04 May 2010

Where do I put all this STUFF???

We live in a fairly small house. After 2 months of our son's year of kindergarten, we realized our family room, where we had opted to do school,  was too cold in the late fall and winter months to enjoy school in that room, so our dining room became our permanent school room. It's fine. We make it work. We're used to it, but it is a little crowded at times. That is partially our own fault. We are crafters and enjoy doing art projects. Because of this, we have shelves full of art supplies as well as all of our books, notebooks, manipulatives and more. There is so much stuff involved in homeschooling, isn't there? Where do we put all of it?

Here are some space and storage solutions that have worked for our family that I thought might help you to better organize your house. Of course, I could still do with some more organization, so if you have some of your own ideas, leave them in the comments!

  • Baskets are a great way to store art supplies. I bought several matching baskets and filled them with things like paint, extra school supplies that don't get used every day, manipulatives, educational games, and miscellaneous craft supplies. This idea was my mother-in-law's idea a few years ago, and I am grateful for it! The baskets sit looking prim and proper each August as we prepare for a new school year. Above is a pic of our organized shelves from last August. You'll notice one of these baskets as the others are on a different set of shelves of which I do not have a photo. You'll also notice that, while it is crowded, it is organized so that everything is easy to get to.
  • A couple years ago, I got the idea to use a craft organizer to organize school supplies that we use every day. I purchased ours at Wal-mart for a very reasonable price. In it, we keep pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, writing tablets, single hole punch, stapler, scissors, colored pencils and more. I sit it on the table when we're ready to get started on school work, and everything is there that we need. No one has to stop what they're doing to go find what they need, which is always a plus when you're working with young kids! It also makes for easy clean-up at the end of our school day!
  • Paper trays are a great way to organize different types of paper. We have trays for construction paper, drawing paper, scrap paper and writing paper. 
  • Notebooks are an essential part of our homeschooling organization. I've been doing this since Lukas was in first grade. I buy simple 3-ring binders at the beginning of the school year, and I add dividers for each subject. Every single day, as they finish their work, it goes into the binder. At the end of the year, we have a record of everything they've accomplished, which is ideal for sharing with our homeschooling assessor.
  • Art projects are one thing for which we never seem to have enough space. Even now, little African animal figurines are sitting atop my beautiful tea cup shelf, not exactly the decor I had planned for that location. I mentioned this to a few girlfriends once, and one of them gave me a great idea. After I am done displaying a project or piece of artwork, the kids have the choice to put it in their room and display it. Once all their designated display space is filled(you can give them a shelf, bulletin board or the top of their dresser), then they have a couple choices of what to do with it. They can give it as a gift to a grandparent, other relative or neighbor, or they can toss it and make space for a new project. I also include some art projects in our notebooks if they are a simple project done on appropriately sized paper. Sadly, while I want to keep it all, that isn't practical no matter how much space you have. Remember to take a photo of the project before tossing it if you still want a memory of your child's work.
  • Library books have always been a problem for us. They used to frequently get mixed-up with our personal library of books. Plus, we get a gazillion books from the library, and they're heavy and awkward to transport. I found a way to solve both of these problems. A few years ago, I bought one of those crates that has a long handle and wheels. It has become a life-saver for us. I still have to lift the books in and out of the van, but I don't have to carry 50 books into the library anymore(I'm not exaggerating on the 50 either). In addition, all the library books have a place in which they belong now. Our crate sits next to our couch, and all the library books belong there unless I have chosen to put them into our weekly book basket for school. Watch for sales on these crates. We got ours at Staples for $10!
As I said, I am all ears when it comes to better organization. I have not yet been able to transfer my organized school room to the rest of my house. That's something I need to work on. Toy storage is a problem around here. Anyone have some great ideas to share with me on that one? Please leave any organizational tips you can offer me in the comments below!

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