Wallet friendly educational materials

Posted by Shaunessy Martin at

As soon as you stamp the word "educational" on the packaging, the price doubles. Marketing is clever. They know parents want what is best for their children and of course we will choose the product that says it will not only entertain my child but also teach some amazing skill at the same time. And for parents of kids with learning difficulties, this is heightened. We grasp at any tool that may possibly make learning more fun, more natural, more effective for our child.  So we spend a FORTUNE! And unfortunately many of these novelty educational toys are barely even glanced at by our children. SIgh..

So here are some ideas to cut down on costs. 

Starting really simple - this is really just a reminder for most people. Using scrap paper. It is unbelievable how much paper you use when teaching. And that nice pile of crisp white paper attracts children - but the perfectionist in me is also tempted. Then I had an idea.  I dug out my university binders (I had to blow some dust off, that was a few years ago....) and we had scrap paper for a year! Plus you can pat yourself on the back for the environmental deed you are doing :) 

Next is just using things around the house. Again, simple but if you plan in advance it is worth the time.


This sells for $149.95. No Joke. 

Bears that you can count, sort by colour, make patterns, ect.

Or you can do this: 

Not as polished but has the exact same end result!

Motivation boards are a great way to keep kids focused, reduce anxiety and get some work done! The idea is that the child is working towards something (an activity, game or toy of choice) and as they complete a task, they earn a token. Once all tokens are earned the reinforcement is awarded. 

This sells for $5.95 plus shipping:

However, you can make your own: 

Maybe not as pretty but much more personal- and you choose the language! I used leftover Super Hero valentine cards and stickers as the motivation tokens for each completed activity. 

This activity sells for $29.99. A sequencing kit - where students must determine what happens first-next-then-last. Also great for speech therapy to talk through the story.

Or......I bought old preschool workbooks from yard sales and the dollar store. I cut out the activity sheets that had sequencing, photocopied on coloured paper and laminated them. Total cost is probably around $5.00

This all looks great - but you are probably thinking that a laminator costs a fortune and is not worth it. I thought the same thing. Many years ago, I had cut out all the pictures in a picture dictionary book. I used them as flashcards. Flashcards are CRAZY expensive! 

Here is the book I used. It's French but I am sure there are English equivalents. It had been read a million times by my kids and the jacket was torn and tapped a half a dozen times. So I spent an entire 4 hour car trip cutting out pictures. This picture dictionary was great because it had all categories instead of alphabetized items - furniture, food, clothing, animals, vehicles, plants, objects in each room of the house, ect. 

I brought them to Staples thinking it might cost 20 bucks or so to have them laminated. They quoted at $115!!!! That was when I decided to buy my own and was shocked at how cheap it actually was. 

So here is my old trusted buddy. I think I spent $60.00 on it more than 4 years ago. It's still going strong. 

The newer model is sold  here. It comes with a starter package of laminating pouches of varying sizes. 

These laminating sheets/pouches are the cheapest I have found and the quality is good. 

Laminating and cutting may seem time consuming at first glance. But if you factor in the time time spent going to the store (or multiple stores)  to find what you need or spending hours browsing internet stores - than the time spent doing this doesn't seem quite so bad. BONUS: you have an excuse to watch TV while you laminate, cut and velcro! 

As if I need an excuse to watch TV! That is well deserved me-time. :)

Hope and happiness, 


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