7 Homeschool Must-Haves

7 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List

We all know school supplies and curricula are a must when shopping for the upcoming school year. But, I quickly learned that’s not all I need to complete my shopping list. For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a third-year homeschool mom to my kindergarten and second-grade boys. Today, I want to share seven odd items that always make my back-to-homeschool list. The following items are totally preference-based, but sure do make our homeschool days more successful.

I won’t bore you with a long intro, so let’s get straight to the point!

10 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List

1. Fruit

Fruit of the spirit, that is.

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Unfortunately, these characteristics aren’t something we just have. They are muscles that need to be worked daily. The more you use the challenges of life as an opportunity to grow in these areas, the stronger you’ll become.

I think many homeschool moms would agree that homeschool would be a challenge without a great measure of love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attributes are the foundation of a successful homeschool.

So, if you find yourself like me and need constant reminding to practice the fruit of the spirit, especially on those challenging days, print out Galatians 5:22-23 and hang it somewhere in your classroom.

Click here to download Galatians 5:22-23 for FREE!

Fruit of the Spirit

2. Music

If you have morning devotionals with your kids, don’t forget your worship music. There’s nothing like starting the day off singing and dancing. What tunes do we like? Newsboys! My boys also like tunes from “Our Daily Bread for Kids.” These tunes are available for download on Amazon. The songs are light, bubbly, and fun for kids—such excellent mood-boosters! Add them to your playlist and you’re good to go!

In addition, we also like to play light classical music as relaxing white noise while we do classwork. Classical music reduces stress levels, as well as boosts memory and creativity. In fact, university research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to students who heard the lecture with no music. So there ya go!


3. Essential Oils

That’s right! Lavender, frankincense, and peppermint are our favorite “go-to” oils. Just place a few drops into your oil diffuser and enjoy a calmer classroom. Why these three oils? Lavender is known for helping with relaxation and improving mood. Frankincense is a great “healer” oil that also helps support brain health. Lastly, peppermint oil improves focus and boosts energy.

It’s not 100 percent foolproof, but it makes a difference for us. In fact, sometimes my kids ask to be rubbed down with oils when they aren’t feeling well. I like to use coconut oil as a “carrier oil,” add a few drops of essential oils, and rub the mixture into the soles of their feet. I also found that these oils help with relieving allergy symptoms for my children—especially coughing and congestion. So give them a go in your classroom!


4. Early Finisher Activities

I purchase low-cost crafts and activities and place them into a bin for my kids. The purpose? To have “mom approved” items (quiet items) that keep them occupied should they finish their assignments early. I’ve discovered that if my child knows what to do after completing an assignment, he is less likely to interrupt me while I’m working with another child.

The Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot will be your bestest friend. Yes, I said “bestest!” Fill a plastic container with loads of coloring books, puzzles, art project kits, play foam (much better than Playdoh), and little odds and ends that you know your kids will love. Check out the goodies I picked up from Target and Dollar Tree!

Early Finisher Activities

The NASA activity books were given to me by a friend, but the rest of the items were new purchases I will add to my existing  “early finisher” collection. As you can see, some of the items I purchased are consumable, like the paint sets, stickers, and coloring books. However, I try to ensure I include reusable items like puzzles, games, and the like, to save money.

5. A “Feelings Chart”

Checking in with your kids before the school day begins is a great way to avoid misbehavior during school hours. We’ve implemented the “Feelings Chart” in our home. After devotional, we gather around and I have each child point to a picture that best represents how they’re feeling. This method gives my children a chance to express themselves and have their needs met.

You can get a FREE copy of my “Feelings Chart,” here! This chart, as well as the “Fruit of the Spirits” chart, are new additions to my online store, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Be sure to follow my store to be the first to know when I upload new freebies!

How do you feel

6. Family Membership Cards

To your favorite museum, local zoo, learning center, or wherever! Family membership deals typically offer great admission discounts for up to one year. If you pay $150 for an annual family membership card to a museum, that typically costs $20 per person for admission, for a family of four you’ve already saved $10 after the second visit. The third visit, and any visit thereafter, are basically free for an entire year!

Even more? When you invest in family membership cards, you can use them to your advantage to plan fieldtrips and family adventures during low-traffic hours. That means you’re more than likely to get the entire place to yourselves. Not to mention on those “off” days (that we all know we have), having a family membership card to the zoo or museum can be a sanity-saver! Just pack up the kids and go. No need to worry about admission costs.


7. A Timer

Or anything that will sound when it’s time to move on to the next lesson. I personally use the alarm setting on my tablet. I set it for the duration of the lesson, and it sounds to notify me to move on to the next lesson. The timer is not to be militant with time but serves as a gentle reminder to wrap things up.

Before I implemented this method, I would totally lose track of time and got stressed out when I learned it was later in the day than I’d initially thought. Even with a clock in the classroom,  I sometimes forget to look at it when I’m in the swing of things. Having an audible signal is a great way to ensure I stay on track!


That’s it in a nutshell! I’ll spare you the outro this week. I want to know from you: What are your homeschool must-haves? Let us know in the comments below!


Preschool Number Matching

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “I Can Count” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Number Matching and Sequencing” busy box.


What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.


My reasoning for using boxes is simple: 1) I found them in the back of my closet, forgotten and unused. 2) My three-year-old thinks he’s receiving a “gift” every morning—which gets him super excited about learning. So there ya go! Feel free to use Ziplock bags, storage containers, or anything you’d like.

Preschool busy box for counting

Our “Number Matching and Sequencing” box includes a cut and paste worksheet, a glue stick, safety scissors, number flashcards, 10 fuzzy sticks, 165 pony beads (lots of counting involved!), twenty magnetic sticks, twenty magnetic balls, empty containers, extra paper, and three markers.

This box is designed to practice fluency in counting numbers 11-20. Here’s how we used the items listed above. Feel free to adjust the activities to suit the numbers your child/student is currently working with.


First, my preschooler-to-be works on his cut and paste worksheet. Cut and paste is one of his favorite activities. Cut and paste is also a great way for tots to develop and strengthen fine motor skills and bilateral coordination—that is, the act of using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand performs a different task. You can find this cut and paste worksheet available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. This worksheet helps students visualize the correlation between a number and its quantity.

Preschool busy box for counting

Next, we have a little flashcard fun by matching the numbers on the flashcards to the number of beads on each fuzzy stick. There are ten fuzzy sticks. Each fuzzy stick comprises a quantity of numbers 11 thru 20, since those are the numbers we are working with this month. My three-year-old counts the beads on each stick and places the correct flashcard next to the fuzzy stick. Easy peasy!


For more counting fun, I included some magnetic sticks and balls. I included an empty container that my tot can place the balls into as he counts, so that they don’t roll off the table. Afterwards, he can have a little magnetic fun with these items! For some reason, kids love putting things into empty containers and then taking them out again… (*shrugs).


The very last thing I included was a blank sheet of paper and some markers for drawing. This is a “busy box” after all, and I wanted to make sure that if my three-year-old finished all the tasks quickly, he had something else to occupy him and engage his imagination. Although I work with him on the first portion of the busy box to make sure he’s understanding and progressing, my three-year-old typically completes the other tasks independently—allowing me a free moment to work with my first grader. To gain a few more moments, I always include extra paper and markers. It extends my three-year-old’s “busyness” an extra ten to fifteen minutes.

Preschool busy box for counting

I want to end this post by saying, please use discretion. Obviously small magnetic balls are not suitable for any child under the age of three. You can supplement with big wooden magnets or other items suitable for counting. Lastly, while these boxes are designed to teach they should also be fun! If your child/student is new to the concept of busy boxes/bags, allow them a time or two to play with the items before you introduce how the items can be used for learning. This will reduce any pressure they may feel and make them more willing to learn something new.


Don’t forget to download your FREE cut and paste worksheets at Nike Anderson’s Classroom! If you haven’t already, grab last week’s “I Can Count” freebies, here!

• Nike Anderson • (13)

Until next time, friend!

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Whether you’re a homeschool mom, a preschool teacher, or have a toddler at home preparing for pre-k, finding engaging activities to help your child learn can prove challenging. There are a ton of resources available for what I like to call “tot-school.” However, I wanted to share what I personally do with my three-year-old to keep his little hands “busy” while preparing him to move forward in his education.

You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. But, allow me to introduce you to my “busy boxes.” These boxes are simply 5×12 boxes stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics. We even have some STEM activities and “just for fun” activities stored in these boxes.

This month, I’ll be sharing some of our busy boxes with you in a series called Tot-school Tuesdays! First up is our “I Can Count” busy box. This box includes a worksheet, a foam sheet, foam letters, three markers, pony beads, a fizzy stick, paint, a stamper, a stamper sheet, and an apron. Everything, except the apron, was purchased from Walmart. The apron is from Lowes and they offer them for free when your child attends a Build & Grow workshop.


Our box is designed to practice numbers 11-20 (he forgets numbers 14 and 16). Each day will have a target number. Today, we worked on number 11.

We like to work on the worksheet together, first. These worksheets are available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Print them in color or black and white. These worksheets help with practice in the following areas:

  • Number recognition (0-20).
  • Number name recognition (zero-twenty).
  • Handwriting (with tracing guides).
  • Counting (0-20).

Next, my three-year-old practices spelling out the number name using foam letters. He personally likes spelling the name on his worksheet first because it offers a guide on where each letter should go. He will then spell the number name on the foam pad. These letters do have adhesive on the back of them, but we chose not to peel the contact paper so that we can keep reusing the letters for future activities.

Placing pony breads on fuzzy sticks is probably one of his favorite activities, so I had to include it in this box. For this activity, my three-year-old will count out the pony beads per the number of the day. Today, he counted out 11 and is placing them onto the fuzzy stick. Of course, I include extra pony beads for him to enjoy after his counting assignment!

Fun Preschool Counting Activities

The very last activity is the messiest because it involves a paint stamper! If you don’t want things to get too messy, purchase an ink stamper. I also include some ideas in my FREE “I Can Count” resource. We use a paint stamper because my three-year-old typically likes to continue to paint after the assignment. And what’s the assignment? Today, he had to stamp his stamper 11 times on his “I Can Count” sheet. I also gave him extra paper for more painting fun!

Fun Activities for Preschool

On average, this busy box has a “busy average” in our home of approximately 1 hour (When the allotted paint has been all used up!). I want to mention that you don’t have to “oversee” your child, you can simply give it to them for fun if they are too young to really understand any of it. I hope this busy box has given you some great ideas for keeping your little one engaged! See you next Tuesday for some more totschooling ideas!

Get Your FREE “I Can Count” Preschool Prep Worksheet, Here!

I Can Count Worksheets

Looking for more resources? Visit me at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

Nike Anderson's Classroom

Easy Space Experiments for Kids

Easy Fun Space Experiments for Kids

This year we are trying out the Magic School Bus curriculum. This science curriculum boasts 180 days of units on space, forces and weather, energy, animals, habitats, archaeology and more!  I want to give a shout out to Cornerstone Confessions for offering this free curriculum on their awesome website.

This curriculum is appropriate for kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd-grade students. As I’ve mentioned, it’s free, but you will need to purchase certain supplies for the experiments. You will also need access to The Magic School Bus episodes via Netflix, YouTube, or the library. While it’s too early to provide a comprehensive review, I will say that this curriculum is full of fun activities and experiments for kids. We are definitely enjoying this no-nonsense approach to science.

So, let’s get right into some of the experiments and activities we’ve been doing this month!

1. Experiment One: Name Those Planets

Objective: Identifying planets by size and distance to the sun.

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space

What You’ll Need:
•    Balls of every size (1 basketball, 1 soccer ball, 2 soft balls, 2 ping pong balls, 1 jack ball, 1 marble). *Note: We didn’t have all these balls on hand, so we just used what we had!
•    Stick on labels
•    Markers
•    This worksheet

What to Do:
1.    Hide the balls around your classroom or backyard and ask students to find all 8. (I added this fun activity to the experiment to get them moving!)
2.    Ask students to label all of the planets according to size.
3.    Ask students to line the planets up according to the distance from the sun. (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Uranus, Neptune.)

4.    Ask students to complete the follow-up worksheet activity.

Get more ideas for this experiment here!

2. Experiment Two: Stargazing

Objective: Finding out what happens to stars when the sun rises.

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Sees Stars.

What You’ll Need:
•    A late curfew (for stargazing)
•    Pencil or pen

•    Scissors
•    Bright flashlight
•    This worksheet

What to Do:
1.    Go outside on a clear night and observe real stars. Have students record what they see. (If you don’t homeschool, tell your students to stargaze with their parents for homework).
2.    The next day, go outside and ask the students if they can see any stars.
3.    Ask students why they think it’s difficult to see stars during the day and record their answer. (Stars are veiled by gases, dust, and water vapor in the atmosphere.)
4.    Print out this template and punch out the Astro-Liz constellation using a pen or pencil. Make sure your students know the holes represent “stars,” and the cover flap represents the “atmosphere.”

5.    Pretend it’s nighttime and hold Astro-Liz up to a bright window with the white flap facing them. (Ask students if they see any “stars” through the “atmosphere.”)
6.    Pretend it’s daytime and hold Astro-Liz up to a bright window. This time, shine the flashlight (sun) on the cover flap.

(Ask students if they can still see the “stars” through the “atmosphere” when the “sun” is shining.)

7.    Ask students to complete the follow-up worksheet activity.

 Get more ideas for this experiment here!

3. Experiment Three: Constellation Viewers

Objective: Learning about different constellations.

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Sees Stars

What You’ll Need:
•    Empty paper towel tubes
•    Dark blue construction paper
•    Scissors
•    Glue
•    Pin, pen, or pencil
•    Rubber bands
•    A coffee mug (or any round-top cup)
•    This template
•    Markers, crayons, stickers, etc. to decorate (optional)

What to Do:
1.    Decorate the tube. (We decorated color construction paper and glued it over the paper towel tube.)
2.    Choose your constellation from the template and cut it out.
3.    Place a coffee mug upside-down onto dark blue construction paper and trace around it.
4.    Cut out the circle you traced on the dark blue construction paper.
5.    Glue your constellation directly onto the center of the dark blue circle.
6.    Punch out the holes on the constellation using a pin, pen, or pencil.
7.    Fold the circle onto the end of the tube so that the constellation is centered. Fasten with a rubber band.
8.    Look through the tube to view your constellation!

 *Note: You can also place a flashlight into the tube and turn off the lights to see the constellations.


4. Experiment Four: Making Craters!

Objective: What happens when asteroids of different weight and sizes hit the earth?

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Out of This World

What You’ll Need:
•    Cinnamon
•    Flour
•    Salt

•    Shoe boxes
•    Marbles of all sizes
•    Aluminum foil balls
•    Ping-pong balls
•    Spoon
•    This Worksheet

What to Do:
1.    Mix flour and salt together in shoe boxes and smooth over. Cover with a layer of cinnamon.
2.    Ask students to predict what might happen if they dropped each of the balls into the shoe boxes.
3.    From a crouching position, drop each of the balls into the shoe boxes and carefully remove them. Ask students what they see. (Craters should be of different sizes and depths.)
4.    Ask students to record their observations on the worksheet.
5.    From a standing position, drop each ball into the shoe boxes and carefully remove them. Ask students what they see. (Craters should be bigger and deeper.)
6.    Ask students to record their observations.
7.    Discuss why the holes were bigger and deeper when the balls were dropped from standing position. (A further distance gives the balls time to pick up speed, which results in bigger craters.)

 Get more ideas for this experiment here!

Stay tuned for more posts on easy, fun science experiments for kids! I wish I could write about them all, but I’d rather you head on over to Cornerstone Confessions and Scholastic to discover the ones we didn’t mention for yourself. A full review on this curriculum will be available at the end of the school year. Stay tuned!

Have you tried this curriculum? Let us know down below!