How I’m Saving on School Supplies

The Scacchi House: How I'm Saving Money on School Supplies

Happy Monday!

I mentioned here that our nephew Rylan has come to live with us for the school year.  This is my first experience enrolling a child in public school.  Along with public school comes a long list of school supplies.  Many of the school districts in our area offer a “one-stop-shop” option.  For $50-$80, the school will provide your child all the supplies your child will need for the year.  I personally think this is a rip off.

So, in the attempt to save a few bucks on school supplies, I’ve been watching the sale ads like crazy.  I also made this handy spreadsheet to show you what I’ve found so far.  Oh, and Rylan is going to be in the 4th grade, if you were wondering.

The Scacchi House: Saving on School Supplies

*Mechanical pencils were not on the official school list.  Rylan asked for mechanical pencils, so we compromised and bought one pack along with regular no. 2 pencils.

You see that I still have a few things to buy.  I’m about half way finished and I’ve only spent $8.61.  My goal is to come in under $30.00 for everything.  If you are wondering about a backpack, Tony’s dad offered to pick that up for us, so I didn’t include that in the list.

We don’t do “new school clothes”.  When Rylan needs something, we just pick it up as we go.  I’m not buying into all the hype that kids need an entire new wardrobe to start the school year.

I’m also not going to shy away from returning anything I find less expensive elsewhere.  We still have two weeks until school starts, so I will keep you updated.



Toddler Fun: Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice

Ava and I are in Florida visiting my family. My sister is out-of-town this week and my mom went to prom this weekend (as a chaperone, not a date) and Ava and I needed to find something to entertain ourselves for a few hours.  I’ve wanted to experiment with some sort of rice sensory activity, so we got to work. (Please excuse the horrible pictures.  My mother’s kitchen has NO natural light.)

I decided on making some rainbow rice. It couldn’t be too different from dying Easter eggs, right? Before we left for Alaska, I gave my mom a half-full 50 pound bag of rice that I had. I knew there was no way that they had eaten 25 pounds of rice in 7 months. Sure enough, I found a giant container of rice. You will also need white vinegar and food coloring. I used gel food coloring since that’s what mom uses when she makes cakes. You could definitely use the liquid kind too. So here’s what you need for each color.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • food coloring (to your desired shade)

Sensory Rice

I decided on 5 colors to get us started.  First, pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees.  In 5 small bowls, I poured in the 1/2 cup of rice and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  I then picked my 5 colors and added a bit of food coloring into each bowl.  Stir with a spoon until all of the food coloring is incorporated.  You can add more food coloring if the color is not dark enough for your taste.

Carefully spoon each color into a thin layer on a cookie sheet and smash into a flat layer.  Repeat with each color.  You will end up with a pan that looks like this.

Rainbow Rice

Bake the rice at 175 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and gently stir each color with a fork.  You will see that there may still be some moisture on the bottom of the pan.  Return the pan to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until all of the rice is dry.

Remove your rainbow rice from the oven and you’re ready to play!  I poured each color (as best I could) into different size measuring cups and bowls.

Toddler Rice Play

I also set her up with a few different scoops, spoons, and even a small funnel.  She had a blast!

Sensory Rice Play

I definitely plan on doing this on a larger scale once we get back to Texas.  Think: rainbow rice sandbox (ricebox?), but something with a lid.  Oh, and be prepared for a mess.  I think we will keep this as an outdoor activity.

Toddler Sensory Play

Even I had fun playing with the rainbow rice.  Do you think you will make some?

Incorporate “Preschool” Everyday

Colorful Blocks Homeschool Preschool

I was told by a former co-worker that her child was better off at preschool than at home because she could not do all of the activities that they do with him. (Insert my blank stare here.) The preschool employees are not doing anything that you cannot do yourself.  YOU are your child’s best teacher. Don’t doubt your own abilities.

Even though Ava is only 15 months old, preschool has already begun. We do not do any form or formal teaching. Preschool is just that, the learning your child does “pre school”. We actually practice more of a Montessori style of learning at our house.

Eventually I plan to set up a more formal Montessori playroom, but for now we just try to incorporate learning into our everyday routine. Our current living space is fairly limited.

So what do we do to encourage learning? Here are a few activities we regularly do.

  1. Allow your child to cook and clean with you. Ava loves to help cook. I let her get right in the action. (I want her to have a kitchen helper stool like this one. I will probably build her one this summer.) She helps stir and add ingredients. This is a great way to introduce your child to the kitchen. She knows that the stove is hot and that knives are sharp. I also allow her to feel the different textures of food as well as taste new things. As a result, she has a very broad palate. This girl loves everything! She also loves to “help” me do the dishes. These activities may result in a little extra clean up, but it’s so worth it.
  2. Use everyday objects in play. Ava has a whole collection of random containers, jugs, an old cell phone, and a wallet among other things. We don’t buy a lot of commercial toys, we just don’t need to. An old oatmeal container becomes a drum. A small shopping bag is perfect for sorting blocks.
  3. Play! Yes, play. You may think that your life is too busy or that free play is not important; make time for it. Free play encourages your child to use his or her imagination. Children who engage in more imaginative play have more self-control and a longer attention span when they get older.

See the blocks in the picture above? They are actually gram weights that I picked up for $.50 at The Salvation Army. Right now Ava loves to stack them and sort them by colors. She also loves to put them all in their bag and then dump them out. When she gets older, we can use them for counting, building patterns, and as actual weights. There are 1, 5, 10, and 20 gram weights. And if you were wondering, they hurt just as bad as legos when you step on them. =)

Do you “preschool” at home? Do you have any advice?