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DIY or Buy? How to Teach Your Kids Without Going Broke

DIY or Buy? How to teach your kids without going broke on kid's cash register gradient background

No room in the budget for fancy school learning tools? 

No problem!

(Even if there IS money available for the latest and greatest educational gizmos, buying more stuff just because you can generally isn’t wise.)

Please don’t feel like you have to OWN every cool-looking manipulative, learning center set and educational toy that exists in order to provide a high-quality education! 

Whether you know it or not, you already own countless items you can repurpose to teach many – if not most – concepts. Or often, a DIY option will get the job done just as well as expensive classroom tools. And, by the time you’re done repurposing and DIY’ing, you’ll have saved enough money to splurge on a few really cool items that you just can’t duplicate at home.

Our Curriculum Choices – Year 4

sensible homeschool our curriculum choices year four on chalkboard background

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If you haven’t done so yet, read the first post in this series here and check out Our Curriculum Choices – Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3.

Year 4 Snapshot

While we were (and still are) far from having it all figured out, Year 4 was the first year I felt noticeably more confident in our homeschooling. 

After several years of educating our kids at home, I now had some data to work with – some proof that this was working. We could look back on work from the years past and see tangible evidence that growth and learning were taking place. Phew!

20 Fantastic Ways to Help Your Homeschool Kids Stay Focused

20 Fantastic Ways to Help Your Homeschool Kids Stay Focused teen girl reading on red sofa

Home sweet home… 

The place we feel warm and cozy and free to be ourselves. 

The place we live and laugh and love and create beautiful family memories. 

The place where naked toddlers run through the middle of the lesson on the Byzantine Empire singing “I’m a Little Teapot” and throwing Cheerios in the air like confetti. 

*sigh*

While there’s a lot to love about the freedom a home-based learning setting provides, there are definitely some unique challenges that homeschooling parents need to navigate. Many of these challenges stem from two fundamental characteristics of a homeschool. 

Homeschools are often multi-AGE and multi-USE settings.

These two aspects can equate to high levels of distraction unless some thought is given to managing them well. 

Spotlight on School Supplies: Hole Reinforcement Labels

Spotlight on School Supplies Hole Reinforcement Label sheets

Heroic Halos of Helpfulness

My mom was right. Good things do come in small packages! If I remember correctly, she was referring to me, not office products, but I think the expression works here, too.

I never thought I’d have such strong feelings for tiny, donut-shaped stickers but I just love these little guys.

It’s so frustrating when a child puts their heart and soul into a detailed notebooking page only to have it torn out of their binder by a sibling. Or worse yet, on more than one occasion, my kids have dropped a binder rendering the holes of many pages useless all at once.

Never fear… hole reinforcement labels are here!!

How to Make a History Timeline

How to Make a History Timeline

Well, it’s about time!

After years of historical knowledge going in one ear and out the other, I’ve finally found a system for learning and retaining history that works for me (and my kids, too)!

A key element of this system is making timelines. (The other elements that work for us – notebooking and using chronological curricula – I hope to talk about in future posts).

Growing up, one of the main reasons I disliked and couldn’t retain history was because I’m an “overall picture” kind of gal. But in school I had never been given the big picture of history – only out-of-order chunks. I memorized names and dates for tests. I filled in the blanks on my worksheets. I even did some fun projects. But, to my frustration (as a child) and embarrassment (as an adult), I retained very little information about the history of our world.

I don’t even like playing Trivial Pursuit for fear that my historical ignorance will be exposed! 

(oops… the truth is out now)

Thankfully, the history curricula that we’ve used so far (Tapestry of Grace Primer and Story of the World) have both suggested creating timelines to keep track of historical people and events. 

Our Curriculum Choices – Year 3

sensible homeschool our curriculum choices year three on chalkboard background

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If you haven’t done so yet, read the first post in this series here and check out Our Curriculum Choices – Year 1 and Year 2.

Year 3 Snapshot

Each year seems to bring something new and Year 3 was no exception. It was the first time I was homeschooling with an infant and without the support and encouragement of my dear mother-in-law who passed away only a few weeks after I had our third baby. 

But God has always been our Provider, whether it’s in the form of new insights, tangible resources, or help from friends and family. He’s consistently given us hope and a way through difficult seasons, both in homeschooling and life in general. 

Homeschoolers are Backward

homeschoolers are backward unique red person going against flow of traffic

WARNING: Homeschooling may cause your schedule to look different than the rest of society. This can lead to serious side effects such as nasty glares from strangers, self-doubt, and upheaval of existing routines. 

When you have the freedom to tailor your routines to the unique needs of your unique family, your schedule begins to look… well… unique. 

In many ways, my family’s daily and weekly routines are backward from our non-homeschooling friends. And guess what?

THAT’S OKAY!

Spotlight on School Supplies: Colored Index Cards

spotlight on school supplies colored index cards

Bright, Edgy and Surprisingly Useful

I never expected to use colored index cards – or any index cards for that matter – in our homeschool. I bought some in a weak moment as I drooled walked down the aisles of our local office supply store.

Side Note: If you read this blog for any length of time you’ll probably notice my fondness for office supplies. I’m not ashamed.  I’ll shout it from the rooftops…. “I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES!!!”  So many options! So many ways to be organized! So much potential in every package! 

*happy sigh*

Sorry, where was I? 

Oh. Right. Colored index cards. 

Spotlight on School Supplies: Magnetic Whiteboard

spotlight on school supplies magnetic whiteboard background with markers and eraser

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Never Bored with Your Board

My apologies to any chalkboard aficionados out there, but now that we’ve used whiteboards, I’ll never go back to chalkboards. Just imagine…..

  • No chalk-covered toddlers
  • No chalk dust in the air and in the carpet
  • No ear-piercing, goose-bump-causing SKREEEEEECH from wandering nails

*shudder*

Don’t get me wrong – I like a cute & trendy menu chalkboard in the kitchen just as much as the next Pinterest-perusing mom. And, of course, chalk still has its place for some activities (that place being outside). But for our day-to-day schoolwork we needed a different solution.