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My Maker Home: Homeschool Corner

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Homeschooling was never in my plans, but like so many parents, I was thrown into it....Thanks 2020! Having a dedicated homeschool room was not in the cards for our small home so I had to adapt. I started with the coat closet turned pantry turned computer nook. Then as the summer came to an end, unlike the pandemic, I knew I needed a space for my Montessori minded kindergartner to grow and learn from home. Quick side note, I do have two kiddos, my third grader and I struggled through online learning at the end of last school year, he too has grown up in a Montessori environment, and after an attempt at public school ending in distance learning we decided it was best for him to go back to his former Montessori school in person as long as it is safe to do so. Let me tell you this was the best decision for our family, Jack is a mini me..stubborn, performs best (only) when challenged, and hands on. We may not have survived this long if it weren’t for NWO Montessori.. . . ANYWAY…. This landing and corner of our dining room have become our homeschool zone, storing everything away after the school day but allowing for easy access and independent learning. I designed and built this zone in a way that it would blend into our environment and with a few handmade manipulatives the space is not only functional, it's stylish too.

The transformation began last March. I replaced the cluttered wire pantry shelves and bifold doors with a custom built in computer desk. Using maple plywood and edge banding I built as much function into a tiny space as possible. The wires running between screen, tower and printer are unseen. The printer pulls out for access and tucks away when unused. Reference books below the tower are easy to reach and put away. The bottom drawer houses all of the not so messy art supplies, keeping things organized. Accessibility and organization is essential for our homeschool environment, if she can't get it on her own, she can't use it on her own. This gives her freedom to create and me peace of mind that clay won’t be mashed into my rug or acrylic paint won’t splatter on our new floors. Above the computer is the storage for all things sticky, permanent and electronic. My kids don’t get screens during the week so tablets, phones, and chargers live here. These white Ikea paper storage boxes got facelifts with washi tape and I'm obsessed. This little computer nook is packed with function but remains minimal in appearance, which is perfect.

The cabinet happened this summer, I knew I could build one, probably a much nicer one, but time and stress and family called for me to order an inexpensive metal one and it is exactly what I needed. Inside our little Montessori comes to life. Each day starts with laminated magnets describing the current date, her feelings and the weather. I painted the watercolor weather and feelings cards for a personal touch. Plastic lunch trays hold work for the day on a quick DIY shelf. Completed work papers and extra work materials are housed in these white Ikea boxes turned terrazzo with scrap vinyl. Beside the cabinet her work rugs are stored neatly and out of the way in this umbrella stand. The simplicity of this cabinet allows the top to function as a usable surface without looking cluttered.

In the world of Montessori, manipulatives are key. I have been making toys/manipulatives for my kids for years. When I started planning lessons for this school year it got my wheels turning and I began building, burning and painting. Below are some of my favorites. You can read more about our homeschool routine, units and mama made manipulates here.

Building and designing this busy corner of our home to appear not so busy was a difficult task. I had to accept that our typical minimalist approach to surfaces and walls would need to bend around the purpose of the space. We embrace our favorite books, materials, and mama-made manipulatives as part of our decor. Homeschooling may have never been my plan. Learning from home is not what Kindergarten was supposed to be. But our classroom cabinet is exactly what we needed to make the best of this new chapter, and to learn in style.

So what did I make?

Daily Write Up Manipulatives Wonderful Women Tiles Solar System Model

Moon Phase Model Lunch Tray Rack 'Terrazzo' Ikea Boxes

Book Ledge Computer Nook Abacus

The Cute Little Homeschooler

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All photos and written content are the property of Ellen Smith: Little Bare Furniture.

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