Posted in Happy Homemaking, Spirited Blessings

Organizing On A Dime (And On a Boat): 2014 Home School Storage

It’s taken me way longer than expected to get a system down that I like especially when it comes to all of our new supplies in relation to what I need to prepare each night for the following day of home school. I spent a great deal of time brainstorming for ideas. I scoured the internet searching terms like “small space home school” and “home school closet organizing”. I found little if anything to help me. When you are talking about thirty total feet of living space, I found that generally people who live in (even a small) average living space have no clue what the term “small space” really means. It got very irritating trying to imitate spaces that I liked and then attempting to fit it into our small space and lifestyle choice.

I eventually rolled my sleeves up last week and completed the task through trial and error. It only took about three hours one evening! It’s one of those things that happen to be more daunting to look at and think about than to actually do.Here’s what I came up with:

numbered shelves

Unfortunately, with our limited counter space, the microwave had to stay there by the fridge.The rest had to be used for schoolwork (despite the temptation to share it with Mommy’s craft items).

1) From the left:

photo 2

Plastic shoe boxes are a lifesaver when living on The Armor Of God. We use them for anything from school supplies, to toys, to socks and underwear, to hygiene products. It is an easy way to keep things contained (when we do set sail) and it utilizes all of our vertical space by making everything stack-able. The items I changed around last night have yet to be labeled, but they will be. I (and the littles) need to be able to find everything easily.

From top to bottom, left to right we have:

  • Raspberry Bug’s puzzles, flashcards, and clip cards. These started as just leftovers from Blueberry Ball’s schoolwork last year.
  • The next shoebox (moving downward) holds their chore chart incentives. Each Friday they get a toy (chosen and displayed the previous week) if they completed enough of their tasks.
  • Next we have the one that’s labeled “math blocks”. I have various counters and manipulatives stored here. Anything from seashells, to pennies, to beads and more. They are all organized and separated using labeled zip-top  bags.
  • The next shoebox (top left) is extra pencils along with the teacher’s grading pens, sharpies, and highlighters. These are also separated and labeled in individual zip-top bags. I’m probably going to downsize this one soon as the space is not being used to it’s full potential.
  • Going down, we have the teacher’s box. This holds all of Mommy-teacher’s sticky notes, cue cards, hole punches, tape and glue sticks, and more. Whatever I may need for planning and preparation that I don’t exactly want the children getting into regularly.
  • The last box is larger and not as accessible, but it doesn’t have to be either. It holds all of our craft supplies. Pipe cleaners, pom poms, cotton balls, q-tips, food coloring, homemade and store bought paints, brushes and smocks, extra glue, tissue paper, bubbles,  craft sticks, and more are all kept here. Our art activities are well-planned in advance these days and I can pull it out and dig through it as the kids are sleeping, so I don’t mind it being behind some of the more important things. Our play-clay and some of the other sensory play items are kept in our dock box. Mommy can’t stand play-clay inside anyway =).

The labels I used are from Heart Of Wisdom and Org Junkie.

2) Turning the corner, to the left, we have probably the most important (or at least the  most used) basket.

photo 2(1)

This is my “A Beka Basket” where I keep the books that Blue won’t be using in the upcoming lesson, along with visuals, charts and games, and flashcards that had no box with them (I do wish they’d all come with that convenience).

On top of the microwave I have all of the flashcards that did come contained:

photo 1

3) The boxes came pre-labeled (thank goodness!) and I separated the “Letters And Sounds” cards from the “Numbers” cards. Behind the microwave, I tucked away the extra large sticker pads and coloring books along with our rolls of art paper.

numbered shelves

4) This is a convenient place for our lap desks and for our step stools (stools come in handy when it’s time to help Mommy-Teacher in the kitchen).

5) This is where Raspberry Bug’s items start. I sort of formed a boat-friendly version of our previous Free Style Art Center. It is mainly used to keep her busy when we are, or throughout the day. She loves to “do school”. Her dry erase/ chalkboard easel goes here along with the abacus, large dominoes, Lacing Cards, and alphabet books.

6)Here is where visibility starts to diminish. Sorry; it really is a tight space.You can’t see the center very well because that’s where the items get shorter. On the left side Red has her Other dry erase boards. She has more of the primary lined ones along with the Leap Frog ones that Daddy was thoughtful enough to buy for her. (We used to diy the dry erase books, but they aren’t as durable.) On the right side, we have worksheets and coloring pages placed in a folder. I pick new ones each school- night so that she can keep busy with her own things during Blue’s lessons. In between these, I have our pencil boxes with dry erase markers placed closest to the dry erase boards and books and colored pencils, markers, and crayons closest to the worksheets and coloring pages. The cutting practice is near the back kind of tucked away. She still needs help with that, so I don’t want it to be too accessible.

7) You can’t see number seven at all . It is a narrow file folder box with a snap- top lid. This holds all of our ABC Jesus Loves Me materials, sight word worksheets, coloring pages and books,  handwriting practice,copy paper, extra notebooks, construction paper, and more. Basically Mommy-Teacher’s grab box for Red’s folders. I don’t have anything too structured for her yet (she’s only two). I pick only things that she can do all on her own to go in her “Free Style School Center” and choose at least three things a week to do with her. This way she doesn’t eat up lesson time I could be using for my K5 student, and she still feels included and accomplished.

This is right beside the fridge which has a small, but very convenient storage and display space:

Hellow Kitty sits there mainly because she is too cute. She holds our chalk =)


Sorry for the poor quality; these photos were taken a little later in the evening. Here we have a wooden drawer organizer. I took out one of the removable dividers and placed all of the “Readers” and CDs. Then, close to the front I placed some of our dry erase markers, Mommy Teacher’s grading pens, highlighters and a couple of sharpies into a jar (on the left) The right side holds my sticky notes and my tap dispensers. I will soon Velcro these down so that they can’t move when we are underway. I love the look and convenience of this space most of all!

I placed a magnet on the back of our A Beka-themed task cards and placed it on the fridge. At first it was up higher with our calendar and the rest of our displays, but I found it was much more exciting to Blue when he could mark tasks off on his own.

Here’s how our display is going so far:


I’m not in love, but it works. I haven’t decided what will work best yet. I may end up doing a magnet board? Or a clip strip of some kind? Maybe a even a Homemade Bulletin Board? Whatever it grows into, it needs to be custom built to fit the uneven shape (It gets narrower the further back it goes.). Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated!

The blend ladders are massive compared to the size of smooth wall surfaces we have to work with. This is literally the only spot I could find that they fit. Then, we have our weather chart and our calendar. I also placed four dry erase boards up with Velcro. These are primary lined and only have two lines per board, but they are an ideal item for our small display. Artwork simply goes wherever we can cram it in right now. The pride and joy they feel in displaying it makes Mommy-teacher be able to tolerate it.

Overall, I think we have a well-functioning space. And it turned out to be way better than I thought it could have been. All the stress and worry went away when I actually rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

What does you small-space home school look like? Do you have any clever solutions for me? What about pics? I’d love to see your pics =)



My family and I have made a decision to dedicate our lives to serve the Lord. We've started a seaborne, nonprofit Mission organization that is aimed at bringing the gospel and disaster relief to otherwise hard to reach areas. Follow us as we grow together in Him through our average day to day experiences. See how we make a family of five work aboard a small sailboat, follow us in the travels, projects, and experiences of day to day life as we share our calling with those we love.

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