Homeschool Art Supplies

Over the years we’ve  had the opportunity to try out MANY different arts and crafts supplies.  Often we’ve been surprised that an off brand has a better quality product then some of the more popular, well known brands.And with other products we’re happy to make the investmentfor a quality product that will last.  Read about our favorite art supplies and where to find the best price.  Find more of our favorite Homeschool Tools and Machines.  Read about our Favorite Homeschool Curriculum Here

Simply Art Watercolor Cakes

I was surprised at the value of this watercolor set. Normally, I stay away from off brand watercolors but this set can't be beat! The colors are bright, and vivid and because these are cakes they last much longer then traditional watercolor packs. We have used this set through many art projects over the years, It took almost 5 years to run out of yellow so we finally bought a second set....but for the price....AMAZING!

Crayola Oil Pastels

Pastels were one of my favorite mediums when I was a kid. I used to love drawing on the paper, then blending the colors with my fingertip....the possibilities were endless for the colors I could create and I felt like a young and undiscovered Picasso. That's why I keep pastels in my classroom for my children to work with....I love the ease of color blending with them and we work on shading with them

Sunworks Construction Paper

Again, another deal you can get online is this heavy weight construction paper from SunWorks. One pack keeps your classroom stocked up for almost the entire year

Pro Art Chalk Pastels

Chalk pastels are fun to have on hand as well. We've recently started to use them with this curriculum and this set really gave us a wide varitey of colors for a good price. Another deal that is better online then in store

Caran d'Ache Watercolor Crayons

This was one of our more expensive craft room purchases, but they have held up quite nicely over the years. Watercolor crayons are a great way for children to experiment, and this set comes with a handy tin for storage. (the tin is one of the reason I believe this set has held up so well)

Melissa and Doug Triangle Crayons

I usually don't purchase much Melisa and Doug unless I can find a coupon or an online deal, but these triangle crayons have been a blessing in our house. My three year old love them, it feels like his own art set he can use and they don't roll away!

Fiskars Gel Pens

If you can't stand glitter in your house, you might take a peek at these glitter pens! We purchased this set for my daughters birthday, and I had a hard time keeping my hands off of them. This is a good deal online and you get over 48 pens!

Dixon #2 Pencils

If there were a World's Greatest Pencil Award, we would give it to Dixon Ticonderoga hands down! After years of dealing with broken tips and erasers that pop off (or worse leave streaks across your paper instead of erasing) I've decided that the investment in Dixon is well worth it

Glitter Shakers

Glitter shakers are much easier for younger children to use, as you don't end up with the dreaded pile of glitter on your table. The lids come off so you can pour back the excess.

Our Favorite Homeschool Tools

Have you ever wondered what a laminator is? Or how about a binding machine. Are you on your seventh pencil sharpener of the year? Come on in and read about our favorite homeschool tools. We'll show you how we use them, why you'd need them and where we found the best price.

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Reading Eggs Review

Reading Eggs is an online reading program for children ages 3-13. When you join Reading Eggs you get access to two different levels of their program, Learning to Read, and Reading to Learn:

Christian Light Review

Coming soon!

Reading Kingdom Review

The Reading Kingdom is an online subscription website that teaches children to read and write up to a third grade level. The program was developed by Dr. Marion Blank, and incorporates elements of phonics and whole language skills by introducing children to six different reading and writing skills:

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Teaching Textbooks Review

Top Pick! Review Coming Soon

Math U See Review

Top Pick! Review Coming Soon

Envision Math Review

Envision Math lessons start with review, new teaching, guided practice, independent practice, and then connections. Quizes, Reteaching, and algebra connections are offered throughout.

CTC Math Review

CTC Math is a supplemental online math program for K-12. 1,367 animated and narrated math lessons (VIDEOS!!!) A bank of over 57,000 interactive questions Diagnostic tests Instant feedback to students and regular reporting to parents

Aleks Review

ALEKS is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn.

IXL Review

IXL is a K-12 online math program that aligns itself with common core state standards. Each grade is organized into subcategories making it easy to cover a specific topic with your child. While there are no pre-teaching exercises, there are explanations for children when they receive an incorrect answer.

BIG IQ Kids Review

Big IQ Kids is a an online subscription service providing teachers and parents with customizable resources they can use as supplemental learning opportunities. There are different levels of subcription available, and subjects are offered separately as Math, Spelling, Vocabulary, U.S. States, Long & Short Vowels, and SAT Vocabulary Prep.

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Math Fact Monkey on my Back

Oh Golly.

You know.

I think this is probably one of THE MOST talked about subject in homeschool circles.

Or maybe it’s just me….
running around in circles
asking the question:

HOW do you get your kids to memorize those math facts?

What works with one of my kids, doesn’t even sink in with the other.

And everytime I DECLARE that we have learned our math facts,
I soon find out that, “OOPS! We didn’t learn our 8’s as good as we could have”

Tell me please that I’m not the only one.

This is the point in which you would inturrupt me
with a big, “I KNOW! Mine TOO! I tried this,
and that and the other thing but we still haven’t got them all down.”

Then we would laugh and hug and say,
“Oh I’m so glad your kid doesn’t know his 8’s either.”

Happy Happy Day.

Something like that.

But you see,
over these past zillion days we’ve been struggling with math,
I’ve realized that there isn’t a MAGIC anything that is going to make
it sink in.

The only formula that seems (to me) to REALLY works is repetition and time.

One thing were doing this year to brush up,
re-learn, and speed-up are daily math drills:

More Minute Math Drills

(yes. in addition to our daily math lessons)

We simply take 5 minutes each day and dedicate it to learning math facts.

5 little minutes gives us time for 5 speed tests.

The book is a simple progressive collection of math facts.

Here’s how we spice it up:

-We set a standard beginning goal as we start each new set of facts
-Then the goal each day based on yesterdays performance
-Kids are rewarded with a sticker for meeting the days goal.
-A Full sheet of stickers (for us about 70) equals an ice cream social

It only takes Five simple minutes a day
and Math Fact Guilt is gone out the window.

(try it….it’s cheaper then therapy)

And yes, the children are getting FASTER and more accurate,
but seriously,
I’m more excited to kick the Math Fact Monkey on my Back to the curb.

We have both Addition/Subtraction and Multiplication/Division with this series.
I would definitely recommend using this system for
Five Minutes a Day x Four Days a Week

You read that right.
Four Days a week.

On Day Five you might want to play a simple math facts game like this one.

You might even be able to WIN one exactly like this.


In the near future.


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Pig Pile!

With a title like that, I’m sure you’re expecting a blog post about
a ginormous amount of dirty laundry, or perhaps an article on a tower of dirty dishes.

Maybe even a photograph of the hordes, yes HORDES of stuffed animal
creatures that have somehow worked their way back into my house
despite numerous trips to Goodwill.

Well, while all those things are quite blog worthy,
today the Pig Pile I’ll be featuring is actually a Game!

Pig Pile: A Hog Wild Card Game!
$15.95 at R&R Games
(Pssst: Coupon Code CREW20 saves you 20% until 12/31/2011)

Ages 7+ 3-6 Players

Here’s a little clip I snagged about the game:

The jig’s up! The pig squealed! Over 39 Pink Pigs crammed into a little box! Now it’s up to you to let them out! No mud slinging allowed in this fast-paced family game where players compete to corral the most pigs. Get rid of your cards first and be awarded the prime pile of pigs. Sounds easy, but pigs can be slippery! The more cards you have, the better your chances of calling out HogWash! and clearing away the deck! But don’t hog the cards too long or you’ll get stuck. The player with the largest stockpile of swine after the final round wins. Quick thinking and clever card play determine how high you’ll heap your hogs

And here’s what we thought:

The instructions were a handful.
This card means that, That card means this,
Lay down one card, Pick up Two Cards
And I’m still not 100% sure that we’re playing correctly.

But you know what.
It doesn’t really matter.
My kids LOVE the PIGS.

And really? Who wouldn’t.
Just look at these adorable little piggy faces:

My children want to play with the pigs more then anything,
so we adapted the instructions a bit
to make it so two people can play and,
to make sure those little piggies got played with a bit more.

And once we got a good rhythm to the game,
it was smooth sailing from there!
Really it only took a couple of “tweeks” to get going,
and instantly it was a smashing success.

In fact, this has become their “go to” game
when Mom declares “Quiet on the set”
(i.e. nap time for the other piglets)

If you were to pay our house a visit during nap time
you’d hear whispers of “Hog Wash” and “Ewe Turn”,
and sometimes dare I say, “You Win, Good Game.”

They love it so much I’ve grown tired of telling them to put it away.
It’s become a part of our living room decor.

And I love that I can jump in for a few rounds
when I have a spare second to play with them.
Quick and Easy. It’s not one of those,
“No pick something else, that’s too long and it’s almost bedtime” games.

It’s one of those, “Hey…how about Pig Pile?” games.

I’m convinced the game is a huge success around here because it
affords my five year old an opportunity to level the playing field with my eight year old.
But it’s not just luck of the draw, there is a bit of strategy as well,
which keeps them quite interested….and dare I say “learning” too.

Shhhhh. Don’t tell them they are learning.

R&R Games

R&R Games has a variety of other fun family games too!
Some with equally adorable characters like Flea Circus:

Seriously, Pigs & Fleas.
How much greater can life get for a kid?


Don’t just take my word for it!
This review is part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew,
check out what other homechool families thought of Pig Pile here!

Disclosure: This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. My review of the product reflects my honest opinion.

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Dry Erase Crayons: A Review

Where to Buy

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Pick & Draw Review & Giveaway!

Rich Davis, Creative Genius has sent us a fantastic card game, one to review, and one to share with you!

The game is called Pick and Draw and it’s a card game with easy to follow instructions for simple drawings that kids can create.

One of my favorite parts of this game is that Rich included easy to read instructions for kids. (I’m so tired of breaking out my granny glasses and spending half an hour trying to figure out how to play children’s games)

Besides being quick and easy to set up, this game is very simple to play! You start by organizing the cards into the correct decks (which are very brightly color coded
(Did I mention creative genius?)

Then, starting with the face cards you….Pick & Draw:

Then you Pick & Draw again:

Everytime you Pick and Draw a new feature for your character, and in the end you have a custom character created by you…..I mean your kids, cause this game is for them….

Okay it’s for you too….seriously, get a set and you won’t be able to resist:

We played this game in a few different ways,
Each of us drawing with the same cards:

And then each of us using our own set of cards:

Then we couldn’t help but color our little characters in and naming them:

As we played I loved listening to the little giggles as the kiddos drew a new card, “Oh boy, this one is going to be crazy!”
This is the perfect game for family night as everyone can play (without being on Mom or Dad’s team……yes that’s right, a chance to be your own person again!)

Bubba (5) spent the most time playing it!
We all took a break for lunch but he continued to play……(if you know anything about my son the fact that he chose drawing over food really says something!)
Here is one character he made incorporating his love of both:

And can’t you just see the Homeschool application for this game! Let children create a story around their characters, or turn their creations into stick puppets and put on a show! Best of all….Look at the size of the game! Not only will it fit in the kids stockings this year, but hey….punch holes in the corner, put it on a key ring and pull it out for long travel trips….or in our case, Dr. Visits.

How to Enter:

1. Visit the Pick & Draw website, and try your hand at their online game. Come back and leave me a comment with what you think!
2. Subscribe to Draw with Rich (the creative genius). Come back and leave me an extra comment telling me you did.
3. Like Pick & Draw on Facebook. Leave an extra comment telling me.
4. Subscribe to my blog The Crafty Classroom. Leave me a comment letting me know you subscribe.

I’ll draw a winner this Sunday December 12th.

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Untitled-14 Math Science
Character Music Spanish
Games Online Tech
History PE Tools
Language REading Writing
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