Category Archives: Resources

Non Traditional Homeschool Supplies

Ahhhh it’s school supplies time again. I love the smell of brand new crayons. Love freshly sharpened pencils. A neat stack of notebook paper. New books ready to be cracked open. We know what the usual school supplies consist of, but homeschooling is its own unique entity. An entity that requires some different supplies.

We moved between the end of last school year and the summer. This caused me to re-evaluate what school supplies we really needed/wanted/liked. This is our top 15 list. (This list does contain affiliate links. I was not asked to add or review any of these products. Please see statement at the bottom of this post)

  1. Laminator – I’ve seen people poo-poo this one. I got one and I admit it sat dormant for awhile before I used it. And once I finally started, I haven’t stopped. You can do so much with this! Laminate worksheets to be used again and again. Laminate poems of the month. Art work. Chore charts. Pressed flowers.
  2. Play dough or clay or floam – So many uses! Dough can be used to keep littles busy. Or give some to your early letter learners to practice making letters. Have your dyslexic use it to illustrate words like between and together. Use clay balls for math problems. Build a replica of the pyramids. We prefer the non-air drying and floam which also doesn’t dry out, link above. 
  3. Library card – Free books. Need I say more? And free DVDs. Books on CD. Digital books. So many good reason to join your local library. Some even offer home school classes!
  4. Coffee shop cards – Sometimes a change of scenery helps the soul.
  5. Rain boots and water shoes – If you live in a desert, you can probably disregard this one. For everyone else, rain boots and/or water shoes are awesome. Get out and splash in those puddles! Explore the streams. Hike without worrying about getting your shoes muddy. Rainboots hose off and Keens (our favorite) are washable!
  6. Journals and colors – Write stories. Sketch in the museum galleries. We love Prisma Colors because of their rich colors. And SO MANY colors to choose from. Not just 12 or 24, but SO many. So good for your budding artists. Start a nature journal.
  7. Pouch for collecting treasuresmagnifying glass, bug jar, flower press, binoculars – We love our exploring bags. My children love to collect treasures. And of course, they all have the proper tools for looking at what we explore.
  8. Bin for taking supplies outside – When the weather is beautiful, we don’t want to stay inside! Take your supplies with you in these buckets.
  9. Annual pass to local nature preserve – Yes, we do have a nature theme going on. We love being outside. I think, and research supports, that children do best when they can be in a green space as often as possible.
  10. Water bottles – A must! My kids are always thirsty and we are always in the car. It is so tempting to stop at Sonic all the time for us. This adds up and it’s too much sugar! I discovered these Camelbak waterbottles this spring and it was love at first use. My kids used mine so much I had to buy them their own! These keep water cold for 24 hours and tea or coffee hot for 12! So awesome.
  11. Headphones for audio books – Great for listening to all those digital books from the library!
  12. Sidewalk chalk – There are so many ways to learn with chalk. Practice spelling words. Write the alphabet on the driveway. Have your child run from letter to letter to spell their words. You can play a similar game with math. Draw the water cycle. Draw a sun dial (don’t forget to add a book for the arm).
  13. White board markers – Great for so many things. Writing on all of those laminated pages. Drawing on white boards. Do math on the window. Grammar on a mirror.
  14. Laminated map – We like seeing where the people live that we are learning about. A laminated map allows you to use those white board markers. Mark the journey of the Ingalls as you read Little House on the Prairie. See how far Paddington traveled.
  15. Cardstock – printables last longer printed on cardstock. Making sorting cards for grammar games. Print out a timeline. Make a lapbook. Use to make a cover of a book written and illustrated by your children.

What would you add to this list?

(We were not asked to review any of these products to add them to the list. These are products that we regularly use or have used in our home school. The links do contain affiliate links, but that does not cause you to pay more if you do decide to buy them via the links. We do receive a small commission for sharing these products with you. This helps the website to run. Thank you)

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Free Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips for Homeschoolers DFW I wish there was a way to beam us to field trips in other parts of world. The nice weather was awesome while it lasted. This week I think the heat is moving in for summer as usual. Every year I hope that *this* year I won’t let the heat slow us down. Every year I am wrong and loose my resolve as July approaches.

Did you know that you can go on field trips without leaving the comfort of your air conditioned home? These also work well for tiny travel budgets!

Here is a list of some of the field trips I have found that will hopefully quench your travel bug and make you forget the heat!

Discovery Education – There’s an events calendar with upcoming field trips on it! There’s a good selection with new ones being added often.

Smithsonian Permanent Exhibits – tour the museum’s permanent exhibits!

Augmented Reality – not quite the same sort of field trip as the others. They take images from Google Earth and allow you to view it in 3D. Requires downloading of their software to use.

Tour the Little House in the Big Woods – Easier than trekking out west following the Ingalls’ trail.

This is just a VERY tiny example of all of the places your can visit from home. A few others are The White House, The Louvre,  Colonial Williamsburg, Mt Everest, and many, many more! What neat places have you explored from home?

 

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Summer Work Box

For home school moms, summer just means even MORE time with the children because activities have all but ceased. Even though I adore my kids being home all of the time, I am sad when summer comes because we love our routines. They also seem to like to bug me more often. It’s just something about the summer. During the school year they have their workbooks and computer based lessons to do. When June hits and it’s MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM I’m BORED!!!!!!!!!

So enter, the summer work box.

This is how we kept up some of our studies last summer. Because I have one that struggles with writing and spelling, not doing any hurts him a lot. I made one for my oldest that focuses on writing and spelling.  I made one for my then Kinder.  And when they started whining they were bored and I was trying to work, I told them to get their boxes.Summer work box DFW Homeschool Resource

The red box was my just finished 3rd grade child’s. We haven’t actually done this consistently all summer but it gave us something to do on the days nothing else was going on! I am working on the boxes for this summer…and adding one for my four year old that thinks she is six because she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Homeschool Summer work box

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Dysgraphia

How was I supposed to teach this child to read? As we were working on pre-K materials at home, I realized he wasn’t understanding phonics very well. Major problem. I had struggled with them as well growing up. Despite that issue I miraculously learned to read before I even entered Kindergarten. This was red flag number one, a flag that I hoped would be torn up in another year or two. )This turned into a multi-part series, so stay tuned….)

As I started working with him while homeschooling, his reading picked up, but his spelling didn’t . I wasn’t too worried yet, because I hadn’t been able to spell well either. But what didn’t pick up was his ability to write.

We solved a bit of this spelling issue with going back to kindergarten level phonics…again…

Another red flag was how he formed his letters. Despite being taught to start at the top, he would start his letters in weird places. At the bottom, sides, crossing the t before writing the vertical part. We pressed onward which mostly included me sitting across from him any time we wrote something and saying “Start at the top!!” over and over again.

So we also added in weekly visits with an Occupational Therapist to help with spatial issues and added cursive…

Ages ago I used to work at a school that catered to dyslexic children. I only taught science so I didn’t have special training. I did know that it takes some children until they’re 8-9 years old before reading, writing, and spelling click. So with all of the above on my mind, I waited to see what happened.

And we waited…and reviewed…and changed spelling curriculum 3 times…

Fast forward to last year. He was almost 8 and not much had improved. Handwriting and spacing has improved thanks to OT and cursive! But he still tests really low on some complicated evaluation I will not claim to understand. And his spelling is about on level with my kinder child, but he at  least is willing to try to spell words now! Small victories!!  BUT for being 9 almost 10, I can see middle school coming at us hard a fast and it seriously scared me.

So we decided it was finally time for a Scottish Rite evaluation…

Next part of this mini series will be on our Scottish Rite evaluation! Stay tuned.

Who else has been struggling with a reluctant writer because it’s just SO HARD for them?!?

 

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Popular Mechanics for Kids

Did you know that you can view 4 full seasons of Popular Mechanics for Kids on Amazon Prime?? We love this show. my oldest loves to see how things work, and this is sometimes much better than having him try to take things apart that he shouldn’t be taking apart! And the episodes also cover things that we normally wouldn’t be directly exposed to but may still wonder how they work!

If you don’t have a Prime Membership, it’s $99 a year and also includes free shipping on Amazon Prime items and includes Prime Now in areas that have Prime Now. Pretty good deal! We have an Amazon Firestick to view the Prime movies on our tv you can also use the Prime app on your devices.

(This post does contain affiliate links. This helps keeps the lights on over here and doesn’t cost you anything. Please see our complete affiliate policy on the About page)

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Universal Yums Box – A Review

Universal Yum Box DFW HomeschoolMy husband and I love to travel. We haven’t been able to travel as much with our children as we would have liked yet, so we found another way to expose our children to the tastes of other cultures: Universal Yums Box. (I was not asked to write this review, we just love how this subscription box supplements our homeschool curriculum each month)

Universal Yum Box DFW Homeschool

 

Yum and Yum Yum boxes are packed with amazing tastes and smells of other countries. Each month, one country is featured, and each box comes with 6 or 12 different snacks foods and/or candies from that country. We have subscribed now since August 2016 and have “traveled” to Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, and the Philippines.  Some countries had awesome snacks and others left much to be desired. Ukraine’s red caviar baked bread snacks – definitely one of the worst snacks we’ve ever tried. Our favorite snack? Hard to say. There’s been some amazing little goodies!

Universal Yum Box DFW HomeschoolThis month, we got a big surprise when a BIG Yum Yum box showed up on our door step! We had been getting the smaller box, the Yum Box, instead of the Yum Yum Box. I was confused and texted my husband because we had spoken about getting the bigger one, but I didn’t remember it actually happening. He had no idea, so I opened the box thinking there’d be an explanation inside, and there was! Universal Yums had sent us the bigger box to try to entice us to change our subscription.

I have to say that we are tempted to upgrade! There were twice as many goodies in the box this month. My favorite were the apricot cookies hands down. I wonder if I can get them to just send me another box or two of those??? The kids really liked pretty much everything else but the coffee flavored cookies.

Universal Yum Box DFW HomeschoolInside each box there’s a score card to keep track of who likes what. That was a new feature they added about 2 months ago and the kids love giving their opinions. There’s also a booklet with lots of facts about the country as well as tidbits of information about the snacks. I think my only complaint is that SO MANY snacks have gluten in them and I can’t eat those.

Long story short, if you want a cross cultural experience every month without leaving your house, subscribe to Universal Yums!

(I was not asked to write this review. I did it because we love this subscription box! However, if they ever want to send me something to review, I would gladly do it! Same goes for other companies. Hint, hint)

 

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State Fair Tickets

It’s that time of year again!! Time to submit your information to get your free student Texas State Fair tickets!! Each HS student (K-12) is eligible for a ticket and the family will receive 1 free teacher ticket. 

Here’s the low down. You have until May 15,2017 to submit your request. Tickets won’t come until it’s closer to fair time!! For curriculum ideas from the fair go HERE

All requests must be made in writing. No requests made by phone or e-mail will be accepted.
The program is for K thru 12th grade. To be eligible, Kindergarteners must be 5 by September 30, 2016. We do not have a ticket program for children younger than Kindergarten/age 5. 
 The program is for families living in Texas within a 100 mile radius of the Fairgrounds. Each family must submit individually to avoid duplicate requests. We do not accept requests from home school groups or associations.
Your request letter should include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number(s). The letter should be computer printed or neatly hand written for clarity. Including an email address and daytime phone number is necessary for us to contact you in the event you neglect to include all required information.
Include BOTH the ages and grade levels of each student as they will be when the Fair opens on September 30th, 2016. Name of student is not necessary. Requests without this information will be returned unfilled.
We can send one teacher ticket per family. If you would like a teacher ticket, please include that request in your letter. There is no such thing as a principal ticket.
Include a business size (#10– measures 4 1/8” X 9 ½”) envelope with one first class stamp ($0.49 postage). Please DO NOT address the envelope in any way as we will print address labels. The envelope must be business size because of the length of the tickets.
All requests must be POSTMARKED AND COMPLETE by the deadline date of Friday, May 15, 2017. Incomplete requests and requests arriving after this date will be returned unfilled.

Mail your request to:

 State Fair of Texas

Attn: Lisa Boubel

PO Box 150009

Dallas, TX 75315

If you have any further questions, please contact Lisa Boubel at 214-421-8737 or by e-mail at specialevents@bigtex.com

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iNaturalist

If you have a budding entomologist, you’ve probably already discovered iNaturalist. But, if you haven’t, it’s a must to check out! We take classes at The Heard Museum in McKinney occasionally. The Master Naturalists there love to share information and iNaturalist is one of them. NPR had a segment on it as well the other day which reminded me to share it here.

Basically, you download the app, take photos of bugs while you’re out and about, and share them with other bug loving people! NPR’s story mentioned a snail that there was no known photo of, anywhere. It had been mentioned by Captain Cook and scientists had a sketch of one, but no one had located and photographed one until recently! So cool!

Here’s the link to the website which also has a link to the apps.

I am receiving NOTHING for this post!And I was not asked to review this or share it. I just thought it was an awesome resource for home school families.

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The Allowance Game

Allowance game cover The Allowance Game was one of my favorite games growing up! It reminded me a bit of Monopoly except for people would play this one with me! My mom kept our game and gave it to me a few years ago so I could could play the game with my children. (I was not asked to write this review, the opinions in it are mine and mine alone!)

Allowance game board
This game is awesome because it teaches kids about money in a real life sort of simulation. The goal is to be the first one to earn $10. The prices you pay for items is quite unrealistic, but it allows kids to practice using nickles, dimes, quarters, $1 bills, and $5 bills. And the awesome thing is they don’t know they are learning! They just want to be able to add up their money to $10 the quickest. There’s no banker in this game, so each player gets a chance to practice their money skills.

I love the illustrations on the game and love that the money mimics American coinage pretty closely. The box has fallen apart since I think this edition is from the early 90s and like I said, I loved this game and had younger siblings so we played it for many years.

Lucky for you, this game is still being sold. The board looks a little different, but it’s still the same awesome game. I’d recommend it for ages 5 and up! I still enjoy playing this with my kids today. Click HERE to buy your own today!

(This post contains an affiliate link to the product I wrote about. I was not asked to write this review, I did it because I think it’s an awesome game! With all affiliate links I will earn a tiny bit of money for advertising it. This money helps keep the lights on! Thanks for your purchase!! See my affiliate disclosure on the about me page)

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