School Rooms

Welcome to our home! We have lived in this big, beautiful, drafty, old house for ten years now (as of 2011) and finally we have a happy place for our school days.  When we first moved in, we tried using the upstairs hallway... that was too cold and I was forever running downstairs to the kitchen or laundry room or we were relocating to a comfy couch for reading.  Next, we moved everything downstairs to the biggest room.  It used to be a porch, so it has 15 windows!  So much natural lighting, plenty of space to arrange and rearrange through the years.. we even had room for a comfy couch.  BUT... this room is located at the side of the house closest to the driveway.  This room is the FIRST place visitors enter.  This room is where MOST of the traffic in our home takes place.  This room is where the ENTIRE family would try to congregate when we held family functions in our home.. I mean, big men sitting in our old fashioned school desks.. silly.  Most of the time, I felt as if we were in a whirlwind.. not a quiet, cheerful place conducive to learning!  So, sometime a year or so ago.. I had an inspiration.  Let's switch our living area from the 'front' of the house and our school area from the 'back' of the house. Sheer genius, I believe it was my shining moment.  Now, we have a big comfy family/game room and two little spaces for our school... Welcome to our learning spaces!
 (Be prepared for MANY.. VERY MANY pictures!!!)
I will try to guide you around, sort of in a circle.  First, these lovely french doors make an easy place to display various art work.. the 'littles' (my grandchildren, Kaylee and Karter) like their art closer to eye level.. for them!
 Now, our school desk.  For years we used individual desks.. you know, the wooden kind with a sort of 'L' shaped desk attached?  Now we use the table and have a place for the boys to set up their Playmobil, or 'battle scenes' on the weekends.  I laminated their individual schedules and placed them directly on the table.. it works great.. leaving my walls for 'pretty' things!
 This is our new art supply station... it has already 'morphed' a few times since I was originally inspired to create one. We have added more 'color' sooner than I thought we would, with pastels and chalks.. the children are asking for it!  Having the supplies at our fingertips has really been wonderful.. and I like that it is pretty and inviting.  *note* the basket of Papo toys is an inspiration as well!  I pulled them out when we began Middle Ages in history.. the boys just like to set one up as a companion while they work, or something to sketch or describe with written narration.. they even make a good paper weight!
 Another view.. the baby wardrobe to the left holds the boys 'thoughtful' toys, as I like to call them.  Playmobil, Lincoln Logs, historical plastic people (army, pirate, castle, Civil War, etc.), Lego Contraptions and so forth.  Stuff they 'set up' and play with on the school table.  (The boys have a huge old desk upstiars in Daniel's room dedicated to Legos only!) To the right is a part of our dining room set, borrowed for a higher purpose!  It holds big cloth bins with the children's daily notebooks and workbooks. 
There are baskets and boxes of books all over our home, not just the school rooms!  (I will mention those along as the grand tour continues)
 Pretties for our room!  Vintage pictures and plaques, a lamp and a radio (that works!) and our art display for study.  Some of these items are from my childhood. 
 A chalkboard for anything I want 'post'.. now it has Kaylee's memory verse from Before Five in a Row.. it is a good one for all of us!
 Another view, from the corner just described.  You can get a peek into the other school room and the hallway.  (we just love Jim Arnosky books, like the one on our table, by the way)
 This is a lovely hoosier my husband surprised me with when we moved into this big, and then mostly empty, old house.  (We have only purchased a living room 'set' new.. after 17 years!  Everything else has been thrifted, gifted or flea marketed!) I have used this hoosier for a science/art center from the beginning.  It has gone through many changes through the years, as the children have gotten older.  From the top...Our nature guides and identification books are in the baskets, the top cabinet holds magazine holders with art supplies for all four of us (when we want more!) art books (how to draw such and such) and markers and scissors.  The bottom has our microscope, rock tumbler, glue gun, new sketch books and stretched canvases, hot pads (so cool for melting crayons!) and the wood burner (the little one that you can 'write' in wood with).  The pretty stacked boxes hold calligraphy, woodcrafts and 'make it yourself kits', more science supplies (like beakers, thermometers, stuff for experiments) and a box just for Amelia (little paper craft projects to complete during family read aloud.  The old cabinet holds art paper and three ring binders with children's art work from the time they could hold a crayon!
 This table top was one spot that got a 'cleaning up' before taking photos for this post!  The reason being... Kaylee.  She always arrives with handfuls of 'nature' for our collection.  I am looking for a way to better 'preserve' her leaves.. I discarded a huge pile of dried up, crumbling leaves before taking this picture!  We hope to soon have more castings of animal foot prints...
 This is the inside.. our on going collection.. even the molt of our poor departed tarantula, Rosie!  These more for memories and for the older children to collect...
Here are some of the many baskets and boxes.. Our miscellaneous math books and supplies.  The children do not explore this as much as they used to.. but the wrap-ups and flash cards are used frequently.  Every now and again, I encourage them to grab a book or game and have some math fun.. but they are mostly for Alex's age and lower.
 This is a basket with ideas for fun, constructive things to do, mostly on a 'boyish' scale!  Again, I have to remind the boys to explore this basket.. but I always make sure they have hours of free time ahead when I do!  Below are the boy's electricity kits, and another fun basket.. critical thinking.. with Mind Benders, Sudoku, crosswords, and challenging games, and the cloth checker game my mother made me one childhood Christmas.  We get into these when we are 'house bound' by too hot or too cold weather.. or just in the mood to stretch our brains!

 And here is another view.. from our front door looking to the hall...
   The old chair is more comfy than it appears.. it is nice for when I read aloud and the children are at their art work or to help Kaylee and Karter at the 'littles' desk (that has gone through four children.. so far!) 
Another box of books.. our Book of Centuries and timeline help books.. as well as this vintage Fisher Price map of the United States that is the children's first map of reference when a look at the States is needed.  They love this chunky plastic map!
Our front door.. that leads to our spacious front porch.  Many days we drag book and pencils out there.. when it is cool, we will bring a big quilt to roll up in.  A good spot for watching the antics of the birds, cats and squirrels.
 This is our goose basket with our ready to grab and go nature walk bags.  These vinyl bags were a good thrift find..  they protect our books on the dewy grass if needed.  I have one of my own, and the three big children share... less to carry.  The little denim bag is the newest addition.. just for Kaylee.
 And now a look into the other part of our school room!
 This is my chair.. the 'teacher chair'.  The map behind is for our Holling C. Hollings geography studies, and reminder  notes.  One note details the 'bones' of narration. 
 I have my woman, mother, wife, teacher, 'inspiration' books handy.   As well as devotion books and any thing I might like to 'grab' to read aloud or with to anyone.  And my Scripture Memory box (that needs work!) and our Apologetic and Worldview books to read aloud.  Also my books for teaching by 'subject' that I don't need to neccesarily 'plan' from.. like Simply Grammar, Victory Drill and The Handbook of Nature Study.  The cabinet holds our records (yes records!) and art book (books with actual art in them!)
Here are our writing prompts.. Charlotte Mason suggestion cards and illustrated Story Starters cards, and the newest addition.. laminated copies of art work cut from old Language Lessons workbook.  The 'Writing a Story" poster was found along with several others in this old attic when we moved in!  (One of the former owners was the thrid grade teacher at the local school.)
More books in baskets!  My handy dandy books for our morning readings, and our read alouds... this basket is dragged to my desk when planning and unloaded and reloaded each week.  My hand sewing work box.. with the 'Holly Hobbie-ish' modge podge.  And a HUGE basket of books specifically for reading to Kaylee when she comes to Mimi's house for school time.
This is Amelia's chair... with a side table for when she is busy with handiworks while I read... or her bag of Doritos.
Beside Amelia's comfy chair is our Leisure Library... that means books the children can grab for a leisurely, and quick, read.  This is where we shelve our picture books and treasuries.. and books that you can enjoy by portions and doses.  That is just the right side shelves!  On the left we keep our poetry books, science books (nature and other topical books), our reference books, language books and our Shakespeare.  On top are supplies like notebook paper and page protectors and lapbooking folders and color paper.
To the left of Amelia's comfy chair, is a box of board books for the 'littles' that stay here in the school room (not dragged all over Mimi's house!) They are the ones I mostly enjoy reading to them.  It is a deep basket!   And Peter Rabbit gaurds the book basket garden.  Amelia tucks her work basket behind her chair, to keep it away from nosey little fingers. 
Here is where the boys lounge for our morning time and for reading.  The room is so cozy, if situated right, we can all four share the big ottoman! *note* soon we will paint the room a color that mimicks the golden couch and chairs to bring uniformity to the busy-ness.. and Mark is planning to build custom bookcases... Yay!.. and I have vintage green and gold fabric to make new curtians.  So excited!
Beside the boy's couch we have something different than boxes and baskets for books!  (I have made it my goal to search out the flea markets and thrift stores for alternative storage for our books.. it's a challenge)  Here is our pie rack full of miscellaneous titles for our Middle Ages history studies.  For Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter, it is filled with holiday reads. 
Also beside their couch are the 'littles' ABC and NUMBERS books... Reading the same ABC book over and over puts me to sleep! I like variety!
And a little basket just for Karter.. if he naps while here at Mimi's, it is on the comfy school couch with a special pillow and blanket handed down from his Uncle Alex.  He comes in to the room and pulls the basket out and says "That's mine, Mimi?!"
This is the view from yet another corner.  We love our fireplaces in this old house, although we can not build a real fire in any of them.. another story for another blog.  (We do have the tile pieces that are missing.. somewhere in the molding! The children pushed them in when we first moved to this big old house.. such a memory)  We keep a basket of seashells and a box of rocks on the hearth for busy, nosey hands to play with...
The display on the mantle is a more of our nature collections.. and the Diary of an Edwardian Lady.. such a lovely inspirational Nature Journal.. one day we will be brave enough to incorporate watercolor into our nature journaling...  Westminster Abbey is up for our history studies, and plus, it's pretty!
This is what other homeschool moms have dubbed (in their school room blog posts) as the command center.  And I guess it works for here as well, because I have to COMMAND myself to sit down and get to work!  But the lovely view and the pretty happy thoughts to keep me company, always make time at my teacher desk a joy.... as long as I am not in a rush.  I usually play some favorite music.. either Sovereign Grace music, or Glenn Miller, or hymns or classical.. and make a cup of hot tea.. make sure everything is tidy (I can't think in mess) and take my precious time!  Then it all works out well.  For some reason, everyone who visits gets a kick out of my gavel.  It is really just a paperweight and for conversation.. plus, the children love to pound it until the hammer comes off.
Here are some of my pretty things and happy thoughts.... Jimmy Sterawart, my husband and my Daniel boy, a doggie Amelia painted for me years ago, old school books, railroad crossing, a comfy coffee mug....and an apple for the teacher!
And my favorite inspiration currently on my desk... Hi Mommy! On the old lamp my Daddy gave me.. this lamp sat on a family church organ for at least 50 years.. will it have that long of journey on my desk?
Another happy thought... pigs have a precious sentimental value to me and these cute piggies are reading a book together!
To the left of my desk, in easy reach, are books I grab while planning.. and books we may use soon.
Also a big basket with the Five in a Row books we have collected so far... soon they will out grow this place.. hopefully our new bookcases will be ready! 
To the right of the desk is a basket for current Five in a Row book and supplies for our lapbooks, as well as books we plan to create lapbooks for.. not in the FIAR cirriculum.
And the ever present in our school room ugly box full of pretty books that are recent acquirements and have not been shelved as of yet.  As soon as I get the new books shelved, I just happen to make a nother thrift run and have yet another box waiting to be taken care of... but I wouldn't have it any other way!  Especially since we are building a living, loaning library.
Another corner of our school room!  (this will look so different with paint on those old plaster walls!) On top are more happy thoughts.. an antique lamp (a gift from my husband).. our oldest son's art work from his middle school years.. and pictures of precious babies!
The shelf on the right has our fairy tales, music books, vintage readers and literature books, quote books, My Book House and other sets of books.. the bottom cabinet holds seasonal and holiday books.
The short dumpy shelf on the left has our history 'spine' books, book selections for our current and upcoming history studies, geography books and our David Macauley collection (with a couple archetecture books)
The top holds the children's book baskets.. with their Bibles, history reading check-off lists, journals, devotions and current assigned reading books as well as their Scripture Memory boxes.
I do believe this is the last corner!  This is the 'ugly' corner, but neccesary!  When I first began homeschooling years and years ago, I read Debra Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.  It was so useful in many ways.  One offer of advice she gave, and I readily incorporated was to purchase a quality filing cabinet.  Though it may be ugly and not fit in with the happy, old, vintagey feel of our home.. I have never regreted it and often patted myself on the back because of it! When I set up the school room here, I knew exactly where the filing cabinet was going.  Here.. where the french door can open and partially camouflage the 'industrial-ness' of  the monster!
On top of the metal monster is our tape/cd player/radio.  And the Nano dock.  This player is borrowed from the sewing room.. I actually wore out our old one! I didn't think that could happen.  It only plays cassettes now, so Alex uses it to listen in his own room.  I would like to find one that LOOKS like the old-timey radios.  I used to store the ugly tube things tucked in a corner, but I decided why not add ugly to ugly?  The pretty memory books and happy memory photo are what I look at.
Now, I like this old filing system.. after all, it's close to vintage!  It holds our cassette tapes.. yes, cassettes! and index cards.. I keep a log of books out on loan to friends, I can't remember if I do not. Sometimes I can't remember to write down what they borrow! Sometimes my friends remind me.
Beside the filing cabinet is our audio shelf.  On the top are our classics and bird songs...
Below are our books on cd and audio dramas...and our 'just music' cd's as well.  Another space that will be outgrown one day!  I already had to re-locate my 'teacher' cd's.. audio of homeschool conference sessions.
And we turn round the corner and are back in the foyer, or rest of the school room!
Because we have Kaylee and Karter here very often, and we may be able to homeschool with them one day.. I wanted them to have a learning/playing space of their own.  I was running out of room in this big old house.  With all three children having their own room with space for guests and storing living history supplies and with soon having two sewing areas... the dining room was the only option.  So, we have half dining room half preschool room!
This is the other side of the 'half' of 'half of the room'.  We have plans for large corner custom shelving here as well. (For books!) For now, this will do.  When I was taking the picture Daniel asked "Are you going to take the picture with the toys out?!"  I mean, ... yes, I am a very tidy person and our house is usually 'picked up' even if we have rapidly multiplying dust bunnies in every corner.. and even a few spider webs! but the children are coming over again tonight, so the toys will be right where they left them.  Here, tucked in the dining room corner, they are not in danger of being squashed be big feet.. because of the floor plan, the dining room is not a 'high traffic' area.  *disclaimer* Before I took pictures, we did a little paper shuffle.. put up their school bins, and tucked the trashcan under my desk.
It just occured to me today to hand some art of sorts near eye level for the 'littles' to enjoy. I plundered in the attic and found these adorable vintage pictures I had picked up and this train plaque. Karter just loves trains. There is room for their 'art gallery' to grow.
The 'littles' have another book basket in the family room.. these are the books for dragging from room to room and sharing with anyone they can find! 
On the dining room side of the dining room, we put Amelia's tried and true easel (it was a 4 year old Christmas gift) for Kaylee and Karter to enjoy.  We have plans to sand and paint it and spray with new chalkboard paint, including the opposite side which has a worn out wipe off board.
Here is the first set of bookcases my husband has built for us.. there is still some finishing touches to be made, like crown molding.  These are our classics, biographies, some favorite author collections, mysteries, histories and 'coffee table' books.
We learn everywhere in our home, as most homeschoolers do. We have other specific places for 'schoolish' things other that our school room... like our little computer nook.  We use Teaching Textbooks and Rosetta Stone and Mavis Beacon Typing.  Amelia types her dictations for Spelling Wisdom because they have gotten to lengthy... They also have a few games.. Zommbinis is a favorite.
More baskets of books!  These are books set aside especially for Sunday leisure reading.  Just a small way of making Sunday more special...
Here are our games.. well most of them!  We love games.  We tend to play our favorites over and over and over again.. but I think we have played every one at least once! They are great to have on hand when we have company.. games are more fun with more people sometimes.  Some of our favorites are Bannanagrams, Rumikub, Miles Bournes, Farkle, Password, Stratego, Risk, Axis and Allies, Parcheesi, a few card games we play with our extended family... well, a whole lot more!
One thing I failed to mention in our school room.. it's a newer addition.. our big beautiful wall world map.  It's a stunning sight, the only empty wall we had big enough was going up the stairway.  But we have really enjoyed using it.. so we will get used to the hugeness of it!  Alex is having fun putting his Five in a Row story disks there.
So, while taking these thirty some odd photos, I was bumping into elbows and heads asking the children to move over here just a bit to make sure the heads and elbows were not included in the photo! So to prove there are children in this big old house, hear are a few of those heads!