In addition to being in baby mode around here, we’re also in back to school mode!
This year Jemma begins 1st grade and Max is starting Pre-K. No doubt, September will be busy around here! We all love the structure of the school year, but more than anything I’m aiming to grow their love of learning while balancing the actual work that must be accomplished. I figure if I can raise kids who enjoy learning, they won’t always need my direction, some day they will gravitate towards expanding their knowledge on their own. Hopefully.
I mean, a mom can wish, right?
At their young ages, so much of learning falls into the category of play and experience. Granted, we have workbooks and such that we’re moving through, but on most days I try to toggle back and forth between seated focus time and up and about active time.
Awhile back I shared the details of my curriculum choices for Jem’s 1st grade work and today, I’m excited to feature a handful of the extra special homeschool things coming our way! Many we’ve already started learning/playing with because the kids don’t associate them with school days … they’re just learning for fun! And really, that’s the best learning of all!
See something you or your littles would love? Here are details on each of our back to school favorites!
Magnetic Game Box ABC Expedition and Magnetic Game Box 1, 2 Numbers & You from HABA USA — I’m a huge fan of contained activities. I like sets and learning activities that are ready for both home and on the go. A complete, one and done kind of thing. HABA, a favorite of ours for eons (seriously, Jemma used to have baby toys from them!), must have parents like me on their R&D panel, because these magnetic box sets are A+! For the preschool to early elementary age, ABC Expedition and 1, 2 Numbers & You offer a primer to letters, writing, numbers, and early math concepts. Each is chalk full of open-ended learning opportunities and the magnets make it very game-like, and thus, a favorite among the kids!
Little One & Me Backpack from Lassig — Don’t get me wrong, Max loves his Ninja Turtle backpack, but it’s always my preference to have a more timeless, simple option. And that’s exactly what Lassig offers! With sturdy canvas and quality clasps I fully expect this sustainably produced bag to last through all 3 boys <<< a near miracle. The Little One & Me Backpack is not only perfect for our coop days, it will work fantastic for field trips too! I mean, assuming I leave the house with all 4 kids at some point this year :)
Puzzle Globe from Learning Resources — I love geography and my kids love puzzles so the Puzzle Globe is a match made in heaven for our family! Last year we spent a lot of time focusing on China thanks to our Terracotta Warrior unit and this year, Jemma has requested that we explore Great Britain. So, off to Europe we go!
Smart Letters from Marbotic — I always struggle with finding a place for technology in our “classroom”. We’re all drawn to it, but I honestly prefer the tactile approach of learning without screens. When we do incorporate the iPad (everyone’s favorite, especially Max!) I adore having options like Marbotic’s Smart Letters. These 26 letter wood pieces interact with 3 free apps that were created by educators and inspired by the Montessori method. That’s practically the trifecta of learning, fun, and, dare I say, a break for mama!
Ticonderoga Pencils — When they say these are the best pencils in the world, they aren’t joking. Jemma and I love love love these. We’ll never buy another kind pencil.
Erupting Cross-section Volcano Model from Learning Resources — Can you say the best science unit ever?!? That’s what we’re embarking on this year! Dominic and I got engaged on May 18th (the anniversary of Mt. St. Helens’ eruption) and I’ve always anticipated a few rounds of volcano learning at varying levels over the years. This year will be our first and if I can manage it with the new baby, perhaps we’ll even field trip to Mt. St. Helens. In the least, we’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ at home with Learning Resources amazing Volcano Model. Best of all, it’s reusable so we can truly put this volcano model to use year after year.
Cruise Ship Playset from PLAYMOBIL — Play is learning and learning is play. That’s what I try to remind myself when I get out of shape about lesson plans and workbooks and curriculum. So, when it comes to schooling I aim to balance and incorporate what everyone might think of as a toy into our daily schedule. PLAYMOBIL is definitely a family favorite and the kids have been going bonkers over the cruise ship set. Together they follow the step by step directions to set everything up and then their imaginations go wild! They’ve never been on a cruise ship, but thanks to PLAYMOBIL they’re getting a taste of life on the open sea :)
Alphabet Acorns Activity Set from Learning Resources — We’re going to have this game forever! Jemma and Max, and even Reid, are obsessed with hiding acorns and practicing their upper and lowercase letters. You can see a quick video of Alphabet Acorns in action here. Seriously, so fun!
Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off: A Memory Matching Game from Learning Resources — We’ve always loved matching game, but Lil’ Lemonade takes things one step further by integrating a money element. Money is such an abstract concept to teach, and honestly it’s something I struggle with (teaching, not actually executing myself, lol!). So, needless to say, I was pleased as punch (pleased as lemonade?) to have a fun way to practice all that early money stuff. And … it’s working! Game learning at its finest!
Typing Club — Out of the blue this summer Jemma asked if she could start practicing to type. We found this free site and a couple times a week now, she eagerly asked to borrows my laptop … girl is up to 8-10 wpm :)
I can’t imagine that this will be our final homeschooler round up, there is so much out there to explore/try/do and companies are constantly listening and developing products based on what little learners needs. Do you have a family favorite? A concept you want transferred from book learning to hands on learning? Tell me about it!
And to all you fellow homeschoolers out there … welcome back to school!
The kids and I were thrilled to partner with some of the above products/companies – we love them now and we’ll continue to love them this school year and beyond I’m sure! All opinions are our own. No monetary compensation was received.