays for each child and we put them in a broad circle on the floor with me seated in the mush pot.
Educational Games and Toys
This space has not changed… much. Some of the larger items where moved from the closet to the laundry room where we have shelves around the room about eight inches from the ceiling with another row of shelving about eight inches under that.
One thing that is different (and not pictured) is that I used the bare space on the wall by adding hooks and hanging some games in lingerie bags or from hangers.
My craft cabinet is a dream come true. Having it right beside our dining table is also extremely convenient too. The plastic storage boxes pictures on top of the cabinet have been more to the laundry room and were replaced my our globe. It’s prettier that way.
The organizers are from Dollar Tree and were formally used as our workboxes.
Other Nooks and Crannies
- Our listening center remains in the living room but we did add a recliner beside the shelf. The children love to snuggle together in the chair and read.
- The children use the computer on a computer hutch which rests adjacent to our dining table.
- And, of course, our “physical education department” is right outside the backdoor.
melissa newell says
LOOKS FAB and organized! I LOVE that craft cabinet also! Great going!
Thank you, Melissa. 🙂
WoW Penny, that looks awesome! You did good making room for all that:)
Thanks, Sheila. Now my goal is not to add anything else to the stash for a while. LOL
I have always wondered how you all seems to be able to keep all the educational toys and games away from the kids. Do they only play with them at certain times, or do they have access to them any time they want? if yes, how to make sure they put is back to where it belongs (without pieces of the games left somewhere under the table or couch)? My kids are still quite young, but I think I’m going to need the skills sooner or later.
We restrict the items in the “homeschool closet” to different times and when school is over, they clean up. They can each only have one thing at a time out of the closet and must put back whatever they had in order to get something new.
About once a quarter, I have to walk through their rooms and make sure nothing has drifted down the hallway. I also have a small basket on our computer hutch to collect pieces that I find out of place. That way, I am not constantly sorting through items and trying to get them back into the right box. I can do it once a month or so.
I hope this helps! 🙂
Tracy @ usingtimewisely.com says
Awesome organization! I love maximizing tight spaces with vertical organization. Thanks for the peek into your life. Looks like you are ready for that first day of school.
Missy Bennett says
I did the same thing with my hutch! Great minds must think alike! 😉
Becky Milstead says
I love all of the organization! I used to have that same hutch when we were first married. It didn’t make it long b/c we moved around too many times. Now, I’m wishing I still had it! lol
The Better Baker says
WOW Mommy! Ton of organizing and terrific ideas going on in this lovely post. I’m impressed! Trust you have a great year ahead…and things stay as organized as they look. =)
We are about to add our 4th child and we’ll have all 6 of us living in a 3 bedroom too. Your organization is inspiring. I have a hall closet with shelving that is definitely not living up to it’s potential. Love the idea with the leftover M&D wooden boxes. Thanks for all of the great ideas!!!!
mommy of 5 says
Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have 7 in a 2 bedroom apt. We go up, up, up as well. God has provided us with 2 huge entertainment centers & a small one. I have filled these with plastic drawers for manipulatives, flash cards, paper, pens, etc. 3, 2 drawer metal files used like work boxes & shelves for books. (And the top of the small center is critter central, geckos right now & a container w/ garden snails)
Rebecca Henry says
I could KICK myself for not keeping all those Melissa and Doug trays! Great ideas!
Thanks for the post, exactly what I was looking for! I have four littles too and it actually seems like our crews are pretty close to the same ages. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to make it all work and fit in our small 3/2. I bought a hutch a few months back for the sole purpose of having a place to keep our school stuff. Thanks for the ideas and keep up the good work! 🙂
Thank you, Karla, for the encouraging note. I love having my hutch as our school center. Everything is so convenient now, although I do miss seeing my china. 😉
Tessa W says
I am so glad I came across this post. I really needed to see it. We are downgrading our home due to the purchase of a new farm. And while it’s not super small, it has virtually no storage and I’ve been trying to figure out where to put everything (personal, kids toys, and my sewing business materials). I love the ideas you show here.
Now if you’re ever visiting Alberta I’ll put you up in my guest room (aka the camper in the shop) and you can help me get it all organized 😀
We buy AA batteries at Costco and they come in these great harder plastic trays. Perfect for desk drawers. Another thing that I have seen used is cardboard magazine holders (like these: http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=3%2C41%2C60,61&webid=329516&affixedcode=WW )for storing work books.
Wardah Zahid says
Mmmm where do you store the books?? I’m home schooling my little sis and for me the books and wher to put them question are a great challenge.
Plus what books do you use? I’d really like to know of them
Hi Wardah. By “books,” are you referring to our curriculum? I keep the books for the children in their workboxes. I recommend THIS POST so you can see how I do that. You can view our curriculum here: https://www.meetpenny.com/homeschool/our-curriculum/
Loving the M&D idea! Those boxes frustrate me otherwise, so now I have something useful for them! We live in a very small three bedroom–currently 5 of us. We just started K5 with our oldest in June, and our middle likes to do school. I’ve been so overwhelmed with trying to organize. Our house was built with absolutely no storage space. Thanks for the tips! I look forward to seeing how I can try to be as creative with the space we have and getting our things organized! Right now our school materials are stashed in about 5 different places throughout the house, and often times it seems the things I need are in the closet of the sleeping-baby’s room.
We used to have a lot of storage in one of the closets too! Oh my. You brought back memories. LOL I am so glad you found some inspiration here. 😀
Thanks for the ideas! I live in a small home too and I am always trying to improve how I organize my homeschool stuff, which somehow keeps multiplying.
LOL. It does seem to grow each year. In my dreams, I have a room to use only for homeschool storage. Yeah, in my DREAMS. 😉
Hi, I’m going to be homeschooling my two children starting next year. We live in a small townhome with no way to build or make a dedicated schoolroom so while I was searching for ideas, I came across your blog thanks to Pinterest and it had everything I was looking for! Thanks for posting about your homeschool organization!
My pleasure, Elisabeth. I am so glad I could help. 🙂
WOW!!! I have one shelf dedicated to my teacher manuals and a modified desk armoire and that is my school space. We pull out and do school at the table, then put it all away. I am so grateful for what we have, but am continually asking God for something bigger.
Hi! I came across your blog thru Pinterest and I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been for me! I’m about to embark on our 10th year of homeschooling, yet feel as though I have so much to learn! This blog is a wealth of information and I had to sign up to receive your posts via email! God bless and thank you for blessing others thru your blog!
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Heidi (Dearly Loved Mist) says
Here’s how we do it at our house: http://www.dearlylovedmist.com/2012/08/organizing-our-homeschool.html
Wonderful. 🙂 We have a small space, too, so I love to see how other small-spacers get creative with what they have!
I love how you have been creative in organizing these supplies. We are six in our 1500 square foot home…this is well done! I am featuring you in my post tomorrow.
Rachel @ day2day joys says
LOVE your hutch and craft closet! I’ll be posting our room tmrw!
Marianne @ Abundant Life says
Nice! I’m hoping that one of these years, I can actually take photos of my cupboards to post on line! lol Would totally ruin any reputation that I have if I did that. 🙂
Hi, thanks so much for sharing! Decluttering and staying organized is my biggest headache in our homeschooling life. Your site is def inspiring 🙂
Quick question, where did you get the racks hanging behind the closet door? Thanks!
Winny, I think those came from Walmart. They are intended to be pantry organizers for canned goods. 🙂
Love the utilization of a small space.
Ashley Wright says
I absolutely love this homeschooling post! I homeschooled my daughter from K-9 then finished up 10th, 11th and 12th at a Online Homeschool. As a parent, my ultimate goal was to find the right homeschool curriculum that is a bit simpler if you have at least some idea of the ones you want to achieve. Another great share!