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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How We Pulled Off an Entire Year of Homeschool for FREE

How We Pulled Off an Entire Year of FREE Curriculum

Hi there! Join me this month for the My Journey to Homeschool series. In this series, I’ll be sharing the why behind our homeschool and the process it took to get there.

If you missed last week’s post Why We REALLY Homeschool |The Honest Truth, read it here.

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.

Nike Anderson

 

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?

Here’s What We Used:

 

1. Devotional—180 Days of Memory Verses

About:

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!

Pros:

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.
180 Days of Memory Verse Activities for Kids
180 Days of Memory Verse Activities for Kids | Drawing what the verse means to them was one of their favorite activities!

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.

Cons:

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.

 

2. Language Arts—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 1)

About:

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:

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Synonyms
  • Plurals
  • Punctuation
  • Digraphs
  • Literature (Poetry from Abroad, Crane)
  • Story sequencing
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • And more!
All-In-One Homeschool Language Arts 1 | Cut & paste story sequencing was a huge hit!
All-In-One Homeschool Language Arts 1 | Cut & paste story sequencing was a huge hit!

Pros:

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!

Cons:

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.

 

3. Reading—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 1)

About:

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.

Pros:

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.

All-In-One Homeschool Reading 1
All-In-One Homeschool Reading 1 | Inference practice on the whiteboard to accompany our reading lesson!

Cons:

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.

 

4. Math—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 2)

About:

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:

  • Grids
  • Number lines
  • Graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Place value
  • Word problems
  • Money
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Fractions
  • Fact families
  • Regrouping
  • 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.

Pros:

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!

All-In-One Homeschool Math 2 | Hands-on practice with our lesson on money!
All-In-One Homeschool Math 2 | Hands-on practice with our lesson on money!

Cons:

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.

 

5. Science—The Magic School Bus (K-2)

About:

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:

  • Space
  • Forces
  • Weather
  • Energy
  • In the home
  • The human body
  • Animals
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Dinosaurs
  • Fossils
  • Archaeology
  • Bugs
  • Water
  • Sealife
  • Rocks
  • Volcanoes
  • Habitats

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!

Pros:

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!

The Magic School Bus Science Curriculum
The Magic School Bus Science Curriculum | A fun lesson on constellations included making telescopes that looked like we were looking at the Big Dipper!

Cons:

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!

 

6. Geography—50 States of the USA

About:

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:

  • Trace it—Penmanship.
  • 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.

Pros:

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.

See what other teachers and parents had to say about this best-selling resource at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

 

50 States of the USA Geography | A fun activity to accompany our lesson on Illinois!
50 States of the USA Geography | A fun activity to accompany our lesson on Illinois!

Cons:

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!  


DOWNLOAD YOUR 50 States of the USA FREEBIE!

Geography 50 States of the USA FREE Download Activity

 

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180 Days of Memory Verses for KIDS Free Download

 

GET FULL COPY of 50 States of the USA!

50 States of the USA Geography Activities for Kids

 

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180 Days of Memory Verses for Kids

DIY Curriculum

10 Easy Steps to a DIY Curriculum

I talk to many homeschool parents, and the common concern I get is that they don’t have the money to buy a curriculum. This was me two years ago. I was in a place where I wanted to homeschool my kids, but couldn’t rub two dimes together. It was a year of serious transition for our family. In a nutshell, I had to make the decision whether I would spend our disposable income on curricula or experiences.

If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, then you know I chose to invest in experiences. As the mother of two small boys, I wanted them to have fun learning and experiencing new things. Not having the money to fund those experiences was NOT an option, so I forwent curriculum purchases. Instead, I invested my time in developing a customized curriculum that suited their interests and learning needs.

Of course, I must mention that I studied curriculum development in my Master’s program, but that did not mean I knew what I was doing. However, my background did give me the confidence to try developing a curriculum on my own. You do not need any degrees, but I do suggest reading up on curriculum development to gain some insight—and confidence!

There are a variety of ways to create a curriculum, but I chose what I like to call the Break-Down Method. That is, taking something overwhelming and breaking it down into sizable chunks. This method made curriculum planning less intimidating. If you’re looking to create your own curriculum and don’t know where to start, perhaps this method can help you, too. Here are ten easy steps to a do-it-yourself curriculum, using the core subject, science, as an example.


10 Easy Steps to a DIY Curriculum

1. Be responsible.

Read the legal requirements for your stateEvery state has their own requirements for homeschool families. Please take the time to read these requirements to ensure you are operating within the law for your state of residence. These guidelines can also be very helpful, as they usually entail what subjects you are required to teach your children.

EXAMPLE: By law, I was required to teach my kindergartner language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science in the state of Georgia.

 

2. Borrow a skeleton.

For your curriculum, that is. During my first year of homeschool, I used the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) for my skeleton. This allowed me to kill two birds with one stone because I knew using this framework for my curriculum also meant I’d be honoring state requirements. The following year, I used books from the “What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know” series. I borrowed this series from the library. The series covers all elementary grade levels.

How did I use these resources, exactly? For each core subject, I wrote down everything my child should know for their grade-level, and then I found the resources to execute those goals. For example, if in kindergarten my child should learn about animals and habitats for science, I would borrow books from the library, look for free courses and activity ideas, and download free practice worksheets for those particular topics.

EXAMPLE: Take a look at the list I generated for kindergarten science topics from GSE

Earth and Space Science

  • Time Patterns (day to night and night to day) and objects (sun, moon, stars) in the day and night sky
  • Earth Materials (soil, rocks, water, and air)

Physical Science

  • Physical Attributes of Objects
  • Types of Motion

Life Science

  • Living & Nonliving Things
  • Classification of Organisms
  • Five Senses

3. Add some bones of your own.

You may have borrowed the skeleton, but it’s important to make it yours! You know how much I preach here about developing a vision and mission statement for your homeschool that outlines your educational philosophy and goals. Keep your goals in mind while adding some bones to the skeleton of your curriculum.

How can you make it yours? By knowing how your children learn best, what they enjoy learning, and a method of education that works best for your family.  If you have a techy child, try free virtual classes, educational computer games, and video lessons to fulfill your curriculum goals.

EXAMPLE: Our vision for homeschool includes making room for academic freedom by incorporating some form of self-directed learning. That means I give my boys a say in what they’d like to learn. When I developed their science curriculum, we incorporated geography into our life-science lessons. We also learned about the solar system because that was what they were into.

As a note, I only incorporated these topics into our formal lessons because my boys were too young to research them on their own. As my oldest became more fluent in reading, he could then read up on any topic of interest, which is self-directed learning in its truest form.

 

4. Finalize your topics for each subject. 

What topics will you cover for Language Arts? Math? Science? Other subjects you’ll be covering? List all your topics for each subject on a spreadsheet, table, or journal to refer to later on.

EXAMPLE: From the science list of topics I generated from GSE, I decided to teach the five senses, animal classification, parents and offspring, habitats, weather, and planets. Other topics, such as those in physical science, were taught the following year with The Magic School Bus curriculum.

 

5. Breakdown your topics by term. 

How will you breakdown your topics? By quarter? Semester? Whatever you choose, assign your topics to a given term for each subject. This makes it easier to administer evaluations, tests, and other assessments.

EXAMPLE: We assigned our topics by semester. For science, we studied the five senses and life science topics during our first semester. During the second semester, we took on weather and astronomy, as well as got more hands on with science related fieldtrips and experiments.

Science

6. Breakdown topics into months. 

Assign topics for each month in all your subjects. This should be relatively easy if you’ve already written down all the topics you’ll cover for the year. You’ll have to adjust this throughout the school year depending on how long it takes your child to master the information. No worries, do this step anyway.

EXAMPLE: During the first month of school, we studied phonics and word families for language arts, simple addition for math, the seven continents for social studies, and the five senses and physical attributes for science. Here’s an example of our science breakdown for kindergarten.

Science Curriculum

7.  Breakdown topics into weeks. 

Breaking down topics ensures you cover good ground, and makes it easier to control the pace. If I try to cram too much information in each week, and my child isn’t retaining it, slowing down throws off my entire curriculum. However, if I allow for some wiggle room by spacing out my topics, we can jump ahead if we need to. I’d rather jump ahead than have to slow down. Both are inevitable, though.

EXAMPLE: When we learned the five senses for kindergarten science, assigning one sense per week was ideal because it gave the information enough time to sink in. This wasn’t the original plan, but I later found it to be the better plan.

Kindergarten Science

8. Breakdown topics into days.

If it’s possible to break your topics down even further, do so. I found that breaking my topics down into days by charting them made me feel better prepared. This meant having an objective for that day, jotting down relevant questions to ask your student, and anything else that’ll keep you from asking ‘what next?’ during your school day.

EXAMPLE: Keeping with our science theme, this would be the following breakdown for Week One of studying the five senses, concentrating on the sense of hearing. This breakdown is based on thirty-minute lessons.

Kindergarten Science

9. Gather your resources.

Once you’ve decided on a schedule that works, now it’s time to gather your resources for the topics you’ll be teaching. I’ve got a great list of FREE homeschool resources, here! You can also visit my shop, Nike Anderson’s Classroom, for free and low-cost educational resources.

Remember to think beyond the internet. In addition to free books, your local library may offer free classes, workshops, and STEM kits that may tie into your curriculum. You can also check out your local zoo or museum. Many of these places offer classes to homeschool families. Ask them for a schedule of these classes and see if any of the topics fit in with your curriculum.

Lastly, don’t forget to snatch up any free informational brochures, pamphlets, or flyers located at your local dentist or doctor’s office, museum, zoo, library, grocery store, computer store, etc. Some of these informational texts can tie in nicely with your curriculum. For example, if you’re studying the human body, the doctor’s office is a great place to get free information. Just make sure it’s okay to take the pamphlets home.

EXAMPLE: For Week One of studying the five senses, I may need the following resources:

Science

10. Decide how you’ll test knowledge.

With any curriculum, it’s a great idea to implement some form of assessment. Assessments are a fantastic way of knowing when to move on or slow down. Decide how and when you will test your child. Will it be weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? Remember that the more frequently you assess your child, the quicker you’ll catch on to any problems they might be having.

A test doesn’t necessarily have to be taken in a quiet room with a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. You don’t even have to subject your child to a grading system. There are so many ways to find out whether your child is mastering the material being taught. We do oral quizzes all the time in our homeschool, and my boys don’t even realize they’re taking a “quiz.” You can also have them do a project, an oral presentation, or write a report on what they’ve learned. In fact, you can let them decide how they’d like to demonstrate their knowledge.

EXAMPLE: I already mentioned that we like oral quizzes, but we’ve also had our fair share of fill-in-the-blank quizzes. Another fun way we assessed mastery of the material was through making books. During our kindergarten year, my son would draw pictures in his “book” about what he learned, and then he “read” his book to me. By the end of his kindergarten year, he could start incorporating simple words in his books. I scheduled some sort of assessment every week.



Other things to consider.

  •  Plan your curriculum around events if possible. For instance, in spring our local museum hosts STEM classes. The week that these classes take place are a great time to cover stem related topics
  •  You don’t have to plan all at once. Once you have an overview for the school year, you can breakdown your topics into detail on the monthly or even weekly basis. I personally planned the details every week. But I also tried monthly planning as well. If you want to get the planning over with, plan the year out in detail before the start of the school year.
  •  Will you need help? For subjects you don’t feel well versed in, will you sign your child up for outside classes? Hire a tutor? Have a friend or relative teach the subject? Make sure you factor all this in.
  •  Will you supplement? I purchased workbooks and other materials to supplement curricula for certain subject areas. Think about what you may need to supplement your curriculum.
  •  Fieldtrips. It’s helpful to have a good idea of the fieldtrips you’d like to take during the school year. Decide the best time of year to take these fieldtrips and plan your curriculum accordingly. For instance, you probably don’t want to go to the zoo during the cold winter season, so planning life science curricula and subsequent activities during warmer months is ideal.
  •  Give yourself some wiggle room. Things are probably not going to go as planned. That’s okay. Even families using a boxed curriculum fall behind or get bumped ahead of the curriculum. Give yourself some grace.

 

Lastly, I want to mention there’s no such thing as a perfect curriculum. Every curriculum has gaps—even the most elite curriculum. Therefore, I can’t say this is an all comprehensive planning guide. I can attest, however, that this method helped me tremendously during my first homeschool year. I hope it helps you, too.

YOUR TURN! Anything you want to add? Help other parents and let them know your tips down below!
 

 

 

Free Homeschool Deals

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

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!

 

1. Free Homeschool Deals

This site offers free unit studies, supplement materials, and much more. Free resources are available for any subject and grade level.

2. Easy Peasy Homeschool

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.

3. How to Homeschool for Free

This site offers free unit studies, electives, and other resources for homeschool families. You can find materials in all core subjects for all grade levels.

4. K12 Education

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.

5. Homeschool Math.net

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.

6.  Homeschool Buyers Co-op

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.

7.   The Pioneer Woman

This site offers another great database for free homeschool resources, awesome tidbits on motherhood, and more!

8.  Khan Academy

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.

9.  Teachers pay Teachers

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!

10.  Encouraging Moms at Home

This site shares an awesome preschool weather unit freebie. Take advantage! You can also find other great deals and homeschool tips on this site.

11.  Midwest Modern Momma

This site shares a free United States unit study that can be adjusted for any age. The study comes with a load of free printables. Check it out!

12.  Cornerstone Confessions.com

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.

13. Ambleside Online

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.

14.  Budget Homeschool

 This site offers free study guides, lesson plans, books, and more!

15.  An Old Fashioned Education

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.

16.  Classroom Freebies, Too

This site is a great resource for all things “freebies!”

17.  Curr Click

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.

18.  Free Kids Books

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.

Free Kids Classic Books

19.  Lesson Pathways

This is a curriculum-building site that offers free resources for curriculum customization.  The resources offered covers grades K-5. Registration is free and gives you access to some awesome goodies.

20.  Guest Hollow.com

This site offers a free Science of the Seasons curriculum, Geography curriculum, and many others.  There are some great resources for all ages, including high school students. Go take a look!

21. Scholastic

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!

Free Homeschool Deals

22. Crayola

Believe it or not, Crayola offers free lesson plans for language arts, math, STEAM, social studies, and, of course—art!

Free Homeschool Deals

 

23. School Zone

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

24. Hoffman Academy

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

25. STEMfinity

STEMfinity offers a database for all things STEM. Check out their resources for activities and lesson plans for science, technology, engineering, and math.

FREE Homeschool Deals

26. Code.org

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

27. Scratch

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

28. Kidzone

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.

FREE Homeschool Deals

29. Education.com

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

30. National Geographic Kids

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.

Free Homeschool Deals

 

31. Nike Anderson’s Classroom

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!

Nike's Classroom


 

That concludes my list. I do hope at least one of these free resources is new to you.

Your Turn!

If you have other resources you’d like to mention, let us know down below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Solar Oven for Kids

How to Make a Solar Oven

For those of you who’ve seen this experiment on my Instagram page and wanted to know how it’s done, here you go! I can’t take credit for this wonderful experiment, as it was suggested to us by the book, Curious George Discovers the Sun by PBS Kids. For more fun projects like this one, check this book out!

This week in science class, we are learning about the weather, forces, and energy. We learned that many things like cars, ovens, and even the lights in our homes can be powered by the sun in a process called solar energy. What we created today is called a solar powered oven. And, yes! It can really warm up food, or even cook it! In fact, people used the sun to cook food for hundreds of years!

So how does it work? Well, you’ll need a pizza box, some foil, and plastic wrap. When the pizza box is lined with aluminum foil, it attracts the sun’s heat. When the opening is lined with plastic wrap, the plastic traps the heat and warms the oven. The plastic also reflects light from the foil, which brings heat to whatever food you plan to cook in the oven.

We decided to take the book’s suggestion and make s’mores, but you can cook whatever you’d like. Read below for detailed instructions and more pictures.

What You’ll Need

 Scroll Down For Directions!

 Directions

 We decorated our pizza box to add to the fun!

Have you tried the solar oven? Let us know in the comments below!


Have you heard about my online store? For free and low-cost resources, check out Nike Anderson’s Classroom! 

Easy Space Experiments for Kids

Easy Fun Space Experiments for Kids

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

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

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

1. Experiment One: Name Those Planets

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

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space

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

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

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

Get more ideas for this experiment here!

2. Experiment Two: Stargazing

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

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Sees Stars.

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

•    Scissors
•    Bright flashlight
•    This worksheet

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

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

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

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

 Get more ideas for this experiment here!

3. Experiment Three: Constellation Viewers

Objective: Learning about different constellations.

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Sees Stars

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

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

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

 

4. Experiment Four: Making Craters!

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

Corresponding Video: The Magic School Bus Out of This World

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

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

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

 Get more ideas for this experiment here!

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

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

Gummy Bear Experiment

Gummy Bear Science Experiment

This week we had fun with a little gummy bear science. This experiment is great for introducing little ones to physical science. Even better? It reintroduces parents to the sweet yummy snacks we used to love as kids. I’ve seen this experiment floating around Pinterest using water only, but we added vinegar and salt water to the experiment to see if different solutions produced different results. Here’s what we did.

What you’ll need:

QUESTION: What physical changes will occur when a  gummy bear is placed in water? Salt water? Vinegar?


Experiment

Step One: 

Before beginning the experiment, have each student document their observations of the gummy bears on the experiment worksheet.

Step Two: Label each cup—water, salt water, and vinegar.

Step Three: Pour each liquid into assigned cups.

WATER

 

SALT WATER

VINEGAR

Step Four: Place a gummy bear into each cup.

Step Five: Wait a few hours (preferably 24) and document new changes.


Here’s what should happen:

1.    The gummy bear sitting in water should get considerably larger. This is because the ingredients, water, gelatin, and sugar give the candy a sponge – like nature that soaks up the water. The gelatin prevents the gummy bear from disintegrating.

2.    The gummy bear sitting in salt water should stay relatively true to size. This is because salt is a natural preservative.

3.    The gummy bear sitting in vinegar should also get considerably larger. But unlike the gummy bear in water,  this gummy bear broke apart as soon as we touched it. This reaction is due to the acidity of the vinegar, which breaks down the gelatin.

~Inspired by Creative Lesson Cafe~

Have you tried this experiment? What other experiments should we try? Let us know down below!