Thursday, March 04, 2010

My 5 Favorite Education/Homeschool Resources...

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I can't say enough about this series. Susan Wise Bauer starts with the earliest nomads and ends with the end of the USSR. The books are great read-a-louds and the cds are even better. We listen to them in the car, on road trips or on our extra long drive to piano lessons every Tuesday. And then, after the kids are out of the car, I keep listening... because it is so dang INTERESTING!  She also has tests and activity guides. This is a great resource for any family... homeschooling or not.

2.  History Through the Ages from Homeschool in the Woods

This is an amazing, family-owned business run by a homeschooling mom of 4, Amy Pak. In her former life, she was a professional illustrator. And you can tell!

Way back when, she was unimpressed by the quality of resources available to her when she started her homeschooling journey. So, once life allowed, she began creating her own resources. She has personally illustrated and created all of the products offered on her site. I have the timeline notebook shown above, but you can just purchase the Timeline Figures in either print format or on CD. Her work is just pretty, pretty, pretty! Someday I will wallpaper a room with historical figures...

She also has many other products, including the Time Travelers History Study Series: She has "New World Explorers", "Colonial Life", "The American Revolution", "The Early 19th Century" and "The Civil War".
They are all beautiful, comprehensive and leave you wanting to learn more and more about history!

Then, she also has her "Hands On Activity Paks" that include "Composers", "Artists", "Old Testament" and "New Testament". These are directly downloadable from her site (after payment) or you can get them on cd.

Needless to say, this woman has vision... and I like it!


If you have an idea, then they have thought it, and done it... 
This is a website with a wealth of information. Last week, I used it to download FREE (everything is free) pre-school projects for Katherine and an entire lapbook project for Jonathan on Lewis and Clark. Materials are contributed by homeschoolers... so you are gleaning wisdom and experience from countless families. GREAT resource!

4. Illustrate & Write
My new friend, Heather, over at blogs on the Pioneer Woman site about her homeschooling experiences. Her post about Illustrate & Write changed my method of teaching Jonathan writing.  I just loved the way Heather chronicled her son's journey with Illustrate and Write. She give so much detail... with photos, direct copying of her son's writing and then her "translation". For example:
“puekepolls rea goweng to ther homs bkus tha got in a fit”
(Porcupines are going to their homes because they got in a fight.)
This photo is from her post on

It's Jonathan's favorite part of school and now my 4th grader, Emelie, who is not homeschooled, has her own illustrate and write journal... "because it looks like fun!".

Thanks Heather!  (Did I mentioned that she has a daughter named EMELIE???!!!)

5. Amazing, beautiful, scream-out-to-be read books!...
We are using Sonlight for some of our homeschool curriculum. What I think I love most about Sonlight is their booklists. They're awesome! Jonathan's reading has taken off this year, mostly due to increased reading time and the very interesting books that he gets to read. I found in early February that he had read all of his books for the year... uhhh... that's a good thing, right?

Here are a few examples:
Jonathan's book list from this year

Grade 3 and 4 read aloud list - just another example of Sonlight's great choices of literature. What I like about Sonlight is that they categorize their books by grade level, by read aloud level AND by maturity level. So, if you have a reader who is ahead of her grade level, you can search their list for books that are more advanced, but still appropriate for her maturity level.

I have used the booklists to order straight from the sonlight website, which is often a very good deal, or to check the books out at the library.

I think of myself as a well-read person, but was surprised at how many books on the list that I hadn't heard of ... and they were GOOD!

I also love this series of classics: the Junior Illustrated Library. I received my first one when I was 8 years old from my Grandma. Little Women. The first of many beautiful books I'd read... My mom gave me a few, my sister has lent me a few and this Christmas we received a few as gifts. Talk about inspired reading. I like to use these as read-alouds. Most of them run from $12-15, pretty affordable! You can't help but invest yourself in a story with illustrations, fonts and paper like these classics!  Or maybe I just like taking photos of pretty pages...

Anywho... that's all for now. Hope these gave you a few ideas for things to do with your kiddos. Really, you don't have to be homeschooling to use any of the resources... we may not homeschool next year, but I'll still be all over these great products, because they are well-made, inspiring and make me and my children WANT to learn... and that's what life is all about, right!?

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