Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum

July 2, 2007 @ 7:09 am | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

I expect this list will keep growing throughout the summer…

• A subscription to Moo Cow Fan Club magazine
—a terrific kids’ magazine which comes out in themed editions, each issue focusing on an interesting topic like bugs, the weather, Scotland, Egypt, wagon trains, or dinosaurs. I had the opportunity to check out several issues of Moo Cow, and to be frank, it was WEEKS before I could wrest them away from the kids long enough to peruse them myself. The themed format means each issue is sort of like a little unit study. My gang loves this immerse-yourself-in-a-topic aspect. The cartoons and zany Moo Cow characters have also been a big hit.

• A subscription to Muse Magazine, which I wrote about in this post on our favorite children’s magazines. I think if I’d been keeping a list of all the interesting conversations Jane and I have had this past year, a whopping majority of them would have begun, "So Mom, I was reading Muse and…"

In fact, so central has Muse become to our family discussions that not only am I now reading it cover to cover myself (and catching up on back issues, because quite frankly, Jane has learned so much interesting stuff from this magazine that she is leaving her mother in the dust), this year I am spending a chunk of our Fun Learning Stuff budget on some more magazines from Muse’s publisher.

Cobblestone (the educational arm of Carus, which publishes Muse, Cricket, Spider, and a host of other children’s magazines) is currently running a special offer: buy four subscriptions and save up to $54. I looked for information about whether this offer definitely applies to homeschoolers, didn’t find it, placed an order anyway, and got the discount.

I’m trying:

Ask (like Muse, but for younger kids—should be perfect for my 6- and almost-9-year-olds);
Odyssey (like Muse, but for older kids);
Dig (about archeology! How cool is that?);
Cobblestone (about U.S. history).

I’ll report back on those in a few months.

Now back to my list of stuff to buy instead of curriculum…

• Board games. We just got Clue. How did we not have Clue? I LOVE Clue!

Others we enjoy:
Settlers of Catan. (You know this. I’ve raved about it before.)
Rummikub.
Yahtzee.
Monopoly. (Who doesn’t love Monopoly?)
Caves and Claws. (Such a simple little game, but it has been popular here for, gosh, at least five years, maybe longer.)

• Origami paper.

• Good paintbrushes and watercolor paper. There is just nothing quite like painting on real watercolor paper.

Family memberships! You know about our zoo membership. We recently bought an aquarium membership too. It was cheaper than two visits’ worth of admission would have been.  The girls want to live there.

Jellyfish

I have to go make breakfast, but as I said, this list will probably keep growing.

*UPDATED ALREADY! I asked Jane what else she’d add to this list, and she said:

• all of Hilda van Stockum’s books

• all of E. Nesbit’s books

• the entire line of unabridged Puffin Classics. LOL!! (It looks like many of the newer editions of Puffin Classics have been abridged. Bummer.)


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Comments

11 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Thanks for the “heads-up” about Moo Cow Fan Club! We’re going to be studying ancient history next year so I just ordered their Egypt and Greece issues- they look great!

  2. We had subscription to Muse when it first came out– after 2 years we grew tired of the extremely-secular-sometimes-new-agey tone. How to you get around it? Or is it no longer the case?
    We did enjoy the quality writing.
    E. Nesbit? We did her books– but after studying her life/beliefs and re-reading some of them, they too got into a lower category than the must-haves list. (Railway children, I think, is the best, good movie too. Treasure Seekers is a second, but the recent movie detracted so much from it).
    Watercolor paper– you are right-on that one!!
    Caves & Claws, thanks for the tip– other suggestions: Balderdash and Scattergories, Set, Risk.

  3. We are in really low tide right now. Things that have proved worth buying this summer: 1)tennis racquets and tennis balls. So the kids can play in the driveway. 2) Frisbees, so the kids can play in the front yard. 3)gardening tools and gloves, so the kids can weed! 4)membership to a local pool, where the kids can swim and socialize 5)Netflix, so that on hot, humid days we can hunker down and watch good movies 6)modelling beeswax and silly putty which seems to be the younger two kids creative outlet right now. 7)piano, guitar and recorders, three things the kids have been gravitating to when TV/computer time is up 8)regular library visits for lots of read alouds and audio books 9)weekly trips to the farmer’s market and bakery because that makes a fun summer ritual!

  4. We have a subscription to Stone Soup which has great stories and provides good inspiration for kids writing.

    Thanks for the (long ago) recommendation of Settlers of Catan. Great game. You could also try Tantrix (has single player puzzles as well as a multi-player version) and Blokus. Both are more strategy and shape games.

    And, for the record, I don’t like Monopoly.

  5. Thanks for all the recommendations!

    My oldest got Settlers of Catan a couple of years ago as a present and we’ve never played it…I really need to figure it out with her…

    I’m going to save this post!

    Thanks, Lissa!

  6. Fabulous suggestions!

    But please, please, please don’t tell me Puffin Classics are going to be abridged. That’s just terrible!

  7. Alice, I think most of them are still unabridged editions. But I did notice a few abridged versions as I was scrolling down the list (Sense & Sensibility was one that jumped out at me), so I think you just have to be aware of the possibility when making selections.

  8. Hmm, that might be why there were (might still be…) so many Puffin Classics at Bookcloseouts. That abridging fairy needs a whack upside the head good talking to.

    Well, I just bought the kids a tent so they can camp out in the backyard. And this past spring I bought a shocking amount of sheet music (shocking for me since I can’t read music lol) for the piano playing and singing pleasures of the kids — mostly favorite old musicals such as “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, Julie Andrews in “Cinderella”, and “Annie Get Your Gun.”

    Cheap straw cowboy hats at the dollar store. But we’re odd that way…

    We have Appleseeds history magazine from the Cobblestone/Carus folks and it seems to get read quite a bit…

  9. Kites.

    All the Betsy-Tacy books.

    Apples to Apples (it’s a game).

    Great ideas here…heading out to the library…

  10. Silly me. I meant to add this awhile ago –

    Viewmaster slides!

    This site carries all kinds of animal, outerspace, architecture, geography and religious viewmasters at quite reasonable prices.

    We’ve enjoyed viewmasters for many years and have found that even the stray slides that have been folded multiple times, been lost under shelving in the basement for years and undergone all sorts of household nightmares have continued to work beautifully (we’ve never tossed a slide yet).

    That isn’t always the case for the viewers, but since they’re readily available at garage sales and such (the basic format hasn’t changed in a LONG time!) it hasn’t been a big problem.

  11. Silly me. I meant to add this awhile ago –

    Viewmaster slides!

    This site carries all kinds of animal, outerspace, architecture, geography and religious viewmasters at quite reasonable prices.

    We’ve enjoyed viewmasters for many years and have found that even the stray slides that have been folded multiple times, been lost under shelving in the basement for years and undergone all sorts of household nightmares have continued to work beautifully (we’ve never tossed a slide yet).

    That isn’t always the case for the viewers, but since they’re readily available at garage sales and such (the basic format hasn’t changed in a LONG time!) it hasn’t been a big problem.