We save money on edu-taining and homeschooling our 6-year-old twins with portable kits assembled from inexpensive components available at local Target and Walmart stores. They can be “outfitted” in a myriad of ways and can keep children of all ages happily engaged.
Collect one (1) of each of the following for each child:
- Durable 3-ring “View Binder.”
- Zippered Ring Binder Pocket.
- Pack of Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons.
- An improvised “eraser” because the soft polyester mitts included with the Dry-Erase Crayons are nearly useless. We use a micro-fiber cleaning towel, but any terry washcloth or hand towel, or even an old sock would work.
Now, what shall we slide into those tough, plastic windows?
QUICKEST, EASIEST OPTION: Ready-Made Pages
Children’s Magazines often contain word puzzles and/or activity sheets. Just fold the magazine open to the desired page and slide the entire magazine inside the cover. Once the sheet is completed and the answers are checked, our girls initial and date the page before passing it on. If you do not subscribe to any childrens magazines, the library has them and magazines can often be purchased at thrift stores.
Workbooks are great for practice or reinforcement, especially if you can find them at a good price like the 128-page Contemporary Cursive workbook I bought last year for $1.00. We tear sheets out and store the loose pages within the original book covers once the sheet has been completed/checked/initialed/dated.
SLIGHT EFFORT REQUIRED: Free Online Printables
Coloring Pages to trace! According to homeschool speaker/trainer/mother Renee Ellison in her e-book entitled Draw to See, you can “trade refrigerator pictures for living room masterpieces with [a] simple 5-step method” that begins “by getting your three-year-old tracing those coloring book pictures instead of coloring them.” We have her inexpensive e-book (http://www.homeschoolhowtos.com/store/detail/draw_to_see) and the girls have traced many a coloring page with steady improvement.
Simple coloring sheets are available from sources like:
Self-Correcting Worksheets reminiscent of the vintage 1980′s GeoSafari Games and cards – sans the batteries and noise! — can be fashioned by printing free worksheets onto both sides of a sheet of cardstock. Mark a star in an upper corner of both sides for orientation and then mark the answers on “the back.” Laminate (with an iron if you lack a laminator), if desired, and show your children how to insert a quiz sheet and mark their answers before flipping the card over to check themselves.
Nice worksheets are available from sites like:
All Kids Network http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/
Kids Learning Station.com http://www.kidslearningstation.com/
Self-Correcting Worksheets can also be created using hand drawings or by physically cutting and pasting “cannibalized” graphics from books, magazines, junk mail, etc. onto a “master” sheet which can then be treated in the same manner as the printable worksheets above (copied on both sides of a piece of cardstock, starred in the corner, marked with answers and laminated). These are fun to make and you can include your children in the creative process. Watch for a future post on “Cannibalizing Books, Magazines and Junk Mail to Create Customized Learning Materials!”
Stretch your edu-tainment and education dollars! On your next trip to Target or Walmart, pick up the ingredients for some “View Binder Learning Kits!”