One of the reasons that I read home ed blogs is to find ideas of resources for my family. So, I thought it might be of interest to someone, if I made a list of all the resources that I recommend.
I’ve bought a lot of stuff over the years. Some has been brilliant and gets used over and over again. Some has been a bit of a disappointment and gets very little use. It can be hard to tell in advance which will be which, however!
If I had to start all over again, with no equipment, these are the first ten things I would get. These are the things that have lasted well and that I am regularly grateful to have in the house.
In no particular order, these are my current favourite resources:
I am convinced that proper scales help children understand weight and measures in a way that digital scales simply cannot. So, I encourage the boys to use these when they cook. We’ve also used them for play and for various experiments.
When children move on to equations, that image of the balanced scale is really handy.
Obviously, you can see the layout of the world in an atlas or on a globe. But, big maps that can be laid on the floor, climbed over and had all sorts of toys laid out on them are brilliant for hands-on learning. We’ve marked tectonic plates with masking tape, laid toy animals in their native countries, plotted routes of famous journies and our own holidays. When it comes to map work, bigger is always better!
My favourite history-themed game! The aim is to arrange events in chronological order. A brilliant way of getting a sense of how history fits together.
The boys’ history books can be a bit disconnected. This game really helps to get a sense of where everything happens in relation to everything else.
It’s an old game, so there are lots of versions around. We bought ours from a charity shop.
Pot of coins
For playing shops, laying out times tables, demonstrating square numbers, practising basic arithmetic . . . We keep a pot of coins in the kitchen, always on-hand to explain maths.
Coins are small enough that quite large numbers can be easily moved around by little hands. Piles of pennies stack easily, so you can demonstrate tens and units. And children like handling money. Coins are fun to hold and clink in a very satisfying manner.
Ray-Box, lenses and prisms
Not a massively expensive piece of kit, but invaluable for explaining reflection and refraction. Even little ones love experimenting with light.
Easy to use, but capable of producing impressive pieces with a bit of effort, clay is a fantastic resource. It’s handy for art, history and science projects. We even use it to make presents for people. I always like to have clay on hand, ready for any excuse to use it.
These are great for all sorts of experiments. A few of which I have described here. And they’re also great for art projects, either to be coated with paper mache, or decorated as they are. The make great targets if your children are desperate to destroy something. They can be turned into water balloons on a hot day, or filled with paint and burst to make exciting pictures.
Another craft item that gets used over and over. You can draw organs on a t-shirt, or a face on a sock puppet. A set of fabric pens is an easy way to create a costume at short notice. And, when you just need to keep the kids busy, decorating clothing is much more fun than just drawing on paper!
We had these at school when I was growing up and I really liked it. All the boys enjoy taking ours apart and putting it back together. It’s a great way of helping them see how our bodies work.
I read a brilliant book about Teaching Maths Visually and Actively and this was one of the products it recommended. The two colours allow children to develop their concept of number by making it easy to ‘see’ numbers of beads without having to count them. It also encourages counting in gives and tens, which are fundamental skills in our decimal system.