As someone who is addicted to books, I love-love-love looking at what people have on the shelves of their bookcases. And as a homeschool mama, I also love to check out how others organize their school resources. Schooling always brings lots of opportunity for decision making. What subjects will we cover? What are my expectations for each child? What curriculum should we use? Or should we use a prepackaged curriculum at all? Which resources should I give away? Which resources should I keep? What is worth my investment?
I find that looking at what other people have done and how they do it helps me to make more informed decisions about what to do. Plus, I’m just curious and interested in what people are doing. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s true nonetheless. So here is the breakdown of each shelf on the bookcase.
At the top, there is a basket filled with paperbacks of The Chronicles of Narnia with a reference book about the whole series. Experiencing everything about Narnia is a rite of passage in our family. There are also a few jars of shell and rock collections just for fun.
The top shelf isn’t very tall so it holds mostly paperback children’s novels plus a few science books including Anne of Green Gables, Mandie, and Christian Liberty Nature Readers. There is also a stack of high school level literature that I’m saving for the future.
The next shelf is a lot taller, so it has more “teacher books” smushed in there. There is no particular theme or topic to this group of books. I just started putting books in that are of the same height so it will look orderly when I walk by it about twenty or thirty times a day. There are books about all kinds of things: history, poetry, math, nature journals, language arts, etc. The stack on the side is mostly Life of Fred books. This is the math curriculum we use and I only kept out the levels we’ll be using this year. (I still have to order the advanced algebra book.)
The “I’m a Pepper” old school lunchbox isn’t there just for decoration. Inside, there are all the supplies we need for our history timelines. The pictures are from our student notebooks of A Living Hisotry of our World. We liked this curriculum a lot, so we’re going for it again this fall with volume 2. Each child keeps there timeline entries on a metal ring. Each card has a picture on one side and a student-written summary on the other.
Next shelf: baskets! I was pretty stoked to find three matching baskets at Goodwill that would fit well on the shelves. It just makes my teacher heart happy! The left basket is full of history and geography resources. Some are for this year, some are for future years. In the middle is a jar of unifix cubes. These are my favorite math manipulative of all time. They can be used for counting, patterns, measuring, or just fun play. They’re not too big to take up a lot of space, but big enough to be handled by little hands. And I have found them to be a lifesaver when it comes to learning place value. I would’t dream of teaching elementary math without them. And the basket on the right is for science. At least science books. Other science tools have been stashed away, out of sight, in an undisclosed location. I could tell you where they are, but then I’d have to kill you. No, I’m kidding! But seriously, they are stashed away in a nearby closet.
Moving on, we have our hardback set of The Chronicles of Narnia. A treasure indeed! The glass containers store everyday supplies like erasers, scissors, glue, tape, and pencil sharpeners. We don’t have a designated container for each type of supply. It all just gets thrown together. If everything ends up inside a container and not spread out on the floor, I’m happy. The other books are mostly fiction that will end up on the kids’ reading lists. Each child reads for an hour every day, and this year I’m hoping to document all of that reading much better than I have in the past. Speaking of reading, now that my youngest child is starting 3rd grade, I don’t have those cute little beginning reader books anymore. It’s kind of sad so see that stage of books gone. I loved listening to my kids read those little books. Oh the memories!
We made it to the last shelf! There is a lot of gathering of odds and ends going on here. Folders, spiral notebooks, handwriting paper, files, and a few teacher books. The basket in the middle holds our picture books from my favorite curriculum of all time, Five in a Row. This was the core curriculum of our early elementary years. We have read, discussed, and enjoyed these books so much that I simply cannot get rid of them. This may sound corny, but they are like our friends. There are a lot of memories on the pages of those books! I loved that we learned this way: snuggled on the couch with a good book and lots of questions and conversation. Anyway, these books are treasures to me and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them. Sometimes the kids like to read through them just for fun, too.
There you have it! The exhaustive tour of our homeschool bookcase. Every year of schooling is different so I’m sure the shelves will look different every year too. No, I didn’t forget the crate and basket right next to the bookcase. But this post is already pretty long, so we’ll visit that other stuff in a few days. Let’s hope that this organizing kick that I’m on won’t stop abruptly, but will continue on to other things in the house that need it. Now where are those Legos?