We are curriculum free for now, and most things are patched together with yard sale and thrift store finds which makes for an extremely affordable education and lots of room for trial and error.
I thought I would break down our year and share some of our favorite things that worked well for us – I am sure I am forgetting some important things, so will update if I remember something.
READING LOTS OF GOOD BOOKS
We read books throughout the day, and then always at bedtime. Bedtime reading consists of 1 picture book, a few chapters of our current read aloud, 1 or 2 fairy tales, 1 hymn biography and/or singing hymns and a Bible story. It’s a lot, but the time is carved out for it. And they give us back rubs while we read.
A few scattered thoughts on good books:
> Let people know you want books. I have some sweet friends who are stages ahead in their homeschooling journey and they have been so generous in passing books onto us.
> Visit your local thrift stores. We have three in the area that I consistently find good books at – one of them is extremely cheap (they mark hard backs down to .35 cents on occasion!) and I visit that store 1-2 times a week. It takes me a few minutes to run in, scan the shelves for new additions, and then leave.
Collections of fairy tales are available at the library, and I have seen many at the second hand stores too.
Hymns for a Kid’s Heart is a series we have enjoyed. Each book in the series covers a dozen or so hymns – it gives the history of each writer and, if known, a bit about why the specific hymn was written. An accompanying cd includes all of the mentioned hymns.
I discovered these Torchlighters DVDS put out by Youth on a Mission and really enjoy them; we have read a few of the biographies as books, and the movies have really helped the boys connect to the stories.
I hope to stay on top of these book summaries and adding them to our binder to look back on in years to come.
Some favorites include:
– The Magic Treehouse series
- Story of the World, volume 1
– Jim Weiss stories (we have only heard a few, but have enjoyed them!)
– Classics such as The Secret Garden, The Wonderful World of Oz and Anne of Green Gables.
GIVING THEM THINGS TO BUILD WITH
But regardless of whether there is anything playing in the background, there is something to be said for the skills that come from sitting for hours building. I have watched their level of detail and complex creations increase over time – and that is a neat thing to behold.
All building toys except Lego need to be tidied up when they are done playing with them. Lego creations can stay out, but need to be pushed to the side. Each toy has its own storage, and I try to store building type toys in different rooms from each other.
LETTING THEM SEE THE WORLD
One day we will be exploring the world ourselves – feet in the dirt of the places we look at in pictures. But for now we just enjoy looking at a bigger world.
This laminated National Geographic map is one thing I did purchase brand new, and I have color coded the countries with stickers to show where friends and family that we know are living around the world, places we have been, animals we have studied and Bible places.
We talk about places around the world often and it is neat to see their excitement as they hear about places they have heard about previously (like when they listened to The Secret Garden on audio book they were thoroughly delighted that it starts in India – which is where my sister is currently living.)
We expose them to stories of people around the world through biographies and stories about different cultures, and every chance we get we have guests in our home – many of whom are living in other countries, or who have traveled to many countries.
WORKING ON READING SKILLS
These are short stories, each story starts out very simple and builds throughout the book on words the child has previously read within the story.
There are 4 stickers per story and the child is to add a sticker to the book each time they read it, and then move on to the next book when they complete the current story 4 times.
I thought I would slip the copywork in here – I have written about copywork extensively here in the past; the importance of copywork and how we make copywork work in our home.
A SMATTERING OF THINGS
And through helping around the house they are becoming useful people.
STUDYING THE BIBLE
Printables were found via Google and came from a variety of places. There is a huge assortment of resources available for free online.
PLAYING LOTS OF GAMES
Uno and Spot it have both been wildly popular and useful at teaching skills. Printing off free Bingo sheets and free mazes have also been fun additions to our days. I have shared some other Math Games we have used to help re-enforce math skills over this past year.
SPENDING TIME OUTDOORS
And our nature hunt poem was a lot of fun and had several other variations.
Our habit building will become a more prominent part again – it will be connected to our school year rather than our calendar year. And we will be exploring specific time periods and scientific subjects through our reading – but the goal, as it was this year – will be to build a love for learning and a mastery of the task at hand.