Saturday, 11 March 2017

Being Frugal and Having Purposeful Direction with "Stuff"

People often wonder what the best hints are for frugal home education/natural learning. 

I could say an AWFUL lot on this subject  ;o)  , but my best advice is to be satisfied and content with what you have, and model/teach your children to be content and satisfied too.

BUT as a home educating parent it is still our responsibility to facilitate learning and provide resources.   Teach yourself to open your eyes to exciting and wonderful ways to use what you have, and the things that come along cheaply or free.

For example - for small children if you find some little baskets, or lovely wooden bowls in the op-shop (or re-use shop) for say $1 each - that would be a sensible purchase.

Make sure they are not junky horrible bowls or baskets, and ensure that they are a pleasing shape and size.

Next time you are at the beach have the children collect shells or some lovely rounded stones etc. The children can wash them when they get home (make sure none of the shells have little creatures living in them!) then put them baskets to be played with carefully.

This idea can be used for seed pods, autumn leaves, acorns - all sorts of lovely natural (FREE!) goodies that are so much nicer to play with than over-priced expensive plastic faddish junk.

I have lists of "Things To Collect" in my Adventures In Natural Learning Handbook - one list for birth to approximately age 2, and another for children over 2 years old.   

The best way to start a collection like this is to read through the list and mark the items you'd really love to have.  Keep an eye out for them, or something like them when a bargain comes along.  You can also request things from the lists when people ask about birthday presents.  

These lists can give a family a good direction to go in to prevent clutter and rubbish and faddish toys that the children lose interest in, but have to be stored away annoyingly because a child has become attached to it!

I think many experienced home educators will have ideas on items they have purchased thinking they would be really good - but they have ended up being a waste of money/space and time.   Hopefully my lists will give some direction to those who are starting out/want to clear the decks and start again.



Smelly Bellies and Other Interesting Collections

Some children are REALLY drawn to having collections.

I know that many parents despair when a collection is of LARGE items or expensive things.

Our younger boys are VERY GRATEFUL that our oldest started collecting Action Man figures and bits and pieces when he was younger - all Op-Shop and market stall finds.  A pair of trousers here, a handful of weapons there, a boot here, a vehicle there, the swimming guy, the mountain climbing guy ...  He now has four boxes full of Action Man stuff that the younger ones are allowed to play with from time to time.   

Another collection our oldest started about 10 years ago is a swag of these delightful fellows:

Smelly Bellies were around when he was very little - but they were too expensive to buy - and I was annoyed by the fact that the marketing gimmick was that each Smelly Belly came in an egg - you never knew which Smelly Belly was inside the egg.  Not nice!

But, fast forward 10 years later and Smelly Bellies started to appear in the bottom of toy boxes at the Op-Shops!

Some were 10 cents, or 20 cents, some were 50 cents.

I remember one very exciting haul - we found handfuls of them at the ReUse shop, I think we paid a couple of dollars for those.

We rarely see them now, so I'm glad our son made his collection when he did.

What sort of collections do your children have?

Four colour game

Three of us started playing this game.   I tried to get the fourth child interested, but he didn't want to know (we had never played it before, and he prefers to watch and see what everyone is doing before he tries something - I respect that).

However, by the time we were half-way through the fourth child had become very interested, and I asked him if he'd finish mine off because I had to go and do something ... er ... very important.

He really enjoyed himself too!

This is the way we played the game:

First I printed out some easy-to-colour cartoony pictures of people.  You can use anything you like.

Each player has 4 random colours to work with (actually I chose the colours carefully).  We used marker pens, but you could use crayons, pencils etc.

You must colour the picture just using those 4 colours.

When the first picture is done your set of 4 colours gets moved to the person on your right, and you get a new set of 4 colours from the person on your left.

And so on.

It's really interesting to see how other people colour the same image with different colours.

The viking below was coloured by my 14 year old who is VERY good at shading and mixing colours!


Non-Toy Playthings

Walking through our local market I saw this ... er ... woody cagey thing.   I *think* it is a fruit bowl ... not sure.

I knew the children would enjoy it for something, and it was only a couple of dollars, so I bought it.

It's been a hat, a "potty" (pretend thankfully), a car container and this game I came up with for the children who love scarves. 

My husband looked at me with a smile when our little guy kept walking around with his "hat" under his arm.

Keep an eye out for bargains that can be used in lots of different ways.