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January 16, 2021 4 min read

One of the most common questions I get through private messages on our Instagram account @jackandlinktoys is what Jack and Link items I would recommend. As you can imagine, this is quite a large question and is dependent on a lot of different factors.

Most of our customers who message us to ask us this question have either a child in the preschool age range or just starting out homeschool in the kindergarten age range. Based on those factors, I'm going to give you guys my personal preference on the top five Jack and Link items I would recommend. 

Wooden crayon holder for kids.

 1.  Our wooden crayon holder and here's why.  I not only use it to hold crayons but also for holding our pencils. You have no idea how annoying it is to go searching around for a pencil in the middle of a lesson. Sure, I can stick them in a jar or a bucket which is what I used to do pre-wooden crayon holder but every time I used to go to pull a pencil from the jar or bucket, three more would fall out. No thanks. This keeps everything nice, neat, easy to move, and with one glance I can look over and see the pencil status.

2.  Wooden Display Stand

Wooden display stand for wooden activity boards for homeschool and montessori.

You may think this is an odd choice but I literally use this every single day. I'll touch back on this for number 3 but it's probably my most heavily used item that I personally use from the items we make here at Jack and Link. You can find them HERE.

3.  Wooden Skip Counting Board

Wooden skip counting board handmade in the United States.

Our wooden skip counting board may seem like an odd choice. Especially for pre-k and kindergarteners when skip counting is such a faraway idea.  Even if you don't utilize this to it's full potential at the present moment you will be using this quite a bit as they get older.  I like to invest in educational items that have the ability to grow with my kids. This is one of those. For now, you can use it to show your child numbers 1-10 and 10-20.  Use it in conjunction with your 1:1 correspondence activities. 

Once they get a little bit older and advance in math, they'll be using this for so many things. Skip counting is only one of the ways to use it. You can use it as a hundreds board and do addition and subtraction and the tick marks underneath the numbers help to guide your child along the numbers.  One of my favorite ways to also use this is as a poster. Yup, a poster. I use the display stands shown in #2 and prop it up in front of my son while he works. He uses it with copy work (although if your child is just now learning 0-10 numbers then I recommend our tracing boards and use it as a display poster using our display stands as well).

If your son is anything like mine and tends to write his numbers backwards and needs a visual aid then this is perfect because it shows the numbers through 100.  My son is in 1st grade and this is the most heavily used item in my home. If he's not actively using it then he's looking at it and using it as a visual aid on a daily basis.

4.  Alphabet Tracing Board

Wooden alphabet tracing board with a child filling in with sensory materials like rice and beans for sensory play.

An alphabet tracing boardis a classic for a reason and one that we've used for years now. Even after the fun phase of filling in the letters with fun materials, you can use the display stands in #2 and use it as a poster as well.  Having a visual aid when doing tracing activities and journal writing really helps. If you have a tactile learner like I do then having this close by for your little one to reach out and trace with their finger is a lifesaver. 

5.  Word Builders

Wooden word builders for CVC, blends, and digraphs.

This particular word buildingset comes with a three frame, a four frame, and a five frame. I use them in some aspect of our daily homeschool life in one way or another. I personally like to use them to show and introduce the "sight word of the day" and to title unit studies (i.e., if its an ocean unit study then I'll put this right by our activity with the word "ocean" using our five frame).  

Initially, I first started using them as just alphabet blocks without the frames when my son was learning his ABC's. We would letter match, fill in the grooves, do crayon rubbings, etc. As he progressed into CVC words then we used our three frame. As he continued to progress then we introduced our four frame, five frame, and five by five frames (shown HERE). 

My boys use this about 1-2 times a week and when they use it they view it as more of a special treat. Something special they get to do outside the usual pen to paper routine. Additionally, by allowing them to word build with a moveable alphabet, it allows them to focus purely on the phonics aspect of it vs. the fine motor aspect such as focusing on also tracing the words out on paper.  Occasionally, I'll also just leave it out on their shelf to use when one of them needs something to do while I do one on one work with the other child. They usually take that time to try to come up with as many different words as possible and write them down on a worksheet or in their journal.

Bonus: My #1 "Want" item would be our sand trays. It's one of our best sellers and has so many different uses.  Please visit our Instagram page @jackandlinktoys for tons of ideas on how to use our products in non-traditional ways.

So there you have it! Those would be my top 5 to get you started on your homeschool journey or educational tools that I would invest in when just starting out. Have a question? Drop it down below! Want me to answer/discuss something else next time? Drop it down below and it just may get picked up for our next blog post!


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