Bookshelf & Beyond Title
by Curriculum Consultants:
Donna Krahn and Deanne Crawford
We like to encourage people to be bold and think outside the box. Sometimes thinking outside the box may just mean doing something different. For some parents, it might be a giant leap of faith to break away from their regular curriculum.

Be bold, be brave, confront your fear.
Chase gloom away; be of good cheer.
Knowledge inspire – the Boredom outfox.
Pull out some fun: learn out of a BOX.

Poem by: Ruth Tennis

Mother spinning child on grassy field
Language Arts
The Big Box of Alphabet Knowledge
If you love hands-on activities to reinforce the concepts you’re learning, this series will take you from ABCs to sentence building. Three games in the Big Box series by Carson Dellosa take you each step of the way. The Big Box of Alphabet Knowledge will help your child learn letters and their sounds by putting together puzzle pieces. Children will see and learn several different things that begin with each letter. Many times, a child will learn to associate one item with a letter. This hands-on opportunity will help them make several associations and hone their eye-hand coordination and spatial reasoning. The Big Box of Word Chunks will lend a hand in the spelling and phonics department. 220 letter puzzle pieces consist of word family pieces, consonant blends, initial consonants, and consonant digraphs. Pieces are cut so that all beginnings and endings are interchangeable, and they are color-coded for easy segregation. Let your child practice spelling words, or just experiment building new words. The third set in the series—Big Box of Sentence Building—will give your child practice building proper sentences. The 250 cards have a word or punctuation, or they may be blank. Use the puzzle cards to fit together proper sentences. The pieces are color-coded into groups: punctuation, verbs, nouns, articles, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and personal pronouns, so they’re great for working on grammar. Each set comes with a set of suggestions for how to use the puzzle cards, but I’m sure you creative moms and dads will come up with even more.
The Big Box of Sentence Building
Art & Crafts
Art Start Kit
Doing arts and crafts is typically a fun, interactive way to teach and learn almost anything. Sometimes gathering supplies takes more time than many have in their schedules. Roylco has put together the Art Start Kit for your crafting needs—a craft store in a box! This kit holds enough materials to keep your children supplied for a long time. This kit will come in handy on those stormy days when outside isn’t an option. You’ll get pompoms, chenille stems (pipe cleaners), spangles, feathers, colored macaroni, bright buttons, sticky shapes, and an idea guide, all inside a plastic container for easy storage. You can also use some of the contents as math manipulatives!
Ultimate Craft Box and Ultimate Art Box
12 Tube Paint Sets
Rainbow Resource saw a need for art supply boxes and put together the Ultimate Craft Box and Ultimate Art Box. Kids will love these kits, because they include everything you need to get started except the paper. These are filled with quality art media (watercolors, colored pencils, felt-tip markers, drawing pencils, oil pastels, and more) or crafting supplies (crayons, glitter glue, craft sticks, acrylic paints, wiggle eyes, and more), all tucked away in an art box with a removable storage tray, sturdy latches, and handy carrying handle.

If your kids are interested in painting, there are some great options for learners of all levels. Our collection of 12 Tube Paint Sets from Sergeant Art includes a quality, acrylic paint set with vibrant, ready to use paints. Pair it with quality brushes from Royal Zen and success is all but guaranteed! These fabulous brushes have been designed to replicate natural hair with multi-diameter synthetic filaments, and have ultra-metallic, silver ABS handles, providing years of quality use. Need a little more direction for oil painting? Spice Box Art School Kits provide all the materials to get started, as well as illustrated, step-by-step instructions from a thirty-year veteran of the arts!

Oil Painting Art School
BigJigs Toys Times Tables Tiles
Math manipulatives give students a concrete way to practice and learn math facts. Practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication with these boxes of brightly colored wooden tiles by BigJigs Toys. Tiles are color-coded with a number sentence on the front and the answer on the reverse. The Addition and Subtraction Tiles include facts through nine. The Times Tables Tiles include facts through nine. Each set of tiles comes in a handy wooden box for storage. Children will be able to practice on their own, or you can add these to your math lessons.

Don’t forget the little ones. Pattern blocks are both fun and educational. Pattern Blocks & Boards by Melissa & Doug is a set of ten panels and over 100 pattern blocks that can be used to teach geometric shapes, symmetry, fractional relationships, counting, sorting, creativity, and spatial problem solving. This set puts it all in a box for you.

Pattern Blocks & Boards
Shut the Box Game
For practice with number combinations and manipulatives, take a turn at the Shut the Box Game by Wood Expressions. This game comes in two formats, but the game is the same. The first has just one row of numbered tiles to be flipped as you find a combination. The second, a four-player version, has four rows of numbered tiles in a square format. The goal for both is the same: students roll the dice and then flip tiles that make up that number. For example, if a student rolls a 9, they flip over 8 and 1 or another combination to equal 9. They continue to roll until they can’t flip any more tiles. The person with the lowest score wins. Math skills and thinking skills are all wrapped up in one box. This is another oldie but goodie—believed to be around since the 12th century in France.
Science Experiment Tool Box
There is no shortage of things that come in boxes in the science arena: Magic School Bus, Young Scientist, Clifford (for young learners), Dr. Cool, Thames & Kosmos, and the list goes on and on. Pick a topic, and spend time working through and exploring it thoroughly. A few others you might like are the Science Experiment Tool Box by Hape or Water Car and Wind Walker by Heebie Jeebies.

The Science Experiment Tool Box is for the younger crowd (4+) and includes six experiments to learn about momentum, energy, and more. Slide the lid off the wooden storage box and stand it up in the slots—you now have a workbench. There are instructions to build a pulley, lever, or zoetrope, or let your child build and explore and discover through their own creativity.

Water Car Kit and the Wind Walker
Your children will learn about propulsion and hydropower with the Water Car kit. Experiment with distances, ramps, and amounts of water. The Wind Walker is amazing contraption that will walk on its own, using the power of wind. Snap the creation together, and watch it go.
Other things to do
Gardening Lab
Of course, you don’t have to buy a box to find something to do. You can create your own learning boxes, also known as sensory bins. Sensory bins allow you to put into a container, or box, things with a theme. I (Donna) had these for my children when they were young and when I taught preschool. It wasn’t uncommon to have a dishpan or tub filled with sand, packing peanuts, shaving cream, or water and leave small items to be found in it. This activity helps children find and discover and experience feeling different textures. If you have a sandbox or dirt pile in your yard where your children play, you have a ready-made sensory bin. You can have them discover different types of rocks, fossils, shells, toys, etc. The sky is the limit for what you might do with a sensory bin.

Consider planting a garden with your child. This can be a regular garden or container garden. Give your child the task of planting (with your guidance), watering, and caring for their plants. They’ll be so excited watching their plants produce flowers or vegetables they can eat. If you need ideas for gardening with children, you might like Gardening Lab by Renata Fossen Brown that includes fifty-two experiments you can enjoy with your gardening experience. Another good resource is Gardening for Beginners by Usborne. This book includes colorful step-by-step instructions for growing projects with your children.

Beyond the Bookshelf is all about trying something different–beyond your curriculum.

Be daring and think beyond the books!


onna Krahn and Deanne Crawford provide a wide range of services to homeschool families in their roles as education consultants at Rainbow Resource Center. While their experiences are varied, they have a passion to equip homeschool families for success. Donna and Deanne have a combined total of 46 years in education and spend their days developing workshops for homeschool conventions, doing product comparisons, and talking with homeschoolers. Donna’s experience in early childhood education and Deanne’s background in nursing, homeschooling, and as a convention planner provide a breadth of experience equipping them to meet a variety of needs in the homeschool arena.