Five Free and Frugal Ideas for Your Classroom

Here’s five free and frugal ideas you can use for educational pursuits today!


1. REPURPOSE plastic pieces leftover from broken or partially misplaced games.

Use them for new game markers for:

  • homemade or TpT games (like the ones in my store)
  • sorting
  • matching
  • counting
  • one-to-one correspondence


2. ACCESS to read and/or listen to thousands of FREE books with audio and highlighted text.


  • You can sort by type of book, age, reading level, etc.
  • If you have an account with your local library, be sure to ask if they have a tumblebooks account. We are able to access it completely FREE with our library’s code!
  • This site is formatted to work on tablet devices as well as your laptop!


3. TRY simple scientific experiments with your students!

They can be done with items you DEFINITELY have on hand and will DEFINITELY inspire your students to seek out even more LEARNING opportunities!




  • A review of the Commutative Property with four glasses of water, two with a smaller but equal amount and two with a larger but equal amount.
  • Does it matter if you add the glass with the lesser amount of water to the glass with the larger amount OR if you add the glass with the larger amount to the glass with the lesser amount?
  • No it doesn’t! Whether you add 4 + 6 for instance or 6 + 4, you still get 10!
  • Try it especially if your students are struggling to understand why the two amounts are in fact equal no matter which way you add them up!




  • All you need for this experiment is MAGNETS of various sizes and objects to test whether they are magnetic or not!
  • If you have them, brass brads are the MOST FUN, especially with a large and very attractive magnet!
  • Challenge your students to see how many they can pick up with just one magnet!

4. GO OUTSIDE and explore in nature.


Whether you can find a nearby creek or just a nearby tree or field to explore, get outside and see what you can discover with your students! The world is our classroom!


5. SAVE PAPER and packaging you find in products you buy.

It has so many uses, not to mention it doesn’t end up in the trash or recycling bin quite yet!

  • Paper piecing: you might notice the chicken pictures in the picture below. They were created with scrap papers including another piece of brown paper that was salvaged from packaging!
  • The history projects on the top of the shelves in the picture below were also saved from the round file! They were intended to be the back of some cubeical shelves, but my Dad made me real wood back instead. These very sturdy (but still paper) boards were the perfect size for 2nd grade history projects!

Here is a close-up shot of one of the projects in progress!


  • Instant mural! (this paper below that our children turned into a mural of space “and other things” was wadded up as padding in a package of books I ordered.

These ideas are free and frugal, yet they are sure to enrich the education of those you teach! If you have some more ideas, PLEASE do SHARE in the comments!

Around Stay Awhile Farm

I have so many photos that haven’t made their way onto the blog. These photos are just us living life together learning and growing on our little mini-farm. I still am amazed and so very thankful we get to live here!


The Prez and three of the boys headed out on a dove hunt. Li’l Bro has a BB gun in tow, while Larry and Mo have their 20-gauge shotguns.


The hunt didn’t yield any birds, but it yielded a successful day of practicing safe gun handling and enjoying the nature surrounding us.

The ladies (our hens) like to graze in the yard as does Mr. Squawks, however they need to stay out of our garden.


A recent skeet shoot-out from the top of our property, in which Momma came in second to Mo, who is 11 years old. As for the Prez … ahem … he missed all but one of his skeets. Momma … well I shot all of mine down but one. 😀

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Summer Snapshots Take 2

Well summer is still going strong according to the thermometer and the calendar, but alas, school starts here at CandLHomeLearning on Monday.


Yes, even the teacher is rebelling LOL!

So, I thought it best to go ahead and post a few more photos I have taken in recent days of summer pursuits and happenings.

This first set of photos was taken by me the moment I arrived home with our oldest son, who had been away for 12 days at the National Boy Scout Jamboree. I swear he came back taller and slimmer and more grown-up than ever. He is a fine young man of whom I could not be more proud! His Dad agrees! Is it just me or does my husband look like a real-life farmer here?



And what says summer more than hamburgers, baked beans and slices of juicy watermelon?! Continue reading

Summer Snapshots

I have taken quite a few photos (mostly on the iPhone), but I don’t want to wait on posting or I know they will get buried on page 5 of my flickr photostream!

So, without further ado, some of our summer learning pursuits. Our local co-op has a saying: “The world is our classroom.” I think that just about sums these photos up!

Playing with an old friend!




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Saturday’s Project: The Schoolroom

How is it possible that I filled up a LARGE kitchen trash bag with trash from our schoolroom? (I really am kind of a neat-freak and I don’t hold onto papers AT ALL.)

If I had taken a BEFORE and AFTER photo, the floor would be totally covered in S.T.U.F.F. I pulled from multiple shelves. All at one time. These photos below are AFTER photos, but I will be finishing up hopefully tomorrow with making a language shelf and Bible study shelf from the things you can see in the photo below (though the tubs hold shape, color, letter and phonic materials and will need to be condensed from 4 to 2 tubs).


I also plan to pull together some books to pedal at the used bookstore I recently re-discovered (did I mention she will take trade-ins and give store credit not on consignment but just outright?!).


I used to visit the store as a child with my Mom and Granddaddy, so it was near magical to take our children in there one day and watch at least a few of them become immersed in the possibility of finding a hidden treasure among the rows of used books on shelf upon shelf.

I can’t wait to go back! With my stack of books that she will hopefully buy from me (for that store credit :)).

How too is it possible that in addition to the bag, I filled up a LARGE box with more trash?

And how is it possible that I also have a LARGE pile of stuff that I added to our pile of stuff to be dropped off at the thrift store?

Seriously. S.T.U.F.F. must multiply. That is the only way this is possible.

Nonetheless, the room needed de-stuffing and room needed to be made for a space for a certain little someone to have her own two shelves of school stuff (the bottom two of course). What do you think?


Needs some tweaking, but she already seems to like it! She can touch all of this stuff and will hopefully be more engaged with things that are more her speed (than scissors and elmer’s glue and the like). 🙂

What I didn’t see coming was an ALL-DAY de-stuffing that ended in some unexpected improvements to our schoolroom.

I have talked before I think about our school being quite eclectic in nature, but more and more we teach in a CM style (Charlotte Mason).

I longed for a Nature Space last year and one did sort of evolve as turtle shells were brought home from walks in the woods, feathers found (and bleached) for display and study, ant farms yet to be observed(note to self: order the ants because the ones from outside died :() were given by neighbors, moths were brought in for observation (so far they made a cocoon and maybe decided to stay in it forever???). I took our shells that we’ve collected over multiple beach and camping trips (some salt and freshwater varieties) and put them in a glass jar, so we can ENJOY them!

I like the way it turned out, and if the curiosity of our students today/this evening is any indication, the space will be used much this year.


That space has evolved, but now it not only holds these precious “treasures” but also our science course for next year for all but our oldest student, as well as some used books I SCORED at a few booths at the Homeschool Expo this year like this exact same version of this field guide for a couple dollars! I also have a basket atop the space with Golden pocket guides  (birds, reptiles, rocks, snakes), National Audubon field guides, and several magnifying glasses.

And today, I found a preserved bumblebee in a basket I was cleaning out—how lucky is that?! Almost immediately, Susannah grabs her new Nature Sketchbook and says, “I’m going to look at it with the magnifier and sketch it.” PURE JOY in this Momma’s heart! She asked many questions too about the various parts on the bumblebee, and her brother Jackson gladly explained them all and speculated that the bumblebee died because “he tried to sting something and lost his stinger and promptly perished.” Poor bumblebee. At least Susannah decided she would draw him “in the grass where he is happy!”


I have so many wonderful math manipulatives, but they were here and there and quite frankly, everywhere. I rarely would get them out, or when I did I was overwhelmed with putting them back away. I almost had them in boxes within boxes. Now I heart organization, but really?

One of the unexpected surprises from today is my new MATH bookcase! LOVE! LOVE!


The picture just does not do this space justice! I have our new Al Abacuses here as well as magnetic and plastic pattern blocks, three sets of mini drawers with magnetic numbers, place value cards, fraction games, fraction tiles and pies … living math books and number games such as multiplication bingo and summology (another used score!). The list goes on and on to include our grocery store math center, math balance (on top of shelf) and Education Cubes, which are used most often (though not always) for math learning.

I even used a LARGE cylinder to house rulers, calculators, a protractor and compass … all within easy reach and hopefully will pique the curiosity of even those who are not yet ready for formal learning with these math tools.


I also snapped a photo of the shelf just to the right of the MATH Shelf, which houses an individual shelf for each of our three older students. I have already cleaned these out for next year and put their individual assigned reading books on them (living books for history and science that correspond to the time period we’ll be studying together as a family using the next module in this series (used Module 4 this year and loved how it all worked out!).


Speaking of individual spaces, I am continuing to use the same table and benches (along with a chair because a certain little someone might have fallen backwards off the bench a time or two) for our two 1st graders and tot school student!


Please disregard the mess. I have BIG plans for the wall space above their table, where I used to have a world map hanging … it is being relocated to a large wall in our living room, which is where we most often read our history read-alouds and do map drills anyway. Besides I think it is pretty and will make a nice addition to the space serving a dual purpose of educational and decorative all at the same time. 😉


But back to the 1st graders and their space, I knew I needed some separation for some of their things like math notebooks, nature sketchbooks, handwriting books and the like … so I found these 3-drawer units at Wally World and then repurposed some baskets to hold their reading books: one with free reading and one with assigned reading that corresponds with our history time period (all suggested in the module I linked above–LOVE SCM guides). They are SO EXCITED about the books we’ll be reading together this year for their “indibidual reading” time. (These are the same books Joel will read independently as well, which will make narrating (or rather me determining if he is really understanding by way of his narration) so much easier on this teacher!

Here is the space with the 3-drawer units labeled and the book baskets. They also have their notebook (with calendar and other 9-pocket work in it) on the top of their drawers.


And here’s another view of it with the Nature Space atop it as well.


Funny story that we almost sold this shelf, but the lady who came to buy it forgot her money and we didn’t want to take a check … so we still have it and now it is back in our house! The Prez built it quite a number of years ago, so it has stood the test of time! It is solid wood, so really functional and worth its weight too!

I also moved all of my little plastic tubs, that I still heart, to one shelf, which I love. I need to finish labeling the tubs that either were missing labels or needed replacements made. But all in all, I’m happy with the use of this space.


I also made yet another Space atop this unit: a Geography Space, which was just as unexpected yet as equally LOVED as the Nature Space and Math Shelf.


I had things all over the room in this basket and that tub. I think having it all together and IN VIEW will encourage learning much more freely. Tonight multiple children stood and observed the globe as well as the US map and the States/Capitals game I made from a Dollar Tree find last summer. Now that these things are out and at hand, I think they will be used more often! I put various books and MAPS I’ve collected (including one of our state and local city) in the basket for free learning. We shall see!

Moving around the room back toward the Nature Space and 1st Graders shelf, I didn’t change a thing at our computer desk and workstation. I like it in front of the window and in this awkward corner. It seems to work well our students as well, and the computer is very VISIBLE from the kitchen doorway, which I love (just in case people are on when they are supposed to be doing schoolwork–not that this has ever happened at our school LOL!).


Next to the computer area and in-between it and the Nature Space/1st Grader Shelf is the large bookcase/cabinet unit my Granddaddy built for me (and one for my sister just like it). I always think of him when I see it or grab something useful from it. I didn’t even touch the lower portion (behind the doors as I really need to do some major purging in there and/or reorganizing), but I did totally de-stuff the open shelves, which house MY BOOKS, our art supplies, paper, Mom’s basket of home office necessities (staples, label maker, sharpies, etc.), and a science basket and space for _________ (hopefully nothing for a while!).

I thought I took a photo of the whole shelf space, but apparently I took only these close-ups. Here is the lower portion (art supplies) …


And the upper portion (all of the rest mentioned above).


I had wanted to seriously reorganize our art utensils—brushes, pastels, colored pencils, broken crayons, fine-tip sharpies—and had a light-bulb moment today as I wondered aloud: “Are those mason/ball jars still in the attic?” And they were as you will see below! I LOVE the way this turned out and I have three jars left over for future repurposing.


Now the children can SEE the drawing utensils and will hopefully use them each and every day, instead of maybe twice a week. I LOVE it when they create masterpieces!

Jackson helped me accomplish another task that had been at hand: reorganizing our paperback books in the living room. I am very pleased with the progress we made in displaying our series books (Little House, Heroes of Faith, etc.) as well as individual books we have read (or will read) in the future).

We organized the individual books in alphabetical order by title. I still plan to type out a {very simple} catalog of the books we do have (so I don’t buy multiple copies like I might have done of Where the Red Fern Grows).


This shelf in the photo below awaits my attention as those hardback books need to be purged yet again, and I need to figure out the large space below the shelf of books.


I’m thinking it might be a good place for displaying current creations and I’m thinking about these frames, but they are so expensive so I don’t know? Might have to get a couple and rotate? Hmmm.

And now I’m tired all over again thinking about all that was accomplished in about a 5-hour time period. I had multiple “helpers” throughout the day as did the Prez whilst cleaning the camper, hauling off trash, and various other outdoor chores.

Hope your Saturday was blessed and productive as well! 🙂