Friday, October 30, 2009

the stuff of school

Textbooks, storybooks, reference books, workbooks, art books, teacher manuals, aides, manipulatives...copy paper, drawing paper, handwriting paper, construction paper, scratch paper...don't even get me started on the pencils, glue, scissors, paints, stamps, crayons, stickers and a million other things spilling out of our craft cabinet. With all this stuff, school can get cluttered, not to mention expensive. It's all too easy to begin justifying unnecessary purchases with the words "it's for school!" As I try to stay within our budget, I'm learning the importance of being creative, resourceful and organized with what we already have as well as just how many free materials and activities are available in our community.
We were able to borrow a huge set of measuring containers from our local Partnership for Children Resource Center, so now we get to have math class in the bath tub...or would that be baths in math class? Either way -it works. We also bring home "new to us" toys, games and videos every few weeks. We call it the toy library because it's much easier to say, Hey kids, let's go to the toy library! rather than, Hey kids, lets go to the Onslow County Partnership for Children Resource Center! (I mean really, what were they thinking?)
At his preschool graduation, Tristan's teacher presented him with the "Budding Scientist" award. Bless her, I have no doubts about how well this woman got to know my child. Recently, we checked out a book called Kitchen Science at the library and have found a lot of fun activities already hanging out in our own pantry. Tristan shined up a bunch of pennies with vinegar and salt, we are trying to start an avocado tree in a jar (it's actually our third attempt and it's not looking good -any suggestions?) and a little milk, food coloring and dish soap went a long way in entertaining us all for an afternoon even if the mess factor was a bit high with that one.
A few weeks ago, we visited the Neuseway Nature Park just up the road. We spent four dollars to ride the kiddie train but the planetarium, museum, animal exhibits and park were ours to roam free. Four dollars for a fun Saturday morning out together -even Dad got to go. The small planetarium may not have seemed all that spectacular to me and Shawn but when Tristan asked (with a bit of fear in his voice) if we were really flying into space during the introductory video, I figured it was worth it.
Days like that are good because on so many other days I feel like school is just this monster of clutter that has invaded our home. The stuff is spilling out of cabinets and boxes and the bulk of it actually lives in a pile on the dining room floor right now. I have to remind myself that the most important stuff is in the time I spend with my kids with or without books and papers. It's the days at the park as a family and the rare moments of peace around the dinner table when a real conversation happens or I witness Tristan and Kenna eagerly trying to teach Kate baby signs on their own. It's in that moment just before bedtime when Tristan is so cozy and content and happy that he blurts out "I love you, mom!" in that goofball voice he does. All the school stuff -the glitter and glue and games and flashcards- they are fun, helpful even and we are blessed to have them but they are not what it's all about...


  1. that was a Beautiful blog. I love the picture of the kids looking into the pond - even Kate is trying so hard to see too. What a cool mom these kiddos have!

  2. I used to do the Magic Milk thing with my students on the first day of school! So much fun... :) Have you made Homemade Gook yet?


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