Friday, May 15, 2015

What I Bought at the Homeschool Convention

I mentioned awhile back that I recently went to a homeschool convention curriculum fair.  I love these.   They are a highlight of our year.  I love the chance to be able to pick up and look through the books I am interested in before I buy them.  I love finding out about resources available in my area.  I love talking to people who are passionate about homeschooling.  And I love picking out a few fun things to take home and give our homeschool a little boost.  

I remember my first curruculum fair-- I think it was in 2008 and I know it was here in Kansas.  We were fairly new to the broad range of homeschool curriculum options and we left feeling completely overwhelmed by all the options, wishing we had a thousand bucks to blow to buy all the neat things we'd seen.  We have never had a thousand bucks to blow at a curriculum fair, and we've learned that it's a place to make a list and then slowly acquire things over time.  After all these years I have a much better idea of what I really want and don't want, and I've been able to get a lot of what I want.  So the curriculum fair is much less overwhelming now-- it's just a lot of fun.  I plan ahead so I have a little bit of money to spend and then I make my purchases at the end of the day after I've looked at everything.  Oh, it's as good as Christmas for me!

No one is paying me write reviews for these purchases, but I've been really happy with my selections this year so I thought I would share.  

Here's what I bought this year:

A membership in the HSLDA (homeschool legal defense association): this is always a good thing to have when you're homeschooling and there's a little bit of a discount if you sign up at a convention.  (Plus they give you this little coupon book with a coupon for $5 off at the Rainbow Resource booth, so buy the HSLDA membership before you hit the Rainbow booth.) 

Farm animal math set from Timberdoodle: I am trying to focus on Peanut right now and what I can do to help her.  I don't have a ton of preschool activities and manipulatives, and I thought these looked great.  There are 30 plastic animals in the tub (one each of five kinds in six colors) plus a sturdy mat to put them on and a booklet of lessons.  We have had a lot of fun with them so far and the lessons in the little booklet have been perfect for her.  I don't think I would have ever thought to buy this if I had been shopping solely online, but seeing at the convention I knew it would be a valuable resource for us.  And I am so glad we got it!

pipSquigz: I have been buying from Timberdoodle for years but this was the first time I have seen one of their convention booths and I was so impressed!  It was the funnest booth.  They had so many of their toys and games out for people to play with and fall in love with.  This was, again, something I never would have understood if I hadn't seen it in person and handled it.  They had a set of the regular Squigz and I had so much fun playing with them... then I saw that they had these jumbo ones with rattles in them for babies and I was sold.  They are rubbery and rattle-y and chewy, but they also suction onto things like the stroller or high chair, which I think is really cool.  The twins are just barely starting to be able to play with toys, but I know they will enjoy these.  

Five in a Row: You know how you can hear about something for years and in the back of your mind think "I should look into that sometime" and then one day it comes up again and you just know that now is the time to bring it into your life?  Five in a Row is another answer to my prayers about how to help Peanut.  It is a great preschool program revolving around the finest of children's picture books.  I am so excited to have it and to use it... I think I will write more about it in another post because it's just that awesome.  

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens:  I am a Seven Habits fan, and I have been wanting to teach these principles to my kids.  We checked out this book from the library in Utah over the winter and I started reading it aloud to my kids.  They really were enjoying it, even more than I thought they would, which pleased me.  We didn't finish it, but we got far enough into it that I knew I wanted to own my own copy.  I had it on my Amazon wishlist, but when I saw a copy of it at the convention I just snagged it.  

Dutch Blitz: A couple weeks before the convention I got a promotional email from Rainbow Resource Center saying "when you're at convention this spring, come to our booth and when you do, here are some things you really should check out."  One of the things they listed was this little card game, Dutch Blitz.  I thought we could use a fun new game and since they gave it such a glowing recommendation, I decided to buy it.  That night we cracked it open and we've been playing it like crazy ever since.  It really is contagious.  I like it that everyone plays at once-- no waiting for people to take their turns.  It's fast and easy and fun.  A real winner.

I know this is a tough time of year for school-- all my public school friends are counting the days until it's over, and us homeschoolers are dragging too.  It's so fun to pick up a few fun new things to get us excited about school time again!


Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

We recently bought Dutch Blitz, too. It is SO FUN!!!! I love homeschool conventions. :)

MKMT said...

Ooh, thank you for the ideas!!! I love to hear what others are using and loving.

Stephanie said...

I love the ideas, too! I have never attended a homeschool convention, but it's definitely on my bucket list. In my area, we're starting up a new LDS homeschool co-op in the fall, and someone suggested using Five in a Row for one of the "classes" we offer our preschoolers. After reading what you had to say about it and looking into it online, I'm really excited about it. Thank you! I'm so glad you and your family are adjusting well to the move. ;)