I had the idea around the first of the year, but just finally got around to doing something about it.
For the last few weeks, when the children have gotten off track and distracted while they are supposed to be doing their bookwork, I'd just get a sly gleam in my eye and proclaim, "I'm putting you all in CUBICLES. Just you wait." None of them knew what a cubicle was, of course. Hallie deduced it had something to do with a "cube" or box (which got them speculating about CAGES! Sheesh!) Gideon, in particular was concerned.
Tuesday I finally picked up foam core (on the way back from Hallie's play rehearsal).
Thursday I finally cut it. (Half the height from the bottom, an inch in from each end for the middle piece, the width of the foam core itself. Half the height from, the top, the width of the foam core, in the middle of each of each end piece.)
And Friday morning after breakfast, it appeared on the diningroom table.
Cubicles! Less distractions while they do their work (their biggest distraction, of course, is each other), a space of their own, and a place they are required to be during bookwork time (so they aren't so tempted to wander off.) The pieces can be disassembled for meals and projects and store flat behind a bookcase.
The children were really excited when they saw it and loved the new space, but wanted to decorate their individual spot. So as they finish (and get corrected) a subject each week, they can choose a sticker to add to their walls. Eventually, I imagine the stickers will lead to sensory overload, but I also imagine by that time the foam core will have worn out and will need to be replaced (maybe with a lightweight wood next time if I can commission someone with a proper saw to help out.)
Then Monday after too many cries of "Mama! Mom! Mom!", I added a new feature. Flags.
Our children are color-coded (so we know what belongs to whom and who left their belongings out), so their flags are in their individual colors. When they need help, they move their flag (duct tape on a new pencil) from the lower holder to the upper holder, so I can see it. Every few minutes I look to see who needs assistance, and I get a minute or two of peace in between rounds. So far, it's working great.