It’s that time of year when parents start to think about how to keep their children’s minds active over vacation – thus avoiding the dreaded summer slide – and, if you are a homeschooler like me, looking towards what curriculum to use in the coming year. We’ve had the opportunity to review a number of fun, high-quality educational resources this year, from book and STEM subscription services to online courses and tools, so dive in and find the ones that are right for your family! These are all wonderful sources for hands on learning for children of a range of ages. And don’t miss the coupon code and raffle, detailed below!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of or subscriptions to the resources below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Educational Resources to Keep Learning Going All Year
Parents of young children are under a lot of pressure. We know how important the first 5 years of a child’s development are (90% of a child’s brain is developed during this crucial time period!), yet most parents, while enthusiastic and well-intentioned, simply don’t have the tools to help their children become lifelong readers.
Enter Biracial Bookworms Academy, created by a long-time teacher and mother of two to share her expertise and love of learning with parents and caregivers of young children (ages 0-5).
I have worked closely with Bethany for some time, and I am a huge fan of her work (see her guest post here with tips on reading with young children!). She combines passion and incredible energy with technical know-how, experience, and the ability to break down complex concepts into easy to digest information and practical tips that parents and caregivers can put into action right away in their everyday lives. There are no gimmicks here, just great information and steps you can take at each point in your young child’s reading journey.
The topics in this course range from the importance of reading aloud to how to create a reader friendly home. There is a special emphasis on “reading the world” to create a reader that has the empathy and compassion to be a global citizen. Because of her own personal experience living all over the world and raising multilingual children, she also gives particular attention to sharing diverse literature with your child and if possible teaching them more than one language.
Starting today through May 11, 2018, use the coupon code ALLDONEMONKEY to get $50 off!
Enter the Raffle, This Week Only!
Cooking with Languages
I adore Cooking with Languages, whose concept is simple but profound: children learn a language best by doing and playing; therefore, an effective and fun way for them to gain and practice vocabulary is in the kitchen!
I have followed Cooking with Languages on social media for a long time, and everything they do is always fun, colorful, and engaging. My son loved the Spanish-English bilingual cookbook we sampled, with its bright pictures and adorable characters. I love how every opportunity to use language is maximized, from learning how the kitchen tools are called in the other language, to looking at the colors of the foods used in a particular recipe, or practicing counting how many of each ingredient will be needed.
All the recipes are easy to make and very kid-friendly. You’re sure to find some that your kids already love, like pancakes and lemonade, as well as new ones to try, like fruit burgers! I’m looking forward to using this cookbook more with my kids as a fun way to learn Spanish.
Be sure to look for their app as well, and if you are teaching English, you can even access a lesson plan to use with the recipes (look for the Spanish language version soon). ¡Buen provecho!
We were so excited to receive this absolutely lovely book in our box from @manyshadesclub ! My toddler loves Little Bitty Friends, with its simple rhymes and beautiful illustrations. She especially loved the one of the boy and mouse eating strawberries, since she loves eating them, too! And of course I love that the pictures all feature diverse kids! For another great #picturebookoftheday recommendation be sure to check out @aboyarshinov! . . . #mkbkids #instagood #instakids #kidsofinstagram #kidlit #picturebook #readyourworld #diversekids #diversity #sacramento #mysacramento #exploresac #bookstagram #books #boardbook #wildschooling
Looking for high quality, diverse books for your child? Many Shades Club is a labor of love from parents Kam and Danny, who started the book subscription service as a way to share children’s literature with multicultural characters and families of all kinds. (Don’t miss Kam’s wonderful guest post here on seeking out diversity when everyone around you looks the same!)
I can personally attest to the care that Many Shades Club takes in hand picking books to match a child’s interests. When I mentioned how much my toddler loves animals, they searched high and low to find Little Bitty Friends, a darling animal book featuring diverse children – not an easy task! (My daughter adores it, by the way!)
Whether you get one of the monthly subscription packages or a one-time book bundle, these are packages little ones will look forward to receiving!
Having some fun with the activities from our box from @tokabox! Each month they send a box with STEM activities for little explorers! January’s there is all about time, so there is a (multicultural!) picture book about New Year’s traditions, a recipe for making Hoppin’ John (a traditional dish with black eyed peas), plus materials and instructions to make a sand timer and a sundial (pictured here). I should mention that I actually did these activities with my 5 year old also, but he decided not to be in the picture 🙂 This is not for toddlers! She just of course wanted to sit and see the final results. We got the Explorers box, designed for 5-8 year olds. There is also one for preschoolers! . . . #mkbkids #kbnmoms #kbnhms #momsoninstagram #homeschooling #homeschoolmom #stem #science #sundial #time #kindergarten #instagood #instakids #kidsofinstagram #kidsactivities #sacramento #mysacramento #exploresac #latinokids #diversekids
Tokabox is a fun subscription service that combines a number of different subjects into one themed box each month! There is always a diverse book (with a focus on South Asia), a related educational activity (with all the materials included, yay!), and a recipe. I love that the boxes are able to tie together so many different skills into cohesive themed sets. For example, June’s boxes will focus on yoga, including learning poses and playing related card games.
Toka Junior is for ages 3-5, while Toka Explorer (the one we tried) is for ages 5-8. They also have a Toka Peanut service for ages 6 months – 2, which includes diverse board books, plus there is a Toka History set that focuses on South Asian history! Great subscription service that covers a wide range of skills with fun themes kids will love.
Kid Wonder Box
Kid Wonder Box nurtures a child’s natural curiosity and love of imaginative play to create activity boxes that are fun and engaging. My 5 year old was so excited to dig in to the Outer Space box we received. Right away I was blown away by the sheer amount of activities and materials included. Each box contains 5 different activities, each one involved enough to keep us busy for a full session.
The activities come with crafts and supplies, learning materials, games, and imaginative play guides. My only small criticism is that the sticker backs on all of the parts of the crafts were nearly impossible to peel off, causing us both frustration, but I imagine this is simply a kink, as the product is just launching.
I love that the box is a colorful, sturdy box you can use to store your projects once you’re done. Which you’ll want to do, as they all designed to last you for a long time! I mean, who wouldn’t want to wear this backpack/jet pack over and over again?
In addition to the step by step instructional cards, you can also use your smartphone to scan QR codes for instructional videos unique to each project. Every aspect of this activity box is well thought out and designed to capture a child’s imagination.
IXL is one of the top online educational resources (now also available as an app), currently used by 1 in 9 US students. My kids really enjoyed the activities, and I loved that for the younger levels you have the option to listen to the questions, to accommodate pre-readers.
IXL has a staggering number of activities available, from pre-K to 12th grade, and within each are all the major subjects, each of which is in turn broken down into skills. So, for example, for 2nd grade there are 275 skills covered for math, 202 for language arts, 56 for science, and 56 for social studies.
But what I really love is that it is adaptive, adjusting to the level of your child, providing you with detailed analytics, and making recommendations based on how they are doing. My only wish is that the initial interface would be easier for younger users to navigate. For example, once he was in the individual activities, my younger son had no trouble working independently, but I always had to help him figure out how to get from one to the other, even though he is already reading. (My 2nd grader, on the other hand, had a lot of fun exploring the site on his own).
Ideal for homeschoolers or any parent wanting to help their child brush up on their skills in the wide range of subjects offered (now including Spanish, hooray!) Highly recommended to be included on your list of favorite educational resources!