5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

A while ago, I noticed the effort my second-grader once put into his reading curriculum faded. In fact, his spark for reading somehow disappeared altogether. While he’s had a love/hate relationship with reading this year, I can say for the most part that once my son started reading the required text, he’d actually end up enjoying it. But this outcome started becoming few and far between.

 

One day, instead of telling my son to rewrite his summaries, I simply read through some of the required literature for his curriculum. All I can say is, BORING! We had just read through a wonderful series by Thornton Burgess, which I mention below. Now, the curriculum was full of short stories about medieval history that my son struggled to connect with.

 

I finally asked, “Do you enjoy reading this?” To which my son replied with a defeated, “no.” It was then I decided to forgo the latter half of the reading curriculum and implement one of my own. Not because I believe everything my son learns should be “fun,” but because the curriculum no longer aligned with our vision for homeschool.

 

And what is our vision? Part of it is to foster a healthy relationship with learning that teaches and encourages our children to be lifestyle learners. In my opinion, there’s nothing healthy about forcing a child to read something they simply can’t connect with. Instead, I decided to find literature that would put that spark back into his eye.

 

Here are the ones that made the cut… and they all can be found at your local library!

 

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

 

 1. Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants

This superhero series by Dav Pilkey includes 12 chapter books. Captain Underpants is the nice alter ego of a mean principle named Mr. Krupp. The superhero was accidentally created by two fourth graders, George and Harold, who somehow managed to hypnotize the mean principal and turn him into a superhero that mirrors that of their homemade comic books. At the sound of finger snapping, Mr. Krupp becomes the notorious Captain Underpants. He returns to an ill-tempered principle when soaked with water. The recommended reading age for this series is seven and up.

 

What does my son like about this book? If it’s not obvious yet, it’s names like “Captain Underpants,” “Turbo Toilet 2000,” “Doctor Diaper,” “Sir Stinks-A-Lot,” and the list goes on. The silly names and storylines are what make this series a winner for my second-grader. Not to mention, the comical blacklined illustrations that make the novels even more engaging.

 

2. Amelia Bedelia

Amelia Bedelia

This chapter book series by Peggy and Herman Parish chronicles the mishaps of a fun-loving maid named Amelia Bedelia. Employed by a wealthy couple called the Rogers, Amelia Bedelia never gets anything right due to her literal take on simple commands. For this protagonist, a request like “dust the furniture” may result in tons of dust being poured onto the Rogers’ expensive furniture. Since Amelia Bedelia never got the memo on figures of speech, asking her to “undust” the furniture would be better received.

 

What does my son like about this book? The comical effect of Amelia Bedelia’s incorrect actions. It’s just a fun way to explore figures of speech and to think of more precise ways to communicate with others. My son laughs out loud often while reading any book from this series. Again, this is another silly chapter book series perfect for ages seven and older.

 

3. The Cul-de-Sac Kids

 

Cul de Sac Kids Chapter Books

This fun series chronicles the shenanigans of neighborhood friends who call themselves The Cul-de-Sac-Kids. Each series shares a compelling narrative by introducing a new mystery for The Cul-de-Sac-Kids to solve. Written by Beverly Lewis, this chapter book series also incorporates invaluable life lessons like the importance of faith, friendship, and family.

 

What does my son like about this book? The presence of diverse characters, which is embarrassingly lacking in children’s literature these days. The diverse characters also mirror my son’s real-life friendships, making them super relatable. This chapter book series is marketed for ages seven and up.

 

4. The Stories Julian Tells

The Stories Julian Tells

This series is new to us, but I wanted to include it because it was one of the first books my son gravitated to when it came home from the library. The story is about a boy named Julian who uses his big imagination to tell amazing stories, causing some mischief along the way with his little brother, Huey. The book is written by Ann Cameron, who also wrote another series of books about Julian’s best friend, Gloria. If you’re looking for chapter books with black protagonists, check out these series!

 

What does my son like about this book? Right off the bat, my son likes that the male protagonist looks like him. I imagine it was one of the first books he gravitated to because of the colorful illustration of the smiling brown boy on the cover. There are also some great blacklined illustrations inside this book. We’re very interested in reading other books from the Julian series. The recommended reading level for this series is seven and up.

 

5. The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk

Adventures of Jimmy Skunk Chapter Books for Kids

I was not expecting my son to like these series of chapter books by Thornton Burgess. They are a bit old-fashioned, originally published in 1918 I believe. This chapter book series, along with Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, and Peter Rabbit, accompanied my son’s second-grade reading curriculum and he loved reading all of them. The stories take readers on an adventure of what life is like in the meadow for creatures likes toads, foxes, rabbits, skunks, possums, and so forth. The furry characters are funny, mischievous, and likable.

 

What does my son like about this book? My son really connected with the humor in this series as the characters were so set on pranking each other. He also learned about some of his favorite animals and what life is like in the meadow. I loved the awesome vocabulary used throughout this series. Very challenging, yet easy for children to use in everyday conversation. This series is suitable for ages seven and up.


 

That concludes our list of five fun chapter book series worth reading. Another great one is Chronicles of Narnia, but we’re using that for our read-aloud. I know. I know. It’s a shame we’re just now letting this series grace our learning experience. But my boys are mostly into comical books right now so that’s the genre we primarily read. They love to laugh, and I don’t blame them. Learning mixed with laughter is a great recipe for developing lifestyle learners.

 

Let us know your favorite chapter book series below!  

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing | Pre-Reading Skills

Last year, my then three-year-old decided he wanted to start his reading journey. I admit I was a bit hesitant considering all the research I’ve read making a compelling case against early reading. In fact, I’ve had success waiting until my oldest son was six-years-old before starting formal reading lessons. Although some of his peers learned to read as early as three-years-old, my oldest son went from being an emergent reader to reading chapter books in a matter of a few short months. That alone was enough to sell me on waiting with my youngest son.

But things didn’t quite work like that. One day my little Jam was watching a phonics video on YouTube (Hooked on Phonics to be exact) and he said “I want to do that. I want to read.” I wasn’t surprised as he’d frequently asked me how to pronounce words in books and how to spell certain words. He was ready, for sure. So, I bought the Hooked on Phonics curriculum and things went so well for us. Following Jam’s pace, we moved through the preschool curriculum rather quickly and started the kindergarten curriculum a few weeks later. Jam read his first primer book and appeared to have mastered sounding out words.

And then it happened. Regression.

Suddenly, Jam became sloppy at pronouncing sounds. Words he once knew without a second thought, he seemed to struggle with. It made me question whether our reading curriculum had a strong enough base for teaching pre-reading skills.

Has this ever happened to you?

One day, while researching ways to help my preschooler read more fluently, I stumbled across a website shared by my local homeschool group. While reading through the wealth of free information shared, I discovered it may be a good idea to go back to square one. You see, our reading curriculum begins with phonics, but there’s a prereading skill all children should master before moving on to phonics. That skill is called phonological awareness.

What is phonological awareness and how is it different from phonics? Phonological awareness is the sounds in language that help children distinguish sounds in words. This is different from phonics, which involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols. Unlike phonics, phonological awareness refers to sounds only and most tasks require a student to rely solely on listening.

Phonological awareness is the building block for phonics because it helps children identify the sound components of spoken words, making it easier to master the alphabetic code. Children with high phonological awareness can identify oral rhymes, clap out syllables in a word, and identify words with the same beginning sounds. Research shows that without this foundation, learning to read and spell can prove difficult for children.

When we teach phonological awareness, we’re simply helping a child train their ear to distinguish sounds, particularly in words. I can’t talk about phonological awareness without mentioning it’s subset, phonemic awareness, because people often confuse the two. Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish individual sounds in spoken words. It is the next phase, after phonological awareness, to mastering pre-reading skills. The difference? Phonological awareness focuses on spoken language as a whole, whereas phonemic awareness focuses on spoken words.

Helping a child heighten their phonological awareness can be done in just a few simple exercises. According to educational professionals, teaching a child to pay close attention to familiar environmental sounds is a great introduction to phonological awareness for preschool and kindergarten. A child will then learn to master dividing sentences, whole words, and syllables before phonemic awareness training.

Here’s how it’s done! Below, I included our three favorite exercises for increasing phonological awareness (and following instructions!). These exercises can be modified to challenge your little learners. For the complete curriculum, click here.


Introduction to Phonological Awareness

Strengthen Those Listening Skills for Pre-Reading


 

1. Name that sound.

My preschooler loved this exercise. All we did was play this YouTube video to see if he could identify each sound. I asked him to keep his eyes closed and focus on his listening skills. If he recognized the sound, I asked him to tell me its name. If your child has already learned phonics, like mine, this is also a great activity for identifying letter sounds and phonemes to further strengthen their phonological skills. Remember, these are oral activities and they are using their ears only. No flashcards or written symbols are needed for these exercises.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Name That Sound | Big Brother Joined in for Moral Support

2. First Sound, Last Sound.

This exercise helps children develop memory and attention as they recall two sounds and their order.  We used these sounds to complete this exercise. Before beginning the exercise, I chose two sounds to play aloud and made sure my little one understood the name of each sound. I then played each sound one at a time. After playing both sounds, I asked Jam to tell me the name of the first sound and the name of the last sound. Again, this activity can be amended for children who already started learning phonics. Just use letter sounds and blends instead. Like I’ve said, we are sort of backtracking to get more phonological awareness training.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Use Your Listening Skills to Name the First and Last Sound

 

3. Start and Stop.

This is a simple exercise that helps children practice following directions and strengthen their listening skills. I made a sound by snapping my fingers and told my preschooler the name of the sound. I then asked him to raise his right hand when he heard the sound, and to place his hand at his side when the sound stops. This is one of the first exercises we started doing and by the second day, my preschooler raised and lowered his hand with great accuracy.

Phonological Awareness Game
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Start and Stop | Raise Your Hand When The Sound Starts
What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise| Start and Stop | Lower Your Hands When The Sound Stops

 

It’s important to note that high phonological awareness is not necessarily correlated with high intelligence. A child may struggle with phonological awareness but excel in many other areas. Remember, there are many types of intelligence. Linguistic intelligence is just one of many.

Classroom Tour

Homeschool Classroom Tour

I wanted to wait until I had better images to make this post. But, alas, here we are. Sometimes you just have to use what you have.

I mentioned on my Instagram that I would be sharing my classroom with all of you and that’s what I’ll be doing today. Yes, I know, it’s not Tuesday. Consider this a bonus post!

{ Note: See Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour to see what our classroom looks like now.}

First, many of you have come to know our previous classroom and you may be wondering why we switched rooms and redecorated. The answer to that question is the space we were using as a classroom was actually our office. It worked well for us for the first two years, but we really needed a separate space where we wouldn’t be interrupted by people coming in and out to use the copy machine, printer, and desktop. There are lots of businesses run in this house!

The solution was to turn the boys’ room into a classroom. I considered the boy’s room wasted space since they only sleep there. They usually play outside or in the family room. Aside from that, their room is super bright with tons of space. So, this past summer I redecorated their room to fit our classroom needs. The first thing I did was purchase a room divider to hide away their bunkbed and provide a private reading nook. My boys absolutely LOVE having these curtain dividers in their room. It’s like sleeping in a fort! Room dividers for spaces larger than 122 inches can be found on Amazon.

Classroom Decor
I transformed these LEGO bed sheets into divider curtains using clip rings. That’s it!
Classroom Decor
These LEGO curtain dividers close completely across our 124″ space. Separating the sleeping area from the rest of the room.

Pictured below is the view of our classroom when you first walk in. You can see the two windows that offer plenty of bright sunlight. I went for valances rather than curtains because curtains make the room seem cluttered and dark. I chose folding desks for a similar reason. Since the desks are not bulky and have an open back, they make the space appear more open. These desks also fold flat should we need to store them away for any reason. My favorite feature is that they have USB ports and AC plugins to keep laptops and tablets charged.

As far as decor, I’m no designer on HGTV. The goal was to keep the decor minimal and functional. Therefore, I only hung posters that we would actually use. Aside from the LEGO curtains, which make the room look fun and lively, I’ve also put up some geography posters that accompany our curriculum, basic math charts (which can be found for FREE at my store), and a big solar system informational poster. You can say this is our science and math corner.

Classroom Decor
Our homeschool classroom offers plenty of sunlight. Here is the view when you first walk in.
Classroom Decor
This is what our homeschool classroom looked like on the first day of school. I added some borders for an extra touch.

Let’s dive into the reading corner. There’s not much going on here. I placed a comfy brown chair in this corner, which I purchased from Target years ago. I placed the chair by the window for optimal lighting. My mother made the beautiful colorful crochet blanket hanging over the chair, which matches our classroom beautifully. Beneath the chair is a  transportation themed rug by Melissa and Doug. The boys received this rug as a Christmas gift last year from a loved one. It fits perfectly into the space.

I originally wanted a sign that says “Reading Corner,” but couldn’t find one that fit our classroom. I opted for letter decals instead. The letter decals that spell out “Read Books” are from Target and I just love the subtle pizzaz they add to this corner of the room. And speaking of books, I placed a blue book bin beside the chair and filled it with some of our favorites. Most of our books are paperback so we can stack many of them into this bin. We also have an excellent library that allows us to check out up to 50 books at a time, which is where our primary resources come from.

Classroom Decor Reading Corner
Our reading corner hosts a comfy chair by the window with a basket full of our favorite books.

Pictured below I have our work corner.  I placed a ten-drawer organizer for each child’s workload next to the window. The organizers are from Amazon. The first drawer houses our devotional materials. The second drawer houses their reading curriculum. Spelling and language arts are placed in the third and fourth drawers. The fifth drawer houses their arithmetic curriculum. The sixth and seventh drawers are reserved for science and geography. Lastly, the eighth drawer is for their handwriting curriculum. I reserved the last two drawers for school supplies.

Above the organizers are height charts for each child. We will measure their height in the Fall, Winter, and Spring to see how much they’ve grown. Next to the organizers is a ten-pocket pocket chart. This pocket chart is also from Amazon. We like to use this pocket chart to house weekly spelling and vocabulary words for my second-grader. At the very bottom of the chart is where my 4-year-old does sight word practice.

Classroom Decor
A view of our homeschool classroom from the reading corner.

Okay, let’s talk about the view of the classroom from the desks. One of the main attractions here is our dry-erase board purchased from, you’ve guessed it…Amazon! This is where I do all of my oral lessons. The board came with an eraser, marker, tray (which houses my pointer), and magnets. Above the board are letter decals from Target that spell out “Welcome.” Hanging from the board is our daily tentative homeschool schedule. Lastly, next to the board is the boys’ morning to-do list, which I placed in a black frame. I also hang a picture of the students from Kampala, Uganda who are very dear to our hearts.

As you can see, most of the decor is very low because I wanted to keep everything at eye-level for my kids. That’s why I decided not to hang my kindergartner’s morning board, which is sitting beneath the whiteboard. I made this board to include everything I’d like my four-year-old to know fluently by the end of the year, outside of reading and math of course. It has a feelings emoji chart to help him put words to different emotions he may be experiencing, and a fruit of the spirit chart. Both charts are FREE to download at my store. I’ve also included a list of the days of the week and months of the year.

Classroom Decor
This is the view of our classroom from the desks.

Finally, we are coming full circle to the classroom entry. There’s not much going on here. To the left is the entry door. To the right is the bedroom closet. I bet you were wondering where the boy’s dresser is. Well, it’s a tall five drawer dresser that fits perfectly into the closet, with room to spare for hanging and storage. And where is their bed? Just behind the LEGO curtains!

The organizer pictured below is full of my teaching supplies. I do NOT allow my boys to have access to all the extra markers, pencils, stickers, etc. So this cart comes with ME at the end of the day! Otherwise, I’d wake up to dried out markers, stickers all over the walls, and all the paper in the notebooks used up. So yea, school supplies get rationed out. Lastly, I think EVERY teacher in the U.S. has the cute calendar from Target, pictured above the drawer organizer. The apple below it is also a calendar that comes with magnets for hands-on calendar fun.

Classroom Decor
The final view of our homeschool classroom.

So guys, I finally did it. I finally got this post out. I hope you enjoyed our classroom tour. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram for video footage of how we work in our classroom.

Before I go, I’d also like to mention that our boys LOVE their room like this. I love it, too. Especially the bright, cozy feel. And, of course, we don’t spend every waking day in here. Sometimes we like to have school downstairs in the dining room or even outside on the porch.

I want to know from you. What is your favorite place to do school work? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Preparing for your first day of homeschool

How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! My name is Nike (nee-kay) and I’m a third-year homeschool mom to two awesome boys. This year, I’ll be teaching kindergarten and second-grade, and I’m super excited! I created this August series, titled “Ready, Set, Homeschool!” to offer encouragement and tips to homeschool newbies. The tips I’m sharing this month are things I’ve learned from homeschool veterans and through personal experience. Be sure to stick around for the next few weeks as I uncover some homeschool basics and more!

This week? How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool. Keep reading if you want to know the foundation for my homeschool preparation and how it helped our homeschool thrive.


 How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool


1. Don’t forget internal preparation.

Sometimes we get so caught up in buying school supplies, curricula, and setting up for our classroom that we completely forget what’s most important. That’s right! You can’t run a successful homeschool without taking care of your mind, body, and spirit first. What does that mean? Take care of ALL of you! For me, that means getting adequate rest, making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, and spending time with God.

I know, I know; this sounds so cliché, right? But friends, I wouldn’t feel right NOT to mention this significant detail of my life. Why? Because omitting internal preparation has NEVER amounted to a good day. Like EVER! I don’t mean perfect days, I mean good productive days where I’m full of energy, grace, love, and patience. Trust me, I’ve seen a difference in my demeanor. Perhaps you will, too! My current devotional? Be Still and Know!

Be Still and Know

2. Read books.

I like to read up on parenting, homeschool, education or whatever I feel will help me become a better homeschool mom—or person in general. I find when I read books on these topics, I gain a sense of confidence in my ability to homeschool and manage my home. And let me tell you, mindset is EVERYTHING! If you believe you can do it, you WILL. If you don’t believe you can do it, you WON’T. Come on, you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve read The Little Engine That Could!

So, what am I reading now? Rich Kid, Smart Kid | Giving Your Child a Financial Head Start. This book has really been helping me decide how I want to teach finances in my homeschool. Other books I recommend are the series What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know. This series includes all early elementary grades. I love these books because they help me make better curriculum selections. You can even build your own curriculum around them. And of course, what’s a homeschool without reading The Well-Trained Mind? A book that makes a brilliant case for classical education.

3. Review all your curricula.

You will thank yourself for reviewing all your children’s curricula and becoming familiar with what they’ll be learning. Reviewing the curricula will also help you prepare for additional resources and supplies that may be needed. For instance, looking at my second-graders curriculum ahead of time allowed me to make a list of all the things he’ll need to complete his science experiments, geography projects, and more. Reviewing curricula also offers an opportunity to peruse Pinterest for fun hands-on activities to accompany formal lessons.

4. Make a tentative schedule…or several schedules.

I don’t know where I’d be without my home management binder. I have a homeschool schedule, a daily schedule, a cleaning schedule, an exercise schedule, a meal planning schedule, a work schedule, a calendar of events, and more! Why do I have so many schedules? Because they make homeschool manageable! Which makes me feel like I’ve got this!

You don’t need all of these schedules. I’m just a bit of a scheduleaholic. I simply listed the types of schedules I keep as a reference for you to decide what types schedules will make your homeschool days run smoother. In the past, when I didn’t keep as many schedules, I found myself using homeschool time to get things done—especially cleaning and meal prep. Having a system for all things “life” ensures our formal homeschool hours are solely spent on lessons.

Home Management Binder

AirBrush_20170821222002 (1)

5. Create a learning space.

You don’t need a classroom, just a functional learning space. If you have a classroom, great! If you don’t, you can homeschool just about anywhere. Many of my friends like the living-room sofa just fine. Other friends prefer to sit around their dining room table. At our home, we like to homeschool outside on the back porch when we can. Other days, we homeschool in the boys’ room, which I turned into a classroom this year due to some changes happening around our home.

Personally, we did not have a decked-out classroom right away. During our first and second year of homeschool, we used what is now our office. The décor was VERY minimal and only included what I felt was totally necessary; a dry-erase board, a political map of the world, an alphabet border, and some reference charts for math and science, among just a few other things. This year, I approached homeschool with a similar attitude that “less is more.” So, everything you see in our classroom is something we’ll actually use on the regular basis—even down to the school supplies.

Homeschool Classroom Decor

AirBrush_20170821221639

6. Create a homeschool budget.

Not just for curricula and school supplies, but also for fun stuff like field-trips and extra-curricular activities. Personally, I like to create a homeschool budget month-by-month because, as business owners, our earnings look different each month. I also like to set aside money each month to save for curriculum purchases for the next school year. I know setting money aside makes me sound super responsible, but, trust me, I only implemented this system due to the mass amount of money I ended up spending in one lump sum on homeschool purchases. Don’t be like the old me, be like the new me. Plan ahead!

7. Join a co-op.

If you’re new to homeschool, I highly suggest joining a homeschool co-op. Why? Because it makes “back-to-homeschool” season that much more fun when your kids have friends who are sharing the experience. This year, my boys are looking forward to seeing all their pals again. They’re super excited to take on new classes with friends and go on field-trip adventures with their homeschool group. We did not have this experience during our first homeschool year and we did okay—but having a community makes things so much better!

Homeschool Co-op
First Homeschool Field-trip at the Museum Viewing the Solar Eclipse 2017

8. Organize your home.

It’s a great idea to get the entire house in order. After all, it’s your “school building.” Before we homeschool, I like to do a bit of spring cleaning in the summer. You’d be surprised at how many school supplies are buried in your catch-all drawers, closets, garage, etc. I barely had to purchase any new supplies this year. I found a bunch of Expos, craft supplies, markers, crayons, sticky notes, and so much more. And they were all in perfect condition.

Additionally, when your refrigerator and pantry are neat and organized, it makes meal time a breeze. The kids won’t have any trouble finding mom-approved items for snacks and lunch. And if you still prepare all the meals, you’ll feel so much better preparing them in an organized kitchen. I like the notion that a decluttered home helps declutter your mind, shifting the environment and making you feel more at ease.

9. Make the first day special.

Roll out the red carpet! Hey, why not? It’s your homeschool and you can be “extra” if you want to (you totally read that to the “It’s My Party” melody). At our home, we play music, take pictures, talk about what we’re most excited about for the upcoming year, and I even give my boys a special goodie basket filled with fun stuff I know they’ll love. I don’t spend much on the goodie basket items, as most were from Dollar Tree or Target. I probably spent $20 bucks at the absolute most. They’ve got stickers, markers, ninja turtle pens, color pencils, mechanical pencils, fun pencil sharpeners, paint sets, art kits, sketch pads, fruit snacks, and other little odds and ends.

Back-to-Homeschool Ideas

10. Read my previous posts on “Ready, Set, Homeschool!”

In my previous posts, I go over homeschool laws, free curricula and homeschool deals, homeschool must-haves, and more. I don’t want to sound redundant, so click the links below to read them!

7 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

10 Things You Should Know Before You Homeschool

 


 

And there you have it! This is not an all-inclusive list, but it’s definitely something we do in our home that makes a huge difference in starting our homeschool year off right. Congratulations on your first year of homeschool!  If this is not your first year, welcome to a brand new year! I pray for much success for all of you reading this post. Let me know in the comments: How do you prepare for your homeschool year?

 

 

 

 

 

Free Homeschool Deals

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

Homeschool can get really expensive. But the great news is it can also be relatively free!

Read the updated post, here, featuring over 60 FREE legitimate homeschool deals you’ll actually use.

Here are twenty FREE resources to help you save some coins this upcoming school year. Of course, most of these resources require you to at least have access to a printer and some ink. Other than that, all you really need are some basic school supplies.

Taking advantage of free curricula is a great way to test what types of subjects, lesson plans, and teaching styles help your child thrive best.  It is also a great way to save money for what really matters—lots of field-trips, adventures, and social opportunities!

So, without further ado:

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins!

 

1. Free Homeschool Deals

This site offers free unit studies, supplement materials, and much more. Free resources are available for any subject and grade level.

2. Easy Peasy Homeschool

This site offers free curricula in all core subjects for levels pre-k through high school.  This is also a great site for elective courses like physical education, foreign language, and more. The reviews are mixed on this curriculum, but people like it for the most part. The common complaint is that it’s not challenging enough for advanced students.

3. How to Homeschool for Free

This site offers free unit studies, electives, and other resources for homeschool families. You can find materials in all core subjects for all grade levels.

4. K12 Education

This is an online public school, not a homeschool. Therefore, you will be subject to public school laws. However, this program is great for families on the go. Some people love it. Others hate it. The common complaint is the program can be stressful because there’s too much busywork and not enough flexibility. A great benefit is that you will receive free school supplies, books, and other materials needed for your courses.

5. Homeschool Math.net

This site is a great lesson-plan resource for mathematics. The site only serves up to seventh grade so you won’t find much for high school students, here. The great thing about these lesson plans is they come with video instructions/lectures, as well as follow-up worksheets. You can find any math subject from simple addition to pre-algebra.

6.  Homeschool Buyers Co-op

This site offers a wonderful database full of free homeschool curricula and resources. You can even find promos, coupons, and great homeschool deals on just about anything you need to plan your curriculum.

7.   The Pioneer Woman

This site offers another great database for free homeschool resources, awesome tidbits on motherhood, and more!

8.  Khan Academy

This is free a virtual academy for pre-k through high school students. You may select a course in any core area of your choice, or create a course of your own. What’s unique about this academy is that you’ll find free courses in engineering, computing, economics, and finance, among others. They even have SAT prep and other prep courses for other standardized tests.

9.  Teachers pay Teachers

Not only can you find MY free resources here, but a plethora of other free resources and curricula for grades pre-k through high school.  What’s great about this site is that all materials are made for teachers by teachers. Check out my growing shop to find some free goodies! There will also be an upcoming Back-to-School sale soon!

10.  Encouraging Moms at Home

This site shares an awesome preschool weather unit freebie. Take advantage! You can also find other great deals and homeschool tips on this site.

11.  Midwest Modern Momma

This site shares a free United States unit study that can be adjusted for any age. The study comes with a load of free printables. Check it out!

12.  Cornerstone Confessions.com

If you’re looking for a free science curriculum for pre-k through second grade, look no further. Cornerstone Confessions shares a Magic School Bus science unit for the entire school year! This unit is full of awesome experiments and activities. If you already have a Netflix subscription (or other subscription that offers the Magic School Bus series) this course is completely free.

13. Ambleside Online

If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Mason method, you’ll love this free resource.  This site offers free courses from pre-k- through high school in all core subjects. Ambleside Online also offers free Bible courses.

14.  Budget Homeschool

 This site offers free study guides, lesson plans, books, and more!

15.  An Old Fashioned Education

Are you old school? Well, this is the site for you! It’s important to note that this site is Christian inspired. The site offers core subjects as well as other subjects like etiquette, speaking, and art appreciation, among many others.

16.  Classroom Freebies, Too

This site is a great resource for all things “freebies!”

17.  Curr Click

This site offers free classes and curricula in all core subjects.  I do advise, however, to make sure all the clickable links work for a particular course—especially BEFORE you start depending on them as your homeschool curriculum.   I’ve come across some links that no longer work.  However, there’s some good stuff on this site.

18.  Free Kids Books

This site has a book for every age from toddlerhood through adulthood. And, yes, the books are free to download! Or, you can simply read them online. What I really like about this site is most of the books have ratings. The site also offers a user-friendly category search so you can search for anything from coloring books to early reader books in a jiffy.

Free Kids Classic Books

19.  Lesson Pathways

This is a curriculum-building site that offers free resources for curriculum customization.  The resources offered covers grades K-5. Registration is free and gives you access to some awesome goodies.

20.  Guest Hollow.com

This site offers a free Science of the Seasons curriculum, Geography curriculum, and many others.  There are some great resources for all ages, including high school students. Go take a look!

21. Scholastic

Scholastic has a teacher’s corner that serves teachers of all grade levels. This site is full of lesson plans, unit plans, teacher guides, activities, and more. Not to mention, they offer recommendations on awesome books to accompany your lessons!

Free Homeschool Deals

22. Crayola

Believe it or not, Crayola offers free lesson plans for language arts, math, STEAM, social studies, and, of course—art!

Free Homeschool Deals

 

23. School Zone

School Zone has a program called Anywhere Teacher. If you sign up for a free subscription, you have access to 28 educational activities that rotate monthly. The program connects children ages 2-8 to online learning and resources.

Free Homeschool Deals

24. Hoffman Academy

It doesn’t get any better than free online piano lessons. We’ve personally taken advantage of this resource, so I can truly say that my kids enjoy these fun, quirky lessons. The lessons are step by step and offer units for beginner and intermediate levels.

Free Homeschool Deals

25. STEMfinity

STEMfinity offers a database for all things STEM. Check out their resources for activities and lesson plans for science, technology, engineering, and math.

FREE Homeschool Deals

26. Code.org

Code.org offers free videos, games, and lesson plans for all things code. This site serves parents and teachers of grades pre-k through high school. It is also user-friendly for independent learners. My second-grader utilizes this site frequently to improve his coding skills.

Free Homeschool Deals

27. Scratch

Scratch allows students to program their own stories, games, and animations. The site also includes guides and tutorials for parents and teachers. This is another site my kids frequent. It is very kid-user friendly. My second-grader coded several games and animations using this resources.

Free Homeschool Deals

28. Kidzone

Looking for worksheets for your children? Kidzone has got you covered. All worksheets are printable for early learning through grade five. You can find worksheets on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more. The site also offers worksheets for phonics, math, science, geography, and more. Lesson plans and thematic units are also available. This was my go-to source for Kindergarten worksheets.

FREE Homeschool Deals

29. Education.com

Education.com offers worksheets, lesson plans, games, and more for grades pre-k through high school. They offer resources for math, reading, writing, science, social studies, foreign language, and more. Be sure to check out their Teaching Tools section because you can read the ratings and comments on the lesson plans they offer.

Free Homeschool Deals

30. National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is a great virtual dictionary for fun facts about animals, geography, the solar system, and more. The site also offers educational games, quizzes, and videos for kids of all ages. We loved it as a supplement to our curriculum on life science and habitats. We also used this resource to supplement our geography curriculum.

Free Homeschool Deals

 

31. Nike Anderson’s Classroom

As a bonus, I’m including my growing online shop, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I offer free resources for pre-k through second grade. Check out my free geography resources, reading and comprehension worksheets, memory verse activities, Black history worksheets, and more! Be sure to follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I upload a new free resource. I literally uploaded five FREE resources today, so you don’t want to miss out!

Nike's Classroom


 

That concludes my list. I do hope at least one of these free resources is new to you.

Your Turn!

If you have other resources you’d like to mention, let us know down below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Youtube channels that made my child smarter

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

 

My toddler stood behind the black strip of tape and covered his left eye as the pediatrician directed.

“What do you see?” She asked.

“A pentagon!” He shouted.

The pediatrician chuckled with amusement. “Well, yea, I guess it IS a pentagon after all,” she said of the house pictured on the eye chart. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that. What a smart boy! Whatever you guys are doing with him, keep going!”

So, what did we do? Our approach to early learning was not that extensive. We relied on educational videos, one-on-one learning, and open-ended play to create a sturdy foundation for cognitive development. Today, I will talk about the role visual-learning played in the early education of my then toddler boys, who are now ages four and seven. Videos from awesome YouTube channels that helped my boys to recognize advanced shapes, numbers, phonics, and so much more. I like to think of these videos as “digital flashcards.” I originally wanted to list seven channels (I like that number!), but in reality, there were only six channels that made a difference in my children’s early learning.

I realize talking about toddlers and screen time is major taboo. There are strong arguments against image-focused learning. But the truth is educational videos can enhance cognitive development when consumed in moderation. I can’t deny that educational videos helped my boys to build vocabulary and recognize signs and symbols in everyday life, among other things. I mean, come on! My youngest son knew what a dodecahedron was at age two! And my first-born son would always point and shout the names of all the vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store. By age three, both of my boys were well versed in phonics, which made learning to read much easier for them. I don’t mean to boast. I just want to point out that image-focused learning can be helpful for some children, so long as you ensure that it’s balanced with language learning (language learning requires the brain to work much harder) and hands-on learning.

So, what are some of the educational videos I allowed my boys to watch during early toddlerhood? Before I tell you, I must mention a few things. First, pediatricians strongly discourage screen time before age two. Second, once your child starts screen time, I recommend ONLY allowing them to watch educational videos. You don’t want these videos competing with Bubble Guppies and other cartoons. Trust me! My husband and I didn’t have a television in our home until our eldest son was five-years-old. However, at age two, we started playing educational videos for him on our laptops. Our youngest son wasn’t as fortunate. He’s been exposed to the screen since he was one-year-old and he did have a period where all he wanted to do was watch Bubble Guppies. Hey, we’re not perfect people, here.

Lastly, I strongly recommend supplementing these videos with one-on-one lessons with your child. This is where quality time comes into play. You can get super creative or simply have a conversation with your child about what they are learning. Our favorite conversations are during car rides. My kids like to shout out the shapes, colors, words, and types of vehicles they see, among other things. I give them random pop quizzes on phonics (for my four-year-old), spelling (for my first-grader), mathematics, and fun facts we’ve learned. The pop quiz is like a game to them!

So, without further ado, here are my top picks for educational channels on YouTube for early learning. I’ve also included helpful books you can check out at the end of this post!


YouTube Channels That Made my Toddler Smarter

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  1. KidsTV123

It’s easy to see why this YouTube channel has earned over two million subscribers. KidsTV123 was the very first channel I found when looking for educational videos for my eldest child to watch. As a toddler, his favorite videos were the Phonics Song, the Number Song, the Shapes Song, the Colors Song, the Solar System Song, and the Reading Machine. That was nearly six years ago and now all these songs are among the channel’s most popular videos.

 

When my son was two-and-a-half, he pointed to all the letters on the chart in his bedroom and told me their phonemes without any prompting from me. He also knew planets, numbers, and shapes (including some advanced ones) fluently, primarily from watching these videos. I admit I was not in the “teaching mindset” during this time. I had no plans to homeschool and I just assumed my toddler would learn this stuff in preschool. However, when I realized all the knowledge and concepts my son retained at such an early age, I knew then that he was ready for formal learning. I began teaching my eldest son one-on-one, incorporating language and hands-on learning. My youngest son, however, had the pleasure of this one-on-one teaching much earlier.

 

  1. The Kids’ Picture Show

Okay, this channel is quite advanced. Not only does The Kids’ Picture Show teach advanced shapes, but also advanced colors, sorting, animal names, street signs, addition, science and nature, sight words, life instructions, and so much more! It’s no exaggeration when I say that my boys know advanced shapes and colors that I don’t even know! I found myself having to watch the videos with them the moment I recognized they were getting smarter than me (hehe)!

 

What I love the most about this channel is that it literally is like digital flashcards. I never expected my boys to like this approach, but they actually started begging me to play these videos for them—every day!  I think what they love the most is that they can identify these items and concepts in their everyday life. My children get so excited when they encounter a familiar street sign, vehicle, or advanced shape while we’re out and about—things they may not normally recognize had they not learned about it from these videos.  Not to mention, they’ve gotten very specific with their colors. No! It’s not just green. It’s emerald!

 

  1. National Geographic Kids

If you have animal lovers, or kids that have a bunch of “why” questions, this is the channel for you! National Geographic Kids is full of awesome videos of gorgeous animals as well as fun facts that young kids can digest and understand. I found these videos to be a perfect supplement when teaching my boys about animal classification. And that’s not all, this channel also comprises videos on weather, archeology, states, and how to make familiar everyday items. You’ll be surprised by the information your toddler digests. When my youngest son was two, he loved watching the Making Stuff videos with his older brother. They would watch how to make some of their favorite foods, musical instruments, and toys. Now, at age four, my son remembers how to prepare the pizza dough when making pizza from scratch—one of our favorite foods to make!

 

What’s essential to note is from preschool up until fourth grade is what is known as the “parrot years.” According to authors of The Well-Trained Mind, any information your child absorbs during the early years is stored for future use—even if they can’t yet understand it. Therefore, having a toddler watch channels such as National Geographic Kids will make learning about animals and other topics in the later years that much more meaningful to them because they have already stored information in their brains.

 

  1. Hooked on Phonics

While KidsTV123 was responsible for introducing my eldest son to phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, Hooked on Phonics was the resource responsible for introducing my youngest son to phonics. My youngest son loved watching videos on this channel so much that I decided to purchase the curriculum to begin formal learning with him. If you’re not familiar with Hooked on Phonics, it’s a 25-year-old, award-winning “Learn to Read” program. Their YouTube channel includes story-time, printing lessons, sample lessons, and catchy singalong songs (my son’s favorite!). It’s not an extensive channel, but you can find more Hooked on Phonics videos listed on other channels with a simple YouTube search.

 

I must say, my youngest son caught on to phonics rather quickly using the Hooked on Phonics program. I’m talking just two weeks. At age three, he read his first primer book from the Kindergarten level. I do want to mention that this was not primarily from watching the videos, I did work one-on-one with him often during this time using the lesson plans.  When I tell you that my son actually asks me if he can “do phonics today” it’s not an exaggeration. This program works so well with his personality and learning style. I’m so glad we found it!

 

  1. Mouk in English

Mouk is an educational preschool show about a bear who travels the world on his bike. I happen to have two boys who absolutely love geography. This show was perfect for introducing and reinforcing different continents and countries of the world, as well as their popular monuments. It supplemented our geography curriculum so well. And while I never expected my toddler to learn geography to the extent that his big brother was learning it, some of the information he retained was from watching this show.

 

The Mouk in English channel boasts of teaching toddlers to respect diversity and cultures. The characters explore countries on the continents of Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, and the Oceana. Examples of some countries they visit are Senegal, Spain, Canada, Madagascar, Tokyo, Greece, the Himalayas, and much more! Because I’m half-Nigerian, and have friends from different parts of the world, culture is one of the topics we highlight in our homeschool. It’s never too early to teach your kids that diversity is cool!

 

  1. Kids Learning Tube

Let me just say that this channel is my least favorite because of the creepy graphics. However, my youngest son loved watching this channel as a toddler—and still does now that he’s four. The Kids Learning Tube channel comprises videos on basic learning songs for preschoolers, geography, the solar system, the human body, the periodic table, animals, and more. I don’t know what it is about this channel, but both my boys are quite fascinated by it. They are even watching it right now as I edit this post!

 

My boys favorite videos to watch on this channel are the ones about the solar system, the 50 U.S. states, and the countries of the world. These have also been my youngest son’s favorite videos since toddlerhood. The videos include catchy tunes and awesome fun facts. My toddler gained concepts like which planets are big, which ones are small, and which ones are closest to the sun. He could also name most planets, and even some countries and states at just two years old.


 

Curriculum Suggestions:

If image-learning isn’t your thing, I totally get you! I can’t emphasize enough that the YouTube channels I mentioned should be supplements only. One-on-one interaction and unstructured play is the best way for your child to learn during early toddlerhood. Other effective resources you can try out for your toddler are Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander, What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Instant Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Joan Rossano, and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and Jessie Wise.

 

These books include great information and instructions on how to engage your toddler’s motor skills, imagination, self-expression, critical thinking skills, math skills, language arts skills, and much more. I found most of these resources at my local library! Stay tuned for an in-depth look into these resources in a later post.

 

Feel free to check out my Instagram where I share more fun activities and resources we’re using for our homeschool. I also dabble in Instastories, where you can peek into our lessons and life as a homeschool family.


Let us know in the comments:  What are your favorite educational channels on YouTube?