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Games and toys and books, oh my!

June 26, 2011

A friend asked me what curriculum we use. The answer is that we use several subject-specific curricula as well as anything else we can get our hands on. I dashed around the house with my iPod Touch taking pictures of some of stuff (and we have, uh, LOTS of stuff) and used Instagram to pretty them up and share them on Facebook. My friend Kimber asked me to post them to her Facebook group for Happy Hippy Homeschoolers, so since there is some interest in having this info in shareable format, I’m dusting off the blog, and here they are for your enjoyment:

Our 2.5-year-old playing with an alphabet puzzle that has both capital and lowercase letters.

We love these Magnanimals on the fridge; they are a fun way to help our toddler learn animal names and a good excuse to talk about animals any time.

My mother collected these toy animals over the years, and they are fun for the kids to play and learn with. We identify them, look them up in a book, talk about where they live and what they do, and just play with them.

Our 4K student's science theme this year was "the human body." We like the SomeBody game (it has cling stickers of organs that you add to a board with an outline ... kind of like Colorforms), a Melissa and Doug floor puzzle with two sides, and a multi-layer wooden "boy" body puzzle.

From left: coloring books and paper doll books; What People Wore When, giving a historical overview of fashion; some art reference books; the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia; and DK's Science, a chronology of science that I fully intend to read cover to cover when the kids are all big enough to let me read a big book cover to cover.

This is a bad photo of some paper models of the Great Wall of China and the Trojan Horse. These models came in the Ancient China Treasure Chest and the Ancient Greece Treasure Chest, respectively. We often find free printable paper models (sometimes it takes a lot of Googling) of things like buildings, ships, weapons, and other interesting things we study in history. Behind the Trojan Horse is a mummy mask we made last year when we were studying ancient Egypt.

This Buddha Board is just a really cool thing. The stand serves as a water basin, and you just paint on the board with water ... then it dries and the image goes away. This is fun for practicing Chinese calligraphy, doodling, or keeping the toddler busy for awhile. (Yeah, it keeps the toddler busy for awhile!) I like the board and the basin, but you can do this cheaply with some paper that you can paint on with water; Amazon sells it and it popped up when I searched for Buddha Board.

Flash cards are so underrated! They are cheap (try the Dollar Tree) and highly portable. I stick sets in my purse and we work on memorizing math facts (or whatever) while we're out for a picnic lunch. I know there are whole websites dedicated to hating flash cards, but they are really wonderful tools. Just don't be uptight about them and it's all good. We cozy up on the couch and use them like books, talk about what's on them, etc. Or we use them for memory drills. We've used our English From the Roots Up flashcards at dinner for the whole family. Don't hate flash cards!

All of our kids have enjoyed the Alphabet Band book; it lets them push a letter on a keypad and hear the letter name along with its accompanying sound from the story. Also shown is a Montessori movable alphabet. This tool is wonderful! It lets kids build words and phrases before they can write letters. The only downside is that if our toddler gets it, he tends to dump all the letters out. (The upside of that is that he knows most of his lowercase letters, plus a lot of letter sounds.)

This Mayan set is my favorite set of Haba Master Builder Blocks (and we have 8 or 9 sets ... I have an obsession). They make this temple, but then they also work for great modern buildings a la Frank Lloyd Wright. We use these blocks when we study history. We study lots of aspects of civilizations through time, including their architecture. I've found these sets to be great for helping to show the aesthetics of different civilizations.

All the kids like these Usborne See Inside books. Every book has lots of flaps. They cover a good range of topics, too. See the Famous Buildings one? Right next to it is one of my favorite grownup books, DK's Architecture Explained, which is a chronological exploration of architecture starting with the Ancient Egyptian Temple of Amun at Karnak. Unlike the DK Science book, I actually HAVE read this one cover to cover.

This is our upstairs globe. 🙂 We use it all the time, so it's good to have handy for when we randomly start discussing things at dinner. Also, you can see the cone-shaped game Sumoku. You must have this game when your kids are learning their multiplication facts, because it is FUN for the whole family (well, the ones who understand multiplication). You can also see No Stress Chess, a fun way to learn chess.

This is also on the upstairs bookshelf. (Have I mentioned that we have an upside-down house and that "upstairs" is the main level where the living room and dining room are? Um, yeah. Upstairs is the street level entry.) We have the Renaissance and Van Gogh and Friends editions of The Art Game. Each comes with a great book about five major artists and their works, and there is a deck of cards showing the art that you can use to play Go Fish for Art or Art Memory. LOVE THESE. Also shown is our upstairs history encyclopedia. Kingfisher is downstairs; Usborne is upstairs. It's good to have one handy at all times. 😉

A shot of our classroom bookshelf with books we collected and/or used when we studied the ancient world last year. Underneath, you can see the puzzle storage shelves I added to this bookshelf. I love puzzles!

Yeah, we have a lot of games. Equate is great once your students know all four operations plus fractions. Under that is a preschool Lotto game, a chemistry set, Sequence with state capitals, a human body puzzle, and the SomeBody game.

We love the Professor Noggin trivia games, especially Ancient Civilizations and Medieval Times. The 7 Pieces of Cleverness is a great plastic tangram set that my mom passed down to us.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    June 27, 2011 8:34 am

    Thanks so much for these. Always looking for interesting things even though I don’t home school. Off to order that Some Body game now. I recently heard about the See Inside books and have some waiting at Mom’s house for us.

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