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Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
Our family spent the first part of September on vacation–something we’ve made a tradition of the past few years. When most people head back to the grind of school and work routines, I love that we can celebrate our homeschooling freedom on an empty beach together!
Now that we’ve settled in back at home, the leaves are changing color around their fringes. Something about autumn calls us to new beginnings, to crack open dusty books, clear off shelves, and get to work once more.
Instead of sharing with you a curriculum plan for our year, I thought I’d share our curricula bliss. In all honesty, I don’t do much traditional homeschool planning–I refuse to map out a game plan for a whole year because I always reserve the right to change my mind along the way.
But I have come up with some overarching guidelines and goals–and right now these twelve products/programs have us pointed in the right direction.
We inspire, not require when it comes to academics–so the resources below are not essential elements in my kids’ education, but ones available for them to choose from.
I’ve marked the resources that we do together as a group with an (*) symbol. Those without an asterisk the kids can choose (or not)–many of these I gathered as a result of their homeschool compasses.
I call them curricula bliss because, well, for the most part, they make us happy!
Not all my kids care for games, but my son Jonathan does. Here are some highlights from our math game collection throughout the years:
I’d like to add a few more games to our collection this year — any recommendations?
I have actually instituted a “documentary day” this homeschool year because I keep finding so many incredible clips and shows through our Discovery Education membership. We bought ours over a year ago through Homeschool Buyers Co-op at a substantial discount and it has been so worth it!
Almost any time the kids have an interest in something I do a search and find a video clip to watch about it. Some of our favorite shows have been Hero Animated Classics, Liberty’s Kids, and Reading Rainbow–plus they offer live virtual field trips throughout the year for members.
Trishna is our resident artist and one of her compass goals is to become a better illustrator. So when I saw Draw3D I had her try out a few of the free lessons. It was a hit! We purchased a year’s subscription.
Not only are these cartoony-lessons right up her alley, I love that she can do them completely independently online.
Trishna and I are busy filling out this sweet Mother/Daughter journal from Gadanke together–we try to complete about one entry a week, in cursive, so it gives Trishna an incentive to practice her writing.
(FYI: Katie has created a mother/son one as well.)
The National Park Service in the US offers Junior Ranger programs at many historic sites and museums throughout the country. Children complete certain activities and then receive a special badge or certificate. Find the whole range of locations listed here.
Many of the programs require you to tour the physical site, but some are strictly online. We just completed the online junior ranger program for Fort Raleigh in North Carolina–the site of the Lost Colony.
My kids have been inspired by US History recently (I think it all stems from Liberty’s Kids!), and I’m planning to capitalize on this interest as much as possible.
I’m using this set of 100 US History posters to aid our exploration. Each morning we read through one–adding them to a binder and making them into a timeline, too.
A resource for those with dyslexia or visual impairment, Learning Ally is an extraordinary collection of audiobooks for kids through adults available via an annual subscription.
You need an official diagnosis to qualify–Trishna has a visual impairment, making audio books so crucial for her reading journey. But my boys love it too!
This visit-one-country a month subscription has become a favorite that the kids look forward to. They love when it arrives in the mail each month! It gently serves as a reminder to make geography a priority in our homeschool.
The children enjoy the activities, souvenirs, and online games. I like the simple format that doesn’t require a ton of time.
The official deadline has passed, but the website says homeschoolers can still apply as long as supplies are available. Set a monthly reading goal for each child and when they meet it Pizza Hut celebrates by giving them a free personal pan pizza.
We are finishing up our year-long study of Little House on the Prairie and still have The First Four Years and Farmer Boy to get through (which I hope to follow up with a visit to Almanzo’s homestead!)
On top of those, these are also on the agenda for this year’s reading:
- Anne of Green Gables – this version, so gorgeous and inviting!
- Grammarland – a living book that explains grammar in story form
- Mathematicians Are People, Too – inspiring stories about the world’s greatest mathematicians
- Blue Birds – a beautiful novel-in-verse exploring The Lost Colony of Roanoke
My youngest, Elijah (9), is still progressing on his journey to reading fluency. In trying to find something to help him, I signed up for a free trial of Reading Eggs.
It connected with both of us, and now we do these lessons four or more times each week. Reading Eggs teaches phonics and sight words through online games, and the placement test allows your child to start at the level that suits them best.
Sparkle Stories’ audio subscriptions deliver weekly seasonal stories and have saved my sanity more than once over the years. Elijah still requests them at least once a day.
When one child is listening I have time to work independently with another. I’ve also found we use these more in winter when we can’t get out as much.
And there you have it! I’m all about bringing in the bliss, changing up what’s not working, and not holding myself to a curriculum plan if it stops serving us.
I’m thankful for these products that not only help us learn, but also escort joy into our home.
What about you? Tell me about your current curricula bliss!