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Homeschooling: All Things

Step By Step, Piece by Piece: Mini-Offices

The mini-office concept was started in public school by a teacher that was having trouble with kids focusing. So she took some legal size file folders and created a small cubicle for each student. But that didn’t solve the problem at all. The true problem was that instead of not focusing-they were asking each other questions. So now they were asking HER the questions. And as desperation is truly the mother of invention–the Mini-office was born.

What she did was create small notes to help the students remember the subject matter. Each section of the folders focused on a separate subject. So if they were studying measurements in math, they would have a ruler and metric conversions. For english they might have proof reading marks to remind them of the different symbols to assist in their editing skills. Truly the concept was a good one. Soon many other teachers caught on and many helpers and aids were created for various needs.

photo credit:  Teaching Heart

And so what does this public school cubicle have to do with homeschooling and just why do you want to know? Because it’s a fabulous study tool. It will save you hours each week in answering questions you have already answered “what seems” like 100 times! ;) Trust me on this. I have learned to LOVE the labor of putting this together.

Put it together

Now there are a ton of ways to put these together. I personally like having the file folders glued back to back so they open up like a book. However many like them just the way the original creator intended them to be–a cubicle so that they can help their multiple children focus on their studies. Here are a few tutorials to help you put the folders together.

This is my blog. I have a tutorial on putting the files back to back. I use contact paper to “laminate” the folders.
ABC Teach has a fabulous pdf that you can download that creates a mini-office with 2 or 3 file folders. This is a cubicle type.

This is a youtube prepared by LapbookLessons.com this is a fabulous example of a one subject mini-office. She says it’s 3 or 4 folders, but It looks more like 5. This is created to fold up to a single file folder size. Definitely worth taking a look at. There are several that you can watch on Youtube showing several variations. Take some time to figure out the “shape” that you would like yours to take.

The design of the mini-office really doesn’t matter. This is what works for your kids and no one else. If you think of it this way–there’s no one way to do it. Shape, size, color, etc. It just doesn’t matter. Size you will want to wait on determining just how much you want (Need?) to put in. I have put several together thinking it was TOO big, only to find out that I needed just one more file folder to fit it all in.

Once you have your basic design that you want to create, you need to figure out the content. This is the hard part. The easiest way I have found is to just go one subject at a time.


photo credit:  Teaching Heart

Let’s take a look at your child’s studies.

Science: Here is where you can pull out some of those tough words that they need to study. Or perhaps they keep getting the order of the animal classification mixed up. Perhaps your older child is studying the periodical table. Whatever text/units they are working on, see if you can pull out something they need help with. Thumb through their Science book–what charts are in there? What scientists?

Math: This is a great tool for math helps. Many children have problem learning their math facts. Adding in an addition chart or multiplication chart. For older kids having reminders on how to factor in the least common denominator or greatest common multiple. Perhaps how to find the circumference of a circle. What about the value of Pi? This is a great place to display all the formulas for geometry as well. Again take your students’ math text look for charts, look for formulas. Find any bold words-define them. Are they having trouble remembering what words mean add or subtract?

Reading: the alphabet is a great place to start for younger kids. Cursive and manuscript charts will help remind children what the letters are supposed to look like. Having blend charts and vowel charts can help a struggling learner keep things straight. For older kids, perhaps a chart Displaying Authors they are studying and add in their personal history (birth and death dates, etc.). Adding in information on similies, metaphors and others can help easily remind them and reinforce these concepts. Have you checked your child’s reading sources yet?

Writing: This is another fabulous opportunity to really help your child with keeping things straight. A proof reading chart will help all who need to self edit. Punctuation chart will help young beginners learn what they look like. Tips on writing a sentence, paragraph, essay, or term paper can help relieve confusion. The question words would help jog your child’s creative juices to inspire them to keep writing. The greatest helper that I added to my DD10’s mini-office was a sort of portable word wall. I added a few plastic sheet protectors and a table that had frequently asked for spelling words. She then pulls it out for spelling helps while she’s writing. And if she should come across a world that she doesn’t know–we sound it out and she adds it to her word wall. This is easily adapted to any age level. Even junior high and sr. high could benefit from this–obviously making the words age appropriate. Perhaps adding in all vocabulary words to help familiarize your child with the use of those words. Again, consult with their course of study and see what they can use.

Yes this will take some work on your part. There are many pre-made printables out there. The two best sites are:

This is a teacher’s web site. She also links to many other sites and many teachers have contributed to the stockpile.


This is a fabulous squidoo. A lot of work has gone into combining links for bits and pieces

Now pre-made is a great. However there is as much of a lack for older students as there is an overabundance for the primary aged youths. So finding helps for the older students is going to be a challenge. That’s why I highly suggest paying attention to the charts and diagrams in their current texts.

Have fun as you create these wonderfully helpful study aids for your children.


So now I have to post my own pictures here too…

This is what we start our day with. We work on the seasons, weather, address, telphone numbers, Bible Verse of the week, temperature, (use to work on colors but they both got htat one down) and calander.




Repost and written by: Patty has a blog you can check out at Shiver Academy.

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