a gift guide for the homeschool



We tend to keep the holiday season in our home fairly simple in terms of gift giving, both the quantity and expense. This isn’t from a desire to be Scrooge-like or withholding, but instead another way we’ve learned over the years to simplify, to stay within our financial means, and to help keep our home filled with fewer things we really enjoy and can manage well. Living in a small home has taught me a valuable life lesson: less really can be more, but it means making tough decisions. Buying less, means I choose something far more carefully. My husband and I often pick high quality gifts, something that can easily be passed down between siblings, family, or friends when they’ve outgrown it. We also love giving gifts that engage their interest and skill sets, tools that can double for our home school experience, too.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a few emails and comments and texts from other parents asking about Christmas gifts for their own homes, wondering what we’re getting our children or asking about our favorite books or toys or nature books. Although it took me a bit of time to collect a few, I created this gift guide as a way to share both our favorite learning tools and ones still on our wishlist. I added “gifts of experience” section to each category, because often we have given experience over things to our children for Christmas or their birthday. It can be a fantastic way to give something meaningful without carting more things into your home or when finances are a little tighter. Clearly, this is not a finite list, nor is it strictly for the homeschool or Christmas season, but I hope it in itself is a tool of inspiration. Enjoy.

gift-guide-nature_cloistered_away_homeschool[ THE YOUNG NATURALIST ]

1. Kanken mini backpack | full size 2. Suunto compass 3. Wild Explorers Adventure Club membership 4. Critter Cabin 5. National Park pass (4th graders are free!) 6. Nature Anatomy 7. Cavallini Insects wrapping paper (frame it as a poster)  8. Fujifilm instant film camera 9. Strathmore watercolor journal 10. Animalium 11. laminated local pocket field guides 12. Magiscope

 GIFT EXPERIENCE | museum passes | a state or national park pass | handmade coupons to use during the year for weekend camping, star-gazing, fishing, or hiking | Wild Explorers membership



13. Odette Williams apron set 14. Farm Anatomy  15. A Kid’s Herb Book 16. Garden in a Can 17. Le Petit Chef Set 18. Chop Chop: A Kid’s Guide to Cooking Real Food 19. The Simple Hearth play kitchen 21. Mini Woven Basket 22. Moleskine Recipe Journal

GIFT EXPERIENCE | 20. local cooking classes | handmade coupons for special kitchen time together | meal at a special/favorite restaurant

gift_guide_artist_homeschool_cloistered_away[ THE YOUNG ARTIST + DOODLER ]

23. Tabletop Paper Holder 24. Pottery Wheel 25. Paint Jar Holder 26. Lrya Rembrandt Polycolor pencils 27. Strathmore Mixed Media Journal 28. Lyra Ferby colored pencils (best for little hands) 29. Lost Ocean coloring book  30. WhatchamaDRAWit  31. Fun with Architecture book and stamp set  32. Drawing with Children  33.Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series  34. Stockmar Beeswax crayons  35. Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Places Real and Imagined  36. Stockmar watercolor paint

GIFT EXPERIENCE | 37. art museum membership or trip | art lessons | meet a local artist in a similar medium



38. Bookrest Lamp  39. The Puffin In Bloom Collection  40. Emoji Stickers  41. Personalized Pencils  42. Postcard Set  43. Calligraphy + Lettering Set  44. Mamoo Bookbag  45. The Storymatic Kids Game  46. Tell Me a Story  47. Wood Small Moveable Alphabet  48. Wool Writing Journal  49. Don’t Forget to Write (elementary grades) | (secondary grades)  50. Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing

 GIFT EXPERIENCE | tickets to a play | homemade coupons for a new monthly book | summer writing camp | create your own story prompts



51. Lap Loom  52. TinkerCrate subscription  53. Things Come Apart  54. Morakniv Wood Carving Junior Knife  55. Rulers and Compass  56. Seedling Fashion Design Kit  57. The New Way Things Work  58. Wooden Child-sized Real Tools  59. Child’s Natural Broom  60. Playful Math Kit  61. European Math Kit  62. Sewing Kit  63. Child’s String Mop

GIFT EXPERIENCE | build or make something together | sewing or woodworking classes | tickets to a science museum or the Exploratorium in San Fransisco


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  4. This gift guide has filled me with hope, cheer and inspiration for the coming celebrations I have ahead with my little brood. I am trying to backtrack on a couple of years of presents, purchased purely to help us “cope” during the short term chaos of navigating the logistics of a family of seven. Let’s just say those “coping” presents have all been rechargeable (hangs head in shame). Anyhow, we are over the water in the UK and it is with a happy heart I can confirm I have found a UK/EU supplier of many of these wonderful products called consciouscraft.uk. I thought I would share for any other UK-based parents reading your beautiful, warming and quietening blog. Thank you Bethany for touching hearts, Francesca xxx

  5. Thank you Bethany for all the suggestions! I was the one asking about the whittling knife and am so pleased with your rec. Do you have any further advice or recs on tutorials for technique and/or safety? Much appreciated!

  6. what a fabulous curated list of goodies! this would take a while to think through and compile … thanks for sharing! i will definitely be using the one book a month idea!


    1. Author

      I’m so grateful this is helpful for you, Sarah Nadine. It took longer than I originally anticipated, but honestly, I needed it for myself, too. And who wouldn’t love receiving a book a month? Sounds dreamy, especially for the avid reader. ;)

  7. This is a formidable list! Putting together something like this is no joke – what an amazing work you’ve done. Awesome ideas. I want them all!

    1. Author

      Ha! Formidable. I really love that word. Thank you much and merry Christmas, friend.

  8. Thank you for taking time to curate this list!!!!!

    1. Author

      Some gift ideas, I simply ask myself, “what would I love to receive?” A new book present each month would certainly be a treat. I’m glad this was helpful.

  9. This is such a great list and I love how you organized it all. Very easy for me to look at. Thanks so much Bethany! I feel like I’ve been wanting to ask you about stuff like this for a while and haven’t done it, so this perfect. Merry Christmas :)

    1. Author

      I’m so very glad, Adrienne. And yes, I love things that are easy to look at and follow. ;) We miss you guys and hope you all are well. Sending big hugs.

  10. Fantastic ideas! I already finished my shopping but I’m going to save these ideas for upcoming birthdays. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

    1. Author

      Same here! I feel like there’s always this list of things I want for our learning when money becomes available, but then I forget. Life is like that, I suppose. I’m glad it will be a good reference for you in the future.

    1. Author

      My favorite place to bookmark. I’m so glad to hear it, Danielle. Merry Christmas to you and your gang.

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