Products We Love

I wanted to share with you some of our favorite products we love and use in our home.

(My disclaimer: postures, principles, and practices matter far more than materials.  There are many great options for keeping supplies. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it the best of the best. These are just the products that after trial and error, I have found work well for our family.  I'd love to hear suggestions as well if you have them! I am always on the hunt for fun new things to try as I keep alongside my kids.  Second disclaimer: links below are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through any of the links here, I get a small percentage from Amazon. Thanks for your support!  I don't have anything listed here that we don't use regularly ourselves. But I know you know that. ;))


NATURE JOURNALS

This is the current kit all of my school-aged children and I have:


Moleskine watercolor journal (we have also used and linked the Strathmore watercolor journal)
Winston-Cotman pocket sketcher's box (as well as the materials needed to "pimp our palettes"! :))
Pentel Aquash brushes (we use all three sizes, but we mostly carry around the medium)
white gel pens
drawing pencils (we have a variety of brands, in at least 2B, 2H, and a softer lead like 6B)
an erasable pen
waterproof drawing pens
a loupe

I have two zipped pouches for each kit:
one smaller one to hold the pencils, pens, erasers, etc.
and one to hold everything, including the journal!
(Note: these pouches are sold in multi-packs. They are great quality and useful for all kinds of things!)

These kits then stack neatly into a backpack so we can take everyone's journaling supplies along very easily.

As a side note: in the past, we have used the Canson Field Sketchbook spiral-bound journals, and I still think they're wonderful for those that mostly use colored pencil or sketch in graphite or pen.

And I love these Strathmore Ready-Cut watercolor cards. They are great if you would like to paint separately and tape into your journal. Great for the mama intimidated by painting who wants to give it a try. I like the hot-press cards because they are not as "toothy."


RIVERBEND PRESS


I can personally recommend the products by Riverbend Press. We have purchased Books of Centuries and art prints from them, and they are also the ones that coordinated Nancy Kelly's re-print of The Cloud of Witness, which is a beautiful volume.

I have received other notebooks from them as free samples that we really love as well.  I hope they will be expanding their offerings on their website so that we all have access to the notebooks Erin prints. They are high quality and such a joy for the Charlotte Mason educator!


OTHER KEEPING


For the many other forms of keeping we enjoy in our home:

Smaller Notebooks for Students

These lined softcover journals are sewnbound and very good quality for the price. They lie flat and are good for commonplace notebooks.  (They are also available in dot grid.)

Hygloss blank books are what my Form I kids use for topical notebooks on all kinds of things.  They are currently using these for drawn narrations of Pagoo, as well as a field guide of wildflowers and a homemade Italian dictionary in their free time. They have also been My First Word Books, Mass books, Bible storybooks...the possibilities are endless really!  They are perfect for all kinds of keeping and very reasonably priced. (They are also sold in a pack of 50 -- which would probably be the right size for my family considering how often we use them! ;))

Currently, we use many different notebooks from the EcoQua brand:
:: large size blank staplebound notebooks for our narration notebooks -- history notebooks, science journals, etc.
:: large size lined staplebound notebooks for our reading logs and Prose + Poetry notebooks
They come in a variety of colors, layouts, and sizes, so be careful you have the options you want before you purchase!  These are sometimes available in a wider variety at Dick Blick.

Writing Implements

We love Frixion pens for schoolwork.  We have the clicker kind and the capped kind in a variety of widths, and we also buy the refill inserts (because the ink goes fast when you are using them for everything!).  My kids are much happier using these than pencil.

Mechanical pencils. The Pentel Quicker Clickers are the only pencils my girls use for schoolwork. (My sons press a bit harder on their pencils, so they use regular yellow #2s -- less lead breakage. ;)) I also use these for all of my work. I like the fine point.

Prismacolor illustration markers are what we use for all nature journaling and art. I also use them in my commonplace book.  They are waterproof, so you can paint right over them. I really like the 005, which is ultra-ultra fine.  (Not the 05 -- the 005.  Easy to get confused in ordering!) My older kids use that size and the 01, and my younger kids use the 05 and the 08 for larger drawing.  But for the teeny drawings like our Weekly Painting, the smaller nibs really are best.  They just have to practice a gentle grip so as not to bend the nib.

I also have a variety of Gelly Rolls available for lettering.

For colored pencils, we have a big set of Prismacolors that we bought when my bigs were in kindergarten and are still going strong. Each of my older kids also has a personal set they can use during art lessons. (These sets go on sale at Amazon often, so wait for a good sale! They are *definitely* worth the price.)

We also like the Derwent watercolor pencils best of those we have tried. We don't use them in our nature notebooks, but they are great fun for art projects and other creative work!

This electric pencil sharpener has been serving our home for the last couple years and is still going strong!

Paper

The Strathmore Ready-Cut cards in 5x7 are so handy to have around.

Slightly larger: watercolor postcards are a nice size also.

And we do our Weekly Paintings on Artist Trading Cards, either the Bristol or the watercolor.  (Both will take watercolor without warping, but the Bristol doesn't allow any lifting of paint. The watercolor version is definitely better for washes and such, but it is also more expensive.)


MOTHER'S KEEPING


I use the same products they do, generally speaking, so all the resources I listed above work well for me also!

My current notebooks besides my nature journal and my Book of Centuries mentioned above:

:: The smaller size blank EcoQua and a set of Moleskine Volant and Cahier notebooks make up my set of commonplace books.  I prefer the EcoQua to the others -- thicker paper, nice sturdy cover. It's also the most expensive.  These are all slim books I can bring along with me to book club. :)

:: My pre-reading journal (which I blogged about here and which is pictured above) was a splurge: a PratParis Sketchbook Notebook. (Here at Amazon, but much cheaper at Dick Blick.)



Questions?  Let me know in the comment box!


13 comments:

  1. Oh I am so excited about this new edition to your blog! Thank you so much for taking the time & effort to present your favorites! You CM fans are turning me into a notebook junkie! I went ahead and I put most things on this list into y Amazon wishlist. I still haven't found "the perfect" notebook or pens--although I do like the Pentel brand. I'm a lefty, so pens and notebooks are sometimes a challenge. I also fill a notebook every 4-6 weeks, so I'm not looking to spend lots of money on such things, BUT, I do want a quality notebook, So, I am willing to try out different brands and kinds. :)

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    1. You found it! LOL I was going to put up a little announcement about this new page tomorrow. :) And yes, you are definitely in good company with all of us notebook junkies! ;) Honestly, even though keeping can be done well and intentionally with just about anything, office supplies are one of my soft spots. I love trying new things and finding new favorites, especially because each of my kids has his or her own preferences too. But I don't have any lefties yet, so you'll have to let me know what you end up enjoying most!

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  2. Hi Celeste! Thank you for doing this! Super sweet of you! I'm a lefty too.

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  3. DickBlick is out of the blank notebook.... I wonder if all your readers bought them all. :)

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    1. Ha! You're right! :) Although I have the green: https://www.dickblick.com/items/13830-7010/ They are out of the black, but I think they have red and green available. But I wish they had better color options! :)

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  4. Hello! I have enjoyed the ideas on this list. Thank you for posting it! The best part of it (for me), is the first photo. It looks like you have labeled supplies with the color of tape? I have five children and have been a blank on how to organize individual art supplies. What a great way of knowing whose is what, and who left what out.

    So... I have a few questions for you. What kind of tape do you use? My first thought was washi tape. But that does not seem sturdy enough. What other tips can you share for school supplies? And their storage? I'm a minimalist at heart but with little kid craft supplies, big kid art supplies, individual items, communal items, free time supplies, handicraft kits... There is just a lot going on here!! Suggestions?

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    1. Hi Kristen! Yes, that is my color coding system! :) I have a set of colored masking tapes that I use. They stay on very well and it's easy to apply.

      Art supply storage is such a challenge! Here are a few things I have found that work for us:

      :: Each student has a nature journal kit that stays packed unless he's journaling.
      :: Each student has a pencil box they use for all his writing/drawing needs for school time and free time. I have a little snap here: http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/2015/04/this-and-that.html Since then I have added waterbrushes, a couple different color erasable pens, and a stack of small post-its to each box.
      :: For art lessons, we have a bin with all materials their teacher has asked them to have. We only get out this bin for art lessons. That allows me to make sure it stays organized and complete.
      :: I have a tall Sterilite container with those small individual drawers for handcraft supplies. Each drawer houses a different project or set of materials for a particular craft. Then when they want to work on a craft, they can take that drawer right out of the container and straight to the table.
      :: Various papers, cardstocks, etc. are on a shelf organized by type. The kids do not have free reign with these, but I use them to stock a paper organizer underneath that they are able to grab from.
      :: Various kinds of paints, writing implements, etc. are in those small shoe bin tubs. This is less accessible than I would like. But we have SO many supplies! It's a work in progress.

      I also have a bunch of communal items, a tub of crayons, a tub of colored pencils, jars for our Prismacolors, etc. Those are stored in or out of reach depending on who is allowed to use them. ;)

      Hope that helps a little!

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    2. This is so helpful, thank you!! Follow up question. Which sterilite drawer set do you use? We had something similar but the drawers were too shallow.

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    3. We have a tall set that has both shallow and deep drawers. The shallow ones we use for smaller handicraft projects like papercutting (it has our papers, our templates, and our scissors) and leatherstamping; the deep ones hold current felting and sewing projects. I like being able to take the whole bin out to the table, and if they're too deep, we can't do that -- so the shallow ones are actually a benefit in that case. But having some deeper ones that can hold a sewing basket or a jar of buttons is nice also.

      Ours looks a lot like this one: http://amzn.to/2tp54WQ
      We have two of them side by side in one of our closets.

      Hope that helps!

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    4. Excellent! Thank you, Celeste.

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  5. Ooooh....this is SO helpful as I start planning my purchases for next year!! :) Thank you!

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  6. Hi Celeste!

    Such a silly question, but do you use your electric pencil sharpener to sharpen colored pencils? We broke a sharpener once and the tech on the phone told me it was because it couldn't handle colored pencils. I've been afraid to try them on any others ever since then!

    Thanks so much, and God bless your beautiful family!
    Catie

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    1. Hi Catie! I read a long time ago that the key to sharpening colored pencils is to alternate colored pencils with graphite pencils...something about the soft leads of the colored pencils dulling the blade, but that graphite pencils help to clean + resharpen the blade. So that's what I do, and both my colored pencils and my electric sharpener have held up just fine! :)

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