Frugal Homeschooling

This year we will be homeschooling The Girls.  I have been looking into ways to do this on a budget and I would like to share my ideas with you all.

Start Simple:  Amelia is starting Kindergarten and according to our school district she is starting a year early.  Her birthday is 11 days past the state cutoff date so she would not be allowed to attend public school until next year.  We are not going out and buying a big curriculum package or expensive software.  We are starting simple with an online curriculum that we can cancel at any time if we find it doesn’t suit her learning style.  The curriculum we have chosen is Time 4 Learning.  We will supplement the curriculum with a big workbook we found on Amazon and lots of arts and crafts.  The best part is that exploring nature and the Library are free so those will be huge resources this year.

Hanging out in the Library's kid area is a favorite activity for us each week.

Hanging out in the Library’s kid area is a favorite activity for us each week.

Pinterest: Using the internet to hunt for new ideas to make learning fun and hands on are a must for these little people.  You can reinforce skills by presenting them in new ways and the kids will think it is just a fun game to play.  Half the time they don’t even know they are learning.

We made these glittery calming bottles this week.

We made these glittery calming bottles this week.

Laminate: My Husband Extraordinaire bought me this laminator a few years ago.  I use it for all kinds of kid things.  There are worksheets that the little ones love above others and by laminating them we can use dry erase markers and wipe them clean and use them over and over.  There are pieces to learning games that are just better off being laminated to keep them safe for years.

Get Creative: We try our best to utilize things we already have around here.  There are plenty of counting and early math games you can do with toys and stuffed animals.  There are color and shape games you can do with their favorite toys too.  If Candy Land gets boring after the 1,000th time you play it, revamp it with new game pieces like an octopus and T-Rex.  My sister made this gorgeous felt food picnic set and it has lead to years of fun and imaginative play for The Girls.

This felt food set was handmade as a gift from my sister.

This felt food set was handmade as a gift from my sister.

Follow Their Lead: Follow your child’s interests wherever they may lead you.  Amelia had a question the other day that lead us down a rabbit hole of discoveries.  She wanted to know how crayons were made, which lead us to YouTube, melting crayons, drawing on different textures and surfaces, and of course making a card to send to her 3 year old cousin.  That lead to a discussion on mail and how it gets to it’s destination.  Surprisingly it is not magic or owls that take our mail.  Her cousin lives in the desert so we learned about some desert animals and how they live without as much water as we get here in Oregon.  That lead to a discussion on weather (with the help of YouTube because that is not my area of expertise) and why it is warmer or colder in certain areas.  One question lead to a hundred others.  I feel like she learned more that day than she does when we get busy with “important tasks” and can’t make the time to just answer and see where that leads.  Sometimes you just need to make a fort in the living room and pretend you are a hibernating bear in the winter.

Their Godparents sent this cool modular fort set.

Their Godparents sent this cool modular fort set.

Dollar Store: Did you know it is cheaper to buy a book of practice paper for Kindergarteners at the Dollar Tree than it is to buy it at Wal Mart? There are all kinds of inexpensive buckets and containers at the Dollar Tree to use for cute storage or as fun ways to present things like sensory bins.  The Dollar Tree also has some of those craft supplies for a lot less, like pipe cleaners, glitter, glue sticks, and those foam shapes.  These things are at a decent price all year instead of just the month of August.

Get Outside: Kids thrive when they are not forced to sit for long periods of time, especially the under 6 crowd.  The Girls learn a lot just from donning their helmets and getting out on their bicycle and tricycle and talking while riding around.  We stop to stare at butterflies.  We ride near the creek and we talk about the plants.  We see people out walking their dogs and we talk about .  Sometimes we stop and talk to people in the neighborhood and make new friends.  We love finding new parks and places to explore like this splash fountain we found in the Palm Springs area.  We spent a long time talking about all of the creature sculptures.  They learned a lot and had fun playing, and you can’t beat that for a free activity.

We found this nifty little splash fountain in Southern California.

We found this nifty little splash fountain in Southern California.

Chores: It might not seem like it but The Girls learn a lot from having chores.  Amelia feeds the dog, makes her bed, helps me make mine, takes out the bathroom trash, and sweeps among other things.  Annabelle makes her bed, picks up toys, wipes the table after meals, and puts away dishes.  Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for and we do them a disservice by trying to do everything for them.

Our Weekend Camping Trip

We had an absolute blast camping with our friends this weekend.  The Girls are dirt magnets and most pictures of them are of them covered in something like dirt or sand.  Luckily my good friend and their godmother took some pictures that are more than worth sharing.

Our fun got started after everybody had their camp set up, lunch was eaten by all, and the kids picked where they wanted to go.  They picked the private beach for the campground.  On our way to the beach there was a creek that was irresistible for the little ones.

Amelia was playing around and ran off to show her godmother a pretty green rock she found.  I’m sure she probably wanted to bring it home with us but she is used to us staying at State and National Parks so she was pretty comfortable with having to put it back and leave it there for others to enjoy.

Amelia found a pretty green rock on the beach.

Amelia found a pretty green rock on the beach.

My friend took our picture… for my few readers who are not related to me, this is us:

Michael and me posing for a picture.

Michael and me posing for a picture.

Well the creek was fine and dandy for a while, but there is a whole wide ocean on the other side of that ridge and with 4 little ones that was not to be left unexplored.

Michael leading Amelia down to the water for some fun in the surf.

Michael leading Amelia down to the water for some fun in the surf.

Michael swinging Annabelle out over the ocean.

Michael swinging Annabelle out over the ocean.

Isn’t he awesome for taking the kids down into the surf so I can hang back and chat with my friend???

Annabelle seemed intrigued by the beach and more willing to stay still for pictures than her sister.

Annabelle overlooking the ocean.

Annabelle overlooking the ocean.

Annabelle being goofy on the beach.

Annabelle being goofy on the beach.

But back at camp the kids were just as entertained by a couple of balls, a few toys, and a lot of dirt.

Amelia getting down and dirty with the boys.

Amelia getting down and dirty with the boys.

Annabelle and her god-brother, Ethan, hugging.

Annabelle and her god-brother, Ethan, hugging.

As far as Humbug Mountain State Park in Oregon goes we would gladly come back.  The temperature was perfect for water play, the campsites have plenty of shade, it didn’t get too cold at night, and all of the fog you see driving there wouldn’t dare hang around the state park and the private beach.  It was sunny and beautiful and we even attempted to get the 4 kids to hike all the way to the top of the mountain… we got halfway before we turned back.  It is a 3 mile hike up steep switchbacks… talk about feeling it in my legs today.  But after indulging in way too much camping junk food I feel like we worked some of it off.

What are your favorite camping and hiking places?