My Favorite Homeschool Resources

I'm a senior and family photographer in Middle Tennessee, but I'm also a homeschool mom. I didn't think I'd homeschool my kids when I was younger. It honestly never crossed my mind. It was something very few people did. I had never met anyone who homeschooled before (that I knew of).

 

But then I had kids.

And when it came time to put them into someone else's care (both for day care and for public school), it just didn't feel right for our family. I knew that the Bible instructs us to "train up your children in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:6". And I knew that the public school system certainly wasn't going to help with that. 

There's so much more to it, but long story short: We have been homeschooling since our oldest child was 4 years old. He's in 4th grade now, and we have never looked back! We also homeschool our 2nd grader and preschooler. This is what I was born for! I just know it! I love homeschooling my children and I love helping others in their homeschool journey!

Below are some of my favorite homeschool resources that I've discovered over the years. I hope to have them better organized eventually, but for now, I'm happy just to have them all in one place. I hope you find them helpful! If you have any questions, please let me know!

 
1. Little Hands to Heaven from Heart of Dakota Publishing company
I love this curriculum SO MUCH! I have used it with all three of my children, and we have made precious memories following the simple daily plans. Each day takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour give or take. It really depends on you and your child. We are usually done within 30 minutes or less. We don't always do every activity, especially this third go-around, because the baby (now 4 years old) has already gone through it once with his big sister when he was 2 and she was 4.
My kids especially love the finger plays! There is a finger play for each letter of the alphabet that emphasizes that letter's sound and drives home the Bible story you are working on that week.
Another thing I love about this curriculum is that there is an amazing facebook group where other families who are also using Little Hands share support, advice, and awesome free printables! The printables are not needed to complete the curriculum, but my kids have really enjoyed lots of them. Especially the coloring pages!
Things your child will learn from this curriculum:
  • Letter Recognition
  • Letter sounds and motions
  • early math skills
  • Bible activities and devotional topics
  • Art projects and dramatic plays
2. The Singing Bible from Focus on The Family
This series of CDs has been SO special to my little family! It is actually part of the Little Hands curriculum if you purchase everything that goes with it. But it is an excellent stand-alone as well. My kids just love listening to all the Bible stories in song format. They have learned all the books of the Bible from these CDs as well as many of the most important stories from the Bible. 
3. Starfall.com
Each of my children have loved learning about the letters from this website!
4. ABCya.com
For some fun educational games, go here! We don't use this one a whole lot, but it has definitely come in handy on rainy days or when I'm super busy and just need them to learn SOMETHING! There are games for older kids too, that are super fun!
5. Getting Ready 1 from Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool
Because of the way my kids' birthdays fall, they each get two years of preschool. I usually do Getting ready 1 after we've completed Little Hands. We supplement with some sort of math work book because the math portion in both Easy Peasy and Little Hands are pretty light. I've used different things for each child. My main goal is just that they know their letters, letter sounds, and numbers and can count well before kindergarten. 
We also learn through play a lot and just by living life in general. 
6. Endless Alphabet App
This app is occasionally free...or at least it used to be. You can at least play a portion of it for free all the time. Its so cute! All these cute little critters demonstrate the letter sounds in crazy ways and even help your child learn to spell by having them drag letters into word shaped puzzles. Each letter makes its sound as it is being dragged in a silly way. See a video of it here.
7. Little Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota
I will never forget how very excited I was when my oldest son started Kindergarten and I got all these books in the mail! We LOVED learning about history through the Bible and how even the events that happened after the Bible was written are still His-Story! 
We also made some precious memories while reading the Thorton Burgess books! I always had my son draw pictures while I read to him so we have really awesome pictures of Reddy Fox, Danny Meadow Mouse, and the rest of the gang from the books.
What your child will learn from this curriculum:
  • Bible memory work
  • Devotionals
  • Science discovery
  • Art, Dramatic play, and Thinking Games
  • Rhymes
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Hand writing
  • Fine motor skills
  • Storytime
  • Language Arts
  • Math
We use a separate Math curriculum which is another reason I love Heart of Dakota! It is completely customizable!
Little Hearts also has an amazing Facebook group that offers support, encouragement, and free printables. My son looked forward to his new coloring sheet every week for history and story time!
8. Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
I love this book! It makes teaching reading so simple for both parents and kids! I start this book for each of my kids when they are 5 years old. I teach them what they can handle and then put it away until first grade when/if it gets too hard for them.
Reading is tricky and all children are ready to read at different times. With my oldest son, I so desperately wanted him to be a prodigy child who was reading chapter books in kindergarten, but it just didn't happen. We spent SO MANY days crying over this book, and I'm ashamed to say I lost my patience with him many times. He cried, I cried, so much crying. ugh. Don't do that. Don't be me. 
When I relaxed, apologized to him, and put the book away. Everything got better. We tried again in first grade, and he got bogged down again. I thought it was this curriculum so we tried a couple of other things with the same results.
Then we went to the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Nashville where we Met Jan Bedell.
Jan Bedell from Little Giant Steps says that it doesn't matter what reading curriculum you use. If your child's brain can't retain 7 pieces of information spoken out loud, they aren't ready to read. She is an expert in brain neurodevelopement in children. So we practiced until he could remember at least 7 numbers consistently, and then we tried reading lessons again halfway through his first grade year.
 
Ya'll! The lightbuld turned on! Everything clicked into place! He flew through the book with ease! By mid-late 2nd grade he was reading completely independently.
He's finishing up his third grade year now, and I can't even begin to tell you how many chapter books he has read. He reads as well as I do and he loves it!
9. Little Giant Steps
As mentioned above, Little Giant Steps is an excellent resource for neurodevelopment. I have used them not only for reading, but also for texture and food/gag reflexes and aversions. 
They have lots of free resources! We used their free auditory processing test kit to see where our kids were, and then we purchased the digit span cards to help us practice. You could easily create your own digit span cards if you're on a budget. This is what we used to help us prepare for reading. 
We also had Jan create a customized program for our daughter who suffers from food aversions. A lot of it is texture related, but she will gag and throw up with lots of foods. We have seen a huge improvement, and I know we'd see these things go away almost completely if we'd been more consistent with the program. We will start it up again this summer!
It only takes a few minutes a day and the kids really enjoy it.
The things that Jan recommends you do are so simple. It seems like they couldn't possibly be real! But they really do help to build the pathways in your child's brain that pave the way for things like reading, speech, or whatever else your child needs help with. 
10. Teach Your Monster to Read (grade k-3rd grade)
Oh my goodness how my kids LOVE this game! This is a website and an app. Both are free and so cute! They get to create their own monster and then the game starts with their monster crashing his space ship on a strange planet. An alien on the planet agrees to help the monster find all the pieces of his ship if the monster will help the alien find all of his letters. The monster goes on all kinds of adventures collecting letters and sounds, and earning new clothes, snacks, and accessories as your child helps them read words and sentences.
11. Horizons Math K
We've used Horizons Math from the very beginning with our oldest son and have always enjoyed them. I didn't use the teacher's manual for Kindergarten, and I usually find the workbooks on amazon pretty cheap. (I've bought it twice now, once for my son and once for my daughter.)
12. Essential Math A and B from Singapore (K)
This is the math program recommended by Heart of Dakota. We used this with our daughter when she was in Kindergarten because the Horizon's Math program was just a little too advanced for her. Essential Math was a perfect fit.
13. A Reason for Handwriting K
This is a very simple handwriting curriculum to ease kids into writing. This is also recommended by Heart of Dakota. Have I mentioned I love them? :)
14. PBS Kids Games (prek-6th)
Fun online games that have some characters kids will recognize and enjoy.
15. Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota (ages 6-8)
This is my favorite HOD curriculum! The living stories for history are so captivating! They bring history to life. We had so much fun learning together during this curriculum!
The reading lists included some amazing books as well! Some of our favorites were Little House in the Big Woods, King of the Wind, and Follow my Leader. 
We also really enjoyed the poetry and rhymes studies.
I especially loved the Godly character lessons. The questions and discussions were so thought provoking and opened up many wonderful conversations for us!
 
What your child will learn:
 
  • Bible Memory work
  • Devotionals
  • Science
  • Art
  • Geography
  • Poetry and rhymes 
  • Copywork
  • Spelling
  • Basic Grammar
  • Naration
  • Storytime genre studies
  • Godly Character Lessons
  • Math Exploration
Awesome supportive facebook group with free printables!
16. Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool First Grade
We have used this with our daughter this year. This curriculum assumes your child can read independently. Therefore, we didn't use the reading portion. But the math is really fun and helpful. They have worksheets to print out but most days, the math is done completely online with fun, interactive games and lessons.
 
I also love that she has the kids play thinking games that develop critical thinking skills once a week. 
17. A Reason for Handwriting A (1st grade)
This sweet little handwriting curriculum starts out slowly and then progresses to copying Bible verses on decorated pieces of paper that they can use to share the Word with others.
18. Bigger Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota (ages 7-9 extension 10-11)
In this curriculum, kids get to dig even deeper into American History. We learned about well known American heroes and found ourselves wishing we could travel to Boston to see the gold plated grasshopper that has sat on top of Faneull Hall since 1742. Or go see Mount Vernon and walk where George Washington once walked.
The Biblical character trait studies were so thought provoking and opened the door for many deep conversations within our family.
Your child will learn:
  • History Notebooking
  • Geography lessons
  • Vocabulary
  • Narration practice
  • History activities
  • Classic poetry studies
  • Bible studies
  • Biblical character trait studies
  • Classic hymns
  • Spelling
  • Grammar and writing lessons
  • Cursive handwriting
  • Storytime genre studies
  • Math exploration
  • Living book science readings
  • Science experiments and notebook entries
Awesome facebook group with free printables!
19. Cheerful Cursive
I love that my son knows how to read and write in cursive. His handwriting is beautiful too! The lessons are short and he was able to do it completely independently. He just read the instructions and did what he read.
20. Prodigy Math Game (2nd-6th)
This is a fun interactive math game where your child gets to create a wizard and then conquer various "bad guys" by completing math problems. The game starts by evaluating your child and then gives them problems that are suitable for their knowledge level. They need to be able to read proficiently in order to play this game. The game sends you weekly reports to let you know how your child is doing. 
21. Art for Kids Hub Youtube Channel
My kids love Art for Kids Hub! They learn to draw such cool stuff and the pictures look SO GOOD! They get to draw everything from pokemon and my little ponies, to school supplies and food.
22. Thinking Games
23. Math Games
24. Josh McDowell Family Devotion
I actually just found out about this from my sister n law. Our family is enjoying these devotions. The fact that it is free online is an added bonus!
25. Xtra Math
This is basically like flash cards but on the computer. The will send you a report once a week to let you know how your child is doing.
26. Hoffman Academy
FREE online piano lessons! My kids haven't really stuck with it, but my niece and nephew have and they can both play really well! 
27. Mama Duck Parenting
This isn't REALLY homeschool related but it is. Because you can't have a successful homeschool without good parenting. So my go-to for peaceful parenting methods is my very own sister n law! The Mama Duck! Go check her out and show her ALL the LOVE!
28. Tennessee Homeschool Laws
29. Thanksgiving Ideas and Activities from Easy Peasy
30. Christmas Activites from Easy Peasy
 
 

 

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