Like most parents right now, I’m trying to navigate homeschooling. I was advised from a friend who works in the school system to just keep my little one home instead of finding a preschool because it would most likely be a bit of a waste of money. Given that she’s not yet four, I didn’t see much of a problem with this since we are already all home. Of course once you start digging into everything for homeschooling you begin to realize that some things can cost quite a bit of money. Most of us associate montessori methods with lots of wooden toys that are definitely on the spendy side. Since I don’t have lots of money to shell out for that sort of thing, I decided to see what I could find at dollar tree to help me with some things.
I called my mother in law to ask about ideas because she homeschooled her three kids for a little while, and her suggestion mainly involved using things you could find around you. We had been picking up rocks, shells, driftwood, and feathers that we would find around the yard or at the beach for a little while now. Some of the other colors are a little harder to find in permanent natural objects though. I started with these little wooden trays that I found in their little wood craft section. It honestly seemed like the dollar tree I went to was fully prepared for people doing stuff like this because there was colorful school related stuff everywhere. I went with a pack of square beads, a pack of clothespins, some colorful erasers, and some square wooden pieces. The little one was set on the mardi gras beads she found as well as some pipe cleaners. We picked up that and a little cheap thing with most of the colors of paint. I also picked up some little pumpkins because the little one is obsessed with pumpkins and halloween still.
They also had two packs of plastic tongs that looked like they would be perfect for helping her work on picking things up and honing those fine motor skills. She gets a little frustrated with them on some of the beads, but it’s absolutely adorable to hear her tell herself “I can do this.” I painted the bottom of each tray with a different color of the rainbow. The paint is definitely not high quality and it actually ends up looking a bit more like the bottom of the boxes is stained that color, which actually looks really neat in my opinion. I honestly didn’t have high hopes for something that I was throwing together from dollar tree, but I really think these came out well. The paint kit didn’t have orange or purple so I had to mix those myself and I’m super thankful I’m artistic because it would be super easy to get wrong otherwise.
When not in use, they stack together pretty easily, and I usually have them in two piles. There were a few options when I was picking out trays, one had a regular hole on the side, I think another had more of a hand hold shape, and the ones I picked had stars on the side of them. I picked stars because they are her Aunt Lauren’s favorite, and are very quickly becoming her favorite shape as well. We’ve been using them for about a week now and I think it’s really been helping. Level has long considered every color yellow except for black, brown, and white. Lately though, she has been much better at identifying a few other colors. Next we are starting to work on scissor skills and learning and writing letters. Hopefully I can make sure that she learns something this year without going to preschool. Fingers crossed.