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Thursday, August 2, 2012

True Confessions...We School in a Bomb Shelter

Welcome to Day Four- Homeschool Classrooms


I know, you're dying to know more now, aren't you.  But before we get to the bomb shelter, let me just say that until last year, we schooled at our dining room table, or on the couch, or on a blanket in the front yard, or where ever else suited our fancy.  But the dining room table was the main location.  And with workboxes for 3 kids, and school books and work for 4 kids, and, well, life, our dining room was in a constant state of chaos. 

But then last summer some friends reminded me that I was sitting on the solution.  Or rather my house was.  See our house has a basement of sorts.  It was actually a 2 car garage that one of the former owners bricked in and reinforced to be a bomb shelter.  And occasional jail...but that discussion is for another day.

For real.  He was the sheriff during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and this is Florida after all. 

So, while I'm not too worried currently about a bomb, it was the perfect way to solve my "where to homeschool" dilemma.  In the bomb shelter, of course!  I spend a LOT of time last summer getting things cleaned up and painted, but the result was worth it. 

Ready for the tour?

 When you enter, you come down the hall way where that tree is.  You'd be on the other side of the blue wall, and facing the map.  The tree is our Jesse Tree in Advent, and our every other season tree year round :-).

 The first area to your left is the "reading nook".  Those book shelves (I got them at a yard sale for $10 each!) hold books that are educational, but not specifically curriculum related.  They also house our encyclopedias and other reference books.  There is a papasan chair at the edge of that area too.  When I do a read aloud, this is where we sit.

Next, coming down the wall to the right, is our white board and the girls' workboxes.

Then the desks for the 3 youngest.  TJ's workboxes are in the back by his desk.  Each child has an inexpensive 3 fold display board that they can use for a little privacy.  (You can see one in the picture of Scott's desk below.)  Our time line hangs on both these walls, but is pretty lacking right now.  We have a lot of American History people we need to put up still!

Behind the desk with the burgundy chair is this daybed.  The kids can sit there and do work or read.  The bookshelf usually holds books specific to their work.  It's pretty empty right now because we did Sonlight last year and I just packed up those books today.  The multicolored bins hold crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue, and then some educational manipulatives.  The top four bins are where each child puts their completed work until it's hole-punched into their binder.

Okay, from this point on, things are going to be MUCH less tidy.  The school  room was a MESS, and with it being in a non-living area, it literally stayed that way until I went down there to clean today.  So I got it half clean...the first you get to see things a bit more like they normally are ;-).
Here's the computer desk.  The kids sit here to do any online or computer related work they have to do.

That's my desk.  It's totally COVERED in paperwork right now.  To the right is the printer and pencil sharpener, both of which I couldn't live without.  In the file cabinets on the left are printed resources I'm not using.  In the one on the right are the weekly papers (to go into the workboxes each day), and upcoming work for the school year.

The top two shelves offer storage for all those things you don't know what to do with and the bottom is my binders.  Each child hole punches their work into a binder, and that's our end of the year record.  The middle shelf is All About Reading, and unit studies.

These bookshelves are for MY books.  The one on the left holds our curriculum books.  They are organized by shelf by Math, Language arts, Art, Science, Social Studies.  The one on the right really does just hold my things- past years of United in Praise music, Christian books, gardening, etc.  And yes, that's where we do All About Spelling.  We're not very fussy, so it's pull up a spot of carpet when it's your turn for spelling.

Scott's desk and his workboxes.  Here you can see the 3-fold display thingy.  Scott struggles a lot with distraction by his siblings, so there will probably be more curtains hung to minimize the visual clutter for him.  Behind the curtain you see there is the fuze box...and a shower.

This dresser and the plastic bins hold all my extra school supplies- folders, notebooks, index cards, printer paper, etc.

And now the area of the most chaos.  Here are my two sinks (because everyone needs two sinks 2 feet from each other).  Think bomb shelter.  The white one is for the bathroom, which is to the left of the green dresser above, and on the opposite side of that wall with the white sink.  The cabinets and the other sink are for the kitchenette area.  Obviously, I'm not using this area to its potential, but it's handy to have a sink for painting, etc.

Here's another view of that area.  In this corner of the room is where you will find all our science kits and supplies, and our art supplies.  There are also things waiting to LEAVE this room right now, like all the things you see piled in the background :-).  Normally, the large plastic bins aren't in the middle of the floor, and there is a table there for art projects.  That table is currently assisting in the cleaning out of the pantry, so it will come back down after that.

Here's the area where I keep all the art supplies and the science experiment books.

And here is a picture of what the main part of the room looks like.  This is taken from right next to that huge world map when you enter.  See, I was careful not to show you the whole room so you wouldn't see the MESS in the middle!  That's a pool table under all that.  Yes, we play in it form time to time, but right now it's holding all the things I found while cleaning that were out of place!  You can probably orient yourself, but to your left is the reading nook, and to the far left, on the backside of the reading nook bookcases is the science/art area.  Straight ahead are the kids' desks, and to the left of that is the day bed, the computer desk, and my desk.  Scott's desk is behind mine and across from the pool table.

Not to complain AT ALL, but just in case you are reading this and thinking, "It must be nice to have a bomb shelter to school in." , let me say, "It is."  But it also has its drawbacks.  The biggest one is that this is not on the central heat/air.  And we live in Florida.  No one in Florida has a true basement because the Florida Aquifer is very close to the surface.  But we are built into the side of a hill.  So two sides of the basement are surrounded by dirt, but the other two sides get sun ALL DAY LONG.  There are no windows, but there's no insulation either.  It was 85 down there today with just me.  Last fall, with 4 more bodies, it was typically about 90.  We run fans, but they make it very hard to hear if we do a read aloud, and they also make it hard to do written work!  Some sort of air conditioner is on the list of must haves when the budget allows!  Also, the ceiling is low- 6 1/2 feet ish, and was even lower until we removed the drop ceiling.  What we didn't realize was the drop ceiling caught all the little pieces of grit that constantly fall from the ceiling.  There is 1ft. of concrete above our heads (part of the bomb shelter design), and as we walk on the floor above, it drops little pieces.  So there is grit on everything.  And there are bugs.  Big ones.  Spiders and roaches mostly.  We try not to name them, and the roaches give the cat something to play with, LOL.    On the plus side, we have a built in unit study on bugs at our disposal.  Lastly, the entrance into the bomb shelter involves steep stairs and two 90 degree turns separated by a 2 1/2 foot wide, 10 foot long hallway.  So unless the furniture is a) small and b) light, it won't fit in the room.  ( And no, pool tables aren't small or light, but they do come in pieces, so it was actually one of the easier things to get in there.)

So that's our schoolroom.   In spite of its shortcomings, we are very, very blessed to have it.  I can't wait to see the schoolrooms of some of my Crew Mates.  Click below to check out everyone's thoughts and pictures.

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Mary said...

Oh my gosh- I am so jealous of the space. A bomb shelter? How cool is that?!?! If there was an award for "most unique homeschool space" I would vote for you!

Anonymous said...

What a great, great space! Thanks for sharing. :-)

Julie said...

I totally agree with Mary- How cool! Safety first, right? haha

Taunya Richards said...

Oh my goodness! A bomb shelter? How cool is that?

And I want to know the story about it being a jail...

Melissa said...

I want a bomb shelter for homeschooling in!

Stefanie said...

That is pretty awesome!!! And please let me know when you get to the jail story. lol

Kim @ Homestead Acres said...

Oh I just love your learning area! A bomb shelter, that is to cool. :P

Melissa said...

what a story you always have to tell about your homeschooling area even if it is hot and buggy! :)

bfarmmom said...

I enjoyed this series Amy! I especially enjoyed this look at your schoolroom. You have done so much work down there. Great job!