I have learned many things and asked many questions over the years and continue to do so on my own homeschool journey. Some of the information that I’ve gathered may be of interest and use to some of you, so I offer it here for you. 🙂
“We got a good chunk back from our taxes this year so we’ve allotted some towards our dd’s homeschooling…I’m looking into curriculum, but am leaning towards buying some learning materials/supplies (non-curriculum) that might be a good investment towards her home education. I’m looking for things that you’ve purchased and you can
vouch for their value, in your child learning much from them and being greatly interested in them…that sort of thing…or things that you would buy if you had the money. bigger ticket items, like $50 or more…things that you think would be or are very worth the money in helping in your children’s learning at home.”
I also asked for recommendations to invest in to keep my toddler busy while I do focused work with his sister.
Below is a list of the resources that I have compiled from the responses that I received:
(Each bullet is a response from a different parent.)
- My recommendation would be to purchase passes to places you think your family might enjoy — zoo, museum or amusement park etc.
Another good idea would be to invest in some great games. Not the kind that you can find at Target (although there are plenty of good ones there too) but the more expensive ones you find at game shops or online. We just bought a great game called Ingenious(gameologyshop.com). It was about $40 I think but what a hit and easily played by all ages. Oh of course, Excellence in Education(.com) sells lots of great games. They have a store plus are online.
- For keeping the preschoolers busy:
Wedgits!! (timberdoodle.com – a homeschool family’s discount catalog)
Simple tools or mini pots & pans
Large tub & set of cups – fill tub with water or sand or rice….set it outside….sit where you can watch…or put the kid on a chair in front of the sink with a couple of bowls, some cups & water running; have towel handy
search for Paula’s Archives online and you will find a wealth of ideas, including preschooler baggie activities (things you can put in ziplocks & dole out over days/weeks)
Homemade playdough & plastic cookie cutters
- For long-term enjoyment (non-curriculum):
Jump rope (morphs into a swing when combined with tree and small piece of wood)
Large quantities of sidewalk chalk
Dressup box (scarves/various fabric scraps & wraps, hats, jewelry,
etc.), with/without facepaint
Sheets & chairs to make “castles” and “hideaways” – inside of which anything becomes more fun
Math manipulatives (pattern blocks, snap cubes, magnetic tanagrams, cuisinare rods or math-u-see blocks, counting bears, etc.)
Plastic figures, whatever your kid likes (dinosaurs, pooh & crew, knights & dragons, sea creatures, etc.) and a big blanket or playmat
Lots of colored paper & various art supplies – extra t-shirts or aprons.
We keep little wood ornaments & acrylic paints around for friends/art days
Buy a globe for “hide and seek” – I prefer those with climate markings and topology (up & down for mtns.) – ours was around $75 from Repogle
Buy a good microscope – Sonlight sells a great one that will last you through high school biologyAnd books:
Books about art & artists, musicians & music.
Poetry anthologies – Sonlight sells some great ones for the older grades
How to books – crocheting/tatting (dr. friend recommended this for dexterity), woodworking, clay, paper planes, etc.
Math Start readers (Stuart Murphy) – try www.bookcloseouts.com
Childcraft & World Book encyclopedias (not necessarily new), along with Bookhouse Books (out of print but wonderful)
Kingfisher – Science Encyclopedia, History Encyclopedia, Children’s Encyclopedia, visual dictionary, atlas
- The first investments I made and I am still very happy with were really good quality art supplies. The waldorf crayons are SO much better than the crayola-type crayons. I’d get the biggest set I could afford of both the Blocks and the sticks. They’ll last forever and you’ll be amazed at the quality. I would definitely buy a big set of some nice Aquarelle colored pencils, the kind you can blend with water to make water color type drawings. Lyra makes a wonderful pack of 12 colored pencils with all different skin tones from all around the world. Very valuable so that all the faces are not pink.
We have loved our BioColor investment. Really nice paints that you can do so many different things with. Also, I’d get the really nice brand of watercolor paint that they use in Waldorf schools. I think it’s Staedtler? Brand, but I may be wrong. Mercurius catalog carries them. You water it down a whole bunch for them to paint with. It’s expensive, but it lasts for a long time, and the pigments are so strong and wonderful. Just one bottle each of the blue, yellow and red would be fine. Also, a good set of Pentel fine tip markers will last for a long time and are so nice for the really intricate “Doodle Art” type poster coloring. I’d get a big set of Kapla blocks. Your little ones can share in the play. They are so great! Or Keva Planks, same idea. A bunch of “Main Lesson Books” (Again, Waldorf style) so that you can keep track of different subjects by different colored books. Your daughter will love making her own books and you have a record (for yourself) of all that you’ve done. A ream of nice paper, maybe another of watercolor strength paper. A good globe. We have the talking globe that has a special stylus that you can point on the globe and it tells you information, and there’s games to play on it too.
- My thoughts are:
musical instrument and lessons
a road trip with an itinerary of educational places either aquariums, museums etc…or with a theme like “Gold Rush” and visit Gold country or to the coast and do marine life…you get the idea.
Private art lessons…horseback riding lessons…or whatever she is interested in learning.
Lastly my idea is to put it in the bank and to use it when you need it or have it there for for something special that comes along like a homeschool camping
trip or ???
- A globe
A microscope and some prepared slides
- I just received NASA’s catalog of educational materials and I could spend quite a bit. You can shop online or get a free catalog at www.nasa.gov/education/coreI bought an Arnold Grummer papermaking kit last year and we’ve had a great time making paper and finally something to do with all those little scraps my kids produce.If the money were mine, I’d probably use a lot of it to pay for some really cool classes.How about a musical instrument?
- We use the K-12 program, all our lessons are online. It really has worked well for us. K. needs to have a schedule and structure with school, and this seems to work really well with that. Though I have known people who have used the K-12 curriculum in more unstructured manner and it worked great for them. The best part of the curriculum is it is free, plus you get a free computer (we passed on it since we got a laptop for school), since it is an online school. The website is www.K12.com
- I am using The Well Trained Mind, which I’ve found a lot of fun to read and plan with. I did a ton of research on all of the curriculum that is recommended in the book and here is what I plan for the K & 1st grade. A lot of the things I’m using are non-consumables, so they can be used with the next child down the line as well. I don’t know how it will work out for us, but I thought I’d share. Kindergarten – Total Cost ~$250
- Handwriting – Zaner-Bloser Grade K Student Book (w/ ream of paper) $20 www.zaner-bloser.com
- Reading – Bob Books complete set $55.95 & Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading $22.95 www.rainbowresource.com
- Math – Saxon Math K $47.95 & Saxon Math K-3 Manipulative Kit $75.00 www.rainbowresource.com
- Science – Mudpies to Magnet $12.25 & Everybody has a body $16.25 www.rainbowresource.com
First Grade – Total Cost ~$250
- Language – Spelling Workout A $13.95; First Language Lessons $14.75 ; Bob books (previous year purchase) & McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader 1 $8.25 www.rainbowresource.com
- Handwriting – Zaner-Bloser Grade 1 Student Book (w/ream of paper) $20 www.zaner-bloser.com, once she moves beyond this she’ll be doing 2-3 short sentences a week of copy work and working on writing simple letter’s to family/friends.
- Math – Saxon Math 1 homestudy Kit $72.75, www.rainbowresource.com Saxon Math Manipulative Kit K-3 (previous year purchase)
- History – Story of the World – Ancient Time & Story of the World Ancient Times Activity book set- $26.00 www.rainbowresource.com
- Science – Study animals, human body & plants – Library books & Internet
- History reference books – Usborne Encyclopedia World History – $14.75; Kingfisher History Encyclopedia $18.95; Blackline Maps CD & Book $43.00 rainbowresource.com These books will be used for history through out elementary school.
Many of the books can be purchased used on www.amazon.com but I would beware because when you combine the shipping and then compare it to the price on www.rainbowresource.com it isn’t always cheaper. At www.rainbowresource.com if you spend $150 or more you get free shipping – so I plan on buying everything at once and getting free shipping. I also have tons of websites that I use both to entertain my daughter (our recent favorite is www.starfall.com ) and for homeschool planning (best one so far is www.donnayoung.org ).
For Homeschooling Parents:
- Life Learning Magazine
- For California Homeschoolers–Magazines for the organization come with memberships to CHN and HSC
- New Scientist
- Live Learn Free–for unschoolers and other natural learners
- Homeschooling Parent
Magazines for Children, Recommended by Homeschooling Parents:
First, check out this list here: http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/materials/Magazines4kids.htm
- Cricket Magazine (And they have a bunch of other magazines for all ages made by the same company, linked on their website. I can personally vouch for Lady Bug and Baby Bug, very cute for youngers).
- Stone Soup
- Kids Discover–Comes highly recommended by one homeschooler that says that it has NO ADS! (vs National Geographic Kids that is apparently full of ads, which, I’m told, are formatted in a way that makes it difficult to visually distinguish between the ads and the articles.) Each issue is a topic.
- Moo Cow Fan Club–another no ads magazine
- National Wildlife Federation–Several magazines, for different ages–Ranger Rick, Your Big Backyard, etc…
- Learning Through History
- National Geographic Kids
- Time For Kids