As year round homeschoolers, back to school sales don’t seem to be the type of thing we’d need/use…. except they’re a fantastic way to stock up on things to make the school year better and to make every day life better as well. This is an ideal time to find the most plentiful supplies and many of the best prices.
The second best time to shop for school supplies is at the end of the season when things start getting radically marked down.
Before I take advantage of the back to school sales, I take stock of what I have on hand. Next I look up the sales fliers and make a list of what I want and where it is, putting all the sales from one store in one area on my shopping list. I write a C next to the item if I need a coupon for it. Then, I look at the next store- but I compare their sales prices to those I already have written down. If store B has an item for less than store A, I cross the item off the list for store A. I check prices online, too.
Only then do I go shopping.
Of course, the way that we home-school, our back-to-school shopping goals are sometimes a little out of the ordinary.
We look for a lot of peechee folders (those cardboard, thin, flimsy binders with three prongs down the center)- because we print a lot of free materials off of the internet. I like to organize the things I print in binders and folders.
I save texts of Shakespeare plays, using Microsoft Word’s many different fonts and the search and replace feature to make it clear which of us is reading which part. Then I print out one copy for each member of the family and we read aloud in character.
We use plastic page protectors to keep art work safe and to keep math drill pages clean- we slip the page in the plastic and use a china marker to write the answers. We use index cards to make our flash cards for sign language as well to copy onto memory verses for review. We use colored stickers to organize our books by time period or school year.
We use stick-it notes for bookmarks and also for leaving sweet notes in somebody’s lunch box or on the steering wheel of their car before they go to work. We use dry-erase markers to leave similar notes on car windows and bathroom mirrors and to make our own quick and easy dry-erase boards. We use small composition books for Common Place Books (and sweet personalized notebooks as gifts).
There are other unusual organizing tips for the home-schooler or the after-schooler (those parents who stay involved in their childrens’ schooling) here.
We use Microsoft Office for school quite a bit. My students keep a timeline in a three ring binder. I make them the bare bones of a timeline using Microsoft Word. I create one page per century and print them out. The kids fill them in- both the suggested boxes that I put in for them, but also adding other events and people throughout the school year. Here is an example: 16th-century-1- I found the bare bones of this timeline in the files that came with my Microsoft product. I edited it for our use. I saved this version as a PDF file, but the formatting slipped a touch. 16th century (you should be able to click on that and open it up if you also have a Word compatible program).
I use Microsoft Word to format books and study guides for Kindle. I have given free directions for doing this here.
You can format a document for Kindle and then email it to your child’s Kindle. I have created a couple of books this way, using free, public domain books that are classics and are online. I save them to Word and add commentary or suggested questions for discussion (narration questions) at the end of the chapters, so as my children are reading, they come across a note from mom embedded in the text!
My oldest, the university grad with the history degree, suggests that Microsoft Word is the type of thing perfect for a homeschooled student to use because they can use it to work collaboratively on papers with parents, getting helpful feedback as they work through the process. She also says:
Having a tool to help with footnoting is fabulous too! Many of my professors recounted to us about how they’d have to make sure they still had room at the end of their type writer pages for the footnotes when they were working on history papers, and how lucky we were to have Microsoft Word (maybe you are old enough to remember that too, with type writers?
Cheeky, isn’t she? I also use Microsoft Word to help my kids with their spelling. With the spellchecker turned on they have instant notification that there may be a problem with a word. It really helped my kids improve their spelling.
We’ve used Microsoft products for Nature Study as well. My middle two girls used the photo-editing tools and our scanner to create a special field guide to our five acre property when we lived in Colorado. The girls collected wildflowers as they bloomed. They scanned in detailed images of them, identified them, typed in identifications, noted where the flower was located and when it bloomed. You could also use this idea and create a PowerPoint of local wildflowers to present to your scouting or 4-H group.
These are some of the ways we use Microsoft Office, but there are a lot of other things you can do with it.
Here are some suggestions:
-Automatic creation of a bibliography from in-paper citations.
-Help them aggregate and analyze data with Excel
-Get a visual summary of data using the new Sparkline’s feature.
-Create and display math equations with a rich set of equation-editing tools.
-Help them get organized with OneNote
-Capture notes, images, video, audio and more in a digital notebook.
-Quickly find information with simple tagging
As part of your savvy back to school shopping this year, buy Office 2010 today and save 15%! This promotion ends on 9/14.
What are your most unusual back to school shopping tips?
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