Attn: Giveaway at the bottom of this post
It’s what is on our mind this time of year… back to school, or back to homeschool… whatever the case may be. We start thinking about scheduling, curriculum, activities, new Fall clothes, ways to stay on budget, and much more. It is also the time of year when I get lots of school related gear to review as a blogger. Many products and pitches don’t make the cut but others I find really helpful and the above are some of the winners I spotted this year.
We are doing a mish mesh of schooling stuff this year. I have one child who will be home most of the time, minus therapy sessions at a public school. He started attending last year for speech and developmental delay issues and they helped him so much it just amazes me. He is now 5 and could technically enter Kindergarten but I opted to keep him home and send him to the special needs program again. He will be gone for about 2 hours a day.
My daughter is very much looking forward to returning to her public school. She thrives in this environment, just as I always did. The girl is much like me. Although I don’t recall asking my mom to do a photoshoot of me in all my back to school fashions. Whether it is new clothing or thrift store clothing, the girl loves fashion. Here are some of my fave shots from the fashion show…
Isn’t that no poo hair gorgeous?
My oldest boy was all set to be homeschooled for another year and then an amazing opportunity kind of fell in our lap. I met an amazing lady a few weeks back and spilled my guts to her about our horrific public school experience in regards to this particular child. This angel just happened to be a kick butt lawyer who then pulled some strings to get us the chance to enroll in a unique private school. Instead of an hourly requirement the kids earn credits and thus he will be at school for much less time than his sister in public school. The approach is similar to Montessori with all grades being intermingled and there is also one on one time with tutors from OSU. The meals (a catered breakfast and lunch) are designed to exceed the lax state standards and be extra nutritious. Instead of a bus with dozens of students, a private car service transports the kids to and from school. There are also uniforms, which I happen to think is a good idea. The school sounds amazing so we figured that it was definitely worth a try. So, that is what out school year is shaping up like. We needed a mix of supplies for 3 very different schooling approaches.
One of the best back to school finds for us was Naked Binder. They have binders and folders made from 100% Recycled materials and they are recyclable themselves. They make their binders, folders, and tabs in Des Moines, IA in the US of A out of FSC certified, 100% post-consumer waste binders board, 100% cotton cloth, a few FSC certified papers and metal rings. No plastics, vinyls or toxins. I like the natural and “naked” colors personally and they are super durable. Honestly my kids will be lucky to get any of the products sent to us for review because I want to snake them for my home office. They get an A++ from me as they are but if you want to personalize them for your kids I would suggest stickers.
And while we are on the subject of great green companies… Annie’s Homegrown, Stonyfield YoKids, Honest Kids, and Seventh Generation have teamed up to help families toss their brown bags this back-to-school season by offering a free Kids Konserve lunch sack with the purchase of participating products now through September 30, 2011. These re-useable lunch sacks are washable and made of recycled cotton and eliminate a great deal of waste that would otherwise occur from the use of daily paper or plastic lunch bags.
Consumers are invited to visit Annies.com/bts11, print out the form then mail in proof of purchase of all four brands. Eligible products include:
Any Annie’s Homegrown item
Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt 6-packs or Squeezers
Honest Kids Organic Drinks 8-pack carton or 64-ounce bottle
Seventh Generation Disinfectants (sprays or wipes)
These could already be on your shopping list for school lunches or for school supplies (the wipes) so the bag is a nice bonus. A
I also found two books that mesh well with this time of year. The first is Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo. It is a clever children’s book that uses the idea of little monsters (which my 5 and 7 year old loved) to teach concepts like the alphabet. The professor is searching for the elusive Zipperump-a-Zoo but he doesn’t know what one looks like or where to find one since no one has ever seen one. The book is a lot of fun and the ending was laugh out loud funny. B+
And I already mentioned Playful Learning once but it deserves another mention. It could easily be incorporated into preschool or homeschool activities and curriculum and I would highly recommend that after having had some time to read through this amazing book. The idea that meaningful learning can be achieved through play is well documented. What better way is there to teach then by making it fun and relevant to kids? Kids are natural scientists, artists, authors, mathematicians, and scholars. It is a drive innate in them to make sense of their reality and parents can leverage that natural curiosity and playfulness and channel it into a love of learning. The book is broken up into several helpful sections:
Nurturing Young Authors
The Joy of Reading
Mathematics at Work
Exploration of Art and Artists
Raising Citizens of Tomorrow
Instead of sitting down and thinking about how you can teach math today you can pull out this book and identify which playful activity you think would best help them grasp certain math concepts on their own. Its a wonderful resource and even if your kids attend school away from home you can still do these activities during evening and weekends hours because it’s learning disguised as FUN. A++
Sooo… that brings me to the giveaway. The folks behind the Annie’s Homegrown back to school promo have offered to give away a Kids Konserve lunch sacks w/ coupons from all participating companies (seen above) to 4 of my readers. If you want one please leave a comment below and I will choose random winners next week. If you comment with your Facebook profile please be sure to include your email in the comment section so I can contact you. Good luck!