Monday, February 23, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!



Since I've only been homeschooling for around 10 years, I'm obviously no expert when it comes to all things learning at home. However, there have been a few things that have worked amazingly and consistently well for our family and I think many of these items would serve most homeschoolers well. So, I'd love to share them with you!

  • Shared supply caddy - when we first started our journey into homeschooling, like many families, I tried to copy the government run school system (even though I've never experienced it myself). I bought supplies for each kiddo,  got them their own little pencil boxes, and had them carry them back and forth from the closet to the table where we worked. This was a very futile exercise.  The boxes just became places where random little toys began to hide out, not to mention there were just too many supplies floating around and that was with just 2 kids! I looked into the future and saw 25 boxes of supplies overflowing with junk and knew I needed to find a better alternative.  
                                                                                                 
    I headed to Hobby Lobby and found this great caddy with 3 divided areas on one side and a large open area on the other side. It holds our crayons, markers, scissors, pens, tape, and glue sticks perfectly!  Toss in a ruler, some permanent markers, some extra erasers and we are ready to go! 3 days a week you will find it plopped right in the middle of our table as we create, explore, and discover new things together!

    Ours looks just like this except it is a dark woven basket. 

    • Twistable crayons - I'm obviously not a fan of clutter and messes, so normal crayons are my nemesis. Sharpening them, the peeling paper, broken bits and pieces......ahhhh! It's enough to make minimalists shudder in fear. ;) Twistable crayons have been such a great choice for our family. They are basically impossible to break in little hands, they obviously twist up instead of needing to be peeled and sharpened, and they don't make a lot of mess on the container they are stored in. Again, this item is something we've used successfully for over 4 years.

      We have 24 colors to choose from!


  • Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner - I love to be organized and having a functional planner is a must, but one that is also beautiful is a nice bonus! I've used this particular planner for 3 years and every year after researching alternatives, I always head right back to HEDUA.com and buy my planner for the upcoming year. While the price seems steep to some, the ease of use, great articles, and handy sheets for documenting all those random things you do that count as homeschooling makes this a must for us! From January through March 31st, they always have a wonderful presale with at least 20% off their products, so that helps offset the cost. Planners start shipping mid February!!
  • Mechanical Pencils - Going along with the entire mess thing that traditional crayons bring, many of those same problems rear their head with regular pencils. My kids love getting character or themed pencils, but I cringe. Not only do I greatly dislike character products (Yes I finally did give in and allow my daughter to have Hello Kitty underwear) but I know I’m going to spend the next hour basically sharpening these inferior products down to little nubbins in order to get the pencil ready to write.  So I bought a pack of mechanical pencils and never looked back!  All three of my big kids know how to load new lead into their mechanical pencils, so this helps in them being able to complete their work as independently as possible. Mechanical pencils also allow you to insert new erasers when one wears down vs traditional pencils that are basically useless once an eraser is gone. I’m sure I may receive some backlash from traditionalists :)  Maybe I’m ruining my kiddos or their hands will be all gnarly and crippled by age 9, but for right now these have worked great for our family!           




  • Lamination Machine - When we first got this machine, it sat in the closet for quite a while before getting any real use. I think it seemed really expensive to use or maybe I wasn't sure what really needed to be preserved from little hands that love to wrinkle things.....I don't know. But it wasn't long before this little machine was making more regular appearances and now I can say in all honesty our Scotch Thermal Laminator gets used every week, sometimes a couple times a week. It's been a great investment! It frequently goes on sale for $18 and has lasted us over 3 years and is still going strong. The refills can be found at most stores like Wal-mart or Meijer and even off brand lamination pockets/sheets work wonderfully in the machine. I use it mostly for unit studies or printable activities that I want multiple kiddos to use down the road.

    • Wireless Printer - I work completely off of a laptop, so my office consists of me sitting on the couch, usually watching an old classic movie, with the computer sitting on my lap and the printer sitting in a completely other room on the top of my dresser.....high tech, I know! Anyway, since we got our wireless printer, life has been so much easier. I used to have to work on something, then stand up, walk to the bedroom, plug in my printer, wait for it to connect and then print.  I can now print documents, activities, school projects, and photos all from the comfort of my couch. It's always on and available and I can quickly print off a worksheet that ties in with our lesson or a lesson plan for our Bible or history. It's obviously not a necessity, but it sure is a nice little perk!


    • The Bible - This may be last on my list, but it is definitely not least....it's actually TOP of my list of favorite things! I personally believe that NO homeschool will be successful without this key tool. Not only is it the first ever written parenting help book, but it gives key guidelines on HOW to homeschool your child and EVERY child. No need to sort through different curriculum styles or put your child through rigorous tests to find your child's learning style. Through simple, easy examples it gives parents ALL the tools they need to raise their children to be successful in life!

      Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
      Deuteronomy 6:5-9

       For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
      Matthew 16:26
    What are a few of YOUR favorite things that make homeschooling great?

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