Friday Favorites (Educational)

Education is the movement from darkness to light. -Allan Bloom

As a teacher, I’ve been around some pretty bad curriculum (educational books and programs). So, when I decided to homeschool my two children, I felt like the heavens had opened because I, me, myself, could actually pick what I wanted to teach! I had a few things up my sleeve I knew I wanted my kids to be exposed to, but over the passed ten years or so of homeschooling, I have found even richer curriculum to share with you. If you don’t homeschool, these items are still going to benefit your child tremendously.

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When I taught music at the elementary school up the road, I was introduced to some wonderful movies on composers. My favorite is “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” which is adapted from the book of the same title. Beethoven has become a cranky, deaf, old man who is driving his neighbors crazy! The little boy who lives downstairs befriends him. It is a wonderful, true story.

Bach’s fight for freedom is a tad corny in places, but it is also a true story chronicling Bach’s imprisonment because he wanted to leave a post. It is an interesting movie.

I can’t say enough good about the Mystery of History series. In fact, I have never heard anyone not loving it! In a story telling type of approach, this author goes through History (with a Biblical, but not overbearing perspective). By far, our favorite was Volume 3, our least favorite was Volume 1, but it is still good. I love the way this author writes. Great for all ages (I used it when my kids were in elementary school and we are going through the books again now in High School and they love it even more)!

I have a tutoring business and so many of my students struggle with writing. I have found these books to be the absolute best in teaching writing. They have a color poster for each writing prompt and it is usually funny and full of ideas. Then, there is a worksheet (which can be copied) for the student to fill out to brainstorm. It is a wonderful way to teach writing to kids who get very frustrated with the writing process.

Every year when my kids were young, we would start doing Christmas Around the World around November. We would pick a country a week and learn about how that country celebrates Christmas. We would find the country on the map, draw the shape, then eat the food from that country, talk about the customs and languages, as well as the way they celebrate the holidays. It was great exposure for the Geography lessons ahead. This is the coloring book we used to prompt us every week in which country to study.

I think I have bought three of these because they keep going missing! The students I tutor absolutely love this game. I have used it for six years old all the way up to highschoolers! It is great for kids who are learning to read. However, what I use it most for most is teaching parts of speech- nouns, verbs, etc.

Unfortunately, the world we live in is a very test-oriented place for students. To prepare them, I always recommend one of these books. You can add a few problems every night to your child’s homework assignments or just put it in your homeschooling lesson plans. My kids always did these and it helped them tremendously on SATs.

I was very frustrated at the teacher supply store this year. The definitely don’t care about their homeschoolers! I know that sounds strong, but it is so true because not one of the books was for us. On top of that, there was not one lesson plan book or grade book that was usable. So, I went online and rolled the dice on this planner and I absolutely love it! It has a place for me to write my concerns for the week, prayers, and funny things that happened with the kids. It has a place for me to record grades as well. I love love love it!

I think the first day of homeschooling we worked at a desk and that was it. My kids love sitting on the couch and working. This is the best lap table I have found because things don’t go sliding off and phones can go neatly in the portal.

My kids are learning American Sign Language and this has been a wonderful reference for us. I highly recommend learning to sign through song. Our kids are going to be taking this class through our homeschooling co-op. This is group of 300-500+ families who homeschool who meet together once or twice a week. There, our kids can take regular classes. They can take Karate, Ballet, ASL, French, Geometry, Chemistry, etc. The list goes on and on. There are so many things to do when you homeschool, you will wonder who people say it’s not good for kid’s social skills. That always confuses me because my kids are going to social events constantly!

I love to add devotions to our regular home schooling day. The first one, Devotions from the Front Porch, is really precious. My daughter is reading it daily with me. I thought it may not be deep enough, but it really is. Very peaceful, wonderful reminders of a loving God.

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