Monday, April 16, 2018

The Ultimate List of Free & Affordable Homeschool Resources

As many of you know I write for The Curriculum Choice, a wonderful website run by homeschoolers and for homeschoolers. It is full of reviews and wisdom from seasoned homeschooling mums. Recently I received an email from a reader who had read one of my reviews asking for help and advice on curriculum for her young children. She and her husband are missionary's which makes money tight and their children are all small - which is wonderful news because do not need expensive resources to educate your children.

There is a wealth of resources out there and since we started homeschooling 12 years ago that treasure trove has been enriched as generous and creative homeschooling mums from all over the world offer wonderful homespun resources to all. I've put together a list of homeschool resources we have used over the years. Hopefully, you will find them useful in your own homeschools.

Complete Curriculum Plans

I'm going to start with complete curriculum plans. These are places where plans and links to resources from 1st grade all the way through to 12th grade can be found. An immense amount of work has gone into these sites. What a blessing that not only is all the work and research done for you but that because of the hard work of dedicated and passionate homeschooling mums like you and I, you can educate your children right the way through their school careers on a shoestring whilst still providing a rigorous academic education!

Ambleside Online is very popular amongst those homeschoolers who follow a Charlotte Mason method to teaching their children. It is well worth exploring and investing time to peruse the wealth of information on this site if you are wanting to follow a Charlotte Mason approach to education. Each year has a complete booklist, plan and schedule for the years study. The Ambleside Online Library hosts a large collection of original Charlotte Mason material and a support forum to dip into when you need help or advice. 

Old Fashioned Education utilizes free public domain books and curricula organized conveniently by subject and let me tell you, the author of An Old Fashioned Education has covered every possible subject you may want to look at in your homeschooling career. We have all the usual suspects such as History, Geography, Maths and so on; but also a wealth of other subjects that are more interest based such as Drama, Emergency Preparedness, and even Helps for Mom & Dad! If you click on the 'Full Curriculum' option in the sidebar you have a 40-week schedule plan for each grade, a student weekly assignment booklet, a full grade 1 - 12 curriculum overview, booklist and a handy information tab on the curriculum.

The last full curriculum I am mentioning in this post is Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool for Pre-K to Grade 8 and the sister site, Easy Peasy All-in-One Highschool. There is a handy 'How to' page and video which helps you get to grips with how the author of the curriculum has intended this curriculum to be used which would be a good place to start. This is not one we have utilised but some of my friends have and enjoyed dipping into it. 

Khan Academy, whilst not a complete curriculum is a valuable free online learning resource covering math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics and more. Bookmark this site because you will find it very useful. We have utilised it for high school math help as well as for the SAT test prep.

Public Domain Resources = Free!

If you choose to pull your own learning plans together as we did, you might want to bookmark these free resources to use. The Baldwin Project was started in 1999 with the idea of making all the classic works of literature available to children everywhere. A good chunk of the books mentioned in our complete curriculum providers section utilize books that are available here. 

Librivox is another fabulous resource we used a lot. Let's face it, there is only so much time in the day and so much 'reading voice' to be expended. Librivox has lots of public domain classics available to listen to as audio books. I would download them and play them in the car whilst travelling between activities or on road trips. Or if we were stuck indoors for whatever reason and boredom struck, out would come a lovely audiobook to enjoy. 

Lapbooks, Notebooking Pages and Unit Studies

Lapbooks are popular for younger children and Homeschoolshare has a catalogue of 350 free lapbooks covering all sorts of things. If you are new to lapbooking and have no clue what I'm talking about don't despair...this site has lots of handy YouTube videos and tutorials on how to lapbook with your children.

CurrClickCurrClick is the place to go if you are wanting to instantly download complete unit studies and curriculum. I have used this extensively in our homeschooling and have written quite a few reviews on certain products we have used on The Curriculum Choice. Most of the products on this site are really affordable costing a few dollars for some great unit studies. Amongst our favourite are the Hands of a Child unit studies which have complete study plans and all the information and templates needed to successfully complete a lapbook or study using notebooking pages for older children.

Notebooking Pages have both free and paid for options covering all sorts of topics from Bible, Artists, Composers to Copywork, nature and even generic pages to be used for any topic not covered. These are great for the child to write down everything they have learnt on a topic and keep a great looking record of their work.

Nature and Art

Nature Detectives is a fabulous place to download all sorts of activity ideas, field spotters guides, craft ideas and other seasonal downloads to use in your nature studies. 

Barb's (free) Outdoor Hour Challenges utilising the Handbook of Nature Study has been a staple in our homeschool. Each Friday we would participate in the weekly challenge set out and then spend some time in our nature journals. My blog has a well-stocked archive of all our nature study adventures over the years.

Not only does Barb run this popular Outdoor Hour program but she also has free and affordable Composer and Art Appreciation plans on her website Harmony Fine Arts. This year we purchased her Grade 11 Art and Music plans and have thoroughly enjoyed them.

Learning Online

There is no doubt that there are oodles and oodles of online resources that you can use to support your learning. I want to share one that we really loved and recommend. Settera Geography Quiz Program has made learning our cities, capitals, rivers, volcanoes and so much more the most enjoyable learning experience. My youngest daughter is off to college in September to study Travel and tourism and she recently was invited to attend a college prep day for her course. One of the things they were going to be doing was a geography quiz, so she hopped up onto Settera in the weeks running up to refresh her memory. After her prep day, she has mentioned on more than one occasion how glad she did that because not only did she excel in the quiz but it gave her the confidence she needed to complete the task with a group of people she didn't know. She felt equipped and well prepared.

High School and Beyond

When we reached our high school years we began exploring various career interests and options. It can be very daunting for those young adults who really don't have a clue what they want to do. Enter Future Learn and Open Learn. These sites offer students all over the world a way to explore subjects they are fascinated by as well as gain the skills needed for higher learning.

Perhaps they have a few things they are looking at studying at university but really have not made up their minds. They can take short modules of university courses on the subject they are interested in and see if it is something they are really passionate about and would like to study further. Future Learn offers short courses from universities all over the UK while Open Learn offers courses from The Open University.

**Please feel free to add any free or affordable resources that you know of or use in the comments below so others may benefit and be blessed in their homeschools. Thank you to all who do so 😉

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Cornish Fishing Village Called Polperro

At the moment I am researching knitting from the British Isles, simply because I'm interested and would love to try my hand at some traditional knitwear. I thought I would focus my research on the Channel Islands and Cornwall because that's where we live...on the English channel and just across the river from Cornwall.

I found two beautiful books that have a detailed history of Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks and have many wonderful traditional knitting patterns to knit. The Cornish fishing village of Polperro featured strongly in both books. I really wanted to visit and as we are currently enjoying the Easter holidays and the girls have a friend visiting from London, we decided to make the 1-hour journey and explore Polperro.

Boy! We were not disappointed. I know that Cornwall has many such fishing villages, we have visited Port Isaac (where Doc Martin is filmed) and I am always totally enchanted by how picture perfect they are.

Polperro retains much of its quaintness. It has not been ruined by over commercialism nor has it been overtaken by the rich snapping up properties as holiday homes. According to one of the locals, there is a happy balance of local residents and holiday home owners which is how the village retains its authenticity.

Let me tell you, I could happily settle here and spend my days writing novels (crime of course 😉), basking in the sun and watching the world slowly walk by.

This village is surreal. The buildings are built close together and at all sorts of interesting angles. Not a modern bit of architecture anywhere. Just lovely rustic fishing cottages of old.

I loved this cottage (above). Its walls have been inset with a mosaic of seashells. It's whimsical, artistic and such fun to see. This village lends itself to the artistic spirit and inspires creativity.

Beyond the harbour walls, we spotted two caves. We wondered if they had been used by smugglers in bygone years. We would have loved to explore them but the tide was in and the route cut off. 

Apart from having my ice-cream stolen by those masters of crime that inhabit most coastal towns and villages...the seagulls, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather in a picture-perfect setting. Cornwall is full of such treasures. As we headed home I silently resolved to make 2018 the year to explore this beautiful county and its historic villages.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter Around the Home

As you know, I love to reflect the seasons, both natural and liturgical, by adding small touches to my home. We always have an Easter tree of sorts, this year is no different. Our 'tree' is comprised of twigs of Pussy Willow found at the grocery store and cuttings from my beautiful Corkscrew Hazel shrub.

I love it's twirling, twisting branches. I placed a few tulips around the base for an added spring touch. These will grow and open as the days go by. 

The branches are then adorned with our little collection of easter eggs. It's such an easy thing to put together and looks fabulous.

Across the dining room mirror, I hung up this cute little bunny garland I made last year.

In the T.V lounge, the mantle has received a bit of attention too. Daffodils from the garden grace the mantle and the coffee table. Easter bunny chocolate eggs, gifts for friends who will be coming on Sunday to share a lovely Easter lunch with us, sit waiting patiently for their arrival.

My crochet Easter bunting has been hung up too. I made this about 3 years ago and I love taking it out each year. All that's left to add are a few candles.

The last spot to receive a sprinkle of Easter charm is the hallway. I have a bunch of cheery yellow tulips, two more bunny eggs and a spring flower garland a friend made for me a few years ago.

Do you add any Easter/spring touches to your home? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Hope you are all having a great start to your week.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Under An English Sky Yarns is Closing & Other News

Hello my Lovelies,

Can you believe that we are on the cusp of Holy Week already? We are just a week away from Easter and it suddenly dawned on me that I'm rather unprepared. We have been so busy here with exam prep with DD2 and I myself have been busy with my own studies which I completed last week (don't think I've told you about that yet) that March has just blown on by.

First, let me get a bit of news out of the way. As you can see by the title of this post I am closing down my little yarn business. It's been great fun but to be honest I'm just not enjoying it as much as I was. I thought that perhaps it was just a little slump and that the creative bug would bite again, but no. It is not to be.

After spending much time thinking about it all, I realised that there is very little point pursuing something that you just don't feel that passionate about anymore, especially when there are so many talented dyers out there who are passionate about it. So I'm packing away the dye pots and moving on to the next season that life is ushering in.

If you are a knitter and love Indy Yarn, then do hop on over to my Etsy store as I have drastically reduced all my stock. You may as well take advantage of the prices as they are all well below what dyers usually charge for their hard work.

Moving on...

We had more snow over the weekend, this time it didn't stick around as long as the first time. It had all melted away by the evening so not much inconvenience for us. We were the lucky ones though, other parts of the county received the brunt of the 'mini beast from the east'

If you are a long time reader of my blog you will know that this year is our final homeschooling year and I've been pondering on what life will hold once DD2 heads off to college. While I will not be rushing into anything I thought that this year was a good time to brush up my work skills. BC (before children) I was an Executive Secretary/PA and when I re-enter the workforce this is where I shall be looking, it's work that I love and am good at (can you see where the planning, organising etc traits you've seen reflected on my blog fit in 😁). I thought that it might be a wise idea to brush up on my skills so in August last year I enrolled in a Legal Secretarial course. As you can guess that is what has been keeping me busy and I am pleased to say that last week I wrote my last test and posted my assignment portfolio for marking. So I'm all done and await my results.

In January I spoke about how I love to watch what's going on outside while I wash the dishes. I thought I would share a funny little scenario I witnessed this week. A rather handsome Pheasant drops by to feast at the bird feeder at least once a day. He's become a regular visitor and I enjoy watching him fuss about at the foot of the feeder for spilt seed. Apparently, I'm not the only one who likes to spy on our feathered friends...

although I fear that her motives for spying are drastically different to mine 😂. I'm sure she was wondering how she was going to bag this bird for breakfast, I'm pleased to say that for all her stealthy stalking she thought better of it in the end and chose to let him be. When your prey is bigger than you are it's not likely to end well.

Anyhoo lovelies, I will love and leave you for today but I will be back next week to share some of our Holy Week thoughts and activities.

Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Yes! It Does Snow in Devon

This morning I set off to do my 'big' shop. I figured it was a good time to do it as we are expecting a blizzard tomorrow (Thursday) so today being forecast to be just dandy, was just the time to stock up the pantry. Well... perhaps not!

Halfway through my shop, I happened to glance out the huge glass front of my local Tesco and see snow pelting down from the heavens. 'Not to worry', thought I, 'I shall quickly finish up and be on my way.' Hmm...

Well, my 20-minute journey home ended up taking 2 hours of null driving. The snow was falling so heavily that driving visibility was only one car length ahead. As I drove through the suburbs just before the country lanes I need to drive down to get home cars started getting stranded on hills. I managed to get stuck three times but thankfully I do have a little experience driving in snow so zig-zagged my steering wheel in order to get some traction to get up the hills. I don't think it was terribly good for my car as all sorts of warning lights started to come on when I finally turned into my drive.

This is the road I live on. No gritters or snowploughs come this way so we need to be somewhat prepared to last a few days.
Once I reached the lanes, well, let's just say I think I had angels with me. Somehow I managed to get home but my poor husband is most definitely snowed out. Fortunately, he manages a hotel so that's where he will be staying tonight and possibly tomorrow night.

The sheep and their lambs were collected by the farmer this afternoon. Conditions are awful and certainly not good for lambs. I was very happy to see that this farmer cares so much for his livestock. 

As you might know, I am a snow lover. It is so magical. I don't like driving in it, it does create havoc that's for sure. But how can you not appreciate it's beauty?

Today we have had a few sunny spells between snow storms and WOW! I am always taken by the countryside's beauty under a blanket of snow. Now that we live overlooking the ocean, the snow views of snow meeting ocean are something special!

The amazing thing is that you can see the snow storms approaching over the ocean. It really is spectacular. I just love nature.

Anyhoo, enough snow pictures. You can see my full range of snow pics on my flickr albums if you are interested. Right now I'm going to grab a cup of coffee and snuggle up next the fire with a good book.