Thursday, July 5, 2012

Home Schooling Adventure - The Homeschool Room

Psalm 61:2 "...when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

Deciding to Homeschool and ramping up:
I mentioned in an earlier post about my planning to homeschool my soon to be turning 5 year old daughter.  I can't tell you how excited/nervous I am about this new adventure.  My husband and I both attended public school so I know zero about homeschooling aside from what I've learned from other homeschooling moms.  One of my main sources was my husband's aunt who sucessfully homeschooled 5 of her children throughout their school years and has some she is still teaching.  I have sweated, and fretted over the whole process namely getting my girls into a shared bedroom and then turning another room into a school room.  I am finished (well almost) with my girls' room, and am pretty much in the same position with the school room. 

Glory to God:
I must, MUST pause to say that I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His counsel and help through this whole process.  I could have been a mess and mentally scattered by this new adventure, but He has helped me by putting people in my life to help me, and by giving me ideas to make the rooms what they are.  I love Him and need Him so! 
I've had so many experienced people to tell me not to worry and that Kindergarten is a great grade to teach. They are right, but even so, prior to starting, I found myself a little nervous.  Well, I'm here and thankful that the time has come and that we are enjoying the start of our first year.  I'm thankful that the Lord has His ways to help us in the individual way that He knows we need help.

Some Things about the School Room (and some ramblings):
I've tried to update photos and merge redundant posts to give you the lastest on our homeschool room all in one (hopefully cohesive) post.  There were a few more things that I wanted to do to the room before being ready to start school. One was to put some form of 'school name' something on the wall. Another thing was to find a spot, somewhere in that small room to designate as a 'special reading spot'. I knew this was pretty much unrealistic because of the space of the room, BUT, since I put a 'free reading time' slot in our daily schooling schedule, I really, really wanted a special place for that. It's a good thing that little girls have BIG imaginations because the spot I put together is really SMALL. In fact its really more like a reading 'hat'. Ehem, but we'll call it her 'reading nook'. I also found these hanging signs at Target for 1$ ea. Iggy really wanted them, so I endulged. The bad thing about shopping with Iggy is that if she sees me pick up something that might possibly be for her, and then I put it down, well, then there's a problem. She just breaks down. Not falling down kicking in the floor sort of thing (all though she did that once when she was about 2ish, I ignored her, and believe it or not, she never did it again). I just have to spend the next hour answering 1,000 questions about why I didn't end up buying it for her. It could be over a box of tissue, or saltine crackers. Same result. So if she likes something I have to be sure not to TOUCH it unless I'm super serious about getting it. It's not a spoiled sort of thing - though we've had our bouts with that. I mean if she wants something and I DON'T touch it and just say no, not now. She's fine. It's just if I touch it. I guess her hopes go way up there and have a hard time coming back down. Anyhow, back to school room stuff.  Another update to the classroom was to add classroom slippers. Why? When I was a little girl and we lived in Okinawa, Japan, I had a few Japanese friends that took me to school with them a couple of times (my memory can't recall why or how I ended up getting to do that). I noticed that when they arrived in class, they took their shoes off and then put on little house slippers. I thought it was so neat and also home-like comfy. So that's what we're doing. I have also decided to do uniforms for Iggy and for me. I know. Where is the creativity and individuality in doing that? Probably none, but it brings structure to those who need it, and that's us. Knowing Iggy and myself, this is essential. I need to keep things in order and visually structured to keep us on track. Uniforms were the ticket for us and our personalities.  Maybe one day that will change, but for now, it's working.
My husband and I both attended public schools, so I tend to lean toward a traditional school room type setting. Here are some photos of the setup. I wish some of these photos weren't so blurry.

The chalkboard side of the room.

The cork board with the owl on it, was free.  I called our local school board and asked if they were selling any of their old school furniture.  Long story-short, I ended up with a free retired cork board and a free 4X3 scrap piece of magnetic white board that we framed out (you'll see that above my desk in a later photo).  So thankful for free!

Here's the hopscotch rug.  Ikea white (cream) Erslev rug dyed grey and stenciled with white paint/fabric medium.  This was challenging, but I'm glad its done!  I got the idea from who made a floral pattern on hers.  I wanted something more whimsical/kiddy so I went with the hopscotch pattern.  I used cardstock paper, tape, carpet knife, printer, and adhesive spray for the stencils.  I used white flat paint mixed with fabric medium with which to paint.  I used bleach, plenty o water, a bathtub, the dryer, and black rit dye to prep the rug.

Homemade floor pillows for floor time.  Here's the Peddler's Mall stool that I recovered in a $1.00 second hand sweater.  The top flips up and I store some of my calendar time stuff in it.

Ikea rail and cups = sweet organization.

My desk (that folds flat to the wall just in case).  More Ikea rails and cups placed at a higher location for obvious reasons.

My desk area with the desk in the up position.

My not so organized closet.

The organized closet.  Still not as visually organized as I would like, but everything is in its place.

Iggy's books in a bin at the bottom of the closet.

The items hanging by hooks are our Bean Ticket Prizes. Each time Iggy's is on time and ready for class (done with her duties), she gets a Bean Ticket. As she collects them in her little magnetic container, she can purchase some prizes.

The vault (ie: jar of marked beans), and Iggy's magnetic Bean Ticket container (target for $1 each) that I plan to keep at the top of the chalkboard for safe keeping. ; )

The view toward the library wall before I added the Reading Nook, extra shelves, and banner.

A view towards the library wall after I added the extras.

Can you see the burlap stenciled banner? It reads our school name, Rossimore Academy. I bought the twine from Lowes but it was too flimsy, so I ended up braiding it to make it thicker/heavier.

A closeup of the stencil work. I used cardstock paper and printed the letters out. Then I used a carpet knife and cut out the letters. I used spray adhesive to keep the letter stencil in place. Then I used a stiff paint brush with white flat paint and dot - dotted away.

Here's a closer look at the Reading Nook. I still have to paint the edges of the book shelves so don't look too closely. The short shelves will be used to separate our Public Library books from our own. I think I'll label them someday.

The $1 Target signs.

The banner again.

A closer look at the top of the Reading Nook. I used a clearanced fabric (I'm always checking the clearanced fabric from Walmart) on the roof part (blue striped). You'll be surprised the good quality stuff they have there and its from 2.50 to 1.00 a yard). I also used a linen type fabric that wasn't clearanced from Hancock Fabrics that I bought to make me a sewing machine cover (I think I spent about $4 on that yard). Well, as you can see the fabric went to a much happier cause. The tan and white ticking fabric was leftover from the girls bedroom pillow project. The white piping on the edges of the awning was leftover from another project. The twine was from the same roll from Lowes that I used on the banner.

Here is how I suspended the Reading Nook roof to the wall. Its just a small hook. I put hooks on the sides of the book shelves as well to hold up the awning and walls.

Here I used dry erase markers and added the labels on the ones, tens and hundreds jars. I also, finally, added labels to the small shelves to keep our library books separate from our own. Also, I added a job chart for Iggy to mark off herself.

I painted the spagetti jar lids red, just because. (I've figured out that it's hundreds, not one hundreds, so that has now been fixed. Oops.)

and yes, I abreviated Books because it wouldn't fit on the label.

I drew photos of her duties for each day. The table stands for her wiping off the dinner table after breakfast and lunch. Can you guess what the other things are?

Here are our school room shoes. On our vacation last week, we visited Chinatown in Chicago and I thought these would work perfectly. A little whimsical/cute and comfy. There was this one store that had very little airconditioning and I sweated and sweated looking for the right sizes. The bottoms are made out of cloth so Iggy likes to skate across our wood flooring in them.

Here are our smocks, class lists (10 Commandments, Classroom Rules, Weather Chart, and Temperature Graph), and misc basket. They are hanging on some Ikea dog tail hooks.

My white smocks (I bought a three pack at Walmart) were printable iron-ons that read, "Time to Teach", and "Time to Learn". They turned out rather ratty (iron-on was a little peely and the other smock kinda burned - sigh). This pink one was the better of the three - oh well.

Here are some closeups of the kids smocks. I used some material from Walmart (best bargins there).

The smock was a little large for Iggy, so I just folded down the should straps and stitched her name on them with pink thread.

This one is for Inky. I have yet to put her name on it somehow.

I added a little twine loop to hang the smocks

As you can see, I use twine for just about everything.

A closeup on the dog tail that holds our 10 Commandment sheet, Weather Chart, Temperature Graph, and Classroom Rules.

Here's an idea that I got from Darcy at The box and files are used to store her best works. I'll be putting in it the best works from the beginning of the year, and also the best works from the end of the year.   We had the box, the files and the file folders in storage from previous stuff, so I didn't have to buy any of those things.  I did have to get the labels, and the photo corner holders though.  In the meantime, I've got to work on just storing her work before I get to the picking of the bests. I'll probably just use pocket folders.

Ikea Art Display wire and clips.

Here are the flags.

Ok, I totally just figured out a few days ago that those clips that I bought at Ikea for the Art Display wire also work very well at the top of the chalkboard! Lovin double duty stuff.

I don't know about you, but I had been spying one of those pointers from our local school supply stores.  They are so cute with a little hand and a pointer finger at the tip.  I didn't get one, but I ended up making a simple pointer.  Did you know one of those twisty turny things on a window blind could make an excellent pointer?  I just attached one of those pencil grippers at the end of two of ours that broke and, badabing, a school pointer!

Thanks for dropping in! Hope I've helped you with some ideas to include in your own school room. : )

Here's the laundry list of some of the things done to the room:
  • Magnetic chalkboard (a $35 craigslist find)
  • Magnetic whiteboard (I got the board part free and had my hubby put the frame on it). I was hoping to use those for writing and also for putting up maps etc via the magnetic part.
  •  ABC banner across the top of the chalkboard. (I got this from a school supply store. Price ?)
  • School room desks (a good friend gave these to us free - Woohoo).
  • Library wall (much like the rain gutter ones that we've all seen over and over online - so glad people posted those photos so we could all enjoy that addition to our own rooms - also wishing I could give the original poster on that piece kudos, but I don't know who began all that). Mine though is made of wood and drilled straight into the wall.
  • Pendant lamp (an Ikea find - a clearanced product at 19.99). Somehow ceiling fan translated bedroom to me, so I swapped it out with the lamp as soon as I could.
  • Ikea leaf (14.99) hung over my collapsible desk, and some Ikea buckets (.99 each) on a rails (1.99 each) near my desk area for pens, pencils, scissors, etc (the leaf came from one of the girls rooms).
  • Grey hop scotch rug.  I had an old Ikea cream colored flat woven stained rug (29.99) that I bleached, dyed grey, and then painted (a hop scotch pattern). Prior to its transformation, my hubby disliked it. He said it looked like a white towel on the floor. He likes it now. I'm glad because it took a LOT of work.
  • I ended up painting the room a soft gray color to continue with the classroom feel and by the way, I LOVE gray. Sadly, there is carpet on the floor, but its an off white/beige color so I'm ok with it.
  • Small stool.  I bought this at the Peddler's Mall for 12.99 and recovered it in a grey sweater material ($1.00).  I thought it would be good to read some books at Iggy's eye level.
  • 4 small homespun sitting pillows.  I thought we might need these for floor time stuff. 
  • Wall mount teachers desk from Ikea (29.99).  It folds down flat to the wall to make more room in case we need it.
  • Foldable chair from Ikea (apx 9.99) to go with my desk.
  • 2 student chairs that came from my daughters table and chair set (the other two are with the table in my girls shared room).
  • 1 messy closet.
  • Sorry some of the photos are blurred.  Hopefully, I can get some clearer ones later on.
I wish I had more space, but I think we will be alright with what we have to work with.  Hope this helps to spark some new ideas for your own school room!  Thanks for visiting.


  1. Looks like you are ready for a great year. You are going to love HSing!

    Liberty Hill House

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I need it! : )

  3. Hi!
    I am in the process of doing a ultimate post on Homeschool Rooms. I blog along side a group of ladies over at and on Aug 9 we are having a HUGE Post of Ultimate post of lots of things.
    I love your homeschool room and would like to link to your homeschool room re-do and permission to use a picture-of course with a link back to your blog.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

  4. Hi Susann,

    Yes, feel free to do that. I will have to say though that it's not necessarily a re-do as this is our first year. I've been working on it over a good period of time and have been adding and adding to get it to the place where I feel like were ready to start school. I have newer updates on a later post than this as well. I am glad you like the room. Part of my purpose for blogging about my homeschool room was to give others affordable ideas for thier own rooms. I got lots of inspiration online so I thought maybe (if anyone actually liked some of the things that I did) I could help someone else out in that way too.

  5. Thanks! Most of us are always redoing our room-I missed it was your fist year! . I really love your ideas-some great ideas! (I am going to try that hopscotch rug! Great for those cold days! I will send you the link when done! Lots of great post will be going on, and a great way for you to see what others are doing-

  6. Susann,
    Will your ultimate post on homeschool rooms be available for all public to view? I understand from visiting the site that it is an exclusive site. I am one of those newbie (hobby mom) bloggers, so I don't have intentions of attempting to be invited for membership/to join, but I would like to be able to read/view the ulimate blogs that your team plans to post today if that is possible. Do I just go to the site to view these posts?

  7. Here is my Post:

    Here is all the Ultimate Guide Post

    share if you can!!

  8. I love your school room! You've inspired me to work on ours a little before the start of the school year.

    Also, your girls are really cute :)

  9. Thanks Sara! I was really nervous about our first year, but so far I'm lovin it! Your family seems really fun! Love reading your blog. Cracks me up. : )

  10. Looks great! We just started homeschooling last month! We are really enjoying it and it's amazing how much the children learn!

    1. It sounds like you are off to a good positive start Michelle! I hope you enjoy your own homeschooling adventure. I am about to wrap up this year hopefully in late April/early May. It has been a lot of work, but soooo worth it! I love seeing my little kindergartener learning to read. It's an amazing transformation to see right before my own eyes.

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