How to Make a Study Carrel for FREE!

Lots of distractible children and a huge, long dining table do not make for a productive study time. I know this because I have a humongous table and a whole parcel of highly distractible children.

My solution?–Study Carrels.

How to make a study carrel pin

The idea is an old one, employed by educators for eons. It has stood the test of time because it works!

Homeschool study carrel

homeschool study carrel and mini office for young children

study carrels/mini offices used to keep children from distracting each other

Study carrels can actually be purchased already made–out of cardboard or even wood (there are even full desks with a cubby-hole built-in). This is great if you have the money (and the space).


…you can make your own for FREE!

Since I shared the idea in my homeschool hacks post, I thought it was time to do a tutorial. Here’s how I went about making mine.

First, I took a trip, not to the craft supply store, but to my local warehouse club (Sam’s Club, to be exact).

I discovered this source a number of years ago. Our children were taking a creativity course and needed oodles and oodles of good cardboard, and Sam’s was the perfect choice. As we walked the store we noticed there were whole sheets of cardboard being used to stabilize huge towers of merchandise (especially paper products such as facial tissues and paper towels).

free cardboard sheets at warehouse club

There are different thicknesses and types used between each product. I chose the thickest and most sturdy I could find.

Of course, we were always polite and courteous when we gleaned our boards; we did not make a huge mess and replaced anything we upset by accident.

Next, I gathered:

  • A utility knife
  • A yard stick
  • Some duct tape

and then we measured and proceeded as this graphic describes:

free homeschool study carrel directions

*Note: make sure the ribs of the cardboard are horizontal and not vertical, or your carrel will fall apart at the folds.

We decided to decorate the insides with graphic tables and helps to make “mini offices.”

These can be very helpful, especially for early learners who have trouble remembering the basics such as:

  • The alphabet
  • Color names
  • Numbers, both symbols and words
  • Money values
  • Seasons
  • Addition and multiplication tables
  • Cursive handwriting charts


There are numerous sources on the Web for nifty graphics to print and cut out for your own use. Here are a few good ones:

File Folder Fun Mini Office Printables

First Grade Mini Office Printables

One of the nifty things about these is how easily they can be folded and put out of sight.

foldable mini office/study carrel

I have even seen carrels  spray-painted different colors with pockets glued on to hold supplies, etc.

What sorts of things would you include in yours?


18 thoughts on “How to Make a Study Carrel for FREE!”

  1. I’ll put a simple tiny chart with answer names to math problems. They always forget these:
    Then maybe I won’t keep hearing “What do I do to find the difference if there are 42 hot dogs and 14 were eaten? Divide? Subtract?” And am I the only one who notices how much people eat in math problems? It’s hilarious to us now that we notice how many candy bars or pies people eat 🙂

    • Ha, ha! I think that’s the truth; people are always eating in those problems, and they are all on their way to becoming morbidly obese, too! I think that’s a great idea–thanks for sharing.

    • There’s a meme going around with a math problem like this. I don’t remember the math problem but it’s along the lines of “Johnny has 22 donuts and his best friend gives him 6 more. What does Johnny have now?” And someone has written in “Diabetes. Johnny has diabetes.”

  2. This is so much more relevant now that everyone is going to be homeschooling/cyber schooling due to the pandemic. We need to add hooks to ours to hold headphones, their mouse and other items. But I love the idea of it being free. I was going to go to Michaels to buy foam board, but free cardboard and duct take is great. Thanks. -em

  3. Our new teacher for the school year was so kind to link me to your site. This is great and I’m going on a hunt this weekend to find cardboard to make this. Thanks so much for sharing. I did look at the links for purchasing and they are so expensive for what they are. We are going to personalize with some fun colored duct tape.

  4. I know this post is something like six years old now, but this is genius! I just used an old display board (leftover from my older child’s graduation) and cut it in half. Perfect for two study nooks. Now to decide what goes on … a multiplication table for sure.

    • That sounds great! There are loads of printables out there, it just takes a bit of searching to find them 🙂


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