Hello, my name is Niki and I have a serious problem. I am addicted to the educational section at Dollar Tree. I've tried to stop in the past to no avail, so instead of trying to fight my problem, I have decided to just go with it. My "pain" is your gain. Here's my latest "find", D.I.Y. spelling manipulatives.
This is a super easy way to introduce spelling and phonics to your child. All you need is a Sharpie and a set of counting blocks from Dollar Tree. I wrote the entire alphabet once, then I added a few more vowels and the most used consonants. Super easy! (Tip: Let each side dry, before writing more letters)
There are several ways you could use this, you could put all the blocks on the floor and encourage your child to find letters they know and point them out or you could place all the blocks into a "hat" and let your child pick a few out and see what words they can make with the letters they pulled or you could even turn it into a game with the sight words printable I am including at the bottom of this post. The possibilities are endless, just make sure you have fun.
I am officially the meanest Mom ever. When other kids were getting to watch cartoons or play video games, I made Micah "do school" this weekend. Here's what we learned... We learned about patience, because sometimes the fish just aren't biting. We learned about mother nature and how to be nice to her and remember to take out what we bring in, even if we are "too tired to pick it up". We learned about ecology and botany and what plants are OK to touch and which ones to stay away from.... Leaves of three, let it be.
We learned about natural ways to keep the bugs away. We learned if you run out of bait, you can always dig up your own worms. Fish like locally sourced foods too. We learned about math and distance, because "it takes a long time to drive to the pond". We learned about the circle of life. We learned to appreciate the beauty of nature without disturbing it.
We learned it's really cool (and convenient) to be able to pee, standing up, in the woods. We learned it's OK to explore away from Mom and Dad a few feet, without being afraid. We learned that fish don't bite in the hottest parts of the day, which in turn taught us to be gracious "losers" and we also learned that anything can be a learning experience, if you just open your eyes and look around.
Gardening has become one of my very favorite hobbies in the last few years. Notice, I say "hobby", not "mega money making venture", as I am not what one would call a "master gardener". (except in my own head)
For me, gardening is relaxing and very rewarding. Seeing something start from a tiny little seed and turn into a huge, robust plant, with delicious fruit is a truly remarkable feeling, kind of like raising a child, in one short season.
Speaking of the kids; gardening can be a great way for kids to start learning about responsibility. Plants and veggies need daily care, as would a pet. Thank goodness if little Johnny kills your bean plant, Animal Control won't be knocking on your door, you just plant more. No harm, no foul.
A common misconception is that gardening is a very costly hobby, (for me) it is not. I'm sure it can be, but you can have a perfectly nice garden, without spending a crap ton of money.
Here are a few ways I have found to save some "green" on your garden, this year...
#1. Make your own bed.
Buying a raised bed from the store can be a bit expensive, build your own raised garden bed and save the money for important stuff like soil. The one below is a simple design, but you could get fancy, if you want to and frame out the sides.
#2. Make your own compost!
I have heard tale of people who buy their compost from a store. Why would you do that, when you can make it at home, for FREE! Compost is nothing more than kitchen scraps, a little bit of dirt to start it off, a bucket with a lid on it and a few worms. I save everything from onion skins and butts to pepper peels, rinds of oranges, apple cores. Anything that is not meat or eggs goes in the bucket.
#3. Source your own worms.
Yes, that means dig them up from your own yard. Worms are beneficial for the garden and for the compost bucket (and for fishing) and can be found in almost any back yard or dirt pile, if you know when and where to look. Right after a good rain is the best time to find them, as they are close to the top of the soil. If you can't wait for it to rain, you could heavily saturate with a garden hose and sit back and wait. (If you're not "digging" the idea of touching the worms, you could always get the kids to do it)
#4. Acquire free plants & seeds.
For me, the biggest cost, in my garden is usually the plants or seeds themselves. Yes, they have tons of seeds at the discount store, but I had zero luck with them and you have no idea of the history of the seeds. Are they old, are they gmo, will they even germinate? Instead of worrying about all those variables, I make sure to get really good plants or seeds. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite is guilt. Yep, good old fashioned guilt. Every year, I guilt my kids into buying me plants for Mother's Day and sometimes my birthday. This year, I got 3 varieties of tomatoes and a habanero pepper plant.
If you don't have any family you can guilt, no worries, you can still get free seeds from various sources. The least likely place I have found seeds: the library. Yes, I said the library. I found a ton of amazing flower seeds at my library seed exchange. I got some morning glories, some cosmos, some milkweed (for the butterflies) and a few wildflower mix packs too. Check with your local library and see if they have a seed exchange, if not, start one. Here's a very inclusive list of seed libraries, worldwide.
No matter how you get your garden started, the goal is to have a beautiful place to relax and if you get some yummy fruits of your labor, that's a plus. Throw some seeds in the ground, sit back and let the magic happen. Happy gardening!
Summer break is definitely in full effect! If your family is like mine, you're probably being inundated with complaints of boredom and/or constant hunger, which is another whole different problem all its own. For a few tips on feeding your brood, check out my post, 6 tips for saving $ on your grocery budget during summer break.
Unfortunately, feeding them isn't enough, they will also want to be entertained, so here are a few family friendly, fun ideas to help keep your little angels busy and yourself relatively sane, until school starts back.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a free copy of this math unit, in exchange for my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will make a small commission.
I can't really remember when I made the choice to home educate Micah or if it even was a choice I consciously made; I think it was just a natural progression of life, for us. Mind you, I am not against public schools, this just happens to work for us, for now and if there comes a time when it doesn't, I'll worry about that, then; but for now, we are having a blast.
One of my favorite things about home educating is the flexibility it allows me to follow my child's passions and educate him in a way that works for him. No two children are alike, not even from the same parents. All children learn in different ways and at different rates and the idea that one cookie cutter education is right for every kid, is ridiculous!
If Micah is zipping through his letters, we zip through them. If he is having trouble getting math concepts, we slow down and take extra time, until he gets it. We don't do a ton of book work; most of what we do is practical hands-on learning and reading; we do a lot of reading and lapbooks are great too.
Lapbooks are a fun way to show a concept, in one succinct place. They can be simple, elaborate or anything in between. I find they hold the kids' attention, without being overly "teachy". I recently had the opportunity to check out a complete 130+ page Kindergarten math review worksheet pack, from Educents and I found a ton of "lapbookable" pages.
Making lapbooks doesn't have to take a ton of time or even creativity. If you can cut and paste, you can make a lapbook. Since we have been working on money concepts, I decided to make that the theme of our lapbook. Here's how it turned out...
To make this lapbook, I started with a simple file folder and folded both sides in to meet the middle. The seam that was the outside edge, becomes the main place for you to put your "info". (If you like my descriptions, you should hear me tell a joke)
For this lapbook, I chose a few pages from the math review pack, printed them out and then arranged them on the folder. There are a total of five activities on this lapbook, but you could always expand on these pages and add more.
The left flap has four different products, each with a price. I supplied Micah with actual coins and asked him to make the amount shown. (The worksheets have play money as well, if you don't happen to have a crap ton of change laying around)
Check out this FREE Spring themed coloring book from Educents. Click on the picture to go to the site, to download. Happy coloring!
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