Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homeschool Gems

First of all, I have to say that I am so blessed to have such a beautiful library!  Thanks, Honey!  Secondly, I have to confess that I have a little, tiny addiction to books.  ahem.


However, as we were listening to one of our favorite CDs this morning, I began to think about my very favorite homeschooling gems.  These are the things I return to kid after kid.  These are the things I enjoy each time I use them.  These are the items, if I was forced (at gunpoint) to give up all but a few homeschooling things, I would keep.


One Hundred Sheep skip counting CD  This is the CD we were listening to this morning.  It teaches skip counting from 2s to 10s via Bible stories and song.  And these songs are crack-up-the-adults-listening hilarious!  Our favorite is the 6s.  Plus the skip counting song part sticks in your head.  A good thing.


WeeBeeTunes DVDs  For geography, we love these!  There are two DVDs (I wish they'd make more!).  Each continent has it's own character who travels around and visits different countries.  Again, there are songs (I love learning to music) and the video.  At the top of the page in the link, you can click on Samples and hear some of the songs.  You don't get the benefit of the video, but I can tell you, it's very cute.  MeiLin Yak is our favorite character.  "What's in your backpack, MeiLin Yak?  What do you have to show us today?"


Singapore Math has made us very happy.  You can buy teacher's guides for it now, but I've never used one because it comes intuitively for me being a math geek, and all.  I'm currently taking my 4th kid through the K books and still love it.  Rose Bud went to public school this year into the 6th grade math program they are using.  It all was very easy for her, which was fine for me.  The testing, if nothing else, was new to her.  On the standardized testing, she actually did just average, except for the algebraic portions where she was BELOW average.  However, at the semester, her math teacher (love you, Mrs. H!) asked if RoseBud could be moved into the advanced math class (doing 7th grade math) as the regular math was not challenging her enough.  I was all for that!  And she segued in without much trouble (thank you, Mrs. F, for giving her the extra help and time!).


Now Rose Bud (and the rest of my kids) are all math geniuses....I mean naturals at math (math geeks, we like to call ourselves), so she likely would have done fine with a different program than Singapore.  But it has worked well for all of us so far and we're stickin' with it!


Rod & Staff English  This is an excellent, very solid grammar program and all three girls have loved it.  We never seem to finish a whole book before moving on to the next one, but it always works out.  They have a very good survey of grammar topics, diagramming, lots of practice and some review of writing (although I've heard from others who use the writing in here that they like it, we never get to it).  We do most of the work orally, except for diagramming and things they need extra practice on.  We have always used just the student text book and no other components.  When we do do the writing assignments, they always work on the white board.  Their favorite part of this program has always been when they need to identify two different things (say the noun and the verb), I hold out my hands, labeling one noun and one verb.  Then the girls "pick up" the word out of the book and drop it into the proper hand.  Silly, but effective!


The best place to buy it is directly from Rod and Staff, but they are not online.  You can call them at 1-606-522-4348.  The service and friendliness is awesome and shipping is very fast!  (I've heard that the Anabaptist website that sells R&S materials online is not as reliable and is a different company)


Word & Song Bible CDs produced by Focus on the Family  Banana Boy knew Bible stories I hardly knew after listening to this at bedtime and naptime for several months.  Most stories have a corresponding song to go along with them.  The voices are by an all-star cast including, Packer fans, our dearly departed Reggie White as Samson!  The Bible itself is so-so (I mean the Word & Song Bible, not THE Bible) but the CDs are worth their weight in gold!


Geopuzzles  Love these and my kids do too!  Banana Boy was doing these last year at age four (he is rather gifted at puzzles!).  In his case, he was just learning to recognize the shapes of the countries and how they fit together, but the girls, of course, could read the names.  Fun, easy, brainless learning.


My Base Ten Blocks, which I've mentioned before.  Just noticed in re-reading that entry, that Leslie had asked where to buy them.  Plastic blocks are available at Rainbow Resource (free shipping if your order is $150 or more.  I never seem to have trouble making the minimum...)  The wooden set is available at Christian Book Distributors (CBD).


My ABC Bible Verses   Love, love, love this little book!  There is a Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet and a sweet story illustrating its meaning in a way preschoolers and kindergarteners can understand.  All my kids have begun memorizing Bible verses with this book and Banana Boy is beginning to work through it.  Yesterday, I came into the kitchen pretending to whine at him about something (he is my star whiner) and he came up to me with a little smirk and said, "Mom, A soft answer turns away wrath."


Bob Books   The BEST little phonics readers for beginners.  All those trendy, character-based phonics sets they sell in the Scholastic catalog can't hold a candle to Bob Books (which are also sold by Scholastic, BTW).  The others aren't truly phonetic and contain too many site words for beginners, IMHO.


Let's Read And Find Out books  I can't own enough of these very basic, easy to understand yet in-depth science books for elementary students.  Our Favorite is What Happens to a Hamburger.


I Can Read series of history books  These are wonderful history readers for 1-3 grade.  My girls read them over and over.  Most of the other I Can Read books are great too.


Ok, they are going to shoot me with that gun if I keep adding stuff.  I guess those would be my absolute favorites.


I'd love to hear from you if you're a homeschooler reading my blog what your homeschool gems are.  Please share!




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