Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thrifty Schooling

I just love looking through school supply catalogs. I can spend a lot of time filling out the order form of a Discount School Supply, Kaplan or Lakeshore catalog. I never do send them in, though. I just like to think about what I would buy with an unlimited budget.

Sometimes I can get great ideas from all the gizmos and gadgets that they offer. I often will make file folder games for the children using an idea from one of these catalogs or from a Mailbox magazine (these are often at your library, grade specific, lots of good ideas!). File folder games are cheap and easy to store. If you have lots of children to go through each level, you know you'll use them often.

Or, I get ideas for activities by some of the pictures of children using the materials in the catalogs. I saw a child using counters sold there (you can use beans or cheerios) along with magnetic numbers. I had some of those so I put them together in a little container and now have an easy activity for my preschoolers while I'm working with an older child.

Toys in these catalogs were often made by teachers for years and years before they were offered for sale anywhere. Take the classic shape sorter for example. Someone's grandma took a cardboard oatmeal container, cut the top in to shapes and gave a child little corresponding blocks for wood to push through the holes. With a few minutes and a sharp knife, those little blocks floating around your house will have a new and exciting use. Did you know that Mr. Potato Head used to be used with real potatoes? Now we just store plastic potato-like thing for our children to play with? You can make all sorts of things at home as long as long as you are creative (or cheat like I do and use ideas from catalogs!)

And then, of course, there is always the thrift store, garage sales or buying second hand from a friend. I am always on the look out for good materials to use for school. Just last week I bought a book from another homeschooling mom online about using Cuisenaire Rods for multiplication and division. I didn't have the rods but have been looking for them for some time.

Yesterday Hubby, Sweetie Pie and I didn't get out to do any garage saleing but did stop by Value Village on our way home, we hadn't been there in a long while. And, can you guess what they had?

A full set of Cuisenaire Rods for $2.99, a set of parquetry blocks for $1.99 and a big set of Brio builders for $6.99 that was the half off color, making it $3.50. Granted, I spent and hour and a half combing the store for these good finds but, to me, it's entertainment!
What are your thrifty school ideas? Leave me a comment and let me know. Are you blogging about it? I'd love to link to your ideas here.

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