A place for everything and everything in its place.
I cleaned out and organized my kitchen cabinets and drawers. This isn't something I feel compelled to do on a regular basis, but right now, I'm pregnant and I know from experience that makes me a little insane, so I am giving myself grace and going with all these motivations. Really, when's the next time I'll feel the need to get down and scrub the floor behind our stove?
And, with all this organizing, I've noticed that I tend to collect things and these things are really starting to add up. I am a little insecure about admitting this, but I wonder if other moms, homeschooling or not, also feel the need to save things "just in case."
Jars and their lids
We need several of these every spring and summer for the bugs and caterpillars.
Plastic Shopping Bags
I use these around the house for obvious reasons, like bathroom trash. But, once a year, I also stuff as many as I can into the Christmas box we send our good friends and their kids who live out of state. She uses the bags for regular kitchen trash and once told me, "I never have enough of those." Ever since, I've used them as packaging around their gifts. Dwayne and I often wonder if she regrets saying this when the bags come by the hundreds every December.
Empty tubes from toilet paper and paper towel rolls
We use these for crafts. I've also heard of moms putting their little girl's hair things around the empty paper towel tubes to keep them in one place. It sounds like a great idea and I keep meaning to do that, too.
Every summer, I give them to Dwayne's mom when she and his dad visit. She takes them back to Florida and gives them to a little girl at her church, who will take them and turn them in for money that she'll then donate to charity. Dwayne thinks his mom and I are both crazy for this, but we both hope the little girl gets a kick out of it. But, it is likely that the little girl just thinks we're crazy, too.
Plastic Lids and Beer Bottle Caps
They are all round, but they come in different sizes and colors and make great math manipulatives for older children who can use them for exercises in counting, sorting, patterns and matching.
Tiny plastic containers and their lids
I save the little containers we get when we buy those bouncy balls or ugly plastic spiders for Norah from the gumball-type machines at the front of supermarkets. And, I'll save the containers and lids left over once we use up all our craft glitter or kitchen spices, when our store bought play dough gets gross, or when we use all the pills in the Tylenol bottle, etc.
I'll often cut up the cardboard cartons and use them to hold craft paint. It's easy enough to just throw the used sections out when I am cleaning up after one of Norah's art projects.
With foam egg cartons, I'll cut around the two indentions in the top of the carton and save these little "traffic cones." Norah uses them with her toy cars or as the base for paper puppet she makes out of card stock, so the figurines will stand on their own. I'll also cut the twelve foam cups apart and store them stacked together in a gallon zip lock. Norah likes to use the separate egg sections for counting or to make the shapes of letters and numbers on the floor, etc.
I reuse colored tissue paper when wrapping birthday gifts or let Norah cut it up for various crafts like decoupage.'
Box Tops for Education
I don't have any official place to donate them, because Norah doesn't go to school anywhere. But, I collect them anyway. I've heard that home school cooperative groups will use them, so if we ever become involved in a group like that, I'll pass them along then.
We have hundreds of buttons. Most have come one or two at a time with the purchase of new pants, jackets or shirts. But, right now, I am cutting up Dwayne's old plaid shirts to use in a quilt, so from each of those, I'll get ten to twelve more. Norah just loves playing with buttons and her home school lessons often require ten or more at a time for math exercises or one or two for educational game pieces.
These are the little bags that hold the aforementioned extra buttons attached to new clothes. I think I must have fifty of these. They're just so cute.
A wine bottle cork that I imagine I will need for a science demonstration one day, little metal springs of different sizes from the insides of broken ink pens, key rings, glass marbles, safety pins...
Norah has collected a feather, an acorn and a pine cone, so far.
We'll bring home rocks from hikes or vacations that have cool shapes, colors or textures.
Shells we collect from our trips to the beach.
The kind you get with kids meals at formal restaurants. Norah has never really been interested in bath toys, but we have a tower of about thirty plastic cups on the side of the tub and she plays with every one of them at every bath.
For collages. We store them in a huge Tupperware in the laundry/ storage room downstairs. Norah likes to cut and paste. I've given her a letter and she has a good time finding pictures that start with that sound.
You wouldn't believe how often Norah's curriculum calls for things like the ones I've listed above. One time, I needed an empty pill bottle, of all things, to make a music shaker. So, now I save pill bottles, too. The other day, I needed a lid, but it had to be a certain size and depth once turned over, so it would hold a puddle of liquid glue and a certain sized sponge. As much as I love Bob Jones K4, some of the things they ask moms to produce or collect so kids can do every activity in the lessons drive me crazy. But, I have learned how to improvise, which I think is good. I have to think much harder before I throw any little thing away these days. I am sure these collections of mine and the satisfaction I get from seeing them grow also point to something that was lacking in my childhood. Don't they always?