New Tot Books!

I completed 2 new Tot Books and have them up and ready for download on the Tot Books site! I haven’t had a chance to get photos of them yet, and who knows when I will :).

The first is Hermie and Friends. I began making this one long ago for Krash and then he sort of *got over* Hermie so I stopped. I then saw that a few people voted for it on the last poll so I went ahead and finished it!

Next is one made for one of Krash’s current loves, Tarzan II. We watch this movie A LOT right now since I am pregnant and we have all been sick lately! It is actually one of my favorite movies also! So, I made him a simple Tot Book based on the movie. I am doing things a bit differently for Krash now though, as he is not so into the Tot Books much any more. I leave the pieces separate for him and we just use them to interact together during Tot School. When he tires of them I will still put them into a Tot Book for safe keeping, but until he shows interest in having a complete Tot Book to work with, I will keep the pieces separate.

Here’s a shot of him playing with one of the parts…”What Color is Tarzan’s Hair?” He loved it and we giggled a lot!

If you make these or any other Tot Book with your tot, please send me your blog post so I can link it up on the site for other mom’s to see! I love seeing how people create them differently!

Behind the Scenes ~ Saving $$ on Supplies

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Not sure if this post will be of help to any of you, but I thought it might be so I decided to write it up. My thoughts were that we homeschoolers use a lot of office type supplies and obviously school supplies, and paying for these adds up! If my experience can help even one of you, it’s worth it to me to write up the post!

I have been a loyal Office Depot shopper for years now and without a doubt shopping with them saves me TONS of money and allows me to be able to order many special homeschooling supplies. I have heard other people who shop exclusively at Staples, or Office Max, but I personally have used Office Depot. What I will recommend is sticking with one office supply store, you will reap the rewards of being a loyal customer, I promise!

Here’s why… (I will be speaking only of OD, although these same things probably apply to the others)

  • Office Depot provides FREE shipping if your order is more than $50 (to most areas). We always wait until we need $50 worth of supplies before we order. AND it is delivered the next day!!! We actually JUST got an order at our door TODAY!
  • Hot Offers (2.15 - 2.21)

  • They have a Worklife Rewards program, that tracks our sales and gives us rewards for the amount we spend each quarter. This is where store-loyalty pays off-we received $69.27 for 2008 in rewards money. These rewards come quarterly in the form of a gift card, I just turn around and type in the code for our next order and it takes that amount off!
  • They track my past purchases in “My Account” on their website so re-ordering things we run out of is VERY easy.
  • They send me valuable coupons in the mail, constantly. I always use a coupon, that usually takes a significant amount off of my purchase. For example, the coupon I just used on my order that arrived today was for $21.55 off of a $100 purchase! That’s a great one! Sometimes we get free gifts (which a few we have actually liked and still use), and other times it is for different percentages off of certain amounts.
  • NO, I do not work for Office Depot-I just really like their store, products, and service!!!

A few of the things I order regularly from Office Depot to help me with homeschooling and more :)

Other School Supplies…

I do a majority of my shopping at Office Depot throughout the year, but I do some major stock-up during Back-To-School shopping time (Jul-Sept). The BEST place I have found for this is Staples, and their 1 cent deals. This is where we get our pencils, folders, binders, and MANY more items for the year. Start watching for these deals to begin in July, and they change them up each week.

I also love Target’s Back-To-School section, which always has some neat items that are hard to find the rest of the year. The best example: our tot trainer scissors, I can’t seem to find them anywhere now, and I got them last year during BTS time at Target!

Dollar Tree has a little school section, with teacher items too, sometimes I hit the jackpot there. If you’ve never found this section at your Dollar Tree, be sure to look for it! The $1 section at Target often rotates out different school items too, always worth walking through, especially at season change times-if you’re lucky enough to hit the half price days!

I also shop at Costco for some of our supplies. The best thing I have found there that are much better priced are: 3 ring binders (I use all sizes of these for organizing many different things), they have a whole aisle of office/school supplies and change them up often. Sometimes you can find GREAT deals there!

What about non-office related supplies?

If we’re shopping for books, the best places I have found are:

The first 2 you are all probably familiar with but just in case you haven’t heard of LES, you should certainly check it out. You have to be a member to shop there, but you will find incredible deals on books you can’t even find elsewhere-they are a wholesale company. My best examples are my science series books, we LOVE these books and I snatch up the sets when they put them on sale (I am talking deep sale, it’s amazing). As for CDB, I shop there a LOT. They do charge shipping but it is always very reasonable. When ordering a book, I will usually check a few sources to get my best price and for me it usually ends up being one of these places.

Honestly, I order just about everything else that is a puzzle, game, toy, etc. from Amazon. I ONLY buy things under their free-shipping option, and always search around for the best price. If I am not ordering online, I will use AC Moore or Michaels (especially for Melissa and Doug Tot School stuff) and get one at a time with their weekly 40% or 50% off coupons. I obviously also stock up on craft/art supplies this way too, saving the bigger ticket items for use with coupons and hitting the moonlight madness sales (usually 25% off your whole purchase) to get the little things. If you don’t already, be sure to get on the mailing list of these stores in your area, that way you’ll get email reminders of the current weekly sales and you can check your ever growing wish list compared to their sales!

If you have some great advice for stocking up on supplies-the cheap way-leave your ideas below in the comments, as I know I am not the only one with a few ideas and I would love to know of even more places the deals are hiding! If you have any questions, leave them below too, I will try my best to answer them!

Manatee Lapbook

Pac-Man recently finished his final 1st grade lapbook, all about Manatees! I personally was thrilled with his choice as manatees were my favorite animal as a child and teen, I even adopted one when I was in high school! We both had a lot of fun with this unit, here’ s a few pics of some things we did along with his lapbook!

We did an experiment to learn about how manatees find fresh water when they are in the ocean. We had so much fun learning together and doing an experiment that actually worked! (not many Mommy-led science ideas work).
He had a blast painting an underwater scene for the cover of his lapbook… We got everything for this great lapbook from Homeschool Share! I was thrilled to not have to make any templates myself!

I found lots of great manatee books which I added here in our theme bookstore (on the right sidebar look under ocean-manatee). We didn’t get a chance to read all of these, but that’s only because Mommy couldn’t drag her prego hiney to the library!!! Thankfully we own a few!

Tot School ~ 1/2 a week

~Krash is currently 33 months old~
It was a short week for us. It seems SO many of us (online friends) are battling illness right now-it stinks! Pac Man got it first, then me, and now Krash. I was in the hospital last night-good ol’ pregnancy-for some IV fluids to try to bring my high heart rate down. I am still really sick, but able to be at home. The only reason I am even on the computer is because it is easier to breathe sitting up. Thankfully my dad is here helping and my husband is still not sick.

So, before we all got sick, we did have some tot school fun! Here’s Krash spooning glass jewels into our heart shaped ice cube tray. He loves spooning activities.Here he is sticking out heart shaped sticks (Dollar Tree) into a styrofoam disk (also Dollar Tree). He loved doing this.He had fun when we all made the Land Before Time Dinos togetherHere he is pouring beads using a funnel and my new favorite free tool-our cleaned coffee creamer bottle! I am now collecting these for future ideas too! My husband just laughs at the items that now end up in the dish washing tub.He liked clipping the correct colored clothespins onto large colored craft sticks.He has never really liked these but finally this day, he did! He completed about 4-5 of the circles!He spent over 30 minutes playing with Play Doh this day…I taught him how to make the creatures with hair and how to cut it, he loved this!We played with our awesome foam ABC blocksicon one day and turned it into a game of basket-block-ball.Automoblox came out for awhile, it is one of my favorite toys to sit back and watch him play with.Finally, we put together his Cars and Pooh $1 store puzzles in a straight line and pretended they were a balance beam! He really like this and I loved watching him!

If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

If you’ve never read this: Go HERE 1st for more details- please do!!! Then if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email-links to homepages will automatically be deleted).

New: when you add your name(blog name) to Mr. Linky will you put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (33 mos)? I think this will help new readers a lot as they look for ideas for their specific aged tot!