Educational Resources For The Family Home

Whether you home educate or not, educational resources are an important part of every family home. From books and writing equipment, to art supplies and games, here are some of our top essentials…

Educational Resources for the Family Home

Reading Material

The number one must-have for all ages! Whilst this may seem like a given, I couldn’t write a blog post about essentials and not include it! And remember, it is not just all about fiction books; non- fiction material, magazines, catalogues, recipes, or anything else that is appropriate for the child’s level of development and that captures their interest also matters just as much too!

Squiggle reading Change It Cho by Clever Tykes

Writing Equipment

For older children, pens or pencils, and for younger children, a variety of markers, plus a good selection of paper, is of course a necessity for every child. Tablets/ computers etc.. are another form of writing that definitely should not be overlooked in this digital age, especially as those with SEND might find this form of writing easier. For a child-friendly email account to practise writing and communication, we use Tocomail.

Screenshot of a tocomail email with attachment sent by Squiggle

White boards and chalk boards are also another great way to practice writing. As Boo, Roo and Tigger Too explains: ‘Whiteboards are great for all sorts of activities. From drawing and counting, to practicing handwriting.”

Teacherboards sell a range of whiteboards and chalk boards, including larger versions for the wall and also individual, portable workboards too. Both are really useful to have in the home! They also have a lovely corkboard/ whiteboard combo that I just love, it would be perfect for keeping the family organised!

Cork and whiteboard combo from TeacherBoards

Creative Supplies

Whilst many parents understandably cringe at the idea of getting the paints out, particularly with younger kids, they are a vital resource! As are colouring pens, chalks, crayons, charcoal and other art supplies. Plus different items for collages. And don’t forget fabrics for textile projects too!

Squiggle drawing with art supplies

Musical Instruments

A small selection of percussion instruments for young children is on my essentials list. For older children, a chosen instrument to learn to play and practise is beneficial.

Kitchen Supplies

Measuring jugs, mixing bowls and a range of ingredients to carry out kitchen experiments are excellent for all ages! Perfect for maths and science.

Squiggle doing a science experiment using kitchen supplies

Messy Play/ Sensory Activities

For young children and SEND children, opportunities for messy play (such as cornflour, coloured rice, porridge oats, slime, sand and water for example) and sensory resources such as playdough, light ups, tactile objects, bubbles, and fidget toys are on my must-have list.

Nature/ Gardening/ Growing

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can have a go at growing your own food, such as herbs for example, indoors. Nature is without a doubt an essential resource!

A selection of gardening supplies for indoors and outdoors

Sports and Physical Games

Bats and balls, skipping ropes, hula hoops, and any other equipment that helps to encourage physical activity is of benefit. Most would consider a bike an essential, or things like scooters and skateboards too. Trampolines and climbing equipment is an asset but not all families have the space or finances for these of course.

Family Games

There are lots of educational games available. Orchard Toys is a popular brand, especially for younger children. Learning Resources also stock brilliant games, suitable for a range of ages. And don’t forget the classics like Connect 4, Dominoes, Scrabble and Uno for example; all of these are educational, as well as fun!

Orchard Toys game boxes

Electronics

Whilst we personally don’t have a strong emphasis on screens ourselves, mainly due to Squiggle’s specific needs and her own choosing, there are certainly plenty of educational websites, apps and games available to choose from. We personally liked Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds when Squiggle was younger and we found the Cbeebies website useful too. Soph Obsessed says Phonics Play has helped her son with alot his phonics.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs also recommends the LeapPad. She says ‘It has all kinds of games, songs, videos and apps that are both fun and educational.’

For older children, there are far too many excellent choices to name, but we did particularly like Smartick Method. Coding games such as Play Osmo are very popular at the moment. Minecraft is also a huge hit with many and has alot of educational value. Of course, the internet itself is beneficial for research purposes – and to develop actually research skills – too.

Squiggle using a smart phone microscope

Puzzles and Jigsaws

Puzzles are educational for several reasons. As well as fine motor skills, spatial awareness, problem solving and observation skills, as Big Family Organised Chaos pointed out, many also have educational things on them. Her children, like Squiggle, discovered alot about where countries are just from a world map puzzle for example.

For older children, larger complex jigsaws are a brilliant educational resource. Even adults enjoy doing these too!

Construction

Lego! So useful for counting, building and sorting! ~ The Mum Diaries

We use Magformers every day, for all kinds of learning for every age. Colours and shapes for the youngest, maths and engineering for the older ones, moving onto physics and more complicated experiments for the oldest. And all whilst they think they are playing. SO Great! ~ Inspire Create Do

What are your educational essentials? Do you have any favourite resources? I would love to read about them in the comments section!

Thank you to the following bloggers for contributing to this post, in addition to the others already mentioned:

Ankle Biters Adventures

Freddies Mummy UK

Joanna Victoria

Household Money Saving

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Review: Snap Circuits (STEM Educational Toy)

Squiggle received a Snap Circuits set for her 8th Birthday back in May from a kind family member. There are lots of different kits available, but the particular one she has is this one…

Snap circuits are designed for children aged 8 plus and are a great educational resource to help to teach STEM science. The lights set comes with 55 parts to do over 175 different projects. There is also a detailed instruction booklet that has clear diagrams and useful explanations.

snap circuits, review, educational resources, STEM, science, activities at home, living life our way, home education, homeschool

Squiggle and I really like this set. Some of the projects are quite similar but there is enough variation to keep her interested. We have used it together quite a few times since she got it and there are still plenty more projects left to do. Depending on how much discussion there is over it, how long it takes to read and follow the instructions, and how many times it is used, each project could last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours!

Whilst we have always chosen to do this activity together, it is probably suitable for most children to do independently. Some children may find the instructions difficult for some of the more complex projects, depending on age and ability, but the instructions are very child friendly with clear visual diagrams. The parts have codes on that match the pictures so this is also very helpful. Occasionally some parts can be a tiny bit tricky to snap into place at first, mainly if a child has any fine motor difficulties. But the design makes it as easy for children to do by themselves as possible, and the parts are very sturdy and well made.

Overall, it is a really good quality product with great educational value. It feels to us like a good investment and it certainly made a lovely present! We would recommend.

I also noticed that there is an eco set now available too. I have not used this one so am not able to comment but I would certainly love to add it to Squiggle’s collection! Green living is a keen interest in our family so this would be a great way to teach about alternative, clean energy sources.

If you are looking for an alternative to Snap Circuits for any reason, Cambridge Brainbox Electronics is another similar kit that I have heard other home educators recommend, but we have not tried it personally. There is a car and boat themed set for transport enthusiasts aged 8 plus…

There is also a set for older children too, Cambridge Brainbox Explorer 2. This kit is aimed for children aged 11 plus.

What other educational STEM resources have you found? We would love to hear from you!

This post contains affiliate links.

Sylvanian Families: Make Your Own Mole House (Art and Craft Activity)

Squiggle had alot of fun making a Sylvanian Families cardboard mole house using instructions from her Sylvanian Storekeepers catalogue. She loves Sylvanian Families (as I’m sure you may have noticed!) and was very excited to spot this art and craft activity.

First she made the front porch. One of the members from the mole family popped by to check out how their new home was coming along, and brought some Sylvanian friends along too!

Next she built the chimney stack and the other parts of the Sylvanian families house. (Ignore the stray tub of gooseberries photobombing my picture, this is not a poor attempt at product placement, she was just snacking whilst she worked! ;))

Next was the bit Squiggle was most looking forward to… paper mache time! We used wallpaper paste because it tends to do the job more effectively but you can also use glue and water (which also works well, as long as you get the consistency just right) or even just flour and water (but in my experience this method is sometimes abit rubbish, which can be frustrating!) Paper mache is a fun sensory activity for those sensory seekers too, Squiggle loved feeling around in it.

Next came a slight test in patience as Squiggle had to wait for the paper mache to dry before she could get painting it. At this point she decided to let her creative license run loose and chose to make the Sylvanian mole family a beautifully colourful home…

The next part was putting it all together. Somehow I managed to miss getting photos of this stage (I can only assume my camera phone was buried under a pile of cardboard by this point!)

However, here is the finished product…

A wonderful bright new home for her Sylvanian families! 

This was such a fun art and craft project, and it kept Squiggle busy over the course of several days in total. The full guide was in the Sylvanian Storekeepers catalogue but the templates can also be downloaded here.