There is no denying our decision to home-educate the kids has meant I have become a lot more cost conscious. We have gone from a two income family to a one income family where all the kids educational supplies and activities have to be bought and paid for by us (I am not complaining we choose to do this as we believe it is the best situation for our kids). But the fact remains we have had to tighten our belts and I have had to become a lot more aware of prices and the fact that sometimes cheaper can mean more expensive (when you have to replace the item after only a few uses).
Quite a few of our home-education goodies (over a 4 year period) that we use time and time again have come from IKEA so I thought I would put together a little list of the IKEA items that we have bought, used and loved (this is a totally personal list – I have not been asked to do this).
Our kids TROFAST storage units. We first bought one of these 4 years ago and have since bought a number of additional units. One of the things I like about this product is you can arrange and rearrange the drawers to suit the kids toys. My kids are constantly pulling out drawers and repacking them and we have never had a stability issue. And once the kids become a bit older IKEA sell shelves that you can add to the unit and it can become a bookcase instead of a toy storage unit.
The kids plastic tables and chairs (Mammut) – love love these. We have used our so much over the past 4 years, they have been used for drawing, painting, all kinds of crafting, used in toy shops, as a vets table, for card games and other games. And they have lasted so well. They are incredibly easy to clean. I am actually feeling a bit sad that my oldest is now getting too big for the table as I honestly do not know what I am going to get to replace them.
Our floor protector (look in the photo above it is the plastic mat under the blue tables). My husband actually bought this for his home office but when I saw it I quickly stole it for under the kids table. It is brilliant for protecting the carpet from play dough and crafting spills.
Roll of drawing paper. One of my personal must have items for our house. Every time we go to IKEA (or when a friend goes and offers to pick up something) I always get one roll. It is very easy to just unroll the paper and leave it on the kitchen table for the kids to do whatever they want on to (paint, draw, use oil pastels). But this roll of paper has also become part of my daughter’s maths learning. I discovered about a year ago that if I covered the kitchen table with paper, added a few maths resources and pencils and left my daughter to do her maths for whatever reason she was happier than when I handed her an A4 piece of paper. She likes being able to scribble her sums and thinking all over the paper, it seems to be a freeing thing for her and has really helped her maths confidence. So yes I always have a roll of this paper lying next to our kitchen table.
We also love the Whiteboard marker pen set – we love “magic pens” as my kids call them and this set is probably my favourite set. We have had ours for ages and we use the pens often and they are still going stong.
If you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that my daughter enjoys doing arty projects with me but one thing you may not realise is she is particular about the arty items that she uses (part of her SPD). If we are attempting to do an art project and the materials that we are using have a strange feeling or a strong smell she will quickly get overwhelmed and will end up stopping part way though. So after lots of trail and error I have realised that to help her enjoy the arty projects and to be able to sit and complete them having certain items helps – eg her favourite paint brushes (I actually keep 2 spare packs of these in my cupboard at all times so she never runs out) and this paper (honestly I can not explain what it is about this paper but she loves it).
And speaking about art supplies – we still love our Art Cart. (full post about it)
Beads and Boards. We love Hama beads in our house but they are expensive and we do a number of projects with the beads and at one stage I even used them in sensory tubs so it was getting very expensive until I realised that the IKEA beads and boards work just as well. We now have a large jar of IKEA beads and the kids have not noticed the difference (but my bank account sure noticed it).
I have often mentioned that both my kids have had Occupational Therapy. Our therapists have been amazing and I would be lost without them but I have also made a huge effort to include items in our home which can be used by us to continue some of the therapy activities at home. The BUSA play tunnel was one such item which we bought 4 years ago and I am honestly amazed that it is still in one piece. We have used it for many obstacle courses and games and the kids have been quite rough with it but it is still going stong. And a recent addition has been the IKEA folding gymmat. We use it a lot when the kids are bouncing on and off the trampoline.
I honestly could go on and on about the IKEA products that we use and love (don’t get my started on using IKEA goodies in sensory bins, I am like a child at Christmas when I walk into their marketplace). But the last item I will include is actually one that I am hoping might appear under my Christmas tree this year. The EKTORP Footstool. I know two fellow home-educators who own this and it is fab. It can be used as an extra seat, it has hidden storage inside (just lift the seat and you could store some books or board games) and it can also be used as an extra surface for the kids to unpack their games on and play. And then of course once everyone is tucked up in bed I can use it as a footstool (Really hoping Father Christmas brings me one this year).