Homeschool Curriculum in the Digital Age

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to save in our homeschool budget.  I try to use whatever thrifty resources I can, which often includes digital products. I was an old school holdout for years before I came to accept digital homeschool curriculum and books, but the practical side of me (read: frugal) won out.

Homeschool Curriculum in the Digital Age ~ 6 Advantages of Using Digital Homeschool Curriculum

 

Advantages of Digital Homeschool Curriculum

There are some advantages to digital homeschool curriculum that I’ve come to appreciate in the past few years:

  • it’s available instantly when you need it
  • it doesn’t take up room on your bookshelf
  • it’s easily portable (we like to read on our Kindle)
  • you can print what you choose when you choose
  • it can be used for more than one student and printed multiple times (depending on the particular copyright permissions of the material)
  • it is generally less expensive than print materials

One of the great resources I discovered last year is the Build Your Bundle -Homeschool Edition. Not only does it offer great prices on digital curriculum, it’s very customizable to suit your individual needs! I love that! There are bundles for Charlotte Mason, copywork, math, science, history, language arts, middle school, high school, preK and elementary, just for boys, and just for girls. If none of those meet your needs, you can build your own bundle with selections of your choice. Does it get any better than that?

Yes, it does. Why? Because not only does it offer pre-assembled bundles, but you can actually build your own bundle of resources! Perfectly customized and individualized, just like homeschooling!

 

Build Your Bundle Details

The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale is here!
2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale
There are several individual bundles, priced starting at $10. The 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale will consist of the following bundles, plus, of course, the BUILD YOUR OWN OPTIONS!! These bundles are full of products from popular publishers!

  • Preschool-Kindergarten
  • 1st-3rd grade (2 bundles!)
  • 4th-6th grade (2 bundles!)
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Notebooking
  • Copywork
  • Unit Studies
  • Just for Boys
  • Just for Girls
  • Character Bundle
  • Just for Moms (2 bundles!)
  • Fine Arts
  • Special Needs Bundle
  • Non-Faith Based/Secular Bundle

 

 

The Build Your Bundle Sale is ONE-WEEK ONLY – May 25th – June 1st 2015.

Don’t miss the BIGGEST homeschooling sale of the year.

Do you use digital homeschool curriculum? Why or why not?

 

Happy homeschooling,

 

Sara (64 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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DIY Totally Safe Art Supplies for Toddlers (and their older siblings)

Guest Post by Lisa of School at Home Mom.

As a mom of an active 21-month old, I am always looking for new ways to excite his curiosity and sustain his focus. Early childhood learning is so much about hands-on experiences and exploration, and art activities are a perfect way to delight a child’s senses.

Up until about last week, though, my little artist was still putting everything into his mouth – or coating his hands with everything and then putting them into his mouth!

So, I decided to hold off on splurging on art supplies and make my own food-based materials. This way, he could explore freely, and I wouldn’t have to constantly be on “DON’T EAT THAT!” patrol.

Most of our DIY supplies use only a handful of ingredients that can be stored at room temperature in a kitchen. Just about everything we use is something we’d want to keep around for baking or cooking anyway, and can be found in every grocery store. What could be easier?

DIY Totally safe art supplies for toddlers: homemade play dough and finger paints

Benefits of DIY (besides saving money!)

My son loves to make his own art supplies. He runs to the cabinet where we keep our projects stocked and opens it up, declaring, “Paint! Paint!” and eagerly gets his smock on so that he can help me mix the ingredients.

Some of the skills we can work on while creating and using the art supplies:

  • Cause and effect
  • Colors and color mixing
  • Opposites (wet/dry, big/little, open/shut, soft/hard, slow/fast, etc.)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Hand & finger strength

If you have more than one child, these DIY projects are perfect! The older children can help to prepare the supplies in a more scientific way, observing how changing the quantities or process changes the outcome. The playdoh project uses more precise quantities, and would be perfect for an older child learning about customary units of measurement and fractions.

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

DIY finger paint

Ingredients:

  • Small amount of water
  • Baby cereal
  • Kool Aid or food coloring

Procedure: Mix the dry baby cereal with water to desired consistency, then mix in the coloring.

 

My son's masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

My son’s masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

Fun with painting!

Fun with painting!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

My son was never a fan of baby cereal, so we ended up with a whole open container of it that we didn’t want to throw away but couldn’t donate. Using it up as thickener for finger paint was the perfect solution!

Note: we do not drink Kool Aid, but we do keep packets stocked for use in projects. I order them in bulk on Amazon so that we can get a variety of colors, and they’re widely available in grocery stores too.

Kool-Aid (or anything else with food coloring) will stain hands and whatever else it gets on, so an old shirt or smock would be great. My son gave himself a red belly button from one of his early painting sessions before we invested in a smock! Personally, I don’t mind – I abide by the saying “If he got dirty, he had fun today!”

For kids who don't like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

For kids who don’t like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn't have to worry about contaminating the brush!

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn’t have to worry about contaminating the brush!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn't resist touching it!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn’t resist touching it!

My son actually hates the feel of finger paint, or anything else that is the least bit goopy or sticky. After he made it clear that he was not going to be touching the paint directly, I taped a sheet of plastic cling over the goop. Then he loved it! Later, I gave him a basting brush, and he got into moving the thick finger paint around with that.

Once he got the hang of the brush, I decided to move on to regular paint. My 2 ingredient recipe for that is next!

DIY paint

Ingredients

  • Water
  • Kool Aid packet

That’s it! Mix & enjoy.

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The finished product!

The finished product!

After my son had an epic painting session involving like 8 packets of Kool-Aid, we ran out! So we substituted regular food coloring instead. He loved watching the drops of coloring diffuse out into the water. It turned into a bit of a science experiment!

Other paint making ideas:

  • Using water mixed with spices and flavorings
  • Using water with food coloring & salt, for a glittery effect

Another variation: sprinkle the Kool Aid on the paper first and then paint with water – your child will be able to see the powder mixing in a bit at a time. My toddler was mesmerized!

If you homeschool multiple kids: Your older children will enjoy writing secret messages in white crayon and then painting over it to reveal the hidden words! Or, how about a secret “math code” using number sentences or patterns?

Speaking of practicing math and reading, I’m a big fan of using manipulatives and hands on materials to make abstract concepts more concrete. This next project will provide a sensory experience for little ones, while your older child can use it to make numbers and letters, or even cut it up to model fractions!

DIY Playdoh

There are plenty of recipes for playdoh, but many of them use salt – which doesn’t work for my son’s eczema-prone skin. Here’s one that was gentler for him, and still used food-grade ingredients.

Because this recipe uses heat, you won’t want to prepare this one with your toddler’s help. Once it cools, you can enlist your child’s participation for mixing in colors.

Bonus: This recipe is gluten free, if that’s a concern for you.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Food coloring of your choice (if desired)

Mix the ingredients and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly and watch for when it begins to thicken. When it thickens enough, take it off, allow it to cool, and then mix in the colors.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh - big victory!

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh – big victory!

The texture of this playdoh is soft and a bit sticky at first (if it’s too sticky, add more cornstarch). We were able to keep it in the fridge for several weeks. We allowed it to warm up a bit before playing with it.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lisa of schoolathomemom.comLisa has been a special education teacher for 15 years and is looking forward to wrapping up her final months of her teaching contract so that she can homeschool her young son. She is also eager to help other homeschool families who can benefit from her years of experience working with children with many different learning styles, strengths, and needs. If you are new to homeschooling, her 100 Day Countdown begins on April 21, 2015! In addition to her years in the classroom, she has also traveled to 6 continents and participated in endangered sea turtle conservation projects and archaeological digs. Lisa currently works for the Museum of Natural History developing curriculum and teaching enrichment courses and camp sessions to children ages 5-10. You can learn more at her website, http://www.schoolathomemom.com.

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Groovy Lab in a Box: A Science Kit That Includes EVERYTHING!

My kids absolutely love doing science experiments – and so do I! What we don’t love is having to find all the needed supplies, and forgetting something, and then not actually doing the experiment because we didn’t pick up the last supply at the store.

That’s why I was SO excited to find out about Groovy Lab in a Box! They have everything – and I mean everything – you need to complete a science experiment, all in one convenient package!

groovylablogo

From the website…

“Groovy Lab in a Box includes everything you need to complete all activities, inquiry experiments, tests, and engineering design challenges. Including the basics. You never have to go looking for popsicle sticks or straws or pipe cleaners ever again. If the activity, experiment, test, challenge, or inquiry requires a specific tool or supply, it’s in the box!”

I love that! No more hunting the house trying to find something that will work – because it all magically arrives on your doorstep! Go here to read more about what’s inside each box.

Not only that, but you can choose to have one groovy lab box mailed to you (hurry, they’re going fast!) or you can sign up for a subscription plan!

GroovyLabBirdKit

{All-inclusive “For The Birds” science kit!}

I’m also thrilled to announce that Groovy Lab in a Box is giving away one science experiment kit to a Homeschool Blog Awards winner!

Here are the details:

  • One Prestigious Parents’ Choice® Award winner Groovy Lab in a Box – Lunar Launch Box
  • Engineering Design Challenge: Can you design, build, and launch a rocket which travels the farthest vertical distance?
  • Investigate Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy. Build Balloon Rockets, Paper Rockets, Foam Rockets, and a rocket that you engineer and design.
  • Emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)
  • Extended learning through our exclusive online portal.
  • STEM•ist /stĕmʹĭst/ n. Expert in applying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Explorer, creator, inventor…STEMist!
  • For STEMists ages 8 and up

Thank you, Groovy Lab in a Box!

To connect with Groovy Lab in a Box so you don’t miss information about deals, sales, new products, science tips, and fun ideas, you can visit their blog, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Pinterest.

And I’d love to know – if none of the science kits were sold out, which one would you choose?

 

Davonne (16 Posts)

Davonne Parks is a married Christian homeschool mom who began teaching her children at home in 2009. She blogs about cultivating a heart for motherhood, as well as organization and simplicity, at DavonneParks.com. Davonne believes that some of life’s richest moments happen when we embrace the beauty of imperfection as we extend grace to ourselves and others. She’s written two eBooks, “101 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms” (free to her blog subscribers) and “28 Days to Timeliness: Tips and Confessions from a Semi-Reformed Late Person.”


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