Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday’s Roll Call of Home School Resources

I’ve been asked by a few what resources Punky and I use in our home school journey.  The truth is that I don’t have a lot of ‘set’ curriculum.  As I’ve talked about in other blog posts, we are very eclectic and relaxed in our home schooling approach.  I personally believe that for Grades K-2 there should be no ‘formal instruction’, but rather all learning should happen the way it does when toddlers are learning – naturally and through the flow of exploration, inquisition, and fun.  For Grade 3-6 I believe that instruction should take place is a relaxed environment, with minimal time on any ‘formal’ instruction – perhaps an hour a day – and that activities should be geared toward the learning style of each child.  Formal lessons begin around Grade 7.  It is only after we had three years of homeschooling under our belts that I had this revelation and you have no idea how I wish I had had it sooner – as in when we first started home schooling Punky in the 2nd grade.

So even though we don't do 'boxed curriculum' for the most part, there are a few ‘staples’, however, in our arsenal of learning and it is those resources that I will share today, in my new weekly blog series:  Roll Call of Home School Resources.  Every Monday I will share resources that we either use personally or a collection of varied resources that I have accumulated throughout the weeks.  Hopefully they’ll be a little bit of everything so everyone can find something they like and that would be useful.

The first resource I bought that I still keep on hand is this:

 This resource is a wonderful overview from Kindergarten through 12th grade.  What I like most about this is that it covers all those years and yet isn’t some huge, thick book, the author is very clear that this is just a curriculum *guide*, and it has a plethora of resources listed.

When Punky was in the middle of 2nd grade, a friend introduced to me this series:

This series starts at Kindergarten and goes through 6th grade.  I could only find them at Amazon and you have to stay on the look-out for the Grade you need because they are no longer published.  However, over a bit of time I was able to find all the grades I needed.  This series was used a lot by military families home schooling overseas and I still find it to be the best resource for us.  Each week (there are 36 weeks in total) is broken down by an overview for Language Skills, Spelling, Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  Each day of the week has a lesson plan for each subject.  There are also worksheets for various lessons as well as teacher instruction and suggestions for doing more with the lesson.  Other materials need to be acquired for some lessons, but I haven’t had trouble locating what was needed.  This is just a wonderful general guide, with lesson plans broken down week by week and day by day that we rely on more than any other resource.

I don’t use the Reading lesson section of the Learn at Home series all that much.  The book selections are fine, for the most part, but all are much older selections and Punky just doesn’t seem to connect with most of the stories.  Instead I have a copy of this:

I came across an article about a year and a half ago that concerned using picture books to teach older children reading comprehension strategies and writing skills.  I checked the reading comprehension book out of the library and loved it!  I now have this book and for future use I also have:


 Punky seems to truly enjoy the fact that I still read her picture books and as a child who enjoys visual learning this works great for us!

I also acquired the books:


These books list the grade range as being K-3, and I did start using them when Punky was in the 3rd grade.  However, I find them to still be useful.  They are a wonderful resource of ideas for games we play for reading skills, writing skills, and math skills.  Punky enjoys writing, almost exclusively, when we do so via the games from the writing book.  When give a choice in math activities, she always chooses to play math games to practice her skills (she despises drills).  I’ve learned that even when a resource lists the appropriate age range or grade range it is very possible to still use that resource for older children (if it’s a good resource) and just adapt the ideas toward the older child’s skill level.  A wise homeschooling friend (whose children are now in college on full scholarships and well on their way to being a Chemical Engineer, Dentist, and Medical Doctor respectively) once told me, use resources that are a grade or two below their supposed ‘skill level’ because they become more confident in their own abilities and feel secure in branching out and through self-discovery, investigating deeper.  That piece of advice has proven very true for us.

As to an actual math curriculum, we started with Math-U-See, which in the end we didn’t care for all that much.  We next moved on to Teaching Textbooks, which takes a big bite out of the schooling budget.  We are still using it, but considering changing because Punky has decided she likes learning math better when I am instructing her rather than a computer program.  Why that is is a mystery to me as I am horrible at math and even at the 5th grade level have to refresh myself at times with how to do certain mathematical operations.  I am thinking of purchasing a membership to AHA Math since it is so cheap and so many have praised it.

As far as online resources go, I’m the epitome of ‘cheap homeschooling’.  I dig and dig until I find all sorts of free or very cheap resources.  We have a few staples in our home that Punky comes back to time and time again and here they are:

Reading Eggspress isn't free and is a bit expensive, but I was able to get in an a ‘co-op’ buy for $20 for a year.  I’m not sure I’d use it again when the year expires because of the price and the fact that Punky doesn’t need to learn to read but just enjoys the upper level they have called ‘comprehension gym’.  She likes it though and is willing to read and play the games without complaint!

A HUGE favorite for Punky is this:
She will spend HOURS on this site and loves the ‘live web’ classes with a passion. 

She also uses this site for Math, Reading, Word Skills, Punctuation, and Grammar games.

For typing skills we use:

and for current events/news that is kid friendly and safe we use:

A few others that are a fun hodgepodge of various activities that we dip into here and there include:

There you have it, our resource ‘staples’ here at Eclectic Home School Academy.  I hope you discovered something new and helpful from my list.

Next week, I’ll provide ideas and resources for something we started last year that we call ‘Fun School’!

Until next Monday’s Roll Call of Home School Resources………

Happy Schooling!

~Mari B.

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