Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to Homeschool for FREE!

Have you thought about homeschooling, but don't think you can afford to do so?

Are you already homeschooling and have experienced a change in your family's finances requiring you to make budget cut-backs?

Or, do you just like saving money? (We all like to do that, right?!)

Then, you're in luck. Today's blog post is all about how you can acquire homeschooling curriculum and materials for FREE. Yes, I said FREE! This is a list of some of my most favorite FREE homeschooling resources. Enjoy!

1) The McGraw-Hill Companies offer printable English Language Arts workbook pages online for FREE! The printable worksheets include subjects such as: Spelling, Phonics, Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading Skills, Poetry, and more. The workbook is offered in it's entirety, in addition to supplemental workbooks, if needed. You may choose to print only pages you deem necessary, saving ink and paper, thus money. The grades offered range from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. These workbooks are what you'd use or see in a typical American public school. Here's the linked page: National Treasures Workbooks. If you want to save money on printing ink, you can purchase these workbooks at Amazon for little cost.

2) Does an education rooted in reading classical literature and putting an emphasis and interest on Art, Music, History, and Nature Study appeal to you? Then, Ambleside Online is a website you should check out. It's based on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. The information on the site is offered completely FREE.

A suggested time frame or "scope and sequence" is already laid out for you. This is particularly helpful for new homeschooling families who may need or want that structure. Grades or what they call "Years" range from Kindergarten through Year 12 (high school).  As much as possible, the suggested reading lists are linked to resources online where you can read the books or print them for FREE.  

To learn more about the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, you can find all sorts of videos on YouTube for FREE. I would suggest to start your research by watching videos from "Simply Charlotte Mason". Here's some of my favorites:

3) Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool is another great full curriculum website offered completely for FREE. The levels go from Pre-reading through High School. The subjects covered are: Art, Bible, Computer, Foreign Language/ Spanish, History, English Language Arts, Math, Music, P.E., Reading, and Science. Here's a link to their "About" page. Some of their materials are offered for sale (EP store or Amazon), if you like the feel of an actual book in your hands, but the entire curriculum is offered online for FREE. The suggested materials are also online and FREE.

4) Personally, we use the FREE educational videos on YouTube, nearly daily. Karen Hua  wrote a good article entitled Education as Entertainment: YouTube Sensations Teaching The Future for Forbes online, wherein she highlights some of the best YouTube educational channels. Some of her top channel picks are also channels we've enjoyed in our own homeschool, including:

Additional channels we've enjoyed are:

YouTube has compiled their most popular channels and informational videos into YouTube EDU, where you can subscribe for FREE to the sub-category channels:

5) Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where you can download and print teacher-made curriculum resources. Although many downloads are for sale, there are plenty offered for FREE. Each seller must offer at least one item for free on their store, buy many offer multiple items for FREE. All grade levels and subjects are covered. There are search options on the left side of the page. Be sure to click on the "Free" option. Once at the resource's download page, most offer a free preview of the material, so you can determine if it's worth the printing expense. I've printed off tons of materials from TpT, either laminated them or inserted them into sheet protectors and have created wonderful binders on specific topics. TpT is one of my most favorite go-to websites. 

(Here's a little bonus tip. Insert your worksheets into a sheet protector. Then, have the child use a dry erase marker to complete the work. The dry erase wipes right off. For any stubborn dry erase that might stay behind, use some rubbing alcohol diluted with water and a rag or paper towel. It will come right off, thus leaving your worksheet clean to reuse for another practice session or for another child.)

6) My final homeschool for FREE resource is a no brainer...your local public library. 

Libraries have come a long way, since I was a kid. They're not necessarily the boring and dreary places they once were. When I was a kid, I'd rather have gone to the dentist than to our local public library and have to use the card catalog to try to find a book. By the time I finally found one I thought I might be interested in, it was time to go home, and the thrill of a Saturday outing was diminished. The experience wasn't a pleasant one. 

However, the local public libraries of today have adopted much brighter, clean, and interesting decor. The computerized catalog system has greatly reduced the time spent on searching for that one book you think you might be interested in. And, the book selections are displayed in a more enticing manner. Many libraries have personal computers, which let's face it skyrocket the interest level of today's kids and parents. Some libraries offer a textbook lending service where you can try out textbooks or other books you've deemed a part of your curriculum, or they can help you find it elsewhere. I've even heard there's some libraries that carry entire curriculum that can be lent out to homeschooling families on an extended basis. There's no harm contacting your local library to see if they offer any of these programs. Who knows? Maybe, you can get your local library to start offering this service in your area.

Well, I guess this is enough information to get you started finding fantastic materials for educating your children for FREE. I hope this information serves to save your family money and time. What's your favorite ways of saving money or homeschooling completely free? Leave some of your favorites in the comment section. Happy homeschooling!

(Disclaimer: Please note. I am not being sponsored for sharing the content and resources within this blog post. These are my opinions only. The mentioned companies shall not be responsible for the content in this post.)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Give-a-Ways, Sweepstakes, Freebies Galore, and More!

Who doesn't like free stuff, especially around the gift giving season? Let's just get right to it. Here's a list of current give-a-ways, sweepstakes, freebies, and more. Please, make note of the deadlines. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for ya. Good luck!

1) 12 Days of DK Holiday Sweepstakes

2) Sonlight and some select sponsors are giving away a unique prize for 12 days, beginning on Black Friday (Nov. 24, 2017) through December 5, 2017. Click here to enter.

3) Freebies and ideas from Life Over C's:

4) Try the 123 Homeschool4Me (Nov 30) newsletter online, entitled Lots of FUN Christmas Ideas for Kids. Beth's list is worth checking out, including some free, adorable, printable recipes.

5) Do you just gotta spend a few bucks on gifts for Christmas? Check out Build Math Minds' blog and video recommendations 4 Mathy Things You Can Get Anyone This Christmas. She's got some good ideas.

I hope you find something that will bring joy to your homeschool or classroom during this Christmas season. Now, I'm headed back to Internet Land to hunt down some more freebies and great ideas. It's kinda my gift of time to you. 

Merry Christmas!

~Tonya Meadows

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ten Christmas Treasures for Your Home or Classroom

Happy Holidays!

Isn't this time of year simply delicious? I love when the holidays roll around. Everything from Thanksgiving to Christmas and the New Year excites me. Why? Because it's all about spending time with family and about slowing down the pace of day to day life to enjoy what nature and home has to offer. I love the cooking and especially the baking. I, also, love candy making. I think I must be related to Mr. Wonka. Seriously, because his chocolate factory is this mama's dream! The only thing about this season I don't like is the fact there's just not enough time to do everything I'd love to do. Which brings me to my point. To save you time, I've compiled a list of treasures for your classroom or homeschool, you're sure to love. I hope these resources add joy to your holiday.

1) To get you into the holiday mood and to touch base with other homeschool moms, here's this year's playlist to:

4) Crayola has lesson plan ideas for:

5) Have you seen the website All Things Christmas? Oh my goodness! If you're looking for any topic on Christmas, I'm sure you'll find it there.

6) Another kid-friendly website you're sure to love is

7) Love Disney? Here's Disney Family's Christmas page.

8) Want to teach your kids about serving others in need? Want to donate? Visit the Toys For Tots website to find your local Toys For Tots location, to donate, and more.

10) Love Christmas light shows? Here's The Great Christmas Light Fight site.

Well, I hope these resources give you a good start to your Christmas season. Enjoy this time with your friends and family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Decorating Our Homeschool Room for Fall

Here's some pictures of our homeschool room 
we decorated for Fall. I look forward all year to putting up our 
Mr. and Mrs. Scarecrows. 
They just leave you feeling joyous and happy.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Best-Laid Plans

All summer long, I had hoped and had planned for this new homeschool year of 2016-2017 to start off well organized and fun-filled. I even created a cute lesson plan binder filled with inspiration and ingenuity for staying on track. I wanted a disciplined schedule, where outside events and responsibilities did not encroach upon the daily tasks we needed to accomplish for our studies. I had all intentions of keeping a tightly ran ship. Then, as often it does, Life decided it had different plans, a mind all of its own.

In mid-August, my elderly father had fallen and spent a bout in the veteran's hospital. He had broken his hip and was too ill for a corrective or replacement surgery, leaving him bedridden for the remainder of his days. He was transported to a physical therapy / nursing home, soon after. Just a few weeks later, he passed away. Because he lived in another state, we took trips to be with him while he was in the hospital, and then again to attend his funeral service. My dad was a WWII veteran, and I couldn't be a prouder daughter.

Dec. 3, 1924 - Sept. 5, 2016

Mourning didn't last long around this house, not for a lack of love and adoration we hold for my father, but because we started adding adorable blessings to the family, soon after.

My daughter-in-law went into labor a month early giving birth to this adorable cutie-pie, a precious baby girl. 

Her toddler big brother is getting used to sharing the love. He's also learning how to behave around a newborn in the house. 

Not to be outdone, my oldest daughter went into labor three weeks early and just four days after the birth of her new niece. Here's her darling bundle of joy.

We went from having one grandchild to having three in the matter of a week! Visiting these precious babies, also, included extended travel. 

Even though we can make the best-laid plans, sometimes Life decides its going to throw us a curve ball, whereas we have to adjust and change course. What wondrous reasons for our family to do so. 

May God open the gates of Heaven for my father, and may God bless these two precious gifts he has added to our family...and to our schedule. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fantastic First Day Back to School!

We had an awesome FIRST DAY back to school, yesterday! Cameron started 10th grade and came home happy with his classes he signed up for, and he said all his teacher's seem to be the cool, calm types. His track coach is going to be his P.E. teacher. He has the same Spanish teacher as last year. And, this year he's trying something new...he's taking a THEATRE CLASS! Yep, my once (and still somewhat) shy Cameron is taking drama! WHAT?!  
We, also, had a wonderful first day back to our HOMESCHOOL with Danielle. While her brother had to get up at 6:30 am to go to public school, she got to sleep in...much later (and I'm not tattling on myself saying just how long I let her sleep, while I finished up my lesson plan book.) We started the day with chocolate chip waffles. A day can't go wrong when you start it like that!

I didn't dare get on the time warp machine I call Facebook, yesterday. There was just too much to do. Even though she got to sleep in late, we were able to go through all her main subjects (Language Arts, Math, History, Science) to review a few lessons we had worked on in the Spring, just to refresh our memories and give us a good launch to our new school year. We got through more than I had expected we would, which made me "Happy, Happy, Happy"!

I was able to finish and use my updated, cutesy lesson plan book I've been making and collecting goodies for over the past several days. I'm hoping to make a YouTube video featuring it, soon. I didn't have to work too much, got in a long late afternoon nap, made dinner, got dishes done before bedtime, played cards with the hubby and went to bed relaxed and thankful for such a blessed day with my loved ones.

Yesterday, life was at it should be, great!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Homeschool Planning: Advice and Planner Reviews

It's homeschool planning season once again. I've put together some of my most favorite planning resources to help you get started.

First off, it's a good idea to keep realistic expectations of how the school year is really going to go, instead of what is in your fantasies. Here's some great advice from Sarah Mackenzie on her blog post Planning is Just Guessing to give yourself grace with your scheduling and planning.

Getting started with an overview of the whole school year at a glance is helpful. Doing this allows you to see how many lessons in each subject you'll need to cover each week during the year. It, also, helps you know when your curriculum ends for the school year, which allows you to know an approximate school year end date. You'll need to know your state's laws and your locality's requirements in order to know the required subjects that need to be taught, the number of school days required for the year, the requirements for yearly testing, curriculum requirements, etc. 

In Homeschool Scheduling, Pam Barnhill shows you how to get started mapping out your beginning and ending dates by marking off your holidays and no school days, in advance.

A Renewed Life gives some great tips on things to consider when thinking about your overall school year in Homeschool Planning and Planner 2016-2017. She, also, reviews The Ultimate Homeschool Planner in this video.

My Mardel Homeschool TV has fantastic tips on how to approach your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning. She reviews A Simple Plan: Planner for the Homeschooling Family in her video Homeschool Planning Tips. 

Our Family Home Life does a good job showing you how she uses her Teacher's Lesson Planner by Blue Sky in *Homeschool Planning* How We Do It-Back to School.

Megan Phillips walks you through how she plans out all her subjects for a basic yearly overview by using Excel in How To Plan Your Homeschool Year. 

Lauren Hill gives scheduling and planning advice in her video How I Plan Our Homeschool Week.

Raising Clovers has wonderful organizational systems she shares in How to Organize Your Homeschool Curriculum: 5 Simple Systems. These systems are worth considering during your beginning of the year planning session. However, it's never too late to implement a system you feel will improve your own homeschooling experience.

Personally, I've adapted my own lesson plan binder using the Post-It Note method. By using Post-It Notes, I'm able to re-adjust my schedule according to what we may or may not accomplish during a day or week. If we do not accomplish a particular assignment on the planned day, then all I have to do is lift it off the page and place it onto the next day and I can do this multiple times, if needed. This way I alleviate all the writing, erasing, and rewriting involved than if I had written words directly onto my planner page. Tami Morrison demonstrates how she uses her computer to print directly onto Post-It Notes in Erin Condren Teacher Planner-Lesson Planning with Post Its. This way, she's able to use all sorts of fun fonts, font sizes, and clip art to make her planner look super cute.

You can make your planning and your lesson plan book as simple or as elaborate as you want. Whatever helps you maintain some organization throughout your homeschooling day is what matters. Homeschooling families have various needs, different number of students, different students' ages and developmental levels, etc. Planning and scheduling is all about taking into account all of your family's unique needs and your own personal style of organization.

Here's a few more videos you may find helpful:

Homeschool Lesson Planning by Full Time Wife Life