{Best of…} Favorite Extras and Essentials

Favorites of 2013-2014

Books by Venezia – The composer and artist books have been the bulk of our art and music appreciation this year.  They are short and to the point but have tons of fun information.  Without them we would not have done much artist or composer study this year!

Seeds Family Worship – Bible verses set to pleasant and upbeat music?  Why, yes please!  We all love listening to these CD’s and they can change the mood from grouchy to grateful after a few songs.  I love to blast these as loud as possible during sibling fights.

Dry Erase Boards – I have an entire stack of personal-sized dry erase boards.  We have lined and unlined.  I use them when I teach to write down answers or explain math problems.  My kids use them for handwriting and math practice.  We have an entire box of different colored markers and a stack of erasers.  They are fun to write on and easy to store.  They have been one of our best homeschool finds.

What’s in the Bible DVD’s – My kids watch these during indoor PE while they walk on the treadmill.  They have picked up numerous Bible facts and lots of Bible verses as they listen and sing along.  They love to watch them so much that they actually ask me to walk on the treadmill.  This is a win-win for me!

Poetry Readings – Every morning I started school with each child with a poetry reading.  We read poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Milne, and Prelutsky to start our day.  It was fun to read both beautiful and silly rhymes with them and was a perfect prelude to our studies.

Let’s Read and Find Out About Science Series – These are some of my favorite science books.  Each week I chose a new one to read aloud and we learned so much science together!  It was an easy way to enhance our science time.  They are interesting and fun!

Science in the Beginning by Usborne – These are my other set of favorite science readers.  These have beautiful pictures and lots of fun facts and info.  My kids will often just sit and page through the books to look at the pictures!

Erasable Colored Pencils – These are the best invention ever!  My kids now do their math work with these pencils and they can easily erase their mistakes.  Math is more fun in red, green, and blue!

Classical Music – I turn on my classical music station with Pandora (my favorites are Vivaldi and Debussy while the kids enjoy Bach).  I have these playing in the background for most of the morning.  The music keeps me from losing my patience as we sound out the same word for the 30th time and it keeps the entire atmosphere peaceful (or at least as peaceful as it can be with 5 small children).  I also have a few classical CD’s on my iPod to play throughout the day.

Steno Pads – We use these for everything!  My kids like to write in them and draw on them.  And we use them for our homework lists (or independent work actually).  I write the day’s date at the top and then outline what they need to do on their own for that day.  We use colored markers to write down the assignments and when the child is done with each one they use stickers to mark them off.

Scented Markers – These are just so much more fun to write with than regular ones.  My favorite scent is cinnamon!  I use these to write down assignments for each child and to grade all their work. It’s not so bad to correct a page that is filled with bright purple and cool blue marks instead of red pen.

Pretty notebooks – They must be pretty, you know, as opposed to ugly, so I’ll actually want to use them!  I could not live without our huge stack of binders – one for each subject for each child.  I love that I don’t lose their work and when the year is done I have a completed portfolio where I can just pick and choose the pages to keep!  I choose the clear binders so I can create covers and spines and slide them in.

Diffuser – This year I got some diffusers and started scenting our rooms with different essential oils.  The kids begged each day to be able to choose our new scent and the wonderful smells changed the whole atmosphere of our school room.  They loved walking into the homeschool room just to sniff what our chosen scent was for the day.

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