Reviews & Resources
There are so many amazing educational resources out there! I don’t pretend to be the all-knowing expert in this category, but I do love to tell other homeschoolers about things that have helped me educate my children.
I know how hard it can be to choose homeschool materials. Homeschooling families often live on one income, and instead of a free taxpayer supported education we’re providing a rich learning environment from our own pockets. Options abound (which is a good thing) but when you add to that the fact that we often have to purchase materials online without being able to look them over in person, making choices can seem overwhelming. I aim to help by reviewing things we use in our home. I’ll let you know if they work for us, and maybe they’ll work for you, too!
Most of these links will take you to full reviews I’ve written either here on Home Schoolroom or over at The Curriculum Choice for curriculum materials, books, apps or other resources. A few are links to amazingly helpful websites that I use regularly.
Funnix (review at Curriculum Choice): I used this computer-based learn to read program with my son.
WriteShop Junior D (review at Curriculum Choice): I used this curriculum with my 10-year-old daughter, and I’m looking forward to using it with my son in a couple years. They are very different, so products that will work for both of them are a real find!
Nitty-Gritty Grammar: A grammar book that is clear and concise, and even a little bit fun. Seriously.
The Spelling Bee App: This handy little app can help your kids practice their spelling words with games, and even administers the spelling test for you! You can use word lists provided or enter in your own.
Science & Nature Study
Snap Circuits: This resource provides an incredible hands-on education in electricity. My kids think it’s a toy but it packs a very educational punch.
R.E.A.L Science Odyssey: We used the Life Level One curriculum when my children were 7 and 10.
The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting (review at Curriculum Choice): If you have a budding junior meteorologist I highly recommend this book that is loaded with information and ways to get hands-on with weather forecasting.
Handbook of Nature Study: This book, written in 1911 by Anna Botsford Comstock, is our core nature study reference book. It is filled with information written to the teacher in order for the teacher to be able to instruct her students on the amazing natural world. One caution: according to my research there are many poor copies out there from other publishers. I recommend this one by Cornell University Press that I own–it has a black cover with the life stages of a caterpillar.
Handbook of Nature Study blog: After reading about nature study in the Charlotte Mason philosophy I was sold on the idea, but it wasn’t until I came upon Barb’s site that I was really able to implement it on a regular basis. I really can’t say enough about what a wonderful resource her site is: filled with topics to study, free printables, and links to many resources for further study. She publishes a free newsletter for subscribers each month, and also posts “Outdoor Hour Challenges” with ideas for nature study.
History & Geography
All Through The Ages: Written by Christine Miller, this resource contains lists of quality books for studying history through literature–covering all time periods and with books for all ages. I use it any time I’m planning our history units to find living books to share with my children.
What Every Child Needs To Know About Western Civilization: This is an incredibly creative curriculum. Designed as a short-term unit study to cover the basic historical time periods in Western Civilization, it uses the story line of the creation of our calendar.
Snapshots Across America (review at Curriculum Choice): This is a fun board game for sharpening your U.S. geography skills.
Heritage History: These CDs are a library of nicely formatted ebooks covering a particular time period, and an inexpensive way to load up your (or your child’s) e-reader with living books.
If one of your goals is to make sure your children master basic math facts, I’ve used two products that I can’t recommend highly enough. Xtramath.org is a free website that administers placement texts and practices the facts with your child until they master them. I love it because I know once they pass each operation those facts are solid and I didn’t have to sit and drill with them! For just fun practice we use the Mathopolis app, a fun firefighter-themed math facts app.
The Extras: Art, Music, Electives
The Story of the Orchestra (review at Curriculum Choice): The delightful book with accompanying CD will educate you and your children on major composers and the time periods they represent along with the instruments of the orchestra.
Storybook Art (review at Curriculum Choice): I have a soft spot in my heart for picture books, even as my children get older. This wonderful resource shares art projects inspired by picture books.
Scratch (review at Curriculum Choice): A free website from MIT for introducing your children to computer programming. Did I mention FREE?
Sewing School (review at Curriculum Choice): If you’re looking to teach your children to sew (not only a valuable life skill but also a good handicraft for you Charlotte Mason homeschoolers) this book is a fabulous resource. It can help even if you don’t know how to sew!
General Homeschooling Resources
Homeschooling books by Ruth Beechick (review at Curriculum Choice): Two books by Ruth Beechick, The Three R’s and You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, came along when I was feeling burnt out. They were a salve to this overwhelmed mom’s soul.
Homeschool Share ~This is an absolutely incredible website with loads of free unit studies, lapbooks, notebooking pages, minibook templates…the list goes on. It was one of the first “homeschooling” websites I stumbled upon years ago, and a resource I still use regularly when we want to have a little fun with a literature-based study, or need printables to go along with a history study, or want to learn more about a certain holiday or country.