Although FreelyEducate.com is for all educators, I'm focusing today on homeschoolers, by telling you what free resources we personally use in our home. I hope this will give you a picture of how you can use the free educational finds in your little school.
Our children are in grades 9th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd.
Ambleside Online is the place I go for history and reading/literature book suggestions. I don't follow the Ambleside levels, though, because it makes me crazy when I try to teach 4 different levels at once. So we study just one level each year, together. If I can't find a suggested book free online (to read off my Kindle, which, by the way, is only $139 now with no extra fees – I justified it at the initial price of $350, ouch!), or if I can't find the book at the library, I look for an alternative that's free, either by searching online for a good book or by looking at a different Ambleside level.
For Science, the children may watch a good quality TV program and experiment with all sorts of kits and supplies and gadgets (rocketry, electronics, chemistry by baking, etc.). Science is a natural around here — we're curious, experimenting folk. We supplement our experimenting with a few sites like Katz on nutrition, Stossel's free DVDs, and this elements chart. Also, our 9th grader is in the Civil Air Patrol where there is an emphasis on aeronautical science.
The 9th grader and 7th grader are using this Grammar program this year.
The children also need some Current Events. I like Izzit for that.
For Art, the kids have the freedom of using any supplies they like when they like. We keep art supplies readily at hand. We completed every video from illustrator Jan Brett. And this year, to give them some information on drawing basics, we're using Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes (not free – it's a book). Our 2nd and 5th graders also take a free art class at the local library.
For writing, we do a lot of copywork (copying high quality literature from their literature or history books and often the Bible). Dictation is once a week (I read a passage; they write it down. We then go over it together, discussing spelling and punctuation). I find that it's best to learn spelling from words you're already using or reading, instead of from spelling lists, so the above methods (copywork, dictation) work well for us, but a year ago our then-5th grader was having a hard time because she was so-very-phonetic, that after reviewing All About Spelling, I started using it for her (here's a post on why). I had our 8th grader "teach" it to her (90% of what you teach, you retain, so I've heard). It's made a difference, so our younger children are using the All About Spelling program, too, but honestly, I think reading great books and writing daily makes the biggest difference of all.
For language learning, we are using Tell Me More (which is not free at all, but if you want it, here's an offer from them: Save Up to 25% off and Free Shipping on Select Language Learning Software). When we want to interact with native speakers, or simply to learn even more, we go to the free language learning site, Live Mocha.
Our little gal, 2nd grade, is moving along at her own pace with the free reading program at Progressive Phonics. She spent preschool and kindergarten at Starfall. She is going to use the free ebook that we recently highlighted for Penmanship this year.
Whew! Obviously, we don't do all of this in one day! I didn't even mention practical skills, P.E., geography, economics….but I think this list is overwhelming as it is, with the many links for you to visit. I hope it gives you an idea, though, of how to use the free resources found at FreelyEducate.com. If you'd like me to expand on this post, or post it in a loose schedule form, let me know.
We're on the look out for the highest quality, 100% free, educational finds for ourselves, as much as we're trying to find them for you.
~ Lori Seaborg
(photo by me, of our little gal learning at the computer)
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