Homeschool Room Tour

Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour

We’re fast approaching the end of the school year here in Middle Georgia. In fact, next month’s To-Do List includes a kindergarten graduation for my six-year-old and state exams for my third-grader.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been on this homeschool journey for four years. Yet, here we are. So much has changed. We went from doing school at home to adopting an eclectic homeschool approach with whole-child education as our foundation.

With that being said, I often wonder if it’s necessary to keep the homeschool room going. I mean, I love our classroom, but I must admit—at this point in our journey—it’s just for looks.

Which leads me to this blog post. Many homeschool newbies wonder if having a homeschool room is necessary.

The quick answer is no.

There are many unconventional places we’ve enjoyed learning outside our designated homeschool room. Here are a few:

Homeschool Room Alternatives

1. The living room: The couches in the formal living room are the perfect place to get cozy with a book.

Homeschooling in the Living Room

2. The family room: Whether it’s making ourselves comfortable on the couch, rocking chair, or carpet, the family room has seen more learning than our classroom this year.

Homeschooling in the Family Room

3. The dining room table: Multi-level learning is much easier sitting around the dining room table. We can all see each other’s faces, have plenty of workspace, and I can easily work with both my boys at once.

Homeschooling at the dining room table

4. The kitchen: We’ve had many science lessons in the kitchen, from building volcanoes and robots at the breakfast table to using hands-on kitchen science to bake goodies. It’s also a great place for my boys to read-aloud to me while I prepare meals.

Homeschool Science at the kitchen table

5. The porch: Our back porch has been the perfect place for us to get messy with arts, crafts, and science experiments.

Homeschooling on the back porch

6. The world: The world is literally the best classroom! Whether we’re hanging out at the library, touring the nation’s capital, or going on a field trip, these experiences give our children the opportunity to put their learning into practice. Click here to read about our field trip adventures. Click here for ideas on providing homeschool children with social opportunities.

The World is our Classroom

So, no, we haven’t been making much use of our classroom. If you don’t have one, don’t feel like you’re missing out. Many homeschoolers I know don’t have a designated workspace either. I will say that there have been some pros and cons to having a homeschool room. Here are a few:

Pros to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • Contains Homeschool Mess: All schoolwork and homeschool supplies have a designated space that is contained and can be closed off at the end of the school day. This keeps other areas of your house from becoming a homeschool landfill.
  • Fewer Distractions: Having a homeschool room automatically sets the atmosphere for learning. Children know they’re in this room to learn and are more likely to stay focused.
  • Personalization: Decorating your homeschool room can be fun! Especially when you get the kiddos involved. You can really create a space that is unique to your family and makes your children excited to learn.
  • More Visuals: Typically, your homeschool room will include hanging charts of colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, nouns, verbs, maps, etc. Daily exposure to these visuals may help stimulate your child’s brain and facilitate learning—especially if your child is a visual learner.
  • Keeps Things from Getting Lost: Having a child do schoolwork wherever they please is an invitation for items to get lost. You may find yourself spending unnecessary time looking for pencils, scissors, and other school supplies. Your children may also lose their textbooks and other learning materials. Having a designated classroom ensures everything stays put in one room, cutting down on the likelihood of lost items.

Cons to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • It’s Not Ideal: Many homeschoolers discover that learning is actually best when it takes place outside the home. Field trips, library visits, nature walks, etc., are all opportunities for children to set the workbooks aside and put their education into practice.
  • It Segregates Learning: Having a designated classroom may reinforce the idea that learning and life are separate entities when the two are very much intertwined. Being able to learn anywhere may help children understand that learning is accessible anywhere and doesn’t only take place in a classroom setting.
  • It Encourages Overspending: “This will look cute in our classroom” is a phrase I used often. In actuality—even with being a homeschool minimalist—I admit to purchasing things I didn’t need just to “fill-up” our homeschool space.
  • It’s Less Organic: Cuddling up in the oversized rocking chair while I read to my boys about skyscrapers was much more authentic than having them sitting at their desks as I stood at the whiteboard lecturing. Many children I know—including my own—prefer a more organic approach to learning that allows them to better relax and learn at their own pace.
  • It Can Aggravate Cabin Fever: One thing I’ve noticed was that by winter none of us wanted to be in the classroom. Spending most of our mornings in the same confined space started to get old quickly. We wanted to be downstairs where the floorplan was open and the windows were plenty.

Can you homeschool successfully without a designated classroom? Of course you can! But if you must have a classroom and are looking for some inspiration, here is a tour of our updated homeschool space. I figured I’d go ahead and post it should we decide to change or get rid of it altogether next school year.

Homeschool Room Tour

  • Minimalism was the name of the game this year. I wanted to keep the decor simple and only house supplies we’ll actually use. The map is from Dollar Tree, the crayon decals are from Target, and the organizing carts are from Michaels. The bins on top of the carts were gifted from my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is how I originally had the classroom set up. We got rid of the lamp, which was from Target. I ordered the office chairs from Amazon, which are specifically designed for children. The valences are a Big Lots’ purchase. Lastly, the corner shelf was gifted by my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is what the space looks like with children working in it! The positive affirmations posters are from Target. The LED calendar and red caddy are also from Target. You can find pencil holders like the one in the picture at Dollar Tree and the table lamp is a Walmart purchase. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • No homeschool room is complete without a whiteboard. This whiteboard was purchased on Amazon. On the right-hand side of the board, I have my boys’ homeschool schedule and morning checklist laminated for durability and dry-erase use. The affirmation underneath the board says “You are a creator” and I thought it was fitting to place it above the art supplies. The art supplies are sitting on a stand by Melissa and Doug. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • My favorite space in this room is the reading corner. The letter decals,  lamp, and chair are from Target. I used the shelves on the floor-lamp to house some of our books, which are sitting in organizer bins from Dollar Tree. The pillow and crochet blanket were made by my lovely momma. Lastly, the Minecraft pickaxe and sword were purchased from a local circus, they light up at night!

Homeschool Room Tour

If you’d like to see what the classroom looked like before, click here. Not much has changed, but I love the flow and simplicity of our designated learning space this year.

In closing, if you decide not to have a homeschool room, I hope this post gave you peace of mind. If you’ve decided that a designated homeschool room would be best for your family, I hope you’ve gotten some ideas to help you get started decorating!

Do you have a homeschool room? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! 

Until next time, friends…

Great Wolf Lodge Review

Pressing the Reset Button | Tips for Planning a Stay at Great Wolf Lodge

Homeschool is great. Sometimes, however, we become so stuck in our mundane routine that we don’t even realize how far we’ve traveled from our vision.

If you’re new here, our vision for home education is this:

To foster a healthy relationship with learning that inspires a lifestyle of educational, mental, and spiritual growth.

While field trips, extra-curricular classes, and formal lessons are great ways to execute this vision, I strongly feel that just being can teach our children the value of rest. In rest, we discover the balance we all need to prosper.

Let me give you an analogy.

You’re probably aware that, when it comes to working out, rest is just as important as the physical activity.

Why?

Because it allows our muscles, tissues, nerves, and bones to rebuild after being broken down by an effective workout routine. Too much physical activity, when not coupled with resting periods, can take a toll on the human body.

In the same way, too much education, without adequate resting periods, can take a toll on childen—and their parents.

Enter the “reset” button.

You know, that button you press when your Wi-Fi has been running a little slower than usual? Yes! I press a similar button to reset my family when things have been a little—slow.

This spring, after pressing that reset button, we took a little trip to the Great Wolf Lodge resort. We called it our mini family getaway where for just a few days we could just be. Let me tell you, it was everything we needed and more!

Before I delve into my tips, I must disclaim this post is not sponsored. We paid our own money to stay at this resort and all opinions are my own. If you missed the video footage of our GWL adventures on Instagram, you can rewatch them on our Instastory highlights under the title “Today” for a limited time.

Now, here are some helpful tips if you’re planning a family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge (GLW) this spring. 

GWL 4


1. Sign up for emails.

Before you book your stay, I highly recommend signing up for emails. All you need to do is go to the company website and create an account. After doing so, check your inbox over the next few weeks. You’ll be surprised by how many promo deals GWL will send you for up to 50% off your stay. Without doing so, you could end up paying $400-$500 per night!

 

2. Your waterpark passes are included.

You probably know this but, in case you didn’t, when you purchase a hotel room for the night, this fee includes your entry to the waterpark for all the guests who’ll be staying in that room. So, if you booked a room for a family of four for $300/night, you will NOT have to purchase additional tickets to the waterpark. Each family member will receive a wristband upon check-in that grants them entry into the park.

 

3. Check for “Homeschool Day” offers.

If you’re a homeschool family, your location may offer “Homeschool Days.” Homeschool Days are basically days the resort invites homeschoolers to enjoy their facility at a discounted rate. Our location’s Homeschool Day was last month during Spring Break. They sent out offers as low as $99 per night! We were unable to take advantage of that deal but will be looking out for it in the future.

 

4. Don’t purchase a day pass.

From what I saw, day passes are around $55 per person. For a family of four, that’s $220. Trust me when I say, you can get a room (which includes your waterpark passes) for the same price, sometimes even less if you watch for promo deals. I highly recommend staying a night at the hotel if you can manage to book it for a lower value. You’ll be able to take advantage of the fun evening activities without worrying about driving/flying home. Plus, how cool is it to sleep at a hotel that has an indoor waterpark?

 

5. It’s an indoor waterpark and it’s warm!

Great Wolf Lodge Review

Again, I’m probably insulting your intelligence, but GWL is an indoor waterpark. Although, I also don’t want to assume you know this information. Some people I spoke with actually didn’t know. All major attractions are indoors. No need for sunscreen or sunglasses unless you’re enjoying the outdoor pool/hot tub. It’s also very warm, about 80 degrees indoors. The water temperature is warm, too! And, yes, it’s open during winter.

 

6. Arrive early.

Standard check-in is at 4pm, but we were allowed to arrive as early as 1pm to have access to the waterpark, which we took advantage of. We simply checked-in, received our wristbands, and enjoyed the water park until our room was ready. And as a side note: our room was ready by 2:30pm, so we were actually able to get into our room earlier than the standard check-in time! However, this is likely because we visited during low-traffic hours.

 

7. Leave late.

Check-out is at 11am, but you don’t have to leave just yet. After checking out of your room, put all your belongings back into your car and enjoy the waterpark (and the rest of the resort) until it closes at 8pm (sometimes 9pm). Your wristband will still work for entry to the waterpark! If you want to keep your room a little longer you can always pay extra for what they call “late check-out.” You won’t necessarily need to, though, because everyone can shower and dress in the waterpark locker rooms. The locker rooms even have a machine to spin-dry your swimsuits.

 

8. You don’t need your wallet.

The wristband you receive upon check-in is attached to your credit/debit card on file. Simply scan it to make purchases at the resort. The wristband is also your room key so don’t lose it! This is pretty handy because you can keep your wallet in a safe in your hotel room and you won’t have to rent a locker ($10-$18) at the waterpark to host it.

 

9. Don’t struggle with your luggage.

If you’re not valet parking (which is an additional cost per day), send someone (your hubby or oldest child) to the front entry and have them bring a luggage cart to your parking space. There’s no additional charge for this service. Simply load up, check in to your hotel room, and leave your cart outside your door when you’re done. A staff member will bring the cart back downstairs for you.

 

10. Skip the upcharges.

GWL offers Wolf Pass packages for up to $60 per child. This is an additional charge. You get the following:

  • One MagiQuest game
  • One wand to play MagiQuest
  • One round of mini golf
  • One entry to the Moonstone maze
  • One climb at the ropes course
  • One arcade card with 20 points (this will go quickly)
  • One candy cup
  • One ice cream scoop
  • One pair of goggles

I personally did not think the passes were worth the money. There are plenty of free events to enjoy at the resort after the kids tire themselves out at the waterpark. There’s morning yoga, face painting, crafting, and story time. There are also several evening parties—including a dance party for the kiddos and more! Make sure you receive an activity schedule when you check in. If you’re staying for more than three days, perhaps the passes could be worth the money, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.

 

11. You can pay for activities/attractions separately.

A Wolf Pass is not the only way to enjoy the resort’s activities. You can save money and just pay for the activities you really want to enjoy. MagiQuest, one of the resort’s most popular attractions, will cost you around $33 per person for the game and wand. That’s nearly half of what you’ll pay for the Wolf Pass. Save your wand to avoid purchasing another one if you plan to return to GWL. Additionally, bowling is only $6 a game. No need to pay $60 for a Wolf Pass if you only want to bowl! I will say the Wolf Pass is worth it if you plan to do more than two activities.

 

12. Visit on weekdays and off-holidays.

GWL 2

Part of the reason we had a wonderful time was because we visited on low-traffic days when the resort wasn’t crowded. Judging from other reviews, visiting on weekends, spring break seasons, etc., is a no-no. When we visited, the lines at the waterpark were not long. Some slides had no wait at all. There were also plenty of chairs to relax in, plenty of tables to eat lunch at, and plenty of room to move about in all the pool areas.

 

13. Take advantage of Camp Howl.

This is the only upcharge that could be worth the money. For $25-$30 per child, you can put your kiddos in a program called Camp Howl and enjoy a child-free evening from 5pm-9pm. This gives you an opportunity to sip some wine (if you drink), enjoy the hot tub, sit by the cozy fire and chat—whatever you and your spouse/friends want to do at the resort!

 

14. Beware of the towel return policy.

Be sure to return your towels before the waterpark’s closing hours. Failure to do so will result in a hefty charge to your credit/debit card. When returning your towels, you MUST ensure you swipe your wristband and hear that “beeping” sound. Some attendants may let you know about this policy (ours did), but judging from other reviews, some of the park attendants failed to relay this information to guests.

 

15. Stay an extra night.

This may not happen for you, but our resort sent us a promo code on the second day of our visit inviting us to stay an extra night for only $75. A huge savings from the $400 per night average! If you’re willing to take a risk, just book one night less than you’re planning to stay and see if your resort will offer an additional night for a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that we stayed at our resort during low-traffic days, so more rooms were probably available to give us this offer. If you can swing it, you could save over $325 for your last night’s stay.

 

16. Don’t overpack.

GWL 5

The waterpark supplies a seemingly unlimited amount of beach towels, free of charge, but make sure you return them when you’re done! The waterpark also offers certified life vests and flotation devices. You will not be able to bring your own floatie into the park, but you can for sure bring a certified life vest if you’re picky about those types of things.

 

17. B.Y.O.F.

Yes, bring your own food if at all possible. As with any resort, prices are inflated and the food is just so-so. GWL allows you to bring a cooler into your room (not to the waterpark, though). There’s a nice size mini fridge to store it all. We packed sandwiches, cereal, apples, bananas, Gatorade, water, and more! For dinner, we simply drove about 8 minutes to the nearest Chick-fil-a. And I will add that the waterpark states “no outside food” but I saw plenty of families bring in their own food at our location. According to other reviews, some locations will check your bags so BYOF into the waterpark at your own risk. No worries, though, there’s a restaurant inside the waterpark should your kiddo swear they’ll die of hunger.

 

18. Not teen-friendly.

My boys are 6 and 9-years-old and I agree with the people who say this resort is for families with children ages 12 and under. I saw MANY bored teens. Unless your teen has a “kid at heart” personality or is a low thrill-seeker, they’ll probably hide in the hotel room glued to their cell phone. There’s only one high-thrill slide. The other slides were so low-thrill that I saw toddlers get on them. There were also moderate-level slides suitable for 9-12-year-olds. However, there’s an outdoor pool that teens might enjoy, but it’s only open during the warmer months. I’m not a high thrill seeker, so I was happy to get to enjoy the slides with my boys free of fear, haha.

 

19. You can relax.

The lifeguards and staff at my location were phenomenal. They were alert, friendly, but stern. If your kids are pretty well behaved, you can totally relax in the chairs next to the waterslide area and let them go at it! Honestly, I didn’t encounter one child misbehaving (although I know this is rare). The lifeguards are quick to blow their whistles and put them in check. My husband and I did enjoy the slides quite a bit with our children. However, after an hour or so, our thighs started burning from climbing all those steep stairs. We opted to stay in close range while our boys went on the slides as much as they pleased, and we felt like they were in good hands.

 

20. Coffee (and other adult beverages) onsite.

For all my coffee lovers, the resort does have a Dunkin Donuts on-site and the prices are actually reasonable. My husband and I paid about $5 for two medium coffees. For a resort, that’s not a bad price point.  We are not drinkers, but we’ve also peeped that the resort offers beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages in their restaurants. There’s even a bar in the waterpark.  Also, feel free to BYOB to the hotel.

 

21. Celebrate a birthday.

GWL 7

My youngest son’s 6th birthday gave us another excuse to splurge on this getaway. It worked out since his actual birthday landed on our homeschool field day last week and we didn’t get to throw a party. He had a great birthday with his friends, but GWL definitely took it up a notch. They made him feel extra special the entire stay, from singing happy birthday GW-style, to giving him special party hat wolf ears that alerted everyone to grant him birthday wishes. He kept asking how everyone knew it was his birthday. He loved it! Be sure to let the resort know you’ll be celebrating a birthday and get your camera ready to capture the moment.

 

22. Visit the Lagrange, Georgia Location.

If you’ve got options in regards to locations, choose the Lagrange, Georgia location. For starters, the customer service is great (shoutout to Ms. Kim at the check-in counter). The rooms are nice and clean since it’s a newer facility. The Lagrange location is also the prototype for future Great Wolf Lodge’s, as there are newer attractions that other locations do not have. So go and check it out!


GWL 3

Well, that about sums it up! Have you traveled to GWL before? What are your tips?

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Educational Spring Activities

Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring

Spring is literally around the corner!

Whether you’re a homeschool family like us, or your kids are home on spring break, I bet you’re looking for ideas on how to enjoy the warmer weather we’ve all been desperately waiting for.

Or, maybe that I’ve been desperately waiting for?

I mean, if you’ve read my recent post, you’re well aware that for me, and many other homeschoolers, winter is burnout season. But we’ve powered through it and kindly welcome the chirping birds (let’s hope they don’t bully us this year and that they make their nests in a location other than our front porch), the budding flowers, the milder days, and the sound of children enjoying the great outdoors.

Enter, springtime! How, oh how, shall we celebrate?

Of course, spending more time playing outdoors, taking bike rides, and basking in the sunshine are obvious ways to welcome the spring months. I, however, wanted to recommend some of the educational activities we’ve done in the past that our boys especially enjoyed. All the activities I’m about to mention are family friendly and age-adaptable. Most importantly, they are super fun!

So, let’s get into it, shall we?


 

7 Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring



1. Learn about bees and pollination.

Bees and Pollination Spring Activities

Where did we learn about bees and pollination? During a spring field trip to our local farm. We learned how bees make honey and how humans harvest it, the differences between male and female bees, and the important role bees play in pollination. We also got to taste some local honey harvested right there on the farm!

You don’t have to venture far to learn about bees, though. There are a ton of YouTube videos and library books on the subject that can be taught right from the comfort of your back porch on a beautiful spring day. But, of course, a lesson on a beautiful farm takes things up a notch.

And while you’re at it, invest in some local honey if the spring season aggravates your child’s allergies. Local honey is a great natural way to combat allergy season. Just a spoonful will do for children over one-year-old. And as a friendly reminder; never give honey to an infant.

 

2. Plant something green.

Planting and Botany Spring Activities

After covering our lesson on plant science, which included an awesome plant-cycle activity in our interactive science notebooks, we decided to get hands on. Planting grass is such an easy, no-nonsense experiment for children because it easily grows in many different environments. My boys loved taking care of their indoor plant and watching it change over time.

We got our seeds for free at a local farm, but you can pretty much purchase these seeds at any Lowes, home depot, Walmart, and even Target. In fact, Target has some pretty cool starter grow kits for tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

3. Pick some strawberries.

Strawberry Picking Spring Activities

Did you know strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring? That makes them the perfect fruit to welcome the spring months. So, pack up the kids, head to your local orchard, and get ready to pick some juicy strawberries!

But don’t stop there. Check if your local orchard offers guided tours, classes, or other educational opportunities to maximize your learning experience. Our local orchard taught our homeschool group a lesson on the life-cycle of strawberries and how to properly pick them before we ventured off to pick our own. We also ate some delicious homemade strawberry ice-cream, compliments of the farm.

 

4. Visit a butterfly garden.

Butterfly Garden Spring Activities

Most butterfly gardens are open to the public. Visit one and learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. The butterflies in the garden are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. My boys even fed them nectar, which was the closest they’ve ever been to the beautiful creatures they tend to chase in our backyard.

Don’t have a local butterfly garden? Invest in a butterfly kit and grow your own butterflies. You can find them just about anywhere, but Amazon is probably your best bet. The kit comes with live caterpillars that turn into adult butterflies. Be sure to set them free after you’ve finished marveling at their transformation.

 

5. Camp out while doing your lessons.

Camping and Spring Activities

Got a tent taking up space in your garage? Pitch it in your backyard and turn it into your spring classroom. Pack your laptop, sleeping bags, and yummy treats to cozy up and watch a documentary together. Or, pack some clipboards for easy writing and do your normal lessons in the fun cozy setting of your backyard tent.

You can also go on a real camping adventure. Just search for popular campsites in your area. Many parks and other recreational areas offer great camping grounds complete with beautiful scenery and the necessary facilities to make the most of your camping trip. Your kids will love solving math problems by the lake or underneath a tunnel of trees in the forest.

 

6. Do some spring-themed brainteasers.

Spring Themed Worksheets & Brain Teasers

Who can resist the plethora of cute spring-themed worksheets on the good ol’ internet? They’re especially handy “boredom-busters” for those rainy spring days when everyone is stuck at home. Education.com has got you covered! Not only does this resource offer an abundance of spring-themed worksheets, but also brain-teasers, games, and lesson plans for just about every topic I mentioned in this blog post.

Check out the brain-teaser below for a fun way to challenge your child’s cognitive thought processes, and improve their concentration, memory, and brain strength. Download it here for FREE!

Spring Maze Brain Teaser

Spring Maze
To celebrate the beginning of spring, these friendly flowers are here to help you through this maze! Be sure to check out Education.com for more learning fun.

7. Learn about local birds and make a birdhouse.

Building a Birdhouse Spring Activities

Making a birdhouse is not only fun, but is also incredibly easy to find in kit-form. We purchased our wooden birdhouse kits from Lowes and my boys had a great time building and painting them. All we needed was a kiddie hammer, some paint supplies, a back porch, and a beautiful spring day.

If you have a local nature center, it is the perfect place to learn about local birds and other wildlife. During our visit, we learned most of the wildlife at our nature center have been nursed back to health after being found injured or orphaned. Our boys got to see owls, eagles, and many other beautiful birds up close and personal. There’s something magical that happens when kids interact with animals!


 

Well, that completes my list. I hope you try out some of these activities this spring. A big thanks to Education.com for another great partnership to bring you awesome educational resources for your children and students. As you know, Education.com is one of my favorite resources so it’s always a pleasure to work with them.

Need more ideas? Click here for other spring-friendly field-trip ideas and join me on Instagram to see what activities we do this coming spring!

Be sure to let me know in the comments what your family’s favorite springtime activities are.

Until next time, friends…

Are You Showing Up for Your Homeschool

Are You Showing Up for Your Homeschool?

Chances are you’re thinking about your kids’ future and what you need to do to prepare them for it.

College.

Career.

Business.

Funds.

Talents.

Whatever your goal is for your children, it may weigh heavy on you daily. So much so that you forget to show up for the moments. You know, those little moments that make up your homeschool journey?

The truth is, this isn’t just a homeschool thing. This is a mom thing. A parent thing. It’s natural to want the best for our children and to do whatever it takes to secure their future. That’s why we invest so much time, money, and prayers into our homeschool, isn’t it?

But, unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a secure future. Even children raised by the best parents can become adults who completely defy everything their parents worked hard to achieve for their sake. Home education. Private school education. College tuition savings. Children are their own person and have free will just as we do. Sometimes, they can—and will—use that free will to make poor choices, just as we can expect them to use that same free will to make good choices.

I think deep down we know this, which is why we fail to show up for those little moments. We’re too busy desperately searching for clues—proof—that what we’re doing will be worth it in the end. Which is why we lose it when our child still hasn’t grasped long-division or those tricky grammar rules. Good academic performance gives us the instant gratification of feeling like our sacrifice isn’t in vain. We praise our children and we praise ourselves for a job well done. We are convinced that these moments somehow foreshadow our children’s future and our success as their parents.

However, when our children don’t meet our expectations and/or fail to demonstrate that love for learning we all want to foster, their future somehow flashes before our eyes. Suddenly, we fear they may not get admitted into college, build a successful career, or become that groundbreaking businessman or woman.

And then our own future flashes before our eyes. We imagine the judgmental glances from our peers, the whispers behind our backs, the “I told you homeschool was a bad idea” phrases from disapproving family members. We bring that false future into our present life and lose our ever-loving minds over something that hasn’t happened yet—and probably never will.

So, we bring on the punishment, the guilt-trips, the threats, the bribes. Whatever it takes to improve their performance! Silent tears soak through our pillowcases at night, and we’re tempted to give up.

Maybe it’s a sign,” we say, “A sign we aren’t qualified to homeschool.”

And because we fear this false future we’ve created for our children, some of us give up. The rest of us continue to teach from fear rather than from a place of peace, love, and understanding. In our own twisted minds, we believe that somehow, if we teach from fear, we’re in control. So, we allow fear to keep us from showing up for our homeschool. Instead, we show up for a false future and the idea that it is somehow greater than the journey itself.

What is a false future? It’s where the what-ifs live. What if my kid doesn’t learn enough? What if my kid doesn’t get into college? What if my kid resents me? I think you catch my drift. We think up the worst-case scenarios and live our lives trying to stop them from happening. But the big question is: are we doing what we do for the what-ifs or for the journey? If the answer is yes, we are failing to show up for the beauty that is homeschool.

You may be reading this post and think, this isn’t me. Congratulations, you’ve probably already mastered showing up for your homeschool. But if you’re reading this and it resonates with you, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start showing up!

So, how does one show up for their homeschool?

 

1. Relinquish control.

This was the very first step I had to take when I made a conscious effort to show up for my homeschool; recognize and accept that I’m not in control—but God is! Author and blogger, Sarah Mackenzie, would call this concept teaching from rest. That is, trusting that God’s got your children’s education and future in His hands—even when you’re a wreck! Even when they’re a wreck! In that, we can guide our children’s education from a loving and trusting place, rather than from anxiety.

 

2. Change your audience.

The revolutionary question I had to ask myself was:

Who am I trying to impress? God or man?

I like how Mackenzie put it: “Whose ‘well done’ are you working for?” Although she posed this question in her book, Teaching from Rest, this wasn’t the first time this inquiry resonated with me. In fact, this question surfaced several times throughout my homeschool journey. Each time, it humbled me and reminded me that the only opinion that matters is God’s. My children don’t have to be little prodigies. And I certainly don’t have to be Mary Poppins.

 

3. Embrace failure.

Fear of failure will rob us of teachable moments that can enhance our homeschool journey. Failure isn’t a bad thing. In fact, any successful person will tell you they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. Failure is a teacher, not a conqueror. When we embrace this truth, we’re more likely to discern what went wrong and how we can improve something, rather than become defeated by setbacks. Even more, we’re more likely to make braver decisions that lead to greater successes because we’re not afraid to fail.

 

4. Redefine success.

If success is defined by high test scores and perfectly written papers, we’re all in for a huge disappointment. It’s not wrong to want your child to perform well, however, you cannot control how they perform. But do you know what you can control? How you perform. Therefore, let success be determined by how well we demonstrate our love for our children. Did we teach them from a place of patience? Kindness? Gentleness? Joy? Goodness? Peace? Even when things don’t go as expected? Remember, love never fails. It always leads to success! Therefore, there’s a greater chance our children will develop a love for learning if we teach them from a place of love.

 

5. Reflect often.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I reflect on our past homeschool years, I can’t help but realize how quickly time passes. My boys are no longer the toddler and Kindergartner I started homeschooling nearly four years ago. It makes me happy for the times I showed up and lived in the moment, but sad for the times I didn’t. I don’t view this sadness as a negative thing, but a humble reminder to embrace the moment and show up for my homeschool each and every day.

Read any blog post with the title, “What I Would Do Differently in My Homeschool,” and these veterans will tell you in so many words, they’d embrace the moment and not be so anxious about tomorrow. May we take heed to their words and do our best to show up even for the smallest moments in our homeschool journey.


Well, that’s all I have for now.

Until next time, friends…

 

 

 

 

 

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Hi!

If you’re new here, my name is Nike (nee-kay) Anderson and I am a fourth-year homeschooler of two boys, ages five and nine. Welcome to the family!

The field trip conversation emerges quite often in homeschool communities. I’ve noticed most moms would love to do more with their family but they just don’t know where to begin. So, I figured I’d make a post about some of the awesome field trips we’ve taken that are kid and wallet approved! Some of these field trips were hosted by our homeschool group while others were family adventures. I highly suggest joining a homeschool group or co-op if you haven’t already. Having a community takes care of the burden that often comes with planning field trips. It also ensures you’d get to take advantage of discounted group rates and free tours.

Here are Other Reasons to Take Group Field Trips:

  • To expose your children to different experiences that inspire learning beyond the textbooks.
  • To give your children the opportunity to fellowship with their peers.
  • To create pleasant memories of your homeschool experience.
  • To give your children the opportunity to learn from other people (tour guides, teachers, volunteers, etc).
  • To get out of the house!
  • To expose your children to possible new interests of study.
  • To encourage your family to do things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

What are some personal benefits we’ve experienced with group field trips?

  • I’ve met awesome people whom I’ve had the pleasure of developing friendships with, and suddenly homeschool doesn’t seem so lonely.
  • My boys are more confident in building friendships because they know they will see the same faces.
  • Meeting a couple times a month breaks up the monotony of homeschool life, and takes the pressure off of me to provide my boys with social opportunities.
  • My boys are more aware that they are not the only homeschool kids in the world, and now feel a sense of community.
  • We get to integrate, and form connections with, people who don’t look like us as well a people from different walks of life.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?


27 Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year


 

1. Tour your local creamery and learn how they make their ice cream.

Coldstone Creamery Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Be sure to check out your local creamery to inquire about group tours. Our homeschool group has been able to arrange a tour with our local Coldstone Creamery for the past couple years. The field trip typically takes place in the morning during low-traffic hours. Our host gives us a brief history of how the creamery started and an in-depth tour of how their ice-cream is imported, stored, and made. She even shows us how they make their famous waffle cones. Of course, there are yummy samples to taste during this tour. The creamery is also kind enough to offer us a group discount on ice cream. It is the one time our kids get to have ice cream after breakfast and they love it!

 

2. Tour your local orchard and learn about the fruits in season—and pick some of your own!

Strawberry Patch | Homeschool Field Trips

We typically visit the orchard during strawberry season. Not all orchards are created equal, so be sure to choose one that specializes in field trips if you can. It makes a huge difference! Orchards that specialize in field trips typically have awesome learning centers, tour guides, thorough instructions on proper strawberry picking, group discounts on strawberries, and maybe even some complimentary fresh strawberry ice cream! We were able to learn about the plant life cycle, plant our own seeds (which we were allowed to take home), learn about bees and their significance in pollination, taste some yummy local honey, learn about the life cycle of strawberries, and of course pick our own very own strawberries to take home and enjoy.

 

3. Tour your local pizza shop and learn how they make their classic pizza.

Who doesn’t want to know how to make pizza? Take advantage of group discount rates and arrange to have a tour and lunch at your local pizza parlor. Our homeschool group arranged this field trip last year and it was great to not have to worry about packing lunch. There’s just something about eating together that solidifies bonds. Our children not only learned a new recipe, but they also learned the importance of safety and hygienic precautions when handling food in the kitchen.

 

4. Tour your local aviation museum and learn about historical events.

Museum of Aviation | Homeschool Field Trips

If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has free admission museums, take full advantage! Some museums also host free events or days when admission is free. I remember traveling to Washington, DC and all the museums were free to explore! Here, in my small town, we’re fortunate enough to have an aviation museum full of history and awesome aircraft exhibits. We’ve visited there many times and it’s a great place for kids to learn about historical events like the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and WWII. Not to mention all there is to learn about the many different aircraft, military vehicles, and notable service men and women.

 

5. Tour your local news station and learn the ins and out of news production.

News Station | Homeschool Field Trips

You may find favor at your local news station, so call around and arrange a tour! Our local news station was gracious enough to give our older children a tour of the facility. Our host was a meteorologist from the weather team. This was perfect because he was able to show us some really cool behind-the-scenes adventures. One of those adventures included some interactive green screen fun! I’d say that was the highlight of the field trip.

 

6. Tour your local police department and learn what officers do when they’re not out patrolling.

Of course, learning how they catch criminals is exciting, but there’s much more that goes into being a police officer. Our homeschool group took a field trip to our local police station, where we received a tour of the building—even where the criminals go when they first arrive. The most exciting part of the trip, aside from getting a tour of the police car and seeing how the siren works, was getting a peek inside the forensic department. The forensic department showed us how their latest technology can accurately analyze collected evidence from crime scenes. Oh, how the kids loved the magic of the blue light, which made invisible things visible!

 

7. Visit the aquarium and learn about aquatic life.

Aquarium | Homeschool Field Trips

We’d have to travel over an hour to visit the huge Georgia aquarium and pay over $100 for the experience. Luckily, we have a local aquatic center for just a fraction of the cost. The kids can see freshwater aquariums, underwater habitats, and learn about native aquatic wildlife. The 200,000-gallon outdoor aquarium houses over 50 species that include trout, alligators, and more. Our group even got to watch the divers clean the tanks and feed the fish.

 

8. Tour your local post office and learn how mail is handled and transported.

Post Office | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever wonder what happens to a letter after you slip it into the mailbox and bid it farewell? Taking a field trip to the post office is a must! Our kids were quite surprised to learn just how much behind-the-scenes it takes for a letter to “magically” end up in our mailbox every afternoon. Our tour guide showed us the entire process of a letter from the time it enters the post office to its departure for delivery. The kiddos even got to check out the mail truck, pictured above, which was a huge hit. The wonder of children always amazes me; they’re impressed by the simplest things we often take for granted.

 

9. Get fishing lessons from your local education center.

Fishing. | Homeschool Field Trips

This is one idea you don’t see on the field trip list very often, but fishing is a beautiful skill worth acquiring. This field trip has been on our list for the past three years. We aren’t a fishing type of family, but we were happy to learn the basics at our local education center. Since it’s a catch and release system, we don’t get to keep the fish we catch (not that we’ve ever caught any, haha), but it’s fun practice and a great pastime for kids. Afterward, we washed our hands and ate our packed lunches with our homeschool group at nearby picnic tables.

 

10. Tour your local fire department and learn about fire safety.

This is a pretty standard field trip, but if you haven’t visited the fire department yet, I highly suggest it. Parents and children alike will learn proper fire safety precautions as well as what firemen do at the fire station. At the very least, you’ll be convicted to change those batteries in your smoke detectors and implement a safe procedure for your family in the event of a house fire. Our children also learned about the safety equipment firemen must wear and their different functions. And since their masks can be pretty scary, the firemen made sure to let our children know that if they’re ever stuck in a fire and see someone wearing a mask, that person is there to help so never hide from them. But, of course, the highlight of this field trip was getting a tour of the fire engine!

 

11. Tour your local farm and learn how to care for farm animals.

Farm | Homeschool Field Trips

One of the perks of living in Middle Georgia is that there are farms everywhere. We’ve visited quite a few farms and have petted our fair share of cute furry pals. Something special happens when children connect with animals. They learn so much just by observing; the gentleness of a sheep eating from your hand, the way horses stand when they’re asleep, how content a pig looks wallowing in the mud. It’s also important for children to understand how important it is to treat animals kindly, and to be shown an example of what taking proper care of animals looks like.

 

12. Arrange a hike and discover nature.

Hiking | Homeschool Field Trips

We love trails! Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from in our neck of the woods, so we’ve hiked quite a few. Taking a nice hike along your city’s most gorgeous trail is such an easy and low-cost field trip that everyone can enjoy. The kids get to explore and burn some energy, and the parents get their exercise in for the day. Everyone wins! If your trail has a welcome center, grab a brochure of the native flora and see how many you can find along the way. Pack a lunch to eat later with your group and bring plenty of water.

 

13. Visit a nature center and learn about native wildlife.

Nature Trail and Center | Homeschool Field Trips

Zoos are pretty popular, but have you ever visited a nature center? Our local nature center was originally a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned native wildlife that couldn’t be released back into the wild due to the severity of their injuries. We’ve seen a variety of owls, eagles, cougars, aquatic animals, and more. These beautiful creatures are now used to teach children (and adults!) the significance of each species and the role they play in our big world. It’s a beautiful depiction of the interdependent relationship between humans and animals.

 

14. Attend seasonal events together and bond.

Solar Eclipse | Homeschool Field Trip

Arrange to meet up and fellowship at your local fall festival, Thanksgiving parade, Christmas lights show, spring break carnival, Independence Day celebration, etc. In fact, we’ve actually run into a few of our homeschool friends at these events and arranged to enjoy the experience together. Pictured above is our children at the 2017 solar eclipse experience hosted by our local museum. It was our very first field trip of the school year and was very much impromptu. The museum provided education pamphlets, maps, telescopes, and delicious food trucks. How wonderful was it for us to experience this rare occasion with our homeschool friends? It’s an event we can all remember and talk about for years to come.

 

15. Tour your state capital or local government building and meet some of the nation’s leaders.

State Capital | Homeschool Field Trip

Does your state have a Homeschool Day at the Capitol event? If so, arrange a field trip with your homeschool buddies and go! Homeschool Day at the Capitol is when homeschoolers across the state gather to meet and thank legislators. It’s a full day of learning and activities from classes to tours and fellowship with other homeschoolers in your state. But you don’t have to wait for this annual event to schedule a field trip, most capital buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Pictured above is our trip to the nation’s capital, where we toured the grounds of the Capitol Building and learned its purpose and history.

 

16. Organize a Field Day and work on sportsmanship and team-building skills.

Field Day | Homeschool Field Trips

Field day is probably our most popular annual homeschool event. We find a nice park to host it, ensure proper booking, and then meet and coordinate the events of the day. We accommodate all age groups from preschool through high school, and it’s typically an all morning and afternoon affair, so definitely more like a day trip. Best of all, our children get to bond with their friends while practicing important skills like sportsmanship and team-building.

 

17. Tour your local library and learn how to search for books on your favorite topics.

Library Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Do you visit the library often? A guided tour might be just the thing to help your children become more familiar with the space, services, and resources the library has to offer. Guided tours offer lessons on how to search for books by author, keyword, or topic, how to identify and search for call numbers, how to request a book through Inter-library loan, and how to access ebooks, periodicals, etc. Our tour even included an interactive call number search game, where students were given a sheet of paper with a list of books that they had to search for and check-off as they found them. It was so much fun!

 

18. Visit a science museum and take a STEAM class.

STEM Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Science museums have much to offer, but did you know some of them also offer extracurricular classes? It’s worth looking into! Our recent trip to the Museum of Arts and Sciences included an interactive lesson on states of matter followed by a craft. The craft required students to make a piece of artwork using a liquid (melted wax), solid  (crayons), and a gas (colorful air bubbles). They also enjoyed a lesson on different habitats, which featured live animals. So, if you’re dreading teaching science lessons to your children, make it easy on yourself and gather a few friends to take advantage of low-cost classes in your area. Be sure to note your museum’s minimum student requirement to ensure you have enough participants.

 

19. Visit the planetarium and learn how to identify constellations.

Planetarium | Homeschool Field Trips

Turns out our local science museum also has a planetarium, which is an awesome field trip idea for astronomy lovers. If you have a planetarium in your area, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. A planetarium is a large room with a dome ceiling that allows you to see what the night sky looks like. It also serves as a theater that presents educational shows right inside the dome. You’ll have to recline for this experience! We couldn’t take pictures while inside the planetarium, so pictured above is the Science on a Sphere exhibit right outside the entrance. Inside the planetarium, we learned how to identify planets and constellations in the night sky. We also watched a 3-D presentation exploring galaxies.

 

20. Visit your local ranch and learn how to make corn flour.

Ranch Corn Flour | Homeschool Field Trips

Not only did we learn how to make corn flour by hand at our local ranch, but we also got to take a dive into the corn bin, among other things. Maybe your local ranch doesn’t offer this service, but I’m sure there are other great services they might offer, like seasonal field trips or guided tours. One seasonal field trip we took advantage of at our ranch was the guided program, Pilgrim to Pioneer Days, which taught the history of Thanksgiving. It included interactive lessons, a tractor wagon ride tour of the 1,500-acre farm, and access to the farm’s attractions. Prices may vary depending on the facility, but for our family of four, this trip averaged $36 for a full day’s experience.

 

21. Visit one of the tallest skyscrapers in your city and learn about its history.

Atlanta Skyscraper | Homeschool Field Trip

Our boys love architecture, especially skyscrapers. Last year, we decided to take a trip into the city and go inside one of the tallest skyscrapers of Atlanta—The Westin Peachtree Plaza, also known as the Sun Dial. Of course, we wanted to visit the tallest one, but we had to settle for the skyscraper that offered open viewing to the public. For a small fee, we rode an elevator up 72 flights of the 723-foot building, the fifth tallest in the city. We read about its history, had a 360-degree view of the Atlanta skyline, gazed through the complimentary telescopes, and pointed out famed landmarks. It was an amazing experience. Even more so through the wide eyes of children. Afterward, we ate lunch and walked the Northside trail (I told you we love trails!).

 

22. Visit your local pumpkin patch during the Fall and enjoy seasonal activities and a hayride.

Pumpkin Patch | Homeschool Field Trip

It shouldn’t be hard to find a local pumpkin patch that offers hayrides and other seasonal activities. Where we live, there’s much to choose from. The patch we like visiting offers face painting, story time, unstructured play activities, a fun hayride, and an array of different types of pumpkins available for purchase. Like most of the field trips I’ve mentioned, this was an organized field trip by our homeschool group and it was completely free!

 

23. Attend a Saturday workshop at Michaels or Home Depot and pack a lunch to eat at a nearby park afterward.

Workshop Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Did you know that Home Depot and Michaels hosts Saturday workshops for kids? If you didn’t, now you know! We used to take advantage of Lowes’ Build and Grow Kids’ workshops in the past but they’ve been discontinued. Thankfully, Home Depot hosts similar workshops where kids can learn how to make different objects out of wood. These workshops take place on scheduled Saturdays each month at participating Home Depots nationwide. Best if all? It’s FREE! And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the kids receive a free kit, apron, pin, and certificate of achievement. Michaels also hosts a $2 Kids’ Club craft project on scheduled Saturday mornings. This is a great, budget-friendly, field trip idea for your family or homeschool group.

 

24. Watch an outdoor movie hosted by your local park.

Outdoor Movie | Homeschool Field Trips

Another awesomely free field trip idea is to enjoy an outdoor movie at your local park. All you have to do is follow their social media pages to stay up-to-date on these types of events. Pictured above, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the lake that ended with an outdoor viewing of the movie, Moana. We enjoyed complimentary popcorn and hot cocoa, and we packed our own picnic. If you want to make this experience more “educational,” read or watch videos about the history and/or making of the movie. My boys loved learning how CGI movies are created. They also followed tutorials on how to draw some of the Moana characters and attempted to learn how to play “How Far I’ll Go” on the keyboard (bless my ears! Haha!).

 

25. Visit a Butterfly Garden and learn about different butterfly species.

Butterfly Garden | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever visit a butterfly garden before? There’s no time like the present to give it a go. I don’t want to assume everyone knows what a butterfly garden is, so I’ll offer a brief definition. A butterfly garden is where live butterflies are in an enclosure and you can walk through their habitat. They are also called butterfly houses and/or farms. It’s an absolutely beautiful observatory, where people can learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. As you can see from the picture above, the butterflies are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. We even fed them nectar. Most gardens are open to the public, so research your area for the nearest butterfly exhibit.

 

26. Organize a “Lunch & Lesson” and learn something new together over a tasty meal.

Lunch and Lesson | Homeschool Field Trips

Is it weird to take a field trip to someone’s home? We don’t think so! Lunch & Lesson is something my friend and I arranged this month for our children to learn Black History together. The event took place at my home, where I prepared a lesson, craft, and lunch for the kiddos. Pictured above is last week’s Lunch & Lesson. We ate hot dogs and french fries, and learned about Bessie Coleman. Since Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot license, we built and painted wooden airplanes while listening to Newsboys. It was awesome! If this is something your speed, you could arrange something similar and invite people over. It doesn’t have to be Black history, you could cover any subject of interest or simply get together to craft.

 

27. Go to the skating rink, burn some energy, fellowship——and perhaps learn a new skill if you’re new to skating.

Skating | Homeschool Field Trips

Our monthly skating events are not only fun, but an opportunity for my boys to hone their skating skills. In a world where “book smarts” is glorified, sometimes we forget our children also learn through developing gross motor skills. Roller skating works all parts of the body and is especially good for the heart. Like most physical activity, skating is also a great way for children to relieve stress. Our local skating rink is kind enough to open its facility to us during non-conventional hours, so long as we continue to have enough people participate. If your local skating rink doesn’t already offer something similar, you could gather enough homeschoolers and petition for it. It’s worth the group discount rate, and your children will have a place they can regularly fellowship each month.


 

That concludes my list of frugal homeschool field trips that we’ve enjoyed over the years. This list is not at all-comprehensive, but it does include the field trips I can remember off-hand—and also the ones I remembered to document on camera. If this is your first homeschool year and you’re feeling a way about not taking enough field trips, please know this wasn’t our reality our first year either. It took time for us to find a homeschool community we could feel a part of. However, not being plugged in didn’t stop us from enjoying family adventures of our own. I do hope this list inspires you to make the most of your homeschool experience.

Until next time, friends…

 

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

Good news! It’s not too late to place online orders for this upcoming Christmas!

Many of you enjoyed my post last week detailing what I got my boys for Christmas with a $100 budget. I thought I’d share a similar post this week giving you my recommendations for awesome educational gifts for just under ten bucks each!

Although I’ve finished Christmas shopping, I’m always on the hunt for STEM-related projects to use in our homeschool, gift to my boys and their friends, or to simply recommend to parents and teachers who dislike searching for online deals.

With that being said, this post is meant to be a gift guide scenario for those of you who are interested in educational gift options for your children and/or resources for your classroom. All the items listed below are priced below $10 (as of date) and have high customer ratings on Amazon. They are also appropriate for introducing children to the wonders of STEM.

As you can see, we’re fans of all things STEM. It suits the learning style of my kinesthetic learners. If you’re new to STEM (or STEAM), it’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and (Art) Math. STEM stimulates a child’s natural intellectual curiosity and helps develop problem-solving, creativity, decision-making, and concentration, among other skills.

Why include STEM in your home and/or classroom? Because STEM permeates the modern world, yet research shows many students are not graduating from high school with the knowledge and capacities they will need to pursue the STEM careers steadily rising across the nation.

If you don’t get anything else from this post, know that you don’t have to rely on schools or administrations to teach your children (or students!) these wonderful concepts that are imperative for their future success.

What’s great about the following gift guide is that children will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning and developing skills! Since I have two children under the age of ten, these gifts are most suitable for younger children (should be at least six-years-old) but can be challenging enough for preteens who are new to STEM.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

 

 

1. National Geographic Dino Dig Kit

Fossil Kit.jpg

National Geographic has a great series of dig kits available for the little scientist in your life. In addition to the Dino Dig Kit pictured above, this brand also offers shark tooth, real bug, and gemstone dig kits, among others. Kids will get to discover real dinosaur fossils that include a bone, mosasaur tooth, and dino stool for their rock collection. This hands-on exploration also boasts prehistoric fun facts in the full-color learning guide. A magnifying glass is also included to heighten the fun! Get it on Amazon

 

2. Magnetic Mini Tile Art by 4M

Magnetic-Mini-Tile-Art.jpg

This amazing set challenges children to create unique works of art that can be attached to magnetic tiles that will hang on any metal surface. The set includes tiles, magnets, a paint-strip of four colors, and a paintbrush. Kids can make beautiful gifts for friends and family or simply display their impressive creations on the refrigerator door. A perfect gift for the little artist in your family! Get it on Amazon

 

3. Illusion Science by 4M

Illusion Science.jpg

This science kit boasts 20 classic optical illusions from trick cards to 3D picture cards and glasses. There’s also an instruction booklet included that explains the science of optical illusions and how to create illusionary effects. Even if you don’t have a child who’s into optics, this is a gentle introductory kit that can be fun—and educational—for the entire family! Get it on Amazon

 

4. Metal Model 3-D Building Sets

Metal Models 2

This building set is great for helping children increase their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. The set includes metal material made from good quality stainless steel, a screwdriver, and a spanner. Perfect for the little engineers in your life and also suitable for young teens! Get it on Amazon

 

5. Be Amazing Insta Snow 

Insta Snow.jpg

If you’re looking for snow this Christmas, this kit is the next best thing! Insta-snow powder turns plain water into a fluffy snow-like substance in just seconds.  There is absolutely no stirring or mixing involved. This kit boasts that the powder can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water and is completely safe and non-toxic. A test tube and snow powder are included. You just provide the water for this fun STEM activity! Get it on Amazon 

 

6. Lemon Powered Clock

Lemon Clock

Engage your child in a fun lesson on battery science using this lemon-powered clock! This STEM kit includes copper and zinc plates, wire, and a clock. All materials are safe and high quality. The kit does require that lemons be provided to make the most of the amazing experience. However, this kit is a fun unique way to explore science with your kids at home! Kidz Labs also has a potato clock STEM kit available. Get it on Amazon

 

7. Green Science Enviro Battery

enviro battery.jpg

Explore the wonders of green energy sources using this Enviro Battery kit. Complete with instructions, this kit also includes wires, zinc and copper plates, plastic cups, an LED lamp and more. Children can use potato, salt, water, and mud to light up an LED bulb and sound a buzzer, among other things! This kit is a wonderful introduction to the importance of leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. Get it on Amazon

 

8. Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Window Art Kit

Stained Glass Art Kit.jpg

Develop concentration, creativity, and fine-motor skills with this stained-glass window art kit by Melissa and Doug. Your child will use a number key system to place glitter stickers over the template. The kit comes with a ready-to-hang wooden frame that allows your child to display their gorgeous project. Hang it in the window and watch the light shine through the glittering stickers! Get it on Amazon

 

9. Tara Toys STEM Projects Robotic Hand

Robotic Hand.jpg

This robotic hand project is a fun way to learn about tension and compression. This project is user-friendly and easy to assemble. Once built, the robotic hand can reach and grab objects! Also includes a fun learning card detailing the science behind tension and compression. The STEM Projects brand also offers walking dinosaur and fish generator project kits, also under ten bucks! Get it on Amazon

 

10. The STEMpreneur Mini STEM Racer

Stem Rally Racer.jpg

This STEM racer kit helps children develop spatial recognition, problem-solving, critical thinking, and fine and gross motor skills. The Rally Cross Racer is one of four racer models sold separately. Get one for each of your kids and have a family fun night building the racers and engaging in a friendly race competition! Get it on Amazon


Well, that concludes my list of ten educational gift ideas under ten dollars. I hope this post helped you. I want to reiterate these gift options are suitable for children between the ages of six and ten. But don’t let my age recommendations stop you if you know your child or classroom would enjoy these amazing STEM projects!

Until next time, friends…


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What I Got My Boys for Christmas

What I Got My Boys for Christmas for Under $100 | Non-Toy Ideas

I have two boys, ages five and nine. Since our very first family Christmas, my hubs and I have thought diligently about how to balance enjoying this time of year without overshadowing its true meaning. 

One thing that has really helped me over the years is becoming an early shopper. I seldom wait until December, or even Black Friday, to start my Christmas shopping. Being prepared in this manner ensures I won’t be stressed during the holidays, which means I can focus on what Christmas is really about. 

I wasn’t going to write a post like this, but I felt inspired to for two reasons:

First, I know for many families the lack of finances can be a stressor that inhibits them from truly enjoying the holiday season. Of course, Christmas is not about “things,” but there’s nothing wrong with desiring to give good gifts to people you love in remembrance of the divine gift God gave to us. 

Listen, you don’t have to go broke this Christmas season. This year, we’ve spent $99.25 (plus tax, of course) on 24 Christmas gifts. At twelve gifts each that rounds out to be about $50 per child, which is way below our usual budget! And, yes, we bought them awesome things they actually wanted! 

Perhaps even $99 is something you can’t afford, but most of our gifts were on sale as low as $2.50. That means if you have four children and wanted to get them each two things, it is possible to spend just $20! 

The second reason I’m writing this post is to help those of you who need alternative ideas on what to get their boys (or girls!) for Christmas. Perhaps you’re tired of purchasing toys your kids never play with. Perhaps gift-shopping just isn’t your forte. Whatever the case, I can at least help you with gift-shopping for children under the age of ten. 

Here are our gift-giving guidelines:

  • Give gifts they’ll actually use. 
  • Give gifts that foster creativity and learning. 
  • Give gifts you can do together as a family.
  • Give gifts that are mostly consumable.
  • Give gifts they specifically asked for.

For our family, art and science projects are great gift options because they follow the aforementioned guidelines. As a homeschool family, we will actually use these gifts, they will inspire creativity, we will do them together as a family, they are (mostly) consumable, and we made sure to get specific gifts our boys asked for. 

So without further ado, keep reading to find out what we got our boys for Christmas. 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all of these products at my local Dollar General with my own money. Affiliate links are included for those of you don’t have access to a Dollar General. Please see my disclaimer for information. 


What I Got My Boys for Christmas for Under $100

 

1. Volcano Projects

Amazing Volcano Gift for Kids

This set includes everything needed to make a model volcano. We’ve made one before, but volcanic eruptions NEVER get old for my children! My sister-in-law purchased something similar from Michaels and it did not include the baking soda or vinegar, so the fact that this set includes everything is great! Get it on Amazon

2. Sketch Wizard Kits

Sketch Wizard Gift for Kids

My boys love to draw, so I knew this sketch wizard would be greatly received. This sketch wizard allows children to draw any flat image or three-dimensional figure of their choice. All the child must do is place the object in front of the lens and it will create a traceable image. Along with the unit, this set comes with a graphite pencil, colored pencils, 5 scenes, and 5 blank sheets so kids can get started on their sketches right away! Get it on Amazon

3. Metal Art Kits

Metal Art Gift for Kids

It doesn’t get any cooler than creating designs in copper, aluminum, and brass! My oldest son enjoyed when he did something similar to this in his STEM class, so I know he’ll appreciate this kit. It comes with everything needed to create cool metal projects!

4. Velvet Art Kits

Velvet Art Gift for Kids

My boys are huge into coloring. I figured coloring on velvet would take the fun up a notch. I love that this set comes with markers and 8 different designs to choose from. It would be a great idea to frame and hang them in the bedroom as wall art when they’re finished!

5. Slime Lab Projects

GooZooka Slime Lab Gifts for Kids

Slime is all the rage these days. I know it can be messy, but my boys love it, so I’m willing to bend a few rules for the sake of a fun family project. This lab includes everything we’ll need to create slime. It’s even color changing slime, which makes it a bit cooler!

6. Spin Art Projects

Spin Art Gift for Kids

Notice a theme here? Mostly everything is art related. I could not pass up this cool spin art kit, though. Mostly because it’s a painting project and my kids love to paint!

7. Neon Doodle Kits

Neon Doodle Designs Gift for Kids

I bought this set because it includes neon gel pens and my oldest son has been asking me about purchasing gel pens. It also includes neon markers, a coloring book, and giant coloring pages. I’m sure this will create hours of fun in our home!

8. Sand Art Projects

Sand Art Gift for Kids

As if this set wasn’t cool enough, it also glows-in-the-dark! This set boasts hours of fun sand art projects. I think my youngest son will be most excited about this, as he’s into kinetic sand. But I must admit, this looks like fun for the whole family! Get it on Amazon

9. Marker Maker Kits

Crayola Marker Maker Gifts for Kids

This set allows kids to create their own custom marker colors. It even comes with wacky marker tips. I mean, how fun is that? I can’t wait to do this project with them! Get it on Amazon

10. LEGO Sets

Lego Classic and Lego City Gifts for Kids

I know this is a non-toy post but let me plead my case if I may. My boys spend hours at a time making LEGO creations, so I’m more than happy to contribute to their collection. Besides, LEGO is something they specifically asked for. And, yes, these sets were also included in my $99 total! They were just a bit cheaper than other stores, but not majorly on sale. In fact, Amazon has a cheaper rate than even Dollar General at the moment. I purchased the LEGO Classic Bricks and Gears for some fun STEM-related projects.  

Get LEGO Classic Bricks and Gears on Amazon

Get LEGO Classic Blue Creativity Box on Amazon

Get LEGO Classic Green Creativity Box on Amazon

Get LEGO City Airshow Jet on Amazon

Get LEGO City Arctic Exploration Team on Amazon

11. Foam Dart Blasters

X Shot Toy Foam Bullet Shooter

This gift is for both boys since it includes two blasters. Again, this is something they’ve specifically asked for. At our co-op, most of the boys have foam blasters so, of course, my boys asked for one. I know this is a toy item, but I’m including this blaster set so you can get a visual of everything I purchased for just $99. Get it on Amazon

12. Emoji Pillows

Emoji Pillows Gifts for Kids

What kid doesn’t love emojis? My boys are no different. I know seeing these pillows on Christmas day will bring a smile to their face. My youngest son especially loves plush things at the moment so he will love cuddling up with these pillows at night! Get it on Amazon


How did I get 24 items for under $100? All the art and science projects were half off. I paid as low as $2.50 for some of them. For everything else, I received 20% off! Although the sale I took advantage of is over, Dollar General is still having an amazing BOGO sale on toys—including LEGO! The secret is to look through the top shelves for heavily discounted items! You may need a ladder. I borrowed one from the store. 

Here is a look at my long receipt of 24 items for a subtotal of $99.25. It’s a little worn, but you can see that after I got hit with Georgia tax, I ended up paying $106.20 for all 24 items. If you compare these prices to Amazon, I got a pretty decent deal paying a fraction of the cost at Dollar General. 

Christmas Gifts Under $100

For fun, I totaled up how much these items would cost if I purchased them on Amazon for the best value (minus the 4 items not available on Amazon) and the grand total is $172.07! And this grand total is still missing four items (actually 8 because I purchased double of those particular items). Wow! What a saving!

I want to end this post by saying that each year is different for us. For instance, last Christmas our boys received new bikes and helmets and we went outside and rode around the neighborhood. It was so much fun and they were extremely grateful even though they didn’t get a lot of “things.” 

And while every Christmas looks different for us, a couple things that remain constant are not waiting until Christmas season to shop, sticking to our budget, and being intentional about teaching our children what’s truly valuable. 


Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

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