I like to think of myself as a pretty frugal gal. I despise waste and I love upcycling. From I was in diapers my sweet dad ingrained in me the art of upcycling and making treasures out of trash. He was a very simplistic man and very conscious of how we spent our money as a family.
Growing up we always had several tall stacks of paper in his office. One stack was for paper that had been used on one side, the other stack was for paper that was new and the last stack was for paper that had been used on both sides.
Anytime we needed paper for school or practicing our math we would have to grab from the stack of papers with one used side.
The papers that were used on both sides were used for packing breakables and making things.
Today I am all grown up and my dad is no longer with me (oh how I miss you beloved). Yet something my husband said to me not to long ago really stuck with me. He said that the most beautiful thing I have from my dad is the knowledge of all that he taught me while he lived.
“Everything you say you know, you always say it’s because my dad taught me” my husband reminded me.
“How beautiful is that? You have so many amazing memories and although your father is gone you will always know that you are who you are because he taught you” he went on.
And you know what, it is true.
So many of us have lost a loved one and it hurts beyond measure but we will always have the golden nuggets they taught or shared with us. Like I often say, the best way to make someone’s memory eternal is to share the beautiful things their life represented, with others.
So today I would like to contribute to my dad’s memory and share one of my latest weekend projects. Making a little homeschooling corner/learning nook for my little one on an extremely well more like nonexistent budget, lol.
We have had a rough year, hubby has been unable to work for many months due to an injury and 2 unexpected surgeries. So I am holding down the fort with my fulltime job, online store and selling upcycled greeting cards and other things locally. That is another thing I have to thank my dad for, teaching me the art of resourcefulness and elasticity. And I am thankful for God’s everlasting strength because I would surely have fallen flat on my face in a panic had I endeavored at going through these trials alone.
Before I share some pictures let me say that we really have no space for anything in our small home. I looked long and hard all over with my hubby and we determined that the only place to put a little learning nook for our little one was in a corner of our living room between the TV and couches.
This need arose after we had to pull our little one out from his preschool academy due to not having enough money to pay for his monthly tuition. Poor little guy cried and was sad. He wakes up every day and says: “Mommy can I learn at my school today?” Breaks my heart that he can’t be with his other siblings in school but we had to make some cuts to ensure our survival through this long winter and dark valley we are going through, lol.
We know this is just a season and we are ready to play it forward and make the best of it. And although I have never homeschooled in my life and I lack the patience and skill I figured it can’t be that hard to teach a preschooler while working fulltime and tending to the gazillion things we moms do each day.
So this mommy started to search the web and became a bit anxious. So many tips and resources, materials and tutorials. “This is the best way to homeschool” one article exclaimed while others asserted that “Homeschooling is very rewarding and easy if you are organized.”
After an hour or so I realized that I was so not prepared for this task. I said out loud that I would be unable to do it, I cried and had a Pity Me Party. Of course only my pillow was invited but he did his job and soaked up my tears.
Once the Pity Me Party was over, I decided I would just do what I could and use whatever I had on hand. After all it is my child and I am in my home so why should anyone dictate how or what I use to homeschool my pre-k-er?
Reading a few entrees from this site also encouraged me as a newbie homeschooler.
To make things easier I took note of the basic areas I wanted him to learn and what I would need.
This is the basic list I compiled although I have a longer one I will revisit as the weeks pass and I see his learning capabilities:
alphabet and sounds, written, visual recognition and oral expression
days of the week, written, visual recognition and oral expression
months, written, visual recognition and oral expression
seasons, written, visual recognition and oral expression
numbers 1-30, written, visual recognition and oral expression
shapes , written, visual recognition and oral expression
his name, written, visual recognition and oral expression
bible verses about creation and teachings of Christ
how to follow instructions
basic math, counting, addition and subtraction
Now with my list in place I sought out to review various curriculums. I was blessed to find some used Horizons Preschool curriculums on Ebay and Amazon. Even better I got free shipping on the items I ordered.
The curriculum is really easy to follow. You have 2 teacher guides and 2 student books plus extra resources like flashcards, visual aids and additional exercises.
To make the calendar above I used some old scrapbooking numbers I had from about 10 years ago. They would not stick so I glued each one on. The green die cuts I purchased on Etsy for $3 and the 2 sided Velcro I purchased from a craft shop for $3.99. The large cream Velcro pad was purchased from the clearance section of my local
craft shop for $2.99
Once I was done with the calendar and I cut out all of the flash cards, my hubby printed the months for our calendar. I realized I would need a place to store these things. While I pondered I took a walk into my kitchen and looked around. And there it was staring right back at me from inside the pantry, lol. Two empty boxes, a tea box and a popcorn box.
I let my little guy paint one of them and I let the other one stay as is. To secure them to the wall I used Velcro and a push pin. And what do you know, they held everything greatly. There is no need to purchase new things when you need them. I guarantee you that if you take some time and look around your house you will find the solution to most of your needs. Upcycling is not only good for your pocket and the environment but we can learn so much about being good stewards by just reading the bible.
When I read about being good stewards of what God has entrusted us I immediately connect my passion with upcycling to the many verses that speak about this topic.
I also feel a need to instill in my children that what we have and what is given to us is not to be wasted and tossed. It saddens me to see so many parents who buy an endless amount of toys and supplies for their children only to find them broken in a few weeks and eventually they are thrown away. Really?
That is your hard earned money. If we show this to our children we are teaching them that they can consume and trash things as much as they want because things are easily replaceable. It instills in them a selfish and self centered mentality. You don’t have to be financially struggling to embrace the upcycling and frugal mentality. I believe it is a decision we make out of love and concern for our planet, our family, our God and our finances.
Whew, now that I got that out of the way let me share the rest of the pictures with you. I know it’s not a top notch glamorous and expensive learning nook but I don’t think my little one cares about that at all. It is there for practicality and education not for show.
With the above we killed two birds with one stone. I needed a scrap bin for all our cutting projects and I also needed to figure out how I was going to replace construction paper with an upcycled solution. The answer was again, next to my pantry, lol. I looked at a bunch of lonely Wholefoods paper bags and decided I would put them to good use. I cut out both sides of all the bags I could find and have been using them instead of construction paper for all of our work. To attach the scrap bag to our wall I used an old Christmas card and ribbon. I stapled the card and ribbon to my bag and placed a push pin in the wall.
Anytime the curriculum calls for cutting out shapes and or letters etc. and pasting on construction paper we use our upcycled Wholefood bags which conveniently come with a handle for hanging precious artwork. What can be better? And our little one can easily carry his scrap bag over to the recycling bin and empty out his garbage which I use as packaging cushion for items I ship out via my online shop.
The cool thing is that you can use the bottom parts of each paper bag to store soft toys, felt sets, cotton balls and other light items on your shelves or school table. If you want to make them sturdier try melting some local bee wax and using a large paintbrush to spread even coats on the inside and outside. Then set out to dry. The wax will dry and make the paper quite sturdy.
Oh and while I was at it I decided to resolve my need for a pen holder and mouse pad for my desk.
I cut open a bottle of organic kefir and wrapped it in washi tape. For my mouse pad I used a scrap piece of felt which does not take up any space and can easily be rolled up when not in use. I like using felt as a mouse pad because its inexpensive and because you can make it as large or as small as you like. This small piece can be purchased at any local craft store for about $.50. Now that is a steal.
I hope this post inspires you to take a good look at your surroundings and get creative while saving money, teaching your family good stewardship and helping the environment.
Please be sure to share this post with others!
God Bless You