When I found myself unexpectedly thrust into homeschool, I panicked. Not that I didn't want to homeschool. In fact, as schooling became increasingly harder for my kids socially (bullying, etc), I realized it was on the near horizon. However, I expected it to be a decision that had a bit of advanced planning. I truly believed my kids would be attending public school for at least another year. When it turned out that 3 of my kids would be coming home in a matter of weeks, I had to start looking hard...and fast...at what I would need to homeschool.
|Homeschooling on a Penny
Our biggest hurdle was the fact that my husband has been out of work for over a year. Our financial situation is stark, and that meant not having a lot of money for curriculum. As I pondered this predictament, tt was sad to think that my desire to homeschool would be hindered simply by my inability to pay for same. I knew other people homeschooled on a shoestring. It had to be possible.
Personally I was blessed that the homeschool community is so open. I had several friends offer me packaged curriculum, which helped put my mind at ease. It was enough to cover the basics. However, I realized I would need more. I wanted more. So I set-out on a mission to show that lack of funds should not prohibit someone from following their dream to homeschool. This article/feature is called Homeschooling on a Penny, because honestly a Dime is too much for some people. Sometimes there is simply NO money, and when you need to teach your kids, you need to find resources that are totally free, or dirt cheap.
Below I am listing many resources that are free that can help you in your Homeschool. There are sites that offer full curriculums, with accompanying materials either free to print or available at your local library. There are many programs and sites which are not formal curriculum, but you could easily break up into pieces in order to create a course of study over a year.
As I continue my own Homeschooling on a Penny, I will be talking about additional resources as I come upon them. I will be focusing on them on the LOK Homeschool Blog, but will periodically update this page with my findings so that the community can benefit from it. Now, mind you, just as you have to spend money on public school learning (book fees, supplies, etc), there is going to be some investment of money involved, even if it's for paper for the printer and crayons for art. But, my goal here is to show that if you don't have money in the bank at this moment, you can still take the plunge. Hopefully when finances warrant, you'll be able to fill in the gaps, with minimal expense on your end.
I do want to note that I support those who are Homeschoolers-At-Heart, but can't homeschool for one reason or another (even if that reason is simply choice). I hope these resources will help anyone who wants to expand their children's learning at home, regardless of whether they are homeschooled full-time or not.
Please note that due to the nature of this website, I have specifically chosen to select mostly secular resources. There are many religious homeschool sites which list faith-centered resources which you can easily find through Google. Also, there were so many resources that I looked at and considered for this article, but I made a decision to focus on sites that had actual curriculum or lesson plans, or had enough information that you could incorporate it into a plan. There are countless more sites with general information which can be found on the LOK Homeschool Links Page (which is currently being updated, but should have more content soon).
- Old Fashioned Education - This site offers a full curriculum primarily using public domain materials. A full schedule for grades 1-11 is availble (12th is forthcoming).
- Ambleside Online - A full curriculum using resources that can be easily found in the local library or other free source. This curriculum is based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy of schooling.
Books and Study Materials
- Book Samaritan - This site is dedicated to helping those who desire to homeschool, but due to financial conditions cannot afford books and curriculum. All items are free, but you must abide by their terms not to resell the items and to either donate them to another needy family or return them for re-distribution.
- Audio Books for Free - Hundreds of book in a variety of genres free for download and use in your homeschool.
- LibriVox - Another site with free downloadable audio books. Lists many classics. Use their search to locate a title you are looking for.
- Storynory - Audio books with a focus on those for younger children.
- Eyewitness to History - Site that teaches history through the recountings of those who lived through it. Offers a wealth of information that could be broken up over several years.
- Timelines - Lots of information on making timelines, specifically for history, but can be incorporated into other subject areas.
- Our Losbanos - American History Curriculum targeted for 3rd graders, but adaptable for 2-6 grades.
- Free History Curriculum - Here is a link to a page listing tons of pages on history which can be used to create a curriculum.
- American Heritage - Free American history Lesson plans for grades K-12.
- Mega Maps - Large site with a wide variety of maps you can print out.
- Sheppard Software - Online games which teach world geography. There's a lot here that could easily be spread out over the year. Also a section for U.S. Geography.
- Tiny Maps - Create your own customized tiny maps for incorporation into your homeschool.
- Juicy Geography - Resource to help educators teach geography. Geared towards middle school, but the information could benefit older children.
- Traveler IQ Challenge - Some quizzes on geography that would be a good supplement to a fuller lesson.
- SF Reading - Full downloadable Grammar and Writing Handbooks for grades 1-6.
- Internet Grammar of Speech - Online Grammar Course designed for upper graduates, but could be used by high schoolers.
- Grammar Land - Free public domain book taking a whimsical look at grammar. Good for younger children, but also as a refresher for older children.
- Teaching the Rules of Speech - This page can be incorporated in your grammar curriculum over a period of several years.
- The Basic Cozy Spelling Course - Free Homeschool Spelling Curriculum made available by author.
- Everyday Spelling - This site is meant as a companion to the Everyday Spelling book. However, there are lots of word lists and information that could be used to create your own lesson plan.
- Spelling it Right - Free spelling worksheets and advice on how to get children to spell correctly from an experienced English teacher.
- TLS Books - Free spelling worksheets for use from grades 1-5. Also tons of other worksheets on this site.
- Starfall - Great site for young children teaching the basics of alphabet and early reading.
- Read to Succeed - Free Curriculum to download in Adobe Acrobat and Powerpoint.
- How to Teach Phonics - A free downloadable book from the early 1900s, it gives the basics which still apply today.
- Cat Phonics - Full course study on phonics.
- The Sounds of English - Site has grouped words into sounds and spellings to allow learners to identify patterns. This is a very successful technique used in several print curriculums.
- Young Minds Handwriting - This section of the Donna Young website has lots of printables, as well as animations on how to properly form printed letters. There are animations of some cursive letters, and Donna Young had noted she will update the site with animations for all letters in the near future.
- Handwriting for Kids - Lessons and worksheets for teaching print and cursive writing. This site also has animations on how to form all letters, print and cursive.
- Tips on Teaching Cursive - Great informative article on how to properly instruct children in writing cursive.
- More Tips on Teaching Cursive - More information from the author of the above-article.
- Draw Your World - Article on proper pencil grip for writing to supplement your handwriting studies.
- Italic Writing - Some people prefer to teach italic writing. This site is devoted to instruction of that technique.
Creative and Technical Writing
- Literature Lesson Plans - Dozens of plans for various classics and classical authors. Note that this site will list numerous lesson plans for a category, some pay. However, you can poke around and usually find several free ones.
- Pink Monkey - Site that offers hundreds of literature summaries to use in your homeschool.
- Homeschool Share - Unit Study plans on a variety of subjects. For young to middle elementary children.
- Glencoe Literature Library - Site with numerous literature studies, mostly for older kids but there are some books for as young as 3rd grade.
- Google Lit Trips - An innovative way to teaching literature utilizing Google Earth.
- SF Science - Another site which is meant as a companion to pre-purchased materials. Elements can be incorporated into a large lesson plan using other sites and materials.
- Home Training Tools - This is a commercial site, but there are lots of activities and other items you can download for free and incorporate into your homeschool.
- Elementary Life Science - Full downloadable workbooks with parent's guide.
- Our Losbanos - Full year curriculum on the Human Body. This site also has other great free stuff.
- Singing Science - It's a proven fact that music helps learning. Here is a site that lists tons of songs from the 1950s that were created to help kids learn science.
- Ocean Explorer - This site offers lesson plans, education modules, and more for a comprehensive unit.
- NASA This site has lots of general information and facts. The link goes to the educator's page which lists tons of resources which could be used in a science program.
- Explore Your Earth - From Scholastics.com. Lesson plans for grades 6-8 on climate.
- Chemistry for Kids - Basic and introductory chemistry.
- Science Nucleus - Offers a free and printable science curriculum for K-12.
- Robert Krampf Science Education - Science concepts videos and experiments of the week. Great visual learning aide.
- Flinn Scientific - Middle school science experiments.
- BBC Languages - Good introduction to languages and their cultures, as well as beginning study into the languages.
- Word 2 Word - This site lists about every free online language course in existence, for almost any language you want to know. Amazing resource.
- Live Mocha - A foreign language learning community with lessons and lots more.
- Making Music Fun - Nice site for elementary music, including worksheets and games.
- Dallas Symphony Orchestra - DSO's Kids Site with lots of games and activities to learn about orchestral music and presentation.
- Music Theory - Comprehensive site with a full course on music.
- Meet the Master - Art History and Appreciation Program.
- Classics for Kids - Great site for music appreciation with lots to do and lesson plans for teachers/parents.
- Creating Music - Learn about music, create it, print worksheets, activities and more.
- Money Skill - Free online program. You do need to register and provide information about your education environment before using.
- Fraud Scene Investigator - Online program that teaches kids about security and finance through identifying fraudulent investment schemes.
- Jump Start Financial Smarts - Many lesson plans and downloads on the various aspects of savings, money management, etc.
Organization and Time Mangement
- Handipoints - Neat site for younger children to help them learn responsibility for doing chores and organizing their time.
- Lisa Explains It All - Site to teach kids HTML and other web-design basics.
- Dance Mat Typing - Nice online typing instruction program from the BBC.
- W3 Schools - Lessons and examples for a multitude of technology issues, from simple webpage design to programming languages. Makes a good reference source as well.
- Free Tech Books - Great site featuring links to numerous free books and pages covering various areas of computer science.
- Science Spot Computers - This page has a huge list of resources for various levels of computer science, from preschool to older children.
- Emints.org - This site has literally thousands of links to resources to use in your homeschool. It is organized by grade and you can find pretty much anything you need to put together a temporary curriculum or pad out an existing curriculum.
- Young Minds - This site has a wealth of information. For the family just starting out homeschooling, she gives some good advice, as well as explains a lot of the technical issues like curriculum and planning. There are tons of free printouts and ideas for projects, etc.
- Don Potter - A great collection of links and downloadable resources for languages arts and math.
- Lesson Tutor - Numerous lesson plans, teaching/student notes, and worksheets for a variety of subjects.
- The Lesson Plans Page - Over 3500 lesson plans on a variety of subjects.
Free Courses (multi-subject)
- Yale University - Offers many of their undergraduate classes on a variety of subjects free of charge. This is a great resource for parents of high schoolers.
- Massachusettes Institute of Technology - Free classes offered by MIT. Another great resource for high schoolers and adults who want to continue their education.
- Hippo Campus - Free online course in a variety of topics, including a lot on higher math.
General Homeschool Information
- The Many Styles of Homeschooling - It's important to figure out your style of homeschooling, as it will help make things run smoothly. This page gives a quick overview of the various styles and is meant as a starting point for further research.
- Homeschool Legal Defense Association - There is a fee to join this organization, which offers legal services to homeschoolers. I have been advised they have free scholarships to those who qualify, but I have not be able to confirm this. I am linking the site because it has lots of free information on the homeschool requirements and laws for the various states.
Reference, Trivia, Etc.
- Fact Monster - This site is a mini-encyclopedia with lots of information on a variety of subjects.
- Worldbook Scope and Sequence - To help keep you on track or give you some guidelines, this site offers a list of grades and the items typically taught/learned by a child.
Games and Activities
- Fun Brain - Site with tons of educational games you can work into your homeschool.
- Sheppard Software - Another site dedicated to producing rich, educational games.
- Gamequarium - One more games site featuring tons of educational games.
- Homeschool Freebie of the Day - This site offers a brand new freebie every day. There is a wide variety of offerings. However, offerings are only good on the day of presentation, so you need to act quick. Sign up for their newsletter for alerts.
- The Homeschool Mom - Lots of nice, free stuff. Articles, unit studies, and links to numerous sites to tie into your homeschool lessons.
Supplies, Worksheets, Generators
Article by Michelle Lehmann - Published 2008