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We’re nearly two months into this homeschool journey and there are soooo many things I could say about it! But I’ll save that for another post. However, today I wanted to share some of the things we’ve been using that have been excellent for hands-on learning, as well as some of the curriculum we’ve been putting to use.
I also want to note that you do NOT have to be homeschooling to use a lot of these things. They are great resources for a wide age range –toddler, preschool and elementary aged kids — as well as being helpful in addition to the learning they’re doing at school. Yes, we use them for homeschool, but they are mostly (not all, but most!) cross functional for learning regardless of where your child attends school. 🙂
First Year of Homeschool Resources
These Counting Bears by Skoolzy are multi-functional and work for such an age range. Carter (1.5yrs) can use them to begin sorting and learning his primary colors. The older boys have used them in several different ways for counting, math (addition) and playing different games with. We love these! They work well with any math curriculum especially for preschool and early elementary aged children who first need to learn and understand number sense.
The Learning Resources Mathlink Cubes have been another great way to teach differences, number sense, counting, adding, subtracting and even can be used for color sorting as well.
The older boys have been the primary users so far, but I think they would work well for preschoolers too!
This isn’t the exact same one we have, but Melissa & Doug have an abacus as well. Another hands-on tool to use for math and number sense. I’ve found the more they can use with their hands to count the more likely they are to retain number sense. It helps younger children to actually visualize what 1 of something is. Creating this foundation will lead to success in math later on.
We also use Play-Doh for building, molding and counting as well. Again, HANDS-ON! It’s an incredible way for young children to learn. The more they can do with their hands the better!
We’ve also been working our way very slowly through the Singapore Kindergarten curriculum. So far it’s been pretty good and is building that foundation of number sense they will need to move on. I’m not sure if we’ll stick with this curriculum later on, but for now it’s doing it’s job.
One thing I wanted to implement for them was having their own set of creative tools to work with each day. It’s one part of “real school” that I didn’t want to take away. I know they enjoy having their own separate stuff instead of having to share all the time. I picked up these caddies from Target and filled them with a set of Crayola crayons, markers, colored pencils, writing pencils, sharpener, eraser and scissors (Cameron needed his own lefty scissors, so having separate caddies worked perfectly!). We also keep their Funschooling Kindergarten Journal in there. And that’s how we start each day.
The Funschooling journals are amazing and implement a love of journaling and writing. Since they can’t quite write or journal yet, the journals start off as art and drawing and transition into writing as they get older. We will definitely continue to use these as they are a fun way to start off our day. I highly recommend these to anyone, whether you homeschool or not, because it definitely builds creativity and the art of independent work from a young age.
Phonics / Reading
We’ve been working through Explode the Code so far and we’ve been having amazing results so far. It’s very repetitive which is good for them, however, it can be a bit mundane so we do supplement with other materials so they’re not just sitting and working in a workbook.
Dry Erase Handwriting
One way we work on handwriting is using Dry-Erase markers. Most kids looooove to write with markers, but a lot of kids hatteeee handwriting! So it’s an easy way to get them to practice writing, but still enjoy it. I got these templates from Let’s Play School. I simply printed, laminated and cut them out and put them on a binder clip.
To learn our sight words we’ve been doing a lot of fun little “games” to learn them. Again, I use Let’s Play School a lot to find resources for printable sight word activities.
A couple favorites so far are driving the ambulance to the hospital using our sight words and jumping the horse through the field of oats and sight word fences. Both boys love this activity and they’re learning as we do it!
I found these Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks on Amazon that are SOOOOO helpful for reinforcing letter sounds and assist in beginning to turn sounds into words.
I will say Pinterest can be your best friend when planning for your first year of homeschool. One of my best friends has solely relied on Pinterest to plan out her entire Kindergarten year! There are so many resources available on there. For me, I have utilized Pinterest a lot as well, but I’ve also relied on some other sites too.
The downside to Pinterest is it can take you down a rabbit hole where you usually have to end up paying for something OR it takes forever to actually get to the files you’re actually looking for. I’ve primarily used Pinterest as a creativity board for our homeschool year and a place to find new and interesting crafts and projects for us to do.
Most of our actual material comes from three sources (outside of our book curriculum):
You can find A LOT of free stuff on TPT. I like that site because you can select the grade level you’re looking for, the price you want to pay (FREE!) and can search for exactly what you want. That’s where I found a lot of our human body material from.
My other two favorites, LPS and Moffatt Girls, you do have to pay for. And yes, a lot of the stuff they create, you could make yourself. And if that’s your jam then you can use their stuff as idea starters! I just simply do not have the time or energy to do that. I’d rather support a woman owned business by paying a few bucks and receiving a TON of material in return.
I cannot rave enough about their stuff. The Moffatt Girls have monthly no-prep packs you can buy for under $7. SEVEN DOLLARS! I spend almost that much on a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And for $6.75 (to be exact) you get nearly 60 pages of no-prep activities for all grade levels that go along with the holiday or season of the month.
The best part is that I have 4 kids who will get to use this stuff year over year, so it’s 100% worth it. And even if you only have 1 or 2, it’s still worth it in my opinion.
The Moffatt Girls also have a ton of other materials on her page on Teachers Pay Teachers. One of my go-to resources.
And lastly, I wanted to share one item I utilize to keep all these things organized! I found this photo organizer at Michaels and it has been AMAZING for keeping all the little pieces of our activities in one place and keep them organized so we can reuse them year after year. The best part is I got it for about $10. If you catch one of Michael’s many sales and use a coupon you can usually catch these for a super deal.