The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Organizing School and Craft Stuff in Se7en Layers…

August 14th, 2008 · 4 Comments

Meet the Dresser:

I think dresser’s are essential to life – I would buy one for every room in the house, that would be se7en !!! I am not kidding. I would buy one for every member of the family. In fact, why aren’t we born supplied with an old dresser. I really love old dressers! This is an evolving piece of furniture and in its life time, just in our house it has served as an entrance way “docking station”, it served as a keep-all for all the different meetings (our La Leche League group’s library was stored behind the closed doors for years) we have had in our home…

But that was then and this is now… and it serves as the school/craft centre. When people visit they often say “Gosh, you are so organized” !!! hahahaha… Actually it is so tightly packed with stuff that it just looks organized! Also, a huge hint in looking organized: get a label machine, it makes everything look neat and tidy… even if it isn’t!

I never have a problem with school books wandering about the house!!! But there was a time when craft materials were less localized. So I have a rule, art materials may not leave the kitchen. That way I can keep a vague eye on things (no private drawings on walls or couches – thank you very much). And while all materials are available to everyone at all times (I think availability breeds familiarity and so creativity) as soon as they are old enough to grasp an implement to draw with I always hand it to them with paper… “aahhh, I see you have a crayon or marker or whatever let me get you some paper!” – so far so good. And I have had very few artistic embellishments around the house.

Lets start at the bottom and work up…

LEVEL ZERO: It’s the Floor so it Counts as Zero…

The school books for the week are stored in the trugs (this is my all-time favorite word in the world, I just love the sound of it), next to the dresser. Each grade has its own slot and we are doing four grades at the moment – Pre-K; Grade 1; Grade 3 and Grade 5, hence four slots. In each slot there are their History, Science, Bible and Readers for the next week. We are ardent Sonlight fans and all our school equipment and books comes from them.

LEVEL ONE: The Bottom Shelf…

In the cupboard above the trugs are their fat files with everything they need for school for the year, their schedules and notes, whatever. And then their is a thinner file for each of them with their worksheets, language arts and science, and their schedule and goodies that they will need for the week.

Also on the bottom shelf are a few extra journals, and the extra files have Hood #1’s Latin… the white item on the right is (don’t faint) my sewing machine. I use it rarely enough but can’t keep it out all the time – in my opinion if an appliance isn’t out it never gets used… so I try and keep appliances out on flat surfaces.

LEVEL TWO: Top shelf of the cupboard…

On the next shelf up are three boxes… they look very impressively organized but here is the truth…

The one on the left has funny little science bits and pieces that I have collected from time to time – for a rainy day (ummm we never look in this box – but as a home school mom I feel compelled to at least gather goodies for the whole educational process); And they make great birthday gifts when I am surprised by a birthday invitation.

The other two boxes are math manipulatives – don’t die laughing!!! Someone once told me: “You can not teach math without manipulatives”. So I gathered some (why would anyone need one hundred lollipop sticks except for crafting – why why why – aaah the evolution of the homeschool mother, se7en years down the line I laugh at my naivety)… The middle box we never ever open it has the most boring math stuff you could ever – EVER – imagine!!!

The third box has a few fun little math type puzzles and things – my worst kinds of toys: stacking cups UG… And here is the thing… the only reason you need math manipulatives is to entertain toddlers while you are teaching their older siblings math from real books… That being said if you feel a need to use math manipulatives then get The Mathtacular DVD


from Sonlight and Justin can manipulate away and you needn’t have about a million tiny little colorful choking hazards floating round your house…

LEVEL THREE: The Drawers…

Moving onto the drawers: the left hand ones has place mats (truth be told, we never use them: meals are a mass forage, with absolutely no time to stop for things like place mats – yet another thing to wipe and clean. They are there because of their proximity to the table, not because we ever use them. Otherwise, we usually keep birthday candles here as well – always ready for a spontaneous party! Don’t know where they were for the photo – clearly I need to restock.

But the most important thing in this drawer, which I constantly restock, is the heaps of scrap paper for the passionate amount of drawing that occurs in our house. The right hand drawer contains done pictures that are too fresh to throw out. In case they are missed, so I leave them a week and then discard. Funnily enough, no one has ever asked why the drawer doesn’t explode and overflow – this cracks me up – where do they think the proliferation vanishes to – art heaven as opposed to recycling!

LEVEL FOUR: The Open Gap…

That would be free of all stuff if I were actually organized!
I have a little box that I bought at a craft fair, I think its a wooden cutlery holder – a mini-trug (oh joyful word I slid you in!).

And in it I keep arting materials that are always available in case anyone has the heady need to, dare I say, draw! The only rule is that it may not leave the room. There are Crayola markers

crayola markers.jpg

Crayola Twistables (I love these crayons, they are nice and bright and can be used in workbooks)

crayola twistables.jpg

and Crayola Pencil crayons

crayola pencil crayons.jpg


(Yes, I love everything Crayola and I am a purist and I wish it was more available here, thank heavens for Godparents on the far side of the world!) – this is roaming box and used for all the mad arting that goes on!

Now behind the crayon box are the dreaded workbooks… So from left to right we have the Atlas.



Then our markable map and timeline sticker book (I am the only person that gets pleasure out of that! I fill this in myself, every year when I order the next Sonlight Core up I buy I set of stickers for me to fill in the timeline book – I just think it is so cool and I have learnt so much doing it.) The Hoods all use their history timeline stickers in their own history journal. All scholars have a cereal box (keeps them neat and tight and is recycling after all) filled with their workbooks: mostly math and grammar. Now that they are blogged I see it is time for new boxes, these ones are somewaht tatty! Then there are their journals, two each: One for History and one for everything else, language arts; essays; spelling lists; book reviews; mini-reports and so on. Also, there are a whole bunch of activity books here, for when very short people want to play school. And some big fat books that are just scrap paper bound into books to make serious looking school books for very persistent shorter scholars. And the black box on the right is full of all sorts of interesting papers for projects.

LEVEL FIVE: The First Display Shelf…

I keep this shelf open and clear to display little projects- wahahahaha – not.

Actually, on this shelf I keep things we need for school at the ready. From left to right The Hands on Bible that we read at lunchtime;

hands on bible.jpg


Then there is a paper punch – not to actually punch pages but to make a bazillion little dots to scatter all over the place – in case I have nothing else to do and need to sweep – again; Vocab and word cards I don’t know why we have these we never use them either!; Math Miquon sticks – more math manipulatives to keep toddlers happy; There are also a couple of science goodies that never get packed away in the actual science spot; An empty tea box with pens (I love recycling boxes!) and one for pencils; A box of pencil crayons for scholars, (these are less grimy) and are for people that need to make maps and so on; A flower press – for the inevitable floral victims of little fingers; An old green pencil box filled with crayola fineliners

crayola fineliners.jpg

Behind the essential school stuff there are a few crafty things hidden: corks; foam bits; bottle caps and pastels.

And then our reference section: primary school dictionary, senior school dictionary and thesaurus… I would keep the Atlas here, and it kills me that it doesn’t fit on the shelf! Also, a tiny little print out of American coins, so we can figure out what on earth a dime and so on are when they occur in our math books.

Primary School Dictionary,

student dictionary.jpg

Senior School Dictionary,

high school dictionary.jpg

And finally the Thesaurus:


LEVEL SIX: The Top Shelf…

This is my shelf for all things lovely and craft heaven for kids… Basically if you are big enough to climb up and unpack then I expect you to be able to pack it back. So basically if you can climb up there then you can do any project you like – as long as they return it to the correct box. Usually on a Friday I take a box down and fiddle around with the goodies myself – nothing like leading the charge! I much prefer letting the kids do their own arty thing with what is available, rather than saying: “Let’s do a project now” and then dictating through the event!

So what have we got: a box of left-handed scissors (one or two right-handed pairs for the one and only right handed person!) – every time I saw them I bought them for years; A box of fat markers; A box of crayons; A box of Math Shapes (my little kids actually play with these – AHA!!! There is a message here!); A box of watercolors and the masterpiece, most coveted box, the collage box – which has stickers, feathers, little flowers, bits of tissue paper, cardboard cut-outs -it is just possibly a little treasure chest.

In the smaller boxes: there are face paints (for essential whiskers that prevent lots of short melt downs); fine line markers; toothpicks and mini pom poms; and finally glitter where in the world would we be without glitter. The big flat box has pipe-cleaners and crayola fabric markers.

fabric markers.jpg

LEVEL SEVEN: The Very Top…

Clearly this should be neat and clutter free at all times… has a multitude of paintbrushes and spray glue, and all dressers must have a bubble machine with bubble mixture and stuff that are essential for chasing bubbles in the driveway…

bubble machine.jpg

The other stuff is a collection of glass bottles that I used to keep on the bathroom window sill until the hoods realized they could reach up and grab them. Visions of glass shards spattered in the bath freaked me out enough to move them – I really should move them a bit further… like out the door and off the property!!!

Finally now that I have revealed my organization skills with the dresser, I realize I have a little or dare I say, not such a little decluttering to do… Talk about an honesty blog!!!

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Tags: Organizing School · Se7en at School

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sue // Aug 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I have to admit I’d wondered how you manage to keep all-things-crafty organised. Thanks for the peek!
    This might be boring for the average reader, but as a still-new-to-homeschooling Mom, I’d love to peep inside one of your Hoods’ history journals and see how they work! We have notebooks for RA and Language but haven’t had too many bright History ideas yet. How do the timeline figures fit into the journals? We have a room-length timeline running on our wall at the moment – but I think it appeals more to Moms than kids at this stage!

  • 2 se7en // Aug 15, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Great idea – I will think about some journal ideas and post on them sometime… timelines can be tricky for short people to “get”… but mine pour through my timeline book looking for people they are learning about… I promise to think/write about history journals in the future.

  • 3 nicole // Aug 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    i just love seeing how you order all this stuff in a small space. i’m currently working on eliminating needless stuff and efficiently storing things we use.
    would you mind sharing a bit about what kind of activity books have worked well for you small ones? i’m start homeschooling my oldest (preschool) and gathering any ideas I can for my toddler. thanks so much!

  • 4 se7en // Aug 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Hi N, Glad you liked our dresser, I am trying to rack my brain about activity books and the ones that come to mind are Usborne activity books, that have fabulous dot-to-dot books that are actually quite interesting to do, since so many on the market are quite lame… They also have great books with little projects – how to do very simple step-by-step projects…. I will think a bit longer and if inspiration grabs me I will do a post for you!!! Have a great weekend!!!

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