6 resources that inspire a love of learning

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6 resources love of learning
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Finding the right resource for your homeschool at the right time is a breath of fresh air. It can feel like the missing link, the answer you’ve been looking for, the perfect fit as you enter a new season.

In our home this year, Trishna (10) and Jonathan (9) have moved solidly into a new period of learning, called Love of Learning Phase. (If the phases of learning are new to you, you can find an overview here.)

This new phase has come with increased interest in academics, and therefore, more work for this mama as I try to keep up with them!

Through that work, we’ve come across six resources that are currently working really well in our home. Here they are in case they might work for you, too.

1. Little Passports

little passports

I’ve had my eye on Little Passports for a while, so I was excited to try it out as one of their affiliates. It hasn’t disappointed us!

Each month we journey the world alongside the imaginary characters of Sam and Sofia. In the mail once a month a package arrives containing worksheets, postcards, little trinkets, and a “boarding pass” for online games they can do relating to that month’s country.

What an awesome, fun way to learn geography–the kids and I love it! As well as the world edition, Little Passports has a USA version too. It explores two states each month.

The website recommends the world version for ages 5 to 10 and the USA version for ages 7 to 12.

2. Teaching Cursive! This Method Works


I invited Trishna to learn cursive with me this year, and since she loves all things writing she gave an excited yes to the idea. So I started an online search to find the best way to teach her. I wanted a really simple method that would allow us to make a little progress each day.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 6.38.33 AMWe totally scored with our discovery of Teaching Cursive! This Method Works by Linda Corson. A simple, spiral-bound book, it starts with the easiest strokes and letters and proceeds to more difficult ones.

The lessons (56 in total) take only 10-15 minutes a day, and that has also been a great fit. It’s long enough to learn something, but not enough to feel overwhelming.

This book contains the instructions/syllabus for teaching – your child doesn’t write in it, making it good to use with multiple children. I enjoy these lessons, too (& that matters for keeping up the inspiration value in our home!)

3. Learning Ally

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 6.51.39 AM

Learning Ally, a God-send resource for our family, popped into our lives at exactly the right time. I had been praying for a tool that would help my daughter fall more deeply in love with books. She enjoys picture books, but due to a visual impairment needs large print to read.

Most chapter books for kids use standard small print, so that left her unable to read them independently. She isn’t ready for her own Kindle yet, so I had been on the hunt for something to help us through these middle years.

Then we stumbled onto Learning Ally and hallelujah! We found exactly what we needed. It’s an audio book resource for adults or children with visual impairments or dyslexia. Designed with those two groups in mind, you need a doctor’s note confirming your child’s diagnosis.

Once the proper forms have been completed and you’ve paid the annual fee, you have access to an entire library of over 75,000 books (!)–from young child through adult–to download and listen to on iPad, phone, wherever. Love this so much.

4. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons


I plan to write more about this book soon, but thought it deserves a quick mention here. This scripted, formulaic approach to reading is not something I ever saw myself using as an interest-led learning mama, yet it has been the perfect fit for my Elijah (8).

And isn’t that what matters most?!

We started just over two months ago, and he’s already on lesson 80! Initially we tackled two lessons a day because of the letter sounds and combinations he already knew. Now that we’ve moved on to the more intense lessons, we’ve scaled back to one a day. He’s on track to finish before Christmas!

5. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 1.37.07 PMI’ve read the Bible all my life, and have read Bible stories for years to my little people. Yet this is the first children’s Bible that has actually made me tear up mid-sentence.

What an inspiring way to show how the Bible works together as one book, how it all connects and points to Jesus!

Stunningly beautiful and highly recommended.

6. Project Feederwatch

An overview:

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America.

FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution.”


This year’s bird count began earlier this month, but it’s not too late to join in! They ship kits out through February and counts can be submitted through April. This is open to bird watchers in both the US and Canada.

We’re having such fun identifying the birds at our feeder, counting them, and then reporting them via the online tracking system.

How about you? What resources have been working well and enhancing the love of learning in your home?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. That’s the cursive book we use too! (I even reviewed it at Amazon.)

  2. Thanks for the suggestions! Since I always order our books in February, I’ve been researching phonics books. I like the fact that Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons isn’t very time consuming. My kids are too active for the more involved programs.

  3. I adore THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE. So, so beautiful. Such a great look at grace and Christ’s place in the whole story.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: When What You Do Is Never Enough

  4. I love this post! Thanks for some great ideas to invigorate our learning at home. I’m curious about the Little Passports: do you order a kit for each child, or is this something they easily share?

    • Good question, Catherine! I find it pretty easy for them to share it. We keep the suitcase in our common learning area and put the materials inside it. It usually comes with a worksheet for the month, and that I make copies of on our printer. But if each child wanted to say have a suitcase and keep it all as a collection in their room, they’d need one for each.

  5. I have the same experience with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s beautiful, simple, profound. I would recommend it to anyone.
    Amy’s latest post: Making Your Holiday Season More Meaningful and Less Stressful

  6. Great list! Have you ever seen “The Big Picture Story Bible” by David Helm? We really enjoy it and we also have the audio CD for it too (came with the book for the version we bought). I love how it interconnects everything in a really easy to read but satisfying way for both the kids and myself. It also has beautiful artwork.

  7. Tracy Alsterlund says:

    We love the this children’s bible as it has the most amazing way od describing God’s love to our daughter who is adopted and struggles to fully understand love. And yes it points all the stories to Jesus in ways that made me pause in awe, tears too.

  8. Anna Adams says:

    Ugh, that bible chokes me up every time! So good.

  9. These all look wonderful! A friend gave my son that children’s Bible a year or so ago and we have loved it so much. I adore how every story ties back to Jesus, and my son loves the pictures. We’ve read the stories many, many times and I always recommend it to everyone!

  10. Great post! I am really interesting in the bird watching program, I’ll have to look into that! I’m curious about the cursive, are you actually learning cursive, in that you were never taught it in school or are you just sharpening your skills and doing it with your daughter? Your comment just made me very curious! 🙂 I’ve gotten a couple of cursive books for my 7 year old but I haven’t been super impressed because they just seem like worksheets bound in a workbook, not a lot of other information. I’ll definitely take a look at your recommendation!
    Sanz @ From The Mrs.’s latest post: Walking Down Memory Lane

  11. Oh gosh, I just love that bible. I tear up all the time. I wish I had had something like it when I was little. I give it to most new moms at baby showers, too!
    We had quite a bit of trouble with the 100 Easy Lessons. It was like pulling teeth. I tried it for two weeks and neither kid liked it even one bit. I had heard of it from a close friend and whose daughter had a great time using it, too, and how much it helped her. It’s so interesting to me how some kids just do great with one resource, others not so much, and vice versa. Keeps us on our toes!
    Something that I found last year to go along with our history lessons (we read through Story of the World slowly) are Usborne’s “sticker dressing” books. I was an Usborne rep for a year and saw the value in these and stocked up when I was able to get them free! They have some that are just purely fun paper-doll-like stickers, but SO many of them are educational and can be used alongside history lessons. We’re currently in the Middle Ages, and my kids are having a great time with “Knights”!
    Each book has about 20 2-page spreads, (and a historical blurb if relevant) and hundreds of stickers.
    Sarah M
    Sarah m’s latest post: Dignify

    • I can definitely see how using 100 Easy Lessons with a younger child, as many people do, could create conflict. I think part of our success is that Elijah is 8 and he has “bought into” the process for himself a lot more. Meaning he’s chosen to engage with it, which I think comes harder to a 5 or 6 year old.

  12. Great post! I’ve been thinking about the little passports myself but haven’t been quite convinced, I think you might have tipped me into the ‘yes’ column! I have a question about your cursive resource, do you know how it compares to Handwriting Without Tears? I love their books and was planning to use it for cursive but I’d be interested to know how your suggestion is different. But perhaps you haven’t used HWT so my question is redundant!

  13. We have been using little passports world for over two years now. My son just loves it. We recently started the USA edition and I have to say it is much more involved. They offer more info about the state than the world edition. It is a fun way to learn.

  14. Fabulous suggestions!!! Please keep them coming! I live in Greece at the moment and really struggling to find good resources especially a thorough, interactive, fun way to learn all about Greece so I wonder how detailed is the little passports resource? Also my 5 year old is not reading yet, has no interest in books, gets bored very easily and is really bright and smart so I am struggling to find a way to engage him…. He shows strength in math so I do that as well as lots of physical and play activities BUT I was interested in audio books which bore him as no book to look at, and does not like me reading to him much. Can you recommend a visual and audio book or resource?

  15. Thank you for this great list of resource suggestions — we are grateful that you included Learning Ally among them. It never fails to amaze us how many kids and families we’re serving in the home school space. We are blessed to have so many dedicated supporters including volunteers whose voices bring books to life for the benefit of students who learn differently.

  16. Oh we adore Little Passports! I would also suggest another reading program for struggling readers- All About Reading. This wonderful program helped when expensive tutors failed. There are great readers that go along, beautifully illustrated. One other recommendation for a gentle approach to literature is Five In a Row.

  17. We are loving the Teach your child to read in 100 lessons. I never would have picked it up, but someone i know in our homeschooling group recommended it and i was curious. It suits my boy perfectly. Funny how life does that! Glad i was open to it, because it was just what was needed. We’re almost halfway through and i thoroughly recommend it.

  18. Lovely suggestions. I plan to check a lot of them out! We love Learning Ally as well! It is a lovely resource. If you do not qualify for learning ally, I would also check out kindle’s unlimited plan which will allow you to use whispernet (basically audible.com) along with the book and books on CD from the library-all wonderful resources. Thank you again for the suggestions!
    Sharon’s latest post: Taking a Break

  19. 100 Lessons — never worked for us. We all hated it when my eldest was little — we used a Vertical Phonics program and McGuffey’s Readers instead … thankfully that’s one of the beauties of homeschooling, love posts like these about items that have helped you but it’s ok if they don’t work for every family! 😀

  20. Love these art cards and the enrichment books. Everything from here has been great so far. http://www.memoriapress.com/curriculum/art-and-music-classical-core-curriculum/primary-resources

  21. Thanks for such a helpful post Jaime. I look forward to trying all of these out.

  22. We loved Little Passports. It was a wonderful way to begin homeschooling. We also loved Kiwi Crate, Kidstir, and Sparkle Stories.
    Kelly Sage’s latest post: Summer Boredom | Create Space For Play

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