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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!
This week, I’ll be sharing how we pulled off an entire year of free curriculum during our first penny-pinching homeschool years.
If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.
Can you believe I’ve never written a proper curriculum review? Well, you’re in for a treat because I’ll be reviewing our entire year of free curriculum for devotional, language arts, reading, math, science, and geography!
Basically, the first two years of our homeschool journey was a free curriculum frenzy. Before I invested money in a box curriculum, I first wanted to see what resources were available for FREE. I was shocked to find awesome quality resources for kindergarten through second-grade—and beyond! I’ve even made a few resources myself. Visit my FREEBIES page to check some of them out!
I was in resource heaven putting together a comprehensive curriculum for my then first-grader, but I admit it was so much work! Maybe I can help alleviate some of the workload for you by giving you the links to everything we used in one blog post? Of course, this is only helpful if you have a first or second-grader (or an advanced kindergartner). However, some of these resources have curricula available for grades up through high-school.
To make things even better, I’ll give you a brief description of each resource, as well as the pros and cons of each. Are you ready?
This resource is my collective 180-day Bible series for kids that covers 36 scriptures or one memory verse each week! I created this resource because we needed fun activities to accompany our memory verses. It includes 180 fun activities that are designed to improve cognitive skills by helping children to think, reason, and write for themselves. The activities also encourage children to strengthen fine motor skills, encourage creativity, and strengthen handwriting skills. The following topics are covered:
Obviously, this resource was free for me because I created it. However, I do offer the series “God Thinks I’m Awesome” for FREE, here!
First, the activities for this resource are great for helping children learn edifying scripture. There’s an activity for each weekday, Monday thru Friday, that requires children to do the following for each memory verse:
Activity 1—Draw what the verse means to you.
Activity 2—Write a sentence about the verse.
Activity 3—Arrange the verse (cut-and-paste activity).
Activity 4—Trace the verse.
Activity 5—Color the picture.
Second, my boys loved learning their verses while doing these activities! The memory verses were a terrific addition to our family devotional time. They inspired my boys to ask questions and encouraged great conversation. The memory verses are also designed to be palatable for young children, as my youngest son was three-years-old when we utilized this resource. Therefore, the verses are kept short and sweet, and the activities provide lots of repetition for mastery.
Third, this is a top-selling resource at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. By the looks of the reviews, other teachers, parents, and students have been loving this resource, too! All the scriptures included in this resource are available for patrons to view before downloading the product, so it’s clear exactly what verses are covered and how they are worded in each series.
The activities are designed for younger children from pre-k through third-grade, which means some of the verses in the activities have been re-phrased for palatability and understanding. You’ll mainly find this to be true for the “Our God the Creator” series, which summarizes some of the Genesis verses to “God created light on the first day,” “God created the sky on the second day,” and so forth. This hasn’t been a problem for us since we always read and review the verses straight from the Bible before completing the activities.
If you’re not familiar with the All-In-One Homeschool, it’s an online comprehensive Christian-based curriculum that is free to use! While I’m going to talk about their level one language arts curriculum, this resource offers curricula for all core subjects for grades pre-k through high school. It even offers electives like Bible, Art, Computer, Foreign Languages, and more! As I mentioned, it’s free, but you’ll need access to the internet, computer, and basic school supplies to take advantage of this resource.
My first-grader enjoyed the Language Arts 1 curriculum. This curriculum offers a basic review of phonics before delving into the following concepts for first and/or second graders:
Literature (Poetry from Abroad, Crane)
First, let me say that this curriculum was well organized and easy to follow. The author did a phenomenal job arranging virtual worksheets, games, quizzes, and activity ideas for each subject. It is no-prep and no-nonsense!
Second, I loved that this curriculum was comprehensive and covered all the key concepts for first and second grade. I felt pretty confident that my child was getting a solid foundation in literature.
Third, I loved that this curriculum sets students up to work independently. Provided your child has great fluency in reading, they can totally work independently on this curriculum.
Lastly, incorporating levels rather than grades is another great concept. If a level is too easy or difficult for a child, they can be moved up or down to fit their academic need. Since all the levels are available at your fingertips, you can actually skim through them and extract from each one. For instance, your child may be ready to move up to level two for grammar but may have to stay on level one for spelling. The flexibility is awesome!
I had to supplement this curriculum to incorporate more repetition and practice for mastery with certain concepts. I also ended up using another curriculum for spelling, as I did not like AIO’s setup for learning spelling words. I want to stress that every curriculum has different standards and will cover different concepts and topics. It’s up to you to decipher which topics outside the curriculum you’d like to cover. For me, using extra worksheets and free printables wasn’t much of a problem. But it does mean you have to search them out, making it an extra thing to add to your to-do list.
This online Christian-based reading curriculum by All-In-One Homeschool is designed to introduce readers to full-length novels, practice narration and summarizing, and improve vocabulary and comprehension. The curriculum uses the following literature:
The Tale of Jolly Robin by Bailey
The Tale of Solomon Owl by Bailey
The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker by Bailey
The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Burgess
Buster Bear by Burgess
McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader
Beatrix Potter stories
A variety of other short stories and poems
This resource can be used primarily online or you can purchase the materials in book form for just $15.
First, the curriculum had a great choice of literature with advanced vocabulary. The vocabulary is challenging, yet appropriate, and not too overwhelming.
Second, I loved the fact that the curriculum introduced my first-grader to chapter books. He really enjoyed reading the novels authored by Bailey.
Lastly, this curriculum was no fuss and easy-to-follow. There’s also an audio option available, which is great because children can listen and follow along with the hardcopy at the same time—giving them an ear for what proper reading fluency sounds like.
The major con was that this curriculum is online. If you do not want your child to read entire chapters on the computer, you must print out the chapters, which can cost you ink and paper. Otherwise, purchasing the materials in book form is the better bet, but that defeats the whole purpose of the curriculum being free. Still, I think it’s a wise investment if you want your child to hold a physical book while reading.
Another con was that there were very few follow-up questions for each chapter, which means if you’re keeping a reading journal you’ll have to think of clever entry questions yourself. Children are just encouraged to “tell someone about the chapter,” which is fine, but not very thought-provoking.
My son was also disinterred in most of the literature selections and struggled to relate to the reading material. All-in-all, this was not our favorite curriculum.
This is another curriculum from the free online Christian-based resource All-In-One Homeschool. This comprehensive math curriculum covers the following concepts for first and second graders:
Memorizing addition and subtraction facts
This curriculum comprises levels rather than grades, so it’s advisable to ensure the material is appropriate for your child’s mastery level before you begin. This curriculum is also set up for independent learning, so strong reading skills are required unless the child is accompanied by an adult.
First, I loved the access to other free resources. There were a ton of free awesome math games for fluency practice! My son enjoyed playing most of the games and they really did help him understand and master the material.
Second, I loved that the first half of the curriculum focused on practicing mental math for sums up to 20, which is essential for advancing to a third-grade math level.
Lastly, I loved that this curriculum encouraged hands-on learning with manipulatives you can find in your home. Hands-on learning is so important at this age!
This math curriculum did not cover multiplication. At least not to the degree that it should, considering it’s recommended that second-graders know how to multiply fluently by 2’s, 3’s and 5’s by the end of the school year. There’s some coverage on skip counting but not necessarily multiplication factors and products, so if this is important to you be sure to give your child more practice using supplementary materials. There is not much material on adding or regrouping three-digit numbers, either. Again, I recommend supplementary materials if you wish to learn and practice advanced regrouping.
This is a comprehensive science curriculum that includes videos, lesson plans, experiments, and activity pages for pre-K thru second-grade. There are twelve units and topics covered:
In the home
The human body
All twelve units encompass a 180-day curriculum with corresponding episodes from The Magic School Bus. That means there’s something to do for every weekday of the school year!
First, the experiments were easy to do and most of the materials needed could be found right in my home. I recommend printing out all the experiments for the week and making a checklist to ensure you have everything you need.
Second, I loved that the curriculum was no-prep. The lessons provided notations for the instructor explaining what students should learn, key terms, and what questions to ask the students, among other things. There was no additional research required unless my boys wished to advance in a topic.
The third thing I loved about this free curriculum was that it was pretty adaptable and I did not have to cover all the topics in sequence. There were many weeks where we jumped to other topics that were more relevant to my children’s current interests.
Lastly, I loved that this curriculum included a list of recommended books for each unit. That made reserving library books and planning ahead much easier. It also meant I didn’t have to struggle to find supplementary materials!
While the Magic School Bus curriculum is great, especially for those moms who aren’t well versed in science, I do forewarn that older children (closer to second grade) may become bored or unimpressed by some of the experiments. This is definitely a curriculum for the younger ones who are new to science. My then seven-year-old, who took STEM classes at the time, started to lose interest in the curriculum by the second semester. However, he loved watching the corresponding episodes!
I created this 50 States of the USA resource as a gentle introduction to geography for anyone looking to go through the US map state-by-state. Each activity covers all 50 states, including the state capital, and aims to build and strengthen the following skills for grades pre-k thru first-grade:
Find it—Critical thinking and problem-solving.
Color it—Creativity and fine motor skills.
These activities not only help familiarize children with the US map, but helps children learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags.
First, this product is wallet friendly. This product was only free for me because I created it, but I do have a freebie available, here, for those interested in trying it out. The freebie includes three states, Alaska, Rhode Island, and DC. If you’re interested in the full set, it is available at Nike Anderson’s Classroom and is extremely affordable. It is also currently my Best Seller.
Second, the activities in this resource not only helped familiarize my children with the US map, but also helped them learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags. It also covered state abbreviations and regions. My boys learned so much and enjoyed coloring the flags for each state.
Third, this resource is very buildable. I maximized this resource by supplementing it with other free resources. I checked-out books from the local library, I utilized the political maps in our classroom, and we watched National Geographic Kids’ YouTube channel that has awesome educational videos for almost every US state.
Lastly, this resource is no-nonsense and easy to use. It doesn’t bombard children with a bunch of facts and is a very gentle introduction to US geography.
This resource is not a comprehensive curriculum, so you will need to supplement it. For a more comprehensive curriculum that covers regions, capitals, fun facts, and more, I created the All About the 50 States of the USA mega bundle.
Would I recommend these resources to a friend? I have actually recommended all of them to any friend that asks for curriculum advice. You’ll hear me mention often that it’s not the curriculum itself, but what you put into the curriculum that makes it effective. Where I felt a curriculum lacked, I simply supplemented. However, I’ve even had to supplement some of the boxed curriculum I purchased. Which goes to show that every curriculum will have “holes.” There’s no such thing as a perfect curriculum. If you don’t believe me, read the forums for some of the most recommended award-winning curricula and you’ll see not everyone is impressed by them.
I want to hear from you: Have you ever tried any of these freebies? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
Math practice may seem redundant but it’s necessary to build and maintain fluency. To minimize “summer brain drain,” I wanted to introduce my kindergartner and second-grader to a new way of practicing math facts. Typically, I require them to complete one small worksheet a day during the summer months to keep their brains sharp. This year, however, I’ll be shaking things up a little bit.
Allow me to introduce my latest product at Nike Anderson’s Classroom, “My Math Practice Activity Binder!” This binder is a comprehensive bundle of activities that help facilitate math fluency for first, second, and third graders, depending on mastery level.
This resource includes 43 hands-on activities. Activities include addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division. Read the details below.
What inspired me to create this resource? I purchased a similar binder for my kindergartner with the intention of using it for summer practice and my second-grader griped about wanting one also. I couldn’t find a similar product that included all the key math concepts he learned this year, so I decided to create one for his grade level.
While I chose to use Velcro fasteners for repeated use, dry-erase markers may also be used to complete laminated activities for those of you who’d rather forgo the cutting. My boys absolutely love the Velcro fasteners, though, which are used to attach the answers to each math problem.
As a simple storage solution, I placed all the answer tabs into an envelope and used Velcro fasteners on the flap of each envelope. This ensures secure storage and the ability to reopen the envelope when needed. I also two-hole punched the envelopes so that I could store them in the binder next to their corresponding activity. See below for details!
What skills does this activity binder help students develop and strengthen? Fluency in addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division, as well as the following:
Other uses for this resource include cut and paste, file folder games, math center activities, dry-erase workbook, interactive notebook, and more! You do not have to use this resource solely as an activity binder. Read below for details.
One of the common challenges in homeschool families is finding the time to teach younger children when so much time is dedicated to helping their older siblings with assignments.
I have a four-year-old and a second-grader and, let me tell you, it’s tough! Even tougher for my friends with four children or more. Preschoolers often like to fight for your attention when they see you giving so much of it to their siblings. I’m here to tell you, that’s not such a bad thing and you can use this attention-seeking to your advantage.
When your preschooler sees that learning seems to get and keep your attention, they’re more likely to want to be included in whatever learning their older siblings have going on. At least this was the case for me. I know it’s tempting to let younger children go off and do their own thing, but try adding small assignments to their routine that help them feel like a “big kid.” You may find you have a little more peace during your homeschool hours.
So, here is my day in the life of my four-year-old on any given homeschool day. This glimpse into our world illustrates how I manage to balance time between my two boys. As a side note, you may notice on my blog that I refer to my four-year-old as a preschooler and kindergartner interchangeably. That’s because according to his age he is technically in preschool, but he’s acquiring many skills that meet kindergarten requirements in our state.
A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old
8:30 am: Devotional
Let’s start with devotional. We’re currently using Our Daily Bread for kids, which we love. The daily devotionals are short, sweet, and to the point. They also are a great inspiration to delve into the Word of God. Both kids enjoy me reading aloud and will sit quietly and attentively while I do so. In previous years, I made activities for my boys to do while I read the Bible aloud. Some days, my preschooler is just not into sitting still so he goes off and plays with his toys, which is totally allowed. That leads us to…
Tip One: Let your little ones have off days. We all have days when we’re just not feeling something. Allowing them to choose something else to do instead shows that you understand and respect their feelings. It also reduces the likelihood of your little one making a scene which can cause disruption and set the tone for the rest of the day, making it difficult for you to maintain the patience needed to work with your older children.
9:00 am: Basic Skills Fluency Practice
This is my second-grader’s designated reading time. Since I have him read aloud to me, I need this time to be pretty quiet. This is when I break out my preschooler’s favorite activities. We use the Hooked-on Phonics Fundamentals workbook, which is full of educational cut and paste activities that keep my preschooler busy and happy. During this time, my little one practices fluency with basic skills like letters, phonics, numbers, counting, shapes, and more. He is also engaging those fine motor skills necessary for handwriting. So…
Tip Two:Have independent activities on hand. Give your little ones activities you know they can do on their own to help build confidence, independence, and fluency while you take time to work with older children.
9:30 am: Reading Fluency Practice
My preschooler and I practice reading fluency while my second-grader works independently on to his spelling curriculum. We are using the Hooked-on Phonics curriculum and are supplementing with Bob Books. Hooked on Phonics has its own set of starter books, but he seems to like the Bob Books more. We borrowed our Bob Books from the local library and are allowed to have them for 6 weeks at a time. We spend no more than 15 minutes practicing reading. Another 15 minutes is dedicated to storybook read-alouds.
Tip Three:Schedule one-on-one learning time with your little one when older kids have independent work.
10:00 am: Handwriting Practice
My preschooler practices handwriting while my second-grader and I delve into his language arts lesson. I love dry-erase books for handwriting practice because children can practice as much as they’d like without accumulating paper waste. The books we love for handwriting practice are the Kindergarten dry-erase workbook and the Sight Word workbook. I taught my preschooler how to follow the arrows, and to always write from left to right to ensure he’s writing letters, numbers, and words properly. Now, he can pretty much work on his own. Therefore…
Tip Four:Train your little one to work independently during homeschool off-hours. On weekends or when all your older children have completed their homeschool assignments, take just a little time to train your younger children to work more independently on key skills. This may take time and patience but is well worth the investment when you find yourself running from kid to kid during busy homeschool hours.
10:30 am: Everyone takes a snack break at this point.
11:00 am: Geography
My boys do geography together. We use a curriculum base called Beginning Geography and supplement with YouTube videos, library books, hands-on-learning, and kinesthetic activities. This is a great time of day because my preschooler really looks forward to it. He may not understand everything we learn about, but he enjoys doing the corresponding activities.
If you’re wondering how I teach two grade-levels one subject, here’s an example:
This week we’re learning about reading directions on a map using a compass rose. My main objective is for my preschooler to understand that north is up, south is down, east is to his right and west is to his left. Aside from looking at real maps I had on hand, we watched a Youtube video that explained what compasses were used for and how to use them. To challenge my oldest son, he watched a documentary on the history of the compass rose. Later, we made our own compasses using supplies I had on hand. Then we played a kinesthetic activity where the boys had to jump toward the direction I shouted out. It was so much fun and something both grade-levels could enjoy.
Tip Five:Don’t be afraid to include your little ones in on the lessons. This is especially true if the age gap isn’t that wide between older siblings. In my case, I can use a curriculum base designed for grades k-2 and it’ll work for both of my boys. Last year, we used a science curriculum designed for first and second graders and my preschooler was able to do all of the lessons and experiments with us. Children are sponges at this age. You’ll be surprised by what they pick up on.
12:00 pm: Science
Both my boys also learn science together. This year, we are really loving interactive science notebooks. This is actually my preschooler’s favorite part of the day because he loves cut-and-paste activities. Whenever we finish a lesson, he often asks if we can do another one. I use the same supplemental method for science that I do for geography. We read books, do fun activities, and include hands-on learning and experiments whenever possible. That points us to…
Tip Six:Interactive notebooks are a win for everybody. You can find free or low-cost interactive notebook lessons just about anywhere, for any grade, and any subject! This works especially if you have children with larger age gaps. Everyone can sit around the table with all their supplies and work on their interactive notebooks. Works for us!
1:00 pm: Lunch and Recess
2:00 pm: Math
I save math for the end of the day because it’s my boys’ strongest subject. Plus, it’s also a subject that my second-grader can do on his own unless he’s learning a new concept. I like to work one-on-one with my preschooler on the days when my second-grader isn’t learning a new concept. We use math link cubes to practice addition and subtraction. We also practice number sequencing and counting to 20, 30, and beyond. Every now and then we’ll go over basic and 3-dimensional shapes, but he pretty much has that information stored in his brain.
Additionally, I try a variety of hands-on activities that I just make up myself. Matching number quantity to the numerical value is one of the activities we do often, and we can use just about anything we have on hand to do it. I also make use of our addition and subtraction flashcards and have my preschooler use cubes to determine the sum or difference. So…
Tip Seven:Save your little one’s strongest subject for the end of the school day to cut down on frustration. If you happen to need to sneak away to teach your older children new concepts, you can start the younger ones off and they can hold their own until you return.
Our school day typically ends around three in the afternoon. This is not an everyday schedule as we have fieldtrip days, co-op days, and playdate days pretty regularly. This is, however, the schedule we fall back on to keep us on track.
I’d like to end this post by saying there will be a day when none of this advice works. Take heart, it happens to the best of us. I will say that each semester gets easier. Before our winter break, it was much harder to keep my preschooler engaged and occupied. After winter break, things seemed more manageable. Your family will live if you do away with curricula for a moment to meet the physical, educational, emotional and social needs of your younger children. A break from monotony is always a great idea!
Now it’s your turn: How do you balance homeschool with your children? Give us some ideas that have worked for your family in the comments below!
Need more ideas for preschool? Check out these posts:
Homeschool can get really expensive. But the great news is it can also be relatively free!
Read the updated post, here, featuring over 60 FREE legitimate homeschool deals you’ll actually use.
Here are twenty FREE resources to help you save some coins this upcoming school year. Of course, most of these resources require you to at least have access to a printer and some ink. Other than that, all you really need are some basic school supplies.
Taking advantage of free curricula is a great way to test what types of subjects, lesson plans, and teaching styles help your child thrive best. It is also a great way to save money for what really matters—lots of field-trips, adventures, and social opportunities!
So, without further ado:
30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins!
This site offers free curricula in all core subjects for levels pre-k through high school. This is also a great site for elective courses like physical education, foreign language, and more. The reviews are mixed on this curriculum, but people like it for the most part. The common complaint is that it’s not challenging enough for advanced students.
This is an online public school, not a homeschool. Therefore, you will be subject to public school laws. However, this program is great for families on the go. Some people love it. Others hate it. The common complaint is the program can be stressful because there’s too much busywork and not enough flexibility. A great benefit is that you will receive free school supplies, books, and other materials needed for your courses.
This site is a great lesson-plan resource for mathematics. The site only serves up to seventh grade so you won’t find much for high school students, here. The great thing about these lesson plans is they come with video instructions/lectures, as well as follow-up worksheets. You can find any math subject from simple addition to pre-algebra.
This site offers a wonderful database full of free homeschool curricula and resources. You can even find promos, coupons, and great homeschool deals on just about anything you need to plan your curriculum.
This is free a virtual academy for pre-k through high school students. You may select a course in any core area of your choice, or create a course of your own. What’s unique about this academy is that you’ll find free courses in engineering, computing, economics, and finance, among others. They even have SAT prep and other prep courses for other standardized tests.
Not only can you find MY free resources here, but a plethora of other free resources and curricula for grades pre-k through high school. What’s great about this site is that all materials are made for teachers by teachers. Check out my growing shop to find some free goodies! There will also be an upcoming Back-to-School sale soon!
If you’re looking for a free science curriculum for pre-k through second grade, look no further. Cornerstone Confessions shares a Magic School Bus science unit for the entire school year! This unit is full of awesome experiments and activities. If you already have a Netflix subscription (or other subscription that offers the Magic School Bus series) this course is completely free.
If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Mason method, you’ll love this free resource. This site offers free courses from pre-k- through high school in all core subjects. Ambleside Online also offers free Bible courses.
Are you old school? Well, this is the site for you! It’s important to note that this site is Christian inspired. The site offers core subjects as well as other subjects like etiquette, speaking, and art appreciation, among many others.
This site offers free classes and curricula in all core subjects. I do advise, however, to make sure all the clickable links work for a particular course—especially BEFORE you start depending on them as your homeschool curriculum. I’ve come across some links that no longer work. However, there’s some good stuff on this site.
This site has a book for every age from toddlerhood through adulthood. And, yes, the books are free to download! Or, you can simply read them online. What I really like about this site is most of the books have ratings. The site also offers a user-friendly category search so you can search for anything from coloring books to early reader books in a jiffy.
Scholastic has a teacher’s corner that serves teachers of all grade levels. This site is full of lesson plans, unit plans, teacher guides, activities, and more. Not to mention, they offer recommendations on awesome books to accompany your lessons!
School Zone has a program called Anywhere Teacher. If you sign up for a free subscription, you have access to 28 educational activities that rotate monthly. The program connects children ages 2-8 to online learning and resources.
It doesn’t get any better than free online piano lessons. We’ve personally taken advantage of this resource, so I can truly say that my kids enjoy these fun, quirky lessons. The lessons are step by step and offer units for beginner and intermediate levels.
Code.org offers free videos, games, and lesson plans for all things code. This site serves parents and teachers of grades pre-k through high school. It is also user-friendly for independent learners. My second-grader utilizes this site frequently to improve his coding skills.
Scratch allows students to program their own stories, games, and animations. The site also includes guides and tutorials for parents and teachers. This is another site my kids frequent. It is very kid-user friendly. My second-grader coded several games and animations using this resources.
Looking for worksheets for your children? Kidzone has got you covered. All worksheets are printable for early learning through grade five. You can find worksheets on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more. The site also offers worksheets for phonics, math, science, geography, and more. Lesson plans and thematic units are also available. This was my go-to source for Kindergarten worksheets.
Education.com offers worksheets, lesson plans, games, and more for grades pre-k through high school. They offer resources for math, reading, writing, science, social studies, foreign language, and more. Be sure to check out their Teaching Tools section because you can read the ratings and comments on the lesson plans they offer.
National Geographic Kids is a great virtual dictionary for fun facts about animals, geography, the solar system, and more. The site also offers educational games, quizzes, and videos for kids of all ages. We loved it as a supplement to our curriculum on life science and habitats. We also used this resource to supplement our geography curriculum.
As a bonus, I’m including my growing online shop, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I offer free resources for pre-k through second grade. Check out my free geography resources, reading and comprehension worksheets, memory verse activities, Black history worksheets, and more! Be sure to follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I upload a new free resource. I literally uploaded five FREE resources today, so you don’t want to miss out!
That concludes my list. I do hope at least one of these free resources is new to you.
If you have other resources you’d like to mention, let us know down below! Sharing is caring!!!!
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 “Number Matching” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Preschool Math Facts” 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.
Last week, I shared that these boxes full of goodies make my preschooler feel like he’s receiving a gift each morning. And he is! The gift of learning, that is (*wink). However, another pro to these boxes is that they don’t have to be used for formal learning, per se. You can store them with loads of fun and interesting objects that encourage creative learning.
So, what’s on the agenda for this week? Adding! We’ve reviewed counting, number recognition and matching, sequencing, and now it’s time to dabble with a little addition. We’ve reviewed addition many times before, but of course with young children, repetition is key to mastery.
This week’s busy box includes a Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, pony beads, fuzzy sticks, popsicle sticks, drawing paper, and three markers. All items can be purchased at Walmart or Dollar Tree. If you’re wondering why I only offer three markers at a time, it’s because my three-year-old is learning to place the caps back onto them. We’ve had one too many dried-out markers!
As always, we like to complete our worksheet first. I include worksheets in these boxes because I can save and keep records of them to track my three-year-old’s progress. This week, I’m offering these simple, yet fun, Preschool Addition Facts worksheets for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Head on over to take advantage!
Next, we have a little “adding” fun with our pony beads and fuzzy sticks. Using the worksheet as my guide, I prepared seven fuzzy sticks by adding the exact number of beads to match the number of crayons on the left side of the worksheet. My preschooler then adds more beads to the fuzzy sticks, matching the number of crayons on the right side of the worksheet. This illustration ensures he internalizes the concept that adding two numbers together means the total sum is “more.”
We take the same concept of our pony beads illustration and apply it to the popsicle sticks. Using different manipulatives helps a child internalize that the sum of one set of numbers will be the same regardless of the objects used. Therefore, 3 popsicle sticks plus 2 popsicle sticks will equal 5 popsicle sticks, just as 3 beads plus 2 beads will equal 5 beads.
Lastly, I must include markers and drawing paper for some freestyling fun. To make the most of this busy box, your preschooler can try categorizing the pony beads by color, count how many beads each color group has, and then determine which group has the greatest and least number of beads. Or, he can make a popsicle stick masterpiece (if you include Elmer’s glue in the box), make their own bracelets with the pony beads and fuzzy sticks, or simply decorate the popsicle sticks using markers.
Download your FREE Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, here!
Don’t forget to grab these latest FREEBIES at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!
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.
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.
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.
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.