This recommendations and resources page is brand new… I decided to start collecting all the books, links, curriculum, etc. in one place. This list will change & evolve over time. I hope it’s helpful.
Some of Our Favorite Read-Aloud Chapter Books
- Because of Winn Dixie
- A Place to Hang the Moon
- Charlotte’s Web
- Trumpet of the Swan
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (Entire Narnia Series)
- Little Pilgrim’s Progress
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins
- A Little Princess (6+)
- YWAM Missionary Biographies
- Wild Robot
- The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (my kids love this series)
- The Penderwicks
- The Green Ember (my kids love this series; I couldn’t get into it… good as an audiobook!)
- Little Britches
Favorite Drawing Books
Did you know drawing builds most of the same skills as handwriting practice? Drawing books + supplies + sketch pad make a GREAT kid birthday gift too. It’s one of my go-to gifts for kid birthday parties.
Pro tips 😉 – Leave drawing books and supplies around for your kids to “discover,” so they think it’s their idea to work on them. Show kids how the step by step drawing books work. Sit by them and try some yourself. Let kids take them to bed or rest time for a quiet activity.
- 365 things to draw and paint – this one is an oldie but a goodie.
- How to Draw All the Things for Kids – Alli Koch is the author of a whole series of drawing books! “All the Things” is my favorite for beginners. We also have Magical Creatures and Animals.
- For kids 9+, this Draw 50 series is great!
- So is the How to Draw with donuts on it. This author also has several books.
- How to Draw Cute ______ Books by Angela Nguyen are some of my girls’ favorites. There are several!
- And last but not least… the Ralph Maseillo books are more niche and weird, but super cool.
School & Office Supplies
And if you’re brand new to homeschooling or just want to know my absolute basic essential supplies, here is my Top 10 list… that actually turned into a top 11 list.
I 100% believe in the benefits of memorizing poetry. In fact, I think poetry memorization + reading aloud is all you need to teach language arts until 5th grade. (Plus teaching your child to read and doing a basic handwriting or copywork program.)
We use IEW’s Poetry Memorization Program. We don’t review quite as intensely as they suggest but my kids’ review 5 poems a day on their own and never complain about it!
Here is a pdf copy of the introduction from the teacher’s manual; it explains why poetry memorization is so important.
You can buy the teacher’s book from IEW, Rainbow Resource or Christian Book. You don’t need any other pieces of the program to be successful, though the CD is helpful and recommended. The student books are optional and fun for coloring in the pictures as the kids go. Alternatively, you can photocopy the teacher’s pages of the poems for your children and stick them in a folder or binder for easy review.
Other Poetry Collections & Books We’ve Enjoyed
- Mother Goose – this is my favorite edition. It’s beautifully illustrated and has 100 of the best Mother Goose rhymes. Great for all ages, but especially great for 1-5 year olds
- Nature Poems – amazing pictures, by National Geographic
- Animal Poems – amazing pictures, by National Geographic
- Inexpensive Poetry Collections by Author – Simply Charlotte Mason “Enjoy the Poems” Collections.
- Hilaire Beloc’s Cautionary Verses – We stumbled on Hilaire Beloc through the IEW program recommended above. The kids latched to a couple Beloc poems and they always made us chuckle. (My 5 year old has declared The Vulture his absolute favorite. So we checked out this book from the library and laughed our way through it. I promptly bought a secondhand copy.
- Shel Silverstein- So funny with word play.
These are our family’s top 20 word play & rhyming books. The ones we’ve read over and over. The ones that appeal to ages 3-100. ❤️
I’ll share my personal recommendations, but Kate Snow has an entire website devoted to helping homeschool parents teach math confidently and thoroughly. She has a math degree from Harvard and homeschooled her kids, so you should probably just read her in-depth explanation of how to pick curriculum with reviews.
Generally speaking, I recommend you look at samples and even print out samples & try a lesson whenever possible. Also, I’d suggest picking the math program that looks fun to teach!! Don’t stress too much because you can always change your mind, and you can always flex & fit a program to your own family.
- Singapore Math – All their programs are good. We started out with Dimensions and switched to Primary 2022 when it came out. It’s been great for my kids, but you do have to learn how to teach it. It’s not rocket science to teach, but it takes a little effort to learn their language of math and approach to teaching math conceptually, in a hands-on way to very young children. This is still my default favorite because I’m familiar with it.
- Math With Confidence – A newer math program that is a great combination of teaching math concepts well & explains to normal parents how to teach math. This is my go-to recommendaiton for new homeschooling parents, though there is no one-size-fits-all. (Only available through 3rd grade as of May 2023. Releasing 1 grade level per year.) Helpful free Facebook group if you have questions.
- Right Start – Great math foundation for your kids, very teacher intensive & time consuming. Alternatively you can use the Games & Cards kit or the Abacus Activities Book to supplement a different math program.
- Beast Academy – Rigorous, problem solving style. We have switched over to Beast Academy entirely for my kids 7 and older. I’ll also consider the higher level math curriculum AoPS built by the same company when we get there. So far, my kids like it and it’s challenging! Also, Kate Snow approves. 😉
- Math Mammoth – This program is simple, inexpensive and teaches concepts well, while mixing in review. It’s pretty easy to teach. You could use Kate Snow or Right Start math games if you wanted more activities to supplement.
Learning to Read
I have a brand new workshop that’s available to anyone!! I taught it live and recently made it available in my shop. You can buy it as a stand alone or bundled with my phonogram kit which will give you everything you need to get started with teaching your child to read.
I explain the steps below, but go more in depth in the workshop.
STEP 1 – Assess readiness and start with phonogram sounds
You can teach your child to read. And it doesn’t have to involve tears. You can buy an expensive program, but you don’t have to. Personally, I encourage parents to learn the general process of how kids learn to read and then working towards fluency one-bite-of-the-elephant at a time. Some kids learn quickly; many take years to go from letter sounds to enjoying reading independently.
I suggest all beginning and struggling readers begin with phonogram flashcards & playing this blending game. Regardless of what curriculum you choose to do, these 2 things are the absolute foundation and learning them before you dive into expensive curriculum will serve you and your children well.
Not sure if your child is ready to learn to read? Walk through this checklist.
Once the child can easily complete the last phase of that blending game linked above and knows the first 26-30 phonogram sounds, you can begin a simple “open and go” reading program or just start building words.
STEP 2 – Build words and learn to sound them out
I’ve personally used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to get our kids going on just reading words, sentences, and stories. I tried to use it as-written with my first and about died. LOL But with our other other kids, I’ve used it at our own pace and it’s been a great tool. It’s nice to just have reading lessons that open, go, and increase in difficulty gradually. (The intro and script can be a guide if it’s your first time.)
Explode the Code can be a good supplement to the above approach that I’ve taken. My current almost-6-year old sorta likes using these workbooks sometimes. He goes on and off with choosing them. They’re quite redundant.
The Good and the Beautiful Kindergarten Language Arts program is also inexpensive and focuses on teaching 5-6 year olds (ish) to read. I hear some people say they use it exclusively, but most people that I’m aware of feel like the need to supplement with more intensive, explicit phonics or phonograms.
I’ve used it for fun with a couple of my kids, but I don’t think it does a very good job as an exclusive program. Most of the extra “language arts” stuff in it is fluff that can be acquired in better ways through memorizing poetry and just learning to read with phonograms. (I know it looks pretty and some people rave about it! But if you look in the preschool/ kinder Facebook groups for their programs, many people are asking “what else can I do to supplement reading instruction. My kid isn’t getting it.”)
This post has beginning book recommendations for kids at every level. Whether you want books with words like PAT, TIP, HAND or cuter beginner books that have actual stories. It recommends books all the way up to the beginning chapter books reading level.
STEP 3 – Practice, practice, practice!
Once your child is fluently reading, you can either continue in a formal program or just read books.
I have friends who swear by TGTB, Logic of English Foundations, and All About Reading. I’ve tried them all, mainly to be able to give an experienced opinion so that I’m not recommending things I haven’t tried.
Logic of English & All About Reading or Spelling will work amazingly for a variety of learning styles
HOWEVER – the pacing for both feels too slow and not custom enough for me. That’s just me, though! Do what works for you! If you really want something that will spell everything out for you, LOE or AAR are great options. I always recommend downloading samples and trying things before buying.
LOE foundations is for younger kids. (Ages 5-8). If you have a new reader or struggling reader who is 8+, consider using Essentials instead.
So far, I’ve just had my kids read and spell words, then sentences, then start simple books. I explain this in detail in my How to Teach Reading Workshop.
Once a child could read basic “I am Sam and the fat cat ran” type texts, we worked our way through the All About Reading Readers, one book at a time. They’d read aloud to me 10- 15 minutes a few days a week… often alternating sentences/ paragraphs/ pages.
These are my favorite readers ever! Engaging stories, gradually leveled, and great illustrations. My kids and I loved them. They’re especially worth owning if you have more than one child. There isn’t an easy way to order all the readers… you just have to navigate to the level you want and order the readers only. There are 2 readers for each level, except level 1 has 3 readers.
Rainbow Resource also carries them!
Unpopular Opinion – you don’t need an expensive, comprehensive Language Arts program.
The goals of Language Arts studies are to understand the mechanics of the English language, become a good reader and writer, fall in love with reading and stories, communicate effectively, enjoy & appreciate a variety of poetry and art and you might even add map studies to Language Arts. (Map studies also integrate well with history… which is just the story of people… which can be told through language arts and literature… so it’s all connected and we’ve come full circle. LOL)
Anyway, all that to say, the following activities take the place of a Language Arts Program for Kindergarten through 5th grade. And good heavens, you don’t have to do all of them all the time!!
- read aloud a variety of poetry and literature
- require independent reading
- have your children practice handwriting and do copywork (or begin a writing program in 3rd-5th grade)
- memorize poetry
- reference maps that tie to books
- sing Musical Memory English Grammar Songs (prek-5th grade)
- begin to add basic grammar sometime between 3rd and 6th grade
- some sort of fine arts exposure
I have chosen to not use a comprehensive language arts program because that fits my homeschooling style (for now) and we do all the other described activities in our homeschool. We don’t do every single thing on that list every single day, but we’re hitting them all over the course of the months and years.
If you reeeally want a full blown step by step reading or Language Arts program that will take 30-60 minutes a day, then I recommend:
- The Good and the Beautiful (You should add phonogram cards alongside this program to make it easier for your kiddo to pick up reading! They say you don’t need to, but lots of people in the Facebook groups say their young children have trouble learning to read only using TGTB. )
- Logic of English Foundations
- All About Reading or All About Spelling (I know their website says otherwise, but you don’t need both. If it were me, I’d just use AAS and double dip to use it as a reading and spelling program.)
- Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Activities for Little Ones During School Time
- Kinetic Sand – I keep ours in a shallow bin like this which easily stores under a bed or couch.
- Dried Pasta bin – Similar shallow bin with dried pasta & let the kids choose their own kitchen utensils from your kitchen; pasta is easier to clean up than rice. I have my kids sweep up their own pasta with a dust pan before moving on to a different activity.
- Rush Hour & Rush Hour Junior
- Cat Crimes – a fun “who done it!?”
- Jump In – a cute fox/ rabbit game similar to rush hour
- Tetris Style Wooden puzzle
- IQ focus – my kids LOVE this!! I’ve seen people ages 4-50 enjoying it. So, highly recommend! Haha
- Shoot the Moon
- Small planks for building
- Flower garden – this one is a fave
- Pattern blocks – you can print on cardstock or laminate some free activity mats.
- Rubberband geo board
- Puzzles – these and these are cute for 2-4 year olds
- Magnetic cube blocks
- Magnetic tiles – an all time favorite at our house
- Playdough – especially fun with some clay tools for cutting and moulding.
- Sink play – I put a beach towel or two underneath a kitchen chair at the sink and let the kids go to town. If you keep a large sponge nearby it’s easier for them to clean up their own spills.
I try to rotate things in so that there occasionally new toys available for school time. You can have a bin and rotate on a weekly basis; or you can just randomly bring new toys into the school area for your little ones.
If it works in your space, having basic art supplies pretty accessible for little kids can be an easy way to occupy them – water color pallets, cheap oil pastels, half sheets of paper, markers, coloring books.
Include them! If they want their own little books, I love dry erase tracing books. My kids have loved these 3: one, two, three. I keep cute erasers on a magnetic dry erase board or refrigerator and remind them to erase when they’re done.
Books About Homeschooling
By recommending a book, I’m not saying I agree or implement every single idea in the book. Good gracious, that’d be overwhelming. But I like to read a couple homeschooling books each year… I sorta think of it as “professional development.” ❤️ Even if there are things I personally don’t agree with or practice from a book, I’ve learned something from each of these books listed below.
First 5 are my favorites… after that, there is no particular order.
- Teaching from Rest – I reread this one every August.
- The Read Aloud Handbook – 7th edition is the last one the original author edited! I like that one best.
- The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education
- The Call of the Wild & Free
- Morning Time: A Liturgy of Love
- Weapons of Mass Instruction – this one will blow your mind
- Know & Tell
- A Charlotte Mason Education
- The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschooling, Learning, and Life
- The Enchanted Hour – this one isn’t about homeschooling in particular, just reading to your kids. It’s really sweet!
- Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Homeschooling
- Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child’s Heart to the Beauty of Learning
- Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him