If you have kids at home then you are probably concerned about their education. I think education is often most effective when it is integrated into the daily activities of the family in ways that are fun and engaging. Whether you homeschool, unschool, or send your kids to public or private schools, the home environment you create is an important part of their educational support structure. To make it the most enriching environment, consider adding these items to your home inventory.
1. Telescope: You don't have to spend a lot of money to get good results. The wonder of being able to see Saturn, Jupiter, and Jupiter's moons in addition to our own moon is well worth the investment. What a great way to begin learning about astronomy first-hand.
2. Microscope: Just as it is fun to explore the very large (stars and planets) it is also fun to explore the very small. Again, for a reasonably small investment you can get a good microscope that allows you to explore all the creepy-crawlies in your world! Here's a great way to introduce biology.
3. Map of the World: Geography doesn't seem like the most fun subject and perhaps trying to teach it as a stand alone subject isn't very fun. But, I find that if you have a map on hand you can easily connect geography with other interesting activities by just pointing to the map. If you're cooking Indian or Chinese food with your kids you can easily connect these activities with geography. The same goes for music and movies.
4. Birdfeeder: We have several right outside our living room window. We are fortunate enough to have plenty of hummingbirds visit in the summer and finches in the fall as well as cardinals, blue jays, and other song birds. This is a great way to connect kids to nature and teach a few lessons as well.
5. Reference Guides for Birds and Trees: The reference guides are handy for more in depth learning about wildlife. You might also consider making your own reference guide for your local flora and fauna. This is a great way to let kids try their hands at a little taxonomy and hone their observation skills at the same time.
6. Art Supplies: I think most kids like to make things and this is a great way to support creativity and learning at the same time. The kinds of things you make matter less than the act of creating with your kids or allowing them to create on their own.
7. Music: If you don't have the funds to buy an instrument don't worry. You can always listen to music; the more and the more variety the better. While there is some debate about whether the so-called Mozart Effect is legitimate, there are still real benefits to listening to and making music.
8. Books: Plenty and plenty of books. Reading is such an important part of learning and the love of learning, I think, is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Like music, variety is a key here and your active engagement is important as well. Kids who see their parents reading and valuing reading are more likely to pick up the love of reading.