Emily from Nerd in the Brain is back again today with some great homeschool resources!
Let’s talk about homeschool curriculum and resources, shall we? Some people spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on “pre-made” curriculum plans and materials (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but when we began homeschooling, we knew we needed to go a different route. We didn’t have that kind of money to spend, and we weren’t really looking for something structured in that way. So, here’s what I did … I looked up the standard course of study/core standards for Grace’s grade and got myself familiar with those expectations. I also took into account what we wanted her to learn (computer skills, for example) and what she wanted to learn (Greek mythology). Then I went on a materials hunt. I will not tell a lie! Some of the materials we’ve tested out have been less than spectacular. One of the beautiful things about not spending a lot on materials, though, is the absolute lack of guilt when you just walk away from something. If a resource isn’t working, we toss it in the trash or pass it on to someone else to try (just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for someone else), and then we try something new.
Here are some of the resources and suppliers we’ve found that have been fantastic and affordable:
- XtraMath (www.xtramath.org) – A 100% free web site that allows students to practice basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Great for independent practice. They even have nifty certificates to print out when your student finishes a skill.
- IXL (www.ixl.com) – This site does have a monthly fee ($9.95 for one child, an extra $2.00 each for additional children), but IXL provides a monster amount of practice in tons of skills for each grade level. Students get digital awards and certificates and things for various and assorted achievements. We feel like this is money well spent.
- Middle School Chemistry (www.middleschoolchemistry.com) – If you have a student in middle school, this site is fabulous! They have complete and awesome lesson plans (six chapters worth) for free. Some of the activities do involve a minor investment, but most use household objects.
- Library – I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by how many people are unaware of a little section called “Juvenile Non-Fiction.” It is a gold mine! Anytime Grace has a new interest or we’re beginning a new topic, we hit the library. Our library even has “practice” books for different skills (reading and math) that are great for independent review. Of course, a lot of our literature comes from the library, too.
- Ebooks – Ebooks are your friend! Most educational web sites charge less for the ebook version of resources and activities than hard copies. You also do away with that pesky wait time. A lot of companies even let you download a free sample, so you can be sure the resource will work for you. Another bonus: You can print out just what you need … or if you goof up a page, you can just print a new copy. Win! Some of our favorite sites are Evan-Moor (www.evan-moor.com – we love their History Pockets), Carson Dellosa (www.carsondellosa.com – a treasure trove of materials at fantastic prices), and Hands of a Child. (www.handsofachild.com – “lapbooks” for a large variety of skills and topics).
- Netflix, TED, and YouTube – These are not just for goofing off! The number of documentaries and educational videos available here are mind-boggling. Though Netflix has a small monthly fee, TED and YouTube are free. If you’re ever looking for supplementary information for a topic, one of these resources is almost certain to have what you need.
- And, of course, Nerd in the Brain – Okay, so the Nerd in the Brain resources are free for us since we create them, but they’re very affordable for everyone else, too. Games are generally $1.99. Literature guides are $9.99 and include more information and activities than you can shake a stick at. 😉
Those are the highlights of our low-cost materials. What about you? Any terrific deals on homeschool resources that you’re using?
Check back tomorrow for our take on field trips that don’t bust the budget.
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