A list for homeschoolers, by Foxfier

Foxfier, here.

I homeschool our three kids—in as much as you can school, rather than just
be a mom to a one and three year old– but the five year old is doing fairly
well. From logging into the computer (with a password for her account) to
reading random short signs when we’re walking around and struggling with
reading a traditional clock, she’s learning. A lot of why we’re
trying to homeschool is safety related (we believe it’s a bad idea to teach
children that laws against assault don’t apply to protecting them, they only
apply to prosecuting if there’s a defense attempted) but a sizable chunk is
simply that it’s fun to feed her information as fast as she can chew
it down. Any mercy we’re taking on the poor teachers saddled with a child
that has that much pig headedness on both sides of the family is incidental.

So here’s a bunch of the resources I’d recommend, along with some that were
suggested at Ricochet.com; I hope others will add their favored resources,
since not everyone is doing elementary and pre-K education. All the
internet ones have good things that are free, although some sell additional
material. Mine are pretty heavy on print-outs. I’m thinking of making it a
“page” on my blog for easy sharing/updating, so please suggest new
additions. Title them something like EDUCATION RESOURCE and a short
description, perhaps?

Especially I’d like those who have a religious view to give the exact flavor
of their current observance, and what they consider a high quality source
for it. (I am an observant Roman Catholic, and would point to Catholic.com,
for example.) Likewise, if your job is one where there’s a lot of
misinformation, what the job is and a good resource; all those things where
you read something in the newspaper and growl about how incredibly
wrong what “everyone knows” is; please don’t argue with folks about a
source unless you share the belief/job it’s explaining, please, please!

My mom did the best she could to teach us outside of school, just like our
Hostess did for her sons, but my mom was greatly hobbled by the problem of
finding a source of information that was accurate and intelligible to those
who didn’t already know what was true. School really didn’t help,
between skipping subjects or leaving out very important bits. I have a
basic biology education that would make my science teacher sit down and cry
because it couldn’t be duplicated (in part because it was tied in with
emergency medical work on animals… you simply aren’t going to get 35 kids
in to help with a pig giving birth, or pulling calves, or even butchering a
bull that was hit by a car in the middle of the night) but there are a lot
of chunks of history where I simply don’t know a source I could trust.



– used their free part to start the kids on computers, ended up
subscribing to the entire site. (not expensive, once a year, multiple
computers) Good to just put the kids in front of with a mouse and
occasionally help with website navigation.

Learning Station
letter printouts – Tracers, printing, matching, word
association, fill in the letter worksheets, some letter based games,
coloring sheets. Biggest complaint is that each sheet is one at a time, so
it takes a lot of clicking to make an A-Z book.

Kid Zone Tracer
– Choose what they trace in block, script or cursive, has several
automatic options at a click, and can copy a line through the rest of the
page. Great for teaching “this is my name” type things.

Handwriting Worksheets
– has reading and printing practice, with block
printing, Zaner-Bloser® Traditional Style script, D’Nealian® Style script,
cursive. Tons of cute pages.

All Kids Network
– letters, shapes, matching, spelling, reading, fill in the
blank, sorted by topic instead of what it teaches you. (ie, “summer” not pre
writing through word-search) Has pre-writing exercises that my three year
old can manage. Mostly.

Success With: Kindergarten
workbook from Scholastic. I bought a bunch
of these from Costco several years ago and finally started on it– my
daughter mostly loves it, and if you add a basic 25c notebook they can copy
the letters more. Reading the directions can be reading practice, as well.

Bargain Bin dry erase boards from the Back To School supply bin, markers,
and permanent markers (I suggest something colorful for easier tracing).
Make your own “tracer board.” It’s fairly easy with a ruler, and rubbing
alcohol does nicely to erase the permanent marker if you’re quick.

Mead flash cards, or any other set that looks good to you; I spend a lot of
time at the bargain bin, and with a little ingenuity a lot of the basic
cards can be used for two kids at once. (Example: ‘younger, what is this
color? Correct. Elder, how do you spell red? Elder, what is this number?
Correct. Younger, count to sixteen, please.”) Use some sort of treat,
anything from sunflower seeds or goldfish crackers to jelly beans or mini
chocolate chips as a proportionate reward.

Have them tell you what random letters are, or what sound a letter makes, or
what letter makes a sound. “What is the first sound?” and
following questions are also helpful.


Numbers, Math

Starfall again, although
their free
samples are very
Heavy on songs. A bit quick to “help” kids find the right answer, although
it seems to have actually helped my eldest figure out the right answer.

Kid Zone “math” sheets–
everything from associating the numbers with their written symbol to basic
word problems. Go to the bottom for more suggested sources. Again, lots of

numbers/math sheets.

Coloring Books
– actually, lots of worksheets. Numbers, letters, math…
maybe I should make a section for “worksheets.”

Donald in Mathmagic Land- less for direct learning than for getting the idea
that math is useful, and as a mental health break for parents. (I suggest
Saturday morning.)

House Rock
– you can get a collection of all of the videos for about
thirteen bucks.

Uno deck. For little kids, play in “teams” with mom and dad; when they’ve
got the idea, they can play against you on their own. (Thus far, a kids
only game isn’t happening.)

Flash cards. Both actual numbers or math related ones, and the treats from
them. It is amazing how high a two year old can count when there
are jelly beans on the line.

Randomly ask them how many of something there are; we’re working on
memorizing multiplication tables verbally, too, any time I think they might
be bored. Sorting things by size is also useful.

Khan– Need to be able to read, so
they haven’t tried it, but I tried some bits and liked it well enough.



Eclectic Primer
. Check Amazon, we got the 1909 “revised” set up to
sixth grade for something like ten dollars.

Classic Dr. Seuss, both you reading and them reading.

Some good poetry, like Kipling.

Disney or folk songs- the rhyming and rhythm seems to help get the idea of
the parts of words, although I’m not phrasing that very well. I believe
it’s called “sound awareness” or something like that.

Drop the Tranny‘s
Dolche sight words. Found it as a Chrome extension, but the site works fine
on its own, too. Some of the words can be sounded out, some have to be
memorized, but they’re words that a kid needs to learn– click on the card,
it says the word.



Zoo membership. Our local flashy one is about twenty bucks a month, depends
totally on what you’re near; learning depends very heavily on the parent,
since every one I’ve been is so soaked in kool-aid it’s scary.

Obsessively stopping to look at the leaves on the flowers, trees, grass and
anything else that will hold still.

Find out if your local library has any online resources; it is
incredibly helpful to be able to “order” your books and pick them up
quickly when the kids want to go look at their books.

Randomly asking them to classify animals. Try not to laugh too hard when
informed a duck is a mammal.

Out Michigan
– basically just a collection of links; some are very

– collection of links.

Periodic Table Song

Eureka Physics videos –
educational videos, fairly basic. Not sure how well it sticks, yet.

Online Labs – have not actually
used it, but another collection of lots of free, online labs for various
science topics. Looks kind of advanced. (actual link is to chemistry)

of General Chemistry
– free online book.


Logic, Rhetoric, Speech

Stoa USA Speech and Debate

National Christian Forensics and
Communication Association

to Logic, Fallacies
– explains what fallacies are, a bit of history,
informal fallacies and false fallacies (reasoning that seems fallacious but
is, on consideration, not)

Memoria Press
Saving western civilization one student at a time. Link to the
“articles” page; haven’t actually tried any of their stuff, but a
lot of different classically minded friends have suggested it.


http://adamhoward.net/latin/latin.html”>Talkin’ like the Ancient

Work Interactive Notebook for Greek & Latin Roots



Project Gutenberg

The Internet Archive‘s
Digital Book collection

http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/kip_fra.htm”>Kipling’s poetry
via the Kipling Society


Founding Documents

Making of America primary
source digital documents collection (UofM)

Making of America
primary source digital documents collection (Cornell)



Did People Do in a Medieval City

Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire


General or Other

Web Exhibits – “an interactive
museum of science, humanities and culture.” Has some very pretty stuff.

Education.com 10 sheets a month for

Homeschool Mom
massive collection of resources and articles,
sorted by subject. (the tags at the top of the lesson plan page are how you
find, say, general math)

Big FAT Homeschooling List
– same thing that I’m doing here, but at
another site.

The Rules of

Rodger’s Riders Rules

Typing Club
learn to type, very basic

Learn States
and Capitals
– drag and drop names to places. Sticks surprisingly well,
although I don’t know if my daughter identifying Rhode Island as “the orange
one” will help in real life.

PBSKids.org – mostly helpful for learning
to use the computer, but has some relative size/amount games that seem to be
getting the idea across, several reading games, and my kids know an amazing
number of dinosaurs by species.

120 responses to “A list for homeschoolers, by Foxfier

  1. Looks like WordPress messed up all the links whose first word had an apostrophe in it. Weird.

    • eh, that wasn’t an apostrophe, that was a single quote!

      Single quotes are nightmares because of their use in apostrophes.

  2. Read Kipling’s Yellow Dog Dingo out loud rapidly. It’s a sing-song, and was very popular with my kids in kindergarten.

    • Got an audiotape of it at the library. Mommy thought more of it than the kids…..

    • Look for poetry that can be read, not just Kipling but also Robert W Service (lives there a kid with heart so failing as to eschew his fantastical telling of the cremation of Dan McGrew?) and other vintage poets. Baxter Black might also be worth trying.

      Lord Noyes’ telling of The Highwayman should please children old enough to grasp it.

      Find different reading of poems and discuss how the changed presentations affect the poem.

      Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends ought please any child.

      IF YOU CAN FIND A Golden Treasury Of Poetry, the 1962 Golden Records album featuring Alexander Scourby’s reading of such poems as Paul Revere’s Ride, The Highwayman, Gunga Din and others I strongly recommend it. It does not seem to be available on CD, more’s the pity.

      The McGuffey Readers are worth having around, as are the Lang Fairy Books and any good compilations of myths/folktales. I notice Jerry Pournelle credited as author of 1914 California Sixth Grade Reader, although the cover and forward indicate Pournelle as merely(?) providing commentary on the contents..

      • The Highwayman did not give me nightmares when I was young.

        That’s because I could never get to sleep, which is a necessary prerequisite to nightmares.

      • Their grandmother HATES the cold. They’ve already heard her memorized reading of “Cremation of Sam McGee” every time they visit and it’s not insanely hot.

        I didn’t mention it because it’s kind of a YMMV thing, but they’re getting lots of classic (like, “stuff their grandparents heard”) Country or Western music. Almost all translations/updatings of classic sea songs, which tended to come from the same soil as their great uncle’s beloved ballads.

        • *sings* Trailer for sale or rent. Rooms to let, fifty cents….

          (also stealth history lessons)

          • The Daughtorial Unit was fed a hefty diet of the Childe Ballads courtesy of Steeleye Span, such as Alison Gross and Misty Moisty Morning:

            Which reminds me of a lovely collection of children’s poesy collected by Wallace Tripp, A great big ugly man came up and tied his horse to me;: A book of nonsense verse, marvelously illustrated. Oddly, it can be got in hardcover more cheaply than in soft.

            As I was standing in the street,
            As quiet as could be,
            A great big ugly man came up
            And tied his horse to me.

            • Tracking down the poem above turned up this page full of delights:

              The Happy Family

              Before the children say goodnight,
              Mother, Father, stop and think:
              Have you screwed their heads on tight?
              Have you washed their ears with ink?

              Have you said and done and thought
              All that earnest parents should?
              Have you beaten them as you ought:
              Have you begged them to be good?

              And above all – when you start
              Out the door and douse the light –
              Think, be certain, search your heart:
              Have you screwed their heads on tight?

              If they sneeze when they’re asleep,
              Will their little heads come off?
              If they just breathe very deep?
              If – especially – they cough?

              Should – alas! – the little dears
              Lose a little head or two,
              Have you inked their little ears:
              Girls’ ears pink and boys’ ears blue?

              Children’s heads are very loose.
              Mother, Father, screw them tight.
              If you feel uncertain use
              A monkey wrench, but do it right.

              If a head should come unscrewed
              You will know that you have failed.
              Doubtful cases should be glued.
              Stubborn cases should be nailed.

              Then when all your darlings go
              Sweetly screaming off to bed,
              Mother, Father, you may know
              Angels guard each little head.

              Come the morning you will find
              One by one each little head
              Full of gentle thoughts and kind,
              Sweetly screaming to be fed.

              — John Ciardi

          • … no pets. I ain’t got no cigarettes, I’m a man of means by no means. 🙂

      • My kids prefer Jack Prelutsky to Shel Silverstein, and I have to say that I agree with them. Any library should have some of his stuff to check out.

  3. Sigh… I suspect I’ve lost all my lists. But I will say that Susan Wise Bauer’s Well Trained Mind is an excellent resource for those who want to try a Classical education and teach the Trivium. http://www.amazon.com/Well-Trained-Mind-Guide-Classical-Education/dp/0393067084/ref

    Also, from my personal background:
    Saxon Math might be a little expensive, but oh, so worth it.
    Field Guides (to anything. Libraries are great, but for these, find used ones and buy them)
    There’s a whole bunch of coloring books that I’m going to recommend, with all seriousness, for teaching science, applicable from elementary to college level. I was required to buy two (I already owned one anyway!) for my college Anatomy and Physiology course. Search Amazon for Zoology Coloring book. You’ll find the rest of them through links.
    The Bob Books are great for teaching phonics. My local library had them, as I couldn’t afford them at the time.
    These days, with all the educational apps and programs free online, it would be difficult to say which was *best* for anything. I remember creating curriculum lists back in the day (Mom let me do my own from 6th grade on, she just approved or added as needed).

  4. Reading-wise, you might consider this:
    The California 6th grade reader, 1914 edition. I haven’t used it myself, but it seems the reviewers all swear by it, and Jerry Pournelle re-published the thing.

    • Ah, the perils of not reading everybody before commenting. I noted this book above and while I’ve not read it a glance at the contents and introduction strongly indicate it as worth pursuing.

      BTW — when possible, read old books. Discuss the underlying assumptions. The Baum Ox books are still delightful, the original Tom Swifts are great fun and the old Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys books can be compared to more recent versions for discussion of how they’ve changed.

    • Overlooked that – and second the recommendation.

    • Mrs. Pournelle’s reading program is very good for starting readers, as well.

  5. CombatMissionary

    Thanks for this! My kids go to a good public school in a red state, but even in my situation it pays to be able to go above and beyond the public school system.

  6. Sur La Lune!


    It not only gives you the Top Twenty(ish) fairy tales that the kid needs to know to catch popular references, it also has a whole lot of other fairy tales so that your child’s knowledge is not limited to the Top Twenty. Don’t let Disney control their knowledge!

    Judgement may be needed to discern what’s age appropriate. There’s both the problem of frightening the kid, and moral issues, since there are a fair number of scamps or scoundrels who triumph.

    • Hmm. I recently read Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books. This moved me to philosophize at length about whether they are good for today. They have both points and problems.

      The at-length here:

      • My older kids adore old fairy tales. (Don’t ever ask my eldest what he thought of Frozen. Or any movie version of a fairy tale.) I don’t think fairy tales are for toddlers. They’re for 3rd grade and up. If the kids like spooky stories, fairy tales are pretty good. We haven’t done the Lang much–I think the kids read Blue and maybe Green. Brothers Grimm are quite popular here. I’ll have to point the kids at Lang in the library next time.

        • Choice is vital, but some are even suitable for pre-schoolers.

        • I quite like Frozen, but I might have liked it less 1. when I was younger and pickier about adaptations hewing close to their source or 2. if it had actually resembled the source in the slightest rather than being so different I keep forgetting it’s meant to be related to “The Snow Queen” at all.

          On the other hand, I spent a substantial fraction of Disney’s The Little Mermaid literally sobbing because I was young and naive enough to think they were going to use Andersen’s real ending. Which, as you may gather, I did not like much.

          • Yes. Avoid Anderson’s tales. Still more avoid Oscar Wilde’s. They are not for children.

            • I simply can’t understand how the @#$@# Anderson got a reputation for kids’ writing. It’s as depressing as the junk that my English teacher had us read.
              (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if the one about the father, son and child-cousin that go hunting, lose their boat, and drown when the tide comes in and it’s supposed to be uplifting that the father is found with his son’s boot that holds a starfish was written by someone trying to copy the HCA style.)

  7. Nice collection – my daughter and I have sworn that I will be responsible for home-schooling any sprouts to the family tree that she will provide. By coincidence, just last week I had a sort of client meeting with a home-schooling family whose 8-year old daughter was interested in writing and publishing, and so they looked around and found my publishing website … and set up a meet. I brought some different kinds of books, talked about covers and formats and ISBNs. They were quite pleased – and perhaps she will be a writer and publisher herself some day.

  8. Wow!!! Foxfier, you ‘re my hero. This is awesome.

    I would add Mind Mapping for Kids:


    and there is How to Analyze Information by
    Herbert E. Meyer.

    And… And… There is Edward de Bono’s Thinking Course, plus 6 Thinking Hats.

    And once they are older there is the Mind Tool website.

    That is what pops off the top of my head.


    • Ooh, hadn’t seen that one before… *puts in the check it out file*

      • Foxfier,

        There is also:

        How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes
        by Peter D. Schiff


        Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
        by Henry Hazlitt

        Sorry, I don’t seem to have anything more age appropriate.


        • There are materials explaining econ for grade schoolers — unfortunately memory does not even recall very many, with the exception of this:

          A little Googling on Economics for kids, however, indicates that judicious searching can produce good results. Try this site econkids[DOT]rutgers.edu/book-of-the-month-navmenu-221 and see if anything looks appropriate, such as …

          Title: The Year Money Grew on Trees
          Author and Illustrator: Aaron R. Hawkins
          Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
          ISBN: 978-0547279770
          Year: 2010

          Concepts: money; savings; entrepreneurship; risk; natural, human, and capital resources; wages; supply and demand; price; competition; producers and consumers

          Review: When asking their parents for something they want, many children have heard the response, “Money does not grow on trees.” Yet for thirteen-year-old Jackson Jones and his cousins and younger sisters, money did grow on trees one year when they found themselves immersed in an enormous endeavor to grow and sell apples. It all started with an offer from Jackson’s neighbor Mrs. Nelson, who owned the 300-tree orchard adjacent to their homes, for Jackson to take over the orchard. All he needed to do was earn $8000 from apple sales, hand it over to Mrs. Nelson, and the deed to the orchard would be his.

          No sooner had Jackson signed the paperwork formalizing this deal that he realized he knew nothing about growing apples and that he would need some cheap labor to assist him. Having nowhere to turn but a library book and his young relations, Jackson got to work. The effort proved monumental and entailed a steep learning curve that involved pruning trees, figuring out how to drive a tractor, digging irrigation ditches, weeding, spraying poison to kill worms, making decisions about where and how to sell all those apples, and dealing with the risk of Mrs. Nelson failing to uphold her end of the bargain.

          Not only does this book embrace a treasure trove of economic concepts, it also has a compelling plot, plenty of humor, and an endearing lead character. Any parent or teacher wanting to use an entertaining novel to teach young learners about entrepreneurial spirit and hard work will find a great match in The Year Money Grew on Trees.

          I cannot personally endorse the book, but it looks relatively free of twaddle.

    • Back in the 80s the de Bono thinking course was presented as a series of half-hour programs on NC’s public television. I’ve no idea whether they are distributed for private purchase or whether they are on Youtube, but they were superb.

      • Are this the it?

        de Bono’s Thinking Course

        • It looks quite similar to what I recall, although after thirty years is is difficult to be sure it is not a different presentation than the one I saw. For one thing, I recall it being more like eight or ten episodes, not five.

          Well worth watching at any rate.

  9. Excellent! And thank you. I use an app called Homer for my girls, only for iPad but does a good job with phonics, and we are writing a book together using only the words in their sight reader flash cards. My family is all storyteller, so they are also well steeped in that. Even at ages five and seven, these little girls tell a good story!

    • Oh, and we have a large chalkboard spray painted on the wall downstairs next to maps of America and the world. $4 for paint, $10 for tons of rainbow chalk, and they love it.

  10. A Few thoughts;

    1) One of the best science books for children ever written was THE EARTH FOR SAM. It’s badly outdated, but so is the supposedly “Up to the minute” stuff they’d get fed in school. As an example; it predates acceptance of the theory of continental drift. One of my early bedtime reading books (yes, my family is odd).

    2) The eleventh Britannica is STILL one of the best general references ever published, and is fairly readable. It is available free, online, at


    or you can pick it up secondhand for a few hundred dollars. Foten slightly less expensive (because it isn’t as famous) is the thirteenth, which has the entire text of the eleventh plus some new material.

    This is the Britannica that Scholars use as a reference. The articles on history and engineering are still perfectly sound. Some of the science has been OBE, but what hasn’t is solid. And it was written by the best experts of a day when experts were expected to be able to explain themselves in educated but understandable english.

    Really, the quality of writing is head and shoulders above any other encyclopedia I have ever encountered.

    3) Time-Life books are, in general, twaddle; the Nature and Science once especially. That said; their series SEAFARERS and THE EPIC OF FLIGHT are lots of fun, and can usually be picked up for a couple of bucks a volume. Also worth picking up are MYSTERIES OF THE UNKNOWN, less because of any startling revelations about UFOs or witchcraft than because they provide an excellent history of these weird subcultures, and in my experience kids will be fascinated. Their WWII and Civil War series will tell a casual reader more about either war than they re likely to want to know, while not being deep enough to satisfy someone with a real interest.

    • *shifty eyes* We…er… MIGHT have a really big collection of various “MYSTERIES OF THE UNKNOWN” type things. But no more than three shelves full. Although that doesn’t count the pop-history MYSTERIOUS! type books….

      I keep them with the RPG source material. Er, might, I mean.

      • (They are fun, and pretty, and a great way to keep the kids from trusting things Because It Says So.)

      • Hell, there are only 33 volumes to the Time Life series. Long on hyperbole, but good on the history of this stuff.

        Stay away from the LIBRARY OF CURIOUS AND UNUSUAL FACTS, though. Basically Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for the upwardly mobile, and badly researched and edited. Had an entry saying that nobody knows how Damascus Steel is made. Hell, when I was selling the things, I knew three smiths in Virginia fandom alone who made Damascus Steel blades. Now, maybe we don’t know how they were made past a certain point in history, but that isn’t what the book said. Sloppy.

  11. Thank you, I’m in my fifties, but I’m thinking several of the books in Memoria Press catalog should be in my personal library, Memoria Press even has copy books. 🙂

  12. If you do much long-distance driving, I’d recommend the _Roadside Geology of {state}_ series from Mountain Press in Montana. For the parents to have, and thumb through, and use to introduce what those funny looking rocks are, or explain why KS/NE/IA/IN/IL/SD/ND are soooooo flat. The press also has kids books that look pretty decent, along the lines of “cool critters and habitats” type stuff for grade schoolers.

    20-30 years ago, before it went strange, National Geographic had a series of kids science (natural history, critters, cool trivia) books for kids that I recall fondly. Don’t remember the series name though. I’ll try to dig around a little today and see what I come up with.

  13. Nothing to contribute, but thank you thank you _thank you_! As bored as I was in school, any kids I eventually father will probably need to be homeschooled. This is so very bookmarked.

    • Genesis of my looking into it, too.

      • You know, something _did_ occur to me. Over on Baen’s Bar, at Kratskeller and a few others, little egret likes to post Military History freebies available at Amazon. Give it a year and it’s possible to build up a nice little collection in an Amazon Cloud.

        • Biggest problem being that my kids will pull a book off the shelf and page through it, but they won’t do the same with an e-book.

          So I’m building a collection of pop history (etc) books, and all the “find out more” in e-form. 😀

          Thanks for the pointer on a place to look.

          • Penguin offers a series of Historical Atlases, on such topics as Ancient Civilizations —

            — Rome, Medieval Europe, and, well, here’s the series:

            The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History by Colin McEvedy 1
            The Penguin Atlas of Modern History : to 1815 (Hist Atlas) (Hist Atlas) by Colin McEvedy
            The Penguin Atlas of Recent History: Europe Since 1815 (Hist Atlas) by Colin McEvedy
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations by John Haywood
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt by Bill Manley
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece by Robert Morkot
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome by Chris Scarre
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia (Hist Atlas) by John Channon
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Bible Lands by Caroline Hull
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire by Nigel Dalziel
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Medieval World by Andrew Jotischky
            The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood
            The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History by Colin McEvedy

            These are great books (any Atlas is, for that matter) for kids to pull down and flip through.

            You can also involve kids in history and geography through careful use of such games as Risk and Diplomacy (although that last one is not conducive to family harmony — it might be better for them to learn it as an online multiplayer game when of appropriate ages.)

  14. For older kids (I’d say age 13+, but YMMV), Larry Gonick’s “Cartoon” series of books. Best explanation of statistics I’ve ever seen. His History series is very good, covering the whole world in given time frames, so you can match global cause and effect. He may be a little left of center, but not outrageously so. I’ve gotten most of them, and read them with pleasure. I use them sometimes to correct my children’s education after school.

    • I can not recommend Gonick. I’ve count him in outright lies. As in, he summarizes St. Augustine’s Confessions in four panels and tells five complete fabrications.

      • Thanks for the update, Mary. My knowledge of the pre-1750 world is very spotty. I know he has some progressive bias, but I still think it’s fairly low compared to the average public school history books. Not that that’s saying an awful lot, I admit. The science and math books have been great – much better than some college texts I suffered through, and easy enough for high schoolers to read through.

  15. For fun with history, how about Pepys’ diary? http://www.pepysdiary.com/ This site puts up the day’s entry, and has annotations. One thing I got from it is how history happens to the people involved…very, very slowly 😉 And they don’t know everything all at once. History books can make things seem inevitable. Pepys is more like a soap opera (They usually elide his romantic *cough* adventures. Ellipses R Fun!)

    I also like reading *old* encyclopedias, just for a contrast with what we know now. Some of the junk that came with my old house included 2 of 3 volumes of a compact encyclopedia from the early 1900’s. There was a biographical entry for some preacher that went on for several pages (never heard of him) and one small paragraph for this wet-behind-the-ears Sea Lord, name of Churchill 😉

  16. Cool! Sending this to my cousin. She’s homeschooling three, a tad older but she might harvest some ideas.

  17. Passed this to both DILs. One owns an in home daycare, the other does nanny work. Both believe that when entrusted with the care of other folk’s kids you should do your best to make their experience educational. The daycare owner took the time and trouble to get her teaching degree, but finds running her own business both less restrictive and more profitable than working in the public school system.

  18. I recommend vintage Singapore math. My math genius did parallel curricula with Singapore and Life of Fred (a more traditional-American-style curriculum written by a home schooling dad who teaches college math).

    For elementary levels with Singapore, it was called Primary Mathematics. I would add the challenging word problems and workbooks as well. Those are available on the christianbook website and others. For high school, it was called New Elementary Math and New Syllabus Additional Math. Those are harder to find. It seems everything is being Common Core aligned and I wouldn’t recommend those without seeing it first.

    Life of Fred is pure math fun. It starts with pre-algebra and goes through calculus. Throughout the series, there is a running storyline with Fred as everyone’s curious inner 12-year-old. When I caught my son reading the algebra book in bed with a flashlight, I went ahead and bought the rest of the series. These are the only textbooks that did not get sold or thrown away. The downside is that the problem sets are minimal. I thought it was great for concept and fun factor.

    In addition, I recommend the Well Trained Mind forums for connecting with other home schoolers and a plethora of curriculum suggestions. We used many supplemental math materials that I saw mentioned there. For one example, I think it was a Robert Blitzer book called Thinking Mathematically that I used as a fun-change-of-pace-break resource between the Singapore levels — I would never have known about that book without the home school community connection.

    In general, I also recommend old editions of anything, to minimize the dumbing-down effect.

  19. Another resource that may be available through your local library is getting books by Inter-Library Loan (ILL). Very useful for previewing a book before you have to spend hard earned cash on it.

  20. The most important tool in the home schooling kit is developing the habit of seeking and evaluating knowledge. Approach all questions as an opportunity to demonstrate the proper process to undergo in finding answers.

    Develop the habit of active watching when viewing television programs. For example, if watching Sesame Street ask why they flit through images so quickly and develop questions encouraging analysis of underlying premises of skits such as Bert & Ernie. WHY are they showing you this and not that?

    Using vintage television programs like the 50’s Bell Science shows provides an opportunity to focus on ways they wrongly anticipated the future, commenting on how big were their computers yet far less powerful than a modern PC or smart phone.

    • It can backfire, a bit. I regularly piss people off by looking at how a thing is framed, finding what information is available… and after consideration, coming to a much different conclusion than what they believe.

      Fittingly enough, it’s usually on school issues, which are almost always framed bass-ackwards. That’s what my folks got me started on, some random outrage story that when you stopped assuming everyone was a total moron, was probably at best a half truth.

      It also can result in a lot of self questioning… like I had when I noticed I was usually turning up on the contrary side of “Outrage!!!!1!” stories. I’ve got relatives that are reflexively contrary, and they’re even more thoughtless than average.
      I discovered that if I corrected for source of story– traditional news vs trusted “new” news source– the “traditional” news was heavily biasing the outcome, and I had a tendency to agree with the “outrage!1!1!” from new news sources…if they were the ones that actual research stories. Some I still disagree with on if they’re outrageous, but that’s usually due to different philosophies.

      Finally figured out that “Dog Bites Man” type stories are easier to manufacture than to actually discover, so the we-need-stories folks were taking any story like that which dropped into their laps. National examples include the PC Hype of the Week, which tends to come from the relatives of the supposedly wronged…and which fall apart when objective evidence shows up. In some cases they’d have fallen apart with even slight research, along the lines of “a five minute web search” or “call the other side and ASK” or “look at a picture of the building she says The Outrage happened in. Is her story physically possible?”

  21. Stuff that has to be bought: Saxon (pricey but not consumable, and you’ll be able to sell it to another home school family when you’re done.)
    Kumon (workbooks, all sorts of topics).
    Well Trained Mind, Story of the World series, History of the World series (http://www.susanwisebauer.com/books/).
    Asimov’s science books. Sure, they aren’t cutting edge, but for the most part they’re a good overview of their topics and since he wrote most sciences have been building onto theories and not overturning. Anyway, readable, which seems to be a pretty high barrier for scientists.
    Shakespeare: lots of fun as recitation work, also great practice in dictionary use.
    An encyclopedia. Suggest the dead tree kind if you have more than one kid for simultaneous usage.

    Stuff that does not have to be bought:
    http://donnayoung.org/index.htm (I use her printing tracing pages)
    http://amblesideonline.org/ (Charlotte Mason based curriculum and support)
    http://www2.seminolestate.edu/rrapalje/default.htm (math my oldest is using–he’s twelve, he’s doing Basic Algebra)

    Stuff that is not curriculum but may assist in keeping you sane:
    http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/ For when your gifted kid is driving you bonkers. Given the adults ’round this place, I figure there are plenty of gifted kids associated with them.
    http://www.titus2.com/ They are very religious and I don’t agree with them on all fronts. But if you have no idea how to schedule, Managers of their Homes spells out how to do it in detail. (I’m still not good at it, but I mostly don’t have every one arriving to music practice at the same time.)

    And I expect that’s enough links to get me moderated into next week.

  22. If you want to homeschool, but want some institutional support behind you, I have nothing but good things to say about K12.com It’s a hybrid of virtual charter school and homeschooling. If your child enrolls with them, the taxes you pay for public school go to them instead, so you receive the school materials at no direct cost to you. They are equipped to handle IEPs, and are better at it than your average public school.

    • Check the local laws– in Washington, if you use it you’re promising to have the kid do exactly the same as at the normal school, just at home. (Yes, we’re insane.)

      • Yeah, if your problem with public school is not the curriculum but other facets, I recommend the online public charter schools highly. Say you have a kid with insane allergies. I’ve pointed several parents who felt their kids were well served by the public education but not by twice weekly ER visits in that direction. (When the child is so allergic that touching a friend’s clothes that touched the dryer seal ring sends the child to the ER . . .)
        But I’ll warn you, parents may start with the online public charter, but they often don’t stay with it. Because very quickly they find out that one size fits all doesn’t and they’ve discovered that actually, there is enough support out there from other home school families that home schooling isn’t so scary after all, and half the stuff they were frightened of didn’t happen anyway. (Socialization, usually, they did a really good job of getting that fear into people. It was academics when I was a child: everyone knew you didn’t socialize at school.)
        Just remember that online public charter school is exactly that, and you are under the laws that apply to charter schools not home schools.

        • Sheesh. I knew my state had friendly education laws, but I didn’t know how bad it was for some of you.
          For us, charter schools have a great deal of latitude. (Including opting out of Common Core.) As long as the school’s students test at or above the public school average, and don’t overtly teach religion, they pretty much have carte blanche.
          The teacher’s unions would like to change this, of course. But they haven’t gained much traction.

          So for us, while the virtual school had a basic curriculum, it could be attacked at any speed desired. Once the child had successfully tested for mastery, they could move on to bigger and better things and the advisors were happy to help prepare customised advanced curriculum for them.
          It was a best of both worlds type of thing, and I wondered why it hadn’t caught on like wildfire.
          (We did this for 3 years. If we hadn’t gotten my oldest into the state school for the deaf and blind, we’d be doing it still.)

  23. When our kids were young we bought a wonderful series (64) of Character Builder cassettes published by Christian Education Service. Some years ago I tracked down the firm at (813) 986-4761 and they still had the stories, now on 5 MP3 CDs.

    One source for home school resources is the Christian Home Educators of Colorado http://www.chec.org

    Somewhere I have a US History series that consists exclusively of reprints of original documents. I have these in book form, but I seem to recall that there is a scanned version on the Internet somewhere.

  24. With respect to science and wonder in video form, the series The Day the Universe Changed, Connections, Connections 2, and Connections 3– all by James Burke are freely available online. (IMO, Connections 2 is the best of them.)
    They’re a bit much for little kids, but keep them in mind for later.

  25. Before Disney got it hands on it, the CD’s package for “School House Rocks” were pretty good.

    • I had a set of SHR for learning that was a “Windows 95/98 only” compatible thing. It was all games based on the cartoons. I wonder if there is some emulation software or something that’d make them work again.
      I wonder if I still have the things and where the heck I put them? … the computer was never delivered (silly mom thought her daughter really didn’t need to know how to work with a computer!) and I’ve been using the Winne the Pooh mouse pad for years

      • JP, if you are running Windows 7 or 8, you can right-click on the startup .exe and it will give you an option to run the program in “Compatibility mode” (“Troubleshoot Compatibility” in Win 8), one of which is Win 95/98. Furthermore, once you’ve found something that works, you can choose to run it in that mode from then on.

        • Should add that it doesn’t always work (it’s Winblows; if it worked perfectly I’d suspect a virus), but at least it’s a start.

        • first, I need to find those CDs … then I’d need a Win computer (the garage laptop has 7 but it has hardware issues and Lubuntu just doesn’t crash on it). Been considering another small laptop as I have a few Windows needs (like my Garmin GPS)

  26. Not sure if you have to buy it or not, but the DinoTrain web/TV cartoon series is cute, has dinosaurs, and gets the science right (OK, for versions of talking dinosaurs and a family of pteradons raising a small T.Rex). My 2.5 y.o. niece loves them, and I didn’t spot too much bad science in the two episodes I saw.

    • I promise, you have NEVER heard something so funny as a three year old talking about “King Cryolophosaurus” and talking about how Vlad is nocturnal, but the Pteranodons are diurnal.

      The PBS site has games for it. 😀

  27. If you do have a smartphone/tablet (and Stellarium is available for desktops and laptops for free from the open source community at http://www.stellarium.org ) try Starwalk.

    I haven’t had a chance to take a close lookout the astronomy coursework from Castalia House that’s intended for homeschoolers.

  28. And for engineering you can always teach them about the Rockwell “retro encabulator” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJKdh1KZ0w

    I kid…..

    In all seriousness – if you know enough english/etc. to understand WHY that’s funny, you’ve learned quite a bit. Especially the parts that are highly non-standard but accurate descriptions of standard phenomena….

  29. There is no better inoculation against statistical dazzle-dazzle than HOW TO LIE WITH STATISTICS.

  30. *sigh*

    I’ma gonna hafta drag Word Press into a dingy alley and have a little chat.

    Seems I’m the latest recipient of the RES treatment, as it’s arbitrarily decided I didn’t really mean it when I subscribed to comments.

  31. BTW — there are some very fine resources available through the C-Span archives.

    Admittedly, searching there can be … challenging.

  32. Thank you for the links. We home school too. My kids are a bit older than yours. I’m going to have to read through the rest of the comments to pick up on other recommendations. I have a massive collection that I have been gathering over time sorted into categories. Always nice to see more to look through.

  33. A multisubject worksheet generator site my kids have really taken to recently is http://www.worksheetworks.com/

  34. Hysterical (to me) that the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the request for “good poetry” was Robert W. Service, and almost the first comment I saw was by RES recommending RWS.

    I also thought that Foxfier was a misspelling of Foxfire, books I’d recommend as the kids get older. A great compilation of old timey knowledge and how-tos. Would make fun projects and on many of them you could research the science behind the skill before or after actually doing the project.

  35. On erasing whiteboards. This is a trick a secretary showed me a few years ago, that I have used many times since then. Basically, I had a white board in my office where I had written some notes and left them for a while. When I finally tried to erase them, they seemed to be permanent. I asked the secretary if we had any whiteboard cleaner, but she said, “No, you don’t need that.” She came in, took another whiteboard marker, and carefully covered the old writing with a solid new scribble. Then she waited a few moments, and erased the new and old markings. Just about everything came off. She repeated the process to get the last bits. It turns out that fresh whiteboard marker will dissolve old whiteboard marker, allowing you to get rid of that old note easily.

  36. Regarding things Kipling: His prose is often denigrated (mostly by those whose opinions are not all that highly valued here, anyway). However, one of the Jungle Book stories conveys some important principles. Back in the ’90s, I had a little trouble finding collections that contained it – perhaps someone had convinced the publishers that it was too subversive. I first read “Red Dog” at about age 10. That was probably a good age for absorbing the lessons.

  37. I have a website of links to educational materials called The Educational Computer Project.


    I have about 500 links on the site right now and hundreds more to be added. Here are some from the Social Studeis section:

    Prague Castle

    A virtual tour of the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic. It contains about 30 360 panoramic photos of locations in and around the castle.

    Links about the Prague Astronomical Clock. 360 cities and AirPano have panoramic images of the clock and the surounding area. Prazsky orloj describes how the clock works and what the symbols on its face mean.

    The panoramic images look best viewed full screen.

    • Thank you– and do you mind if I yank some of your resource links? I fully expect you to do the same. 😀

      (Mental note: add “big resource collection” section)

  38. Here are some links from the language arts section:

    Language Arts Section

    Hear Names – Learn the proper pronunciation of names from different countries. Click the name to hear it pronounced.

    Forvo – Audio pronunciation of words in English and other languages. Click on the word to hear it pronounced.

    English Grammar 101 – Grammar lessons

    English Grammar 101 – Beta version of new English Grammar 101 site.

    KISS Grammar – Grammar workbooks

    Argument Deagramming – This course provides an introduction to exploring and understanding arguments by explaining what the parts of an argument are, and how to break arguments into their parts and create diagrams to show how those parts relate to each other.