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
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
- 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!)
Favorite Drawing Books
^ this is one of our all time most used art books! You can buy it used 🙂
^ All her drawing for kids books are wonderful!
How to Draw Cute Stuff Books by Angela Nguyen
This Drawing Faces book is on my list to add to our collection this upcoming school year.
And last but not least… the Ralph Maseillo books are some of our faves!!
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.
- 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 our absolute favorite all-ages poetry memorization “curriculum,” from IEW. The kids latched to a couple Beloc poems and they always made us chuckle. So we checked out this book from the library and laughed our way through it. I promptly bought a secondhand copy.
- IEW Poetry Memorization Program – here is a pdf of the intro about 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.
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.
- 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’re just dabbling in the online memberships now, so I’ll have to postpone my review/ opinions until we have more experience. I am considering Beast Academy and the higher level math curriculum AoPS built by the same company. So far, my kids like it and it’s challenging! Also, Kate Snow approves. I just have to figure out how to teach/ manage it if we want to switch to it as our main curriculum.
- 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
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.
Personally, 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.
The Good and the Beautiful Kindergarten Language Arts program is also inexpensive and focuses on teaching 5-6 year olds (ish) to read. Personally, I would skip the reading booster cards in this program and just buy the main spiral bound book, the Reading Booster A & B books, and My First Nature Reader. And add my phonogram cards!! TGTB does not include phonogram cards and I think they’re essential!!
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. Personally, they’re all too time intensive and busy-work feeling for my homeschooling personality. That’s just me, though! Do what works for you! I always recommend downloading samples and trying things before buying.
So far, I’ve used the just read approach for our kids, who mostly picked up reading pretty easily. 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 day… often alternating sentences/ paragraphs/ pages. These are the best readers I’ve ever seen! 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 books… 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!
Here is my giant list of beginning reader books for all the different stages of beginning readers.
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