Back to School.

Tis the season for back to school blog posts. You know, right between vacation tips and pumpkin carving. I think I’m supposed to be writing this in a chalkboard font. Whoops.

Today I am driving my middle child to college. And coming home without her. If you need me tomorrow, I’ll be huddled under the dining room table with my thumb in my mouth, rocking back and forth. Babystar will hang out with me and we will have snacks. And probably several toys. And a cat. Hmm. It’s going to be difficult to wallow in my sadness with all that fun.

But I’m not sad. This is so exciting. LOOK HOW HAPPY AND EXCITED I AM.

It’s ok to be all of these things, right?

I am typing this early as I will be driving and crying (wait wasn’t that a band?) all day Monday. But I will use the magic of the internet (and future posting) to trick all of you.

Did it work?

My beautiful college freshman and I have spent the last month gathering everything she might need for her dorm. She needed a LOT of stuff, and we shopped around for deals, and for the prettiest of the pretty things. Which meant that Babystar has spent a LOT of time at a LOT of stores (ok, mostly Home Goods and Ikea and our beloved Target), helping us choose sheets and pillows and notebooks and laundry detergent and so much everything.

I have basically forwarded my mail to Target.

And we did go a little crazy in the Back to School section of the Dollar Aisles of Target for Babystar, too.

Please note: I am not pressuring my two-year-old child to, like, start reading and doing algebra or whatever. But she is naturally curious, and she loves to sing the ABCs, and point out letters, and count things. She loves books and sometimes she wants me to read books to her and sometimes she reads them to me. And other times we just have reading time and she brings me my own board book and sits next to me with another and we mind our own business. Interesting creatures, Toddlers.

My son was about Babystar’s age when he started asking to do ‘workbooks’. Target had them for one dollar each so I bought some ($5) to put in the arts and crafts dresser for whenever Babystar is ready.

toddler workbooks

But wait, there is SO MUCH MORE. We bought some flash cards for letters and numbers. Babystar knows all the letters as long as they are capital letters. We need to work on lowercase letters next. And she likes to count but she has been starting with four unless reminded about lowly one, two, and three. We bought some matching puzzle games for concepts like opposites, shapes, counting, and the alphabet. We also bought flash cards — not to quiz the baby — but so she can have her own cards to play with. (Her older brother loves magic and especially loves card tricks and Babystar likes to play with his cards. Sometimes that is ok and sometimes it is not ok.) And if Babystar wants to talk about the letters and numbers on her cards, EVEN BETTER. We also bought a felt pizza counting game because Babystar loves pretend food. All of these were one dollar each.


The Felt Counting Pizza is one of the few games we have opened at this point, and she LOVES IT and practices over and over and she’s totally doing it. I’m actually surprised at how fast she picked up the counting game. And y’all — she starts with ONE. OMG. Thank you, pizza.

pizza game

We got a few other sneaky learning toys. We found a pack of square wooden blocks with the letters of the alphabet both uppercase and LOWERCASE. She has some wooden blocks already, and these are only the tiniest fraction of an inch smaller. For only three dollars, I really thought the difference would be more noticeable.

wooden blocks

This set of wooden fruit is fun on it’s own and it also teaches balance, as the smaller fruits all balance on the watermelon. They don’t have to be in a specific order, they just have to be equal on both sides. Kind of perfect for teaching the concept of weight to a toddler.

wooden fruit

And we bought a Tickety Tock. Do you remember Blue’s Clues? Babystar is obsessed with that show. I know that she is too young to learn to tell time. I really do know this. But she very much WANTED the chalkboard clock and she has been SO PATIENT with all of the dorm shopping and it was only three dollars, so we bought the toy clock.

chalkboard clock

The grand total for all of these cool learning toys was $21.

target learning toys

Ridiculously low, I think. I do NOT want to think about how or where they were made. I know I could have made many of these things myself or I could have spent a hundred dollars buying from small business. I also know that I SHOULD have done that. But this time I did not. Please feel free to drop links for responsibly made versions of these items in the comment section.


33 thoughts on “Back to School.

  1. This version of the post reads much better. 😀
    Good luck getting through Tuesday sans the former teenager! I can’t even imagine this stage. I hope she fares well, too.
    First off, congrats to Babystar for knowing her letters! My oldest really didn’t know them all until she was over 3, and we’re still (slowly) working on lowercase. I like those cheap learning toys. Too bad you didn’t pay $97 for locally made versions, though. KIDDING. A mom’s gotta do…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, we’ve made the decision to put the 4yo in Pre-K for mon/wed/fri this year even though I did ‘home preschool’ for the first 2 kids. I literally passed by all of these toys you just listed a couple days ago and it took all my strength to NOT buy it because I’m trusting my child’s learning to the qualified individuals at the private school we’re paying out the butt for. And now you have me second guessing myself!!! WHY didn’t I buy it??!! Lol!
    Btw–we’ll be in the same shoes with the college sitch next year–our oldest is 17. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I NEED to get my hands on that watermelon balancing game! I think my little Tuna will love it. We all know that we should support local and small businesses whenever possible, but you also need to find a balance with what works for your family (and your budget). I wouldn’t stress about it too much!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE THAT BALANCING GAME! I need to find it. You’re my kinda people! Target dollar section is my home and you have GREAT finds. Stay strong as well with your eldest. I can’t imagine sending my littles to College, so i have no advice but a big internet hug! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you are gently encouraging babystar to start learning without her feeling pressured to learn. Target is also my second home. I stock up on the school learning stuff for my daughter to do all summer long the next summer break to keep her going and not get lazy over the summer. They always have the best stuff and at an affordable rate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wooooww! These are some really great buys! I absolutely love toys that babies enjoy, but also help them learn. They’re the best! You also have to love your child for actually WANTING to learn. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If you’re worried about learning (which you really don’t need to be if she’s only 2 *phew!*), then you are TOTALLY on the right track, Mama. She is taking the lead by the sounds, but you are nurturing her curiosity with all the right stuff. Of course this isn’t your first rodeo ;), but she sounds as if she’s right where Kimmie and Essie were at that age. The only thing she could gain from a formal preschool vs. homeschool preschool is socialization with peers, which is totally what ours needed more than the academics. (We ended up sending them to our church’s preschool which was about half the cost of other options in our area, plus we got a discount as members!) Keep up the good work! – and give her jigsaw puzzles too, if you haven’t already; if she’s like my kids, she will LOVE them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! And yes, we need more puzzles. She loves her shape puzzle but that is the only one we have right now.
      I’m active in our local MOMS Club and she has some toddler friends (as much as toddlers can be friends but I know they will grow into it).


      1. If you have access to thrift stores and/or children’s resale events (check, that is where I usually score puzzles for maybe $1 (thrift) or $2-3 (resale event). It’s an easy and inexpensive way to nurture this habit, and when she moves on to harder ones, you can donate or sell them again! My 2yo dove into her 4yo sister’s 24 pc puzzles with a vengeance, and by the time she was 3 she was doing 60-100 pc by herself – and I think there’s supposed to be some link between that kind of “spatial reasoning/problem solving” and math literacy, I could be wrong, but she’s entering K with what seems to be at least a 1st-grade grasp of math…Plus (she’s decided, as I did long ago) it is very relaxing and soothing in a way! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awesome tips! Our thrift stores around here are pretty crap but there are always consignment sales happening!! Sounds like you have a little inquisitive child also. ❤️


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