Ten School Items Worth Every Penny We Spent
(On Wednesday because I just plain ran out of time on Tuesday. I was teaching my kids and stuff, go figure.)
1. The World Atlas Flip Charts: $7.99 on the clearance rack at Borders.
Not only is it a handy reference for geography studies, the fine young gents pore over the maps in their free time.
2. The library and the parks.
I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: I'm amazed that there's a place we can get as many books as we can carry, bring them home and read them for free. We just have to bring them back when we're finished. Incredible.
We voted for a new library until we actually got one. I forget how much it actually raised our taxes, but it's sure a lot less that we'd have spent to purchase books for special projects, short-term studies, following our noses. We check out hundreds of books each year, not to mention CD's and educational movies.
Ditto on the parks. I'm glad that at least some of our tax dollars are spent leaving places a little wild so that we have the opportunity to explore. Interesting note: The newer parks built in our town usually have a "wild space" deliberately incorporated into the design of the park. A favorite park of the fine young gents was a flat boring field before the city turned it into a park with a playground, but the park design also included a large empty flat space perfect for playing soccer or Frisbee or for just for running around, grassy hills with shade trees for running or rolling or lounging on the grass, and a large wild hill with tall grass, logs, stumps and large stones.
3. Plastic totes with handles: $8.99 each.
One for each child. Each child has a box containing that child's school. Books used daily, extra pens and pencils and glue and tape, paper, reading book and timer, sketchbooks, games, crayons, and more. Even three year-old gent has his own school box filled with drawing supplies and toys. "Get your school boxes," I chirp at the beginning of each school day. The boxes store neatly under the sewing table. The necessary materials and supplies for a successful school day are immediately at hand while lovely lady and the gents make their way through the school day. We can add any necessary books from the bookshelves and take school to the park or gymnastics or Grandpa's or piano lesson.
4. Bookshelves: $200(ish) each for the large ones.
School books to the left of the entertainment center. School reference books for me, picture books and library books to the right. Retired/waiting curricula in the sewing room. Non-picture books fill an entire bookcase in the upstairs hallway. Bookshelves in the office, in the bedrooms....We need those bookshelves.
5. The minivan.
It gets us where we need to go when we need to get there.
6. Art supplies: Lots
Providing quality art supplies for our art lessons costs a little more. Everyday scribbling gets Crayola. For art lessons we use special markers or pencils or pastels. Not the outrageously expensive ones. One could spend thousands of dollars in the art supply store buying the fancy art supplies. I haven't gone quite that far. But I do believe that using good art supplies sends the message that what the ladies and gents make is worth the investment, which translates into a little extra attention on their part, a little more effort, a little more thought.
7.Enchanted Learning: $20.00/yr.
Maps, printable "I Can Read" books, holiday crafts and coloring, information about animals. Invaluable. Our geography, science and nature studies just wouldn't be the same. When we visited the bee tree, I looked up honeybees on Enchanted Learning and found a fantastic honeybee printout. We've printed maps for geography, an African animal book to color for our African savanna study, and a ladybug fact sheet the day middle young gent captured several ladybugs for his bug habitat.
8. Bug habitatand bug vac: About $35.
Middle young gent, nearly five, is almost certain to become an entymologist one day. He'll pick up earwigs, play with potato bugs, and he's constantly capturing tiny crawling creatures and putting them in yogurt cups with holes punched in the lid with a ballpoint pen. Then forgetting them around the house. For Christmas, he was given a bug vaccum and a clear plastic habitat for the bugs he captures. No more mystery cups left around the house (I hope). And he gets to watch his little friends. And his little friends stay right where they belong, which is anywhere they have absolutely NO chance of crawling on me.
9. The dictionary: No idea because I've had it for as long as I can remember.
"Look it up." The dictionary gets hauled off the shelf and thumped on the table often. Sure they could look it up online (http://www.m-w.com/) but where's the fun in that?
Items deserving of Honorable Mention: Umbrellas and rainboots so that we can go out even when it's raining, newspaper subscription, magnifying glasses and magnets, a large table, the piano and my membership to the gym so that I can get out of the house once in a while all by myself.