When I first started looking into homeschooling I thought it would cost a fortune to get a little set up going. I scrolled through blogs and Instagram feeds of flashy and expensive resources. I love looking through these things still for inspiration and connection to a great community but initially I found it a little intimidating. What I soon realised was, it was more about taking away a lot of the unnecessary and unused “stuff”, that served no purpose and was just taking up space. It was more about really looking at what the kids used and taking a minimalistic approach with maximum usage focus. Also things that facilitated their learning and interests, also things that had a beautiful quality about them, or were handcrafted.
So I thought I would share a few things that the kids love to use and use all the time. Our simple approach has the kids playing with things over and over and finding new ways in which to reutilize the same stuff. It’s been super interesting to watch. It’s really hard to moderate what kids in the modern world have in terms of excess. They have so much! So I feel for us it’s about providing more in terms of quality and experience and trying to scale down the amount of unused and waste.
So here are a few things we love to use… also I might add our biggest resource by far is the internet. We use it to print charts and find information, watch documentaries, look up projects and experiments… recipes.. how to everything! I think internet, books/library card and a simple art and craft kit will take you 90% of the way, then just get out and explore!
Felt and wood toy food:
We do a lot of real-time cooking and baking and the kids love it! But they love to play shops or cafes and cook up lots of delish “pretend food” too. They use this stuff daily, they have a little toy register that they use to punch in the numbers and at the moment my son is really starting to become interested in how much things cost and the value of money. They love to lay the food out and draw it, they play tea parties and they feed it to their stuffed toys. It’s such a hit!
It seems music is always playing in our house, whether it be via the speakers where the kids play musicals and tracks they like, or the constant singing that is coming out of the wee mouths of babes, or my husband plays a few instruments and we love to play some vinyl! I love as soon as they hear something they like, it’s straight to the musical baskets for party time. We have bells, shakers, maracas, triangles, tambourines you name it! My little girl loves jamming on the Uke. Music is a fundamental part of our household. It’s a way we express and connect. I find with these simple percussion instruments they are such a good outlet and release for the kids and simply just so much fun.
Art Supplies and Air drying clay:
Our art cupboards are always full! We are all always trying out new mediums for the kids to experiment with but I always feel that there is something to be made when the cupboards are full. We tend to use acrylic paints, watercolour paint, oil pastels, beeswax crayons, coloured pencils, air drying clay, hot glue gun, moulding clay, craft nic nacs, coloured paper, ribbons and pretty much any thing from the recycle bin that sparks interest from the kids to create projects, models, toys and art! They tend to ask now “can we make something out of this?” We use an awesome online programme called Artventure which I know a lot of homeschoolers use and that is widely used in schools. My son loves this and is now able to set it up on the computer, navigate it himself and knows all the equipment he will need to get going. I highly recommend a look at this great tool. I also wanted to note how awesome air drying clay is. I always have some in the cupboard and my son loves to use his hands to make all sorts of stuff. Generally he paints it after and then plays with it. It’s such an easy to use and great addition to any art kit.
I love books and this is a little weakness of mine. I find we utilise our local library ALOT! We even library hop! But I do love having some good quality books at home to refer too. Who doesn’t love reading and re reading books! I tend to spend money on good books at birthdays and christmas. I have had some good finds at Op shops and charity stores too. Again I do try to navigate from that same space of quality over quantity. It’s something we have tried to spend time really instilling in the kids, a love of books and reading. I feel like it is a gift you have for life. You can take anywhere and can get lost in worlds so far from your own, find any knowledge you seek.
You can never go wrong with a tub of lego! We have a load of duplo that the kids play with and now my son is getting older he has a few sets of the modelling lego. To be honest we don’t really follow the recommended age as they both love playing with both sets. Lego is great for creative play, counting, colours, problem solving, you can pretty much use it for anything you want to teach! They get so creative with what they build and we are going through a big fortress building phase which is awesome to see how my son is figuring out how to solve the problems that arise when you have an idea in your head, that you want to build and bring to life.
We got this Oregon Globe for christmas last year and it’s interactive. It’s pretty neat, as you navigate the wand over countries, cities or places it can tell you facts, national anthems, games, quizzes all that relate to the area you would like to know about. My son is particularly curious about earth, maps and planets so this really appeals to him. He is learning how to work it but really enjoys all the information that it relays. We also use the globe as a constant reference to the many questions popping up about languages, places and travel. It’s out on our dining table all the time!
This small chalkboard is indoors in the kids space. They use it to draw all the time and love it. It also has a white board on the other side. I am finding this particularly great at the moment as we are starting to work on spelling with my son. He is always asking how is this spelt? and that? so the chalkboard is out and easily accessible for him or I to write on. He is also starting to practice words he remembers on there and ask is this spelt right? It’s old-fashioned yes! But it’s reliable and handy! Oh and it works for us at least. its great for me to write a bunch of words on for him to copy in his book throughout the day also. Again this is something that you can adapt for many learning uses. I think we scored this from Ikea a while ago!
These are things that many would have in their home and I guess what I am trying to say is that you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune. Especially when they are small because there is learning opportunities in all the stuff you have around the house. I would highly recommend joining your local library and many have toy libraries as well. Visit your local op shops and charity stores and you will be amazed at what you can pick up! Mostly though I would reccomend to get outdoor and go exploring. You will be amazed at the kind of learning that happens on a bush walk, a visit to a beach, a trip to a new park. You will talk about all you see and can extend on the learning through things as simple as conversation, a quick google search can answer so many questions! They love just doing and being apart of your life.
I would love to hear some of your favourite learning resources. Please share your experiences. Just remember it’s not about quantity but quality and really the time you invest in your children is far more valuable than anything that can be bought!