This year, Zeah is Prep age. Kids at Prep in our state are 4-6 years old. Or I could just tell you that last month, Zeah turned five! We plan our 'schoolwork' around themes. So as well as doing some basic literacy and numeracy activities, and learning to swim, and lots of play and mess-making, Zeah learns about a different theme each term.
Term 1 was Oceans, and some of the activities included:
Castle & Kite, KiwiCo and My Creative Box activity boxes have all been huge blessings since I started a new job while still studying fulltime. I'm working casually this year (and mostly home-based) in Community Engagement, which is a dream job for me! I'm studying Sustainability online via the University of Tasmania - Sociology, Indigenous Lifeworlds and Engaging with Sustainabilty units this semester - all three are quite content-heavy with plenty of written assessments! I only have another month or so to go until I get a break for a few weeks. I'm still working for the magazine and OT and running our own businesses as well, so life is FULL.
If you follow my links to these activity boxes, you'll receive a discount (and so will I):
My Creative Box products are our favourite Aussie activity box - they offer a new Eco Essentials option (awesome!) and the activities are just perfect for Zeah's age group. Their booklets are very clear and offer further activities to try. My Creative Box have a large number of box options across a few age ranges, including boxes in the same theme but with different levels of learning activities. They're jam packed with fun and are very good value for money, too! They offer subscriptions, single boxes, and a nice array of art supplies and other products. You can get $10 off any purchase here.
Castle & Kite have many themed boxes containing mostly super-quick crafts for preschoolers. Their customer support is awesome because they're a family-run Aussie business, and they're flexible with meeting customers' needs. Zeah and her "Tuesday nanny" can work through a whole Castle & Kite box in one morning, which proves that they're simple yet engaging, but it also means that they work out to be a bit more expensive. With a less prolific mini maker, this box of activities would last longer! At five, Zeah can do most of the Castle & Kite craft activities without our assistance, and because everything needed is right there in the box, it's very easy to grab an activity out for her when I need a moment. You can get $10 off your order by clicking here.
KiwiCo boxes come from the US, and they contain a few awesome quality activities - mostly with a STEM focus. Zeah is enjoying Kiwi Crates and Atlas Crates this year, and received several Koala Crates when she was 3-4 years old. KiwiCo have boxes to suit all age levels, as well as a few other products now available to Australian buyers as well. They also have the option to add-on a book related to the box theme and lots of extra ideas on their site and in their emails to compliment the box activities. KiwiCo boxes have a stronger focus on learning over creativity, and require more adult input than the Aussie options above. I'd love for them to up their eco-game a notch and stop using plastic packaging for activity materials, because the two options above use plain paper packets and I love that! A lot of the materials in the KiwiCo crates aren't plastic, though, and the creations are long-lasting items rather than being more about the 'process' like the above options. You can get 50% off your first box by using this link! Yep - a half price offer!
All of these options link to online activities and printables. I supplement these with the excellent range of resources offered by Twinkl, Teachers Pay Teachers and a huge array of free online material.
Homeschooling a single child this time, I'm loving the ease of using boxes of activities within our themes... They're quite affordable for one child, and some offer sibling discounts for families (or you could share activities between children - I would, rather than have multiple jellyfish on the wall!) There are no shopping trips, no leftover supplies, not much rubbish, no hunting for ideas, or specific bits and pieces for projects - it's all just there, we lift the lid, glance at the instructions and Zeah is creating within seconds. This means that we're all more likely to do activities with her during our busy days.
Here are some of our Oceans-themed activites:
As well as art, craft and themed learning activities, we devoured a big pile of ocean and seashore books - both stories and non-fiction. Most of these we had on our shelves, and a few came fom the library and friends. We also gathered our marine themed toys for imaginative play, as well as finding sea puzzles and games, loose parts like shells and sand, and I printed out lots of ocean-themed colouring and worksheets like mazes. Zeah watched Finding Nemo, Octonauts, Magic School Bus and My Octopus Teacher, as well as anything else she noticed fit the theme, declaring it necessary for her learning! As a finale to our Ocean unit study, we headed to the Aquarium with lots of our homeschool friends, and spent a couple of days by the beach and marina.
Using unit studies appeals to me as a facilitator to learning, and Zeah loves this style of learning. I've used this method for over 25 years as an educator, and it's adaptable to most learning styles and ages. We'll often re-visit a theme like Oceans every few years, changing the activities and resources used, and getting into more depth with our learning. Any excuse for a beach holiday!
We've just started our Dinosaur themed term, including planning an awesome road trip, and I can't wait to tell you about it! Stay tuned for the next "Learning About" blog posts!