Thursday, December 31, 2015

Favorite Homeschool Resources Picked by Homeschoolers

What are other homeschoolers raving about? Check out this blog post and find out what the top picks were at Educents (a site where you'll save a TON of money on curriculum and educational products!) this past year!   **Please note that any errors - typos or otherwise - are not those of my own.** 

Can you believe 2015 is OVER?!? In just one more day, 2015 will be another year gone by as 2016 pushes its way into our lives. I'm thankful to have survived 2015 not only physically but as it pertains to homeschooling and educating children in general. What about you? 

In our case, we spent most of 2015 unschooling or doing relaxed homeschooling, and it was FANTASTIC. We've been homeschooling for 12 years we've "been around the block," so to speak. I know what to expect when we start something, I know how long it takes us to get into a groove, I know the types of projects my kids love/hate, etc. 

We got a little more structured toward the end, but only because I saw a need for organization in one of my children and a need to focus on some specific topics. So, I whipped out a curriculum book (we use curriculum as resources - not as "be all, end all" tell-me-what-to-do books) and we got down to business. We spent about a month being organized and structured, and we were all just SPENT. Primarily, we live a life of learning that includes natural learning, child/interest-led learning, and relaxed homeschooling (we lean more toward Charlotte Mason, but we were doing a more traditional textbook style - which burnt us out).

In reflecting upon this past year, I'm amazed at two things:
1) Just how much children will learn if you just leave them alone and let them follow their interests, and 
2) How much children come to LOVE subjects that many children "hate" when they're not forced into learning about things that don't interest them at THAT moment (week/month/year).

As 2016 approaches, I plan to ditch the traditional textbook style we had going for 4-1/2 weeks and go back to what works for our family. ♥ ♥ We also have some other plans I'll have to wait to talk about (i.e. wait until they come into fruition before blogging about it). Nonetheless, with our relaxed style of homeschooling, one of the things I absolutely love, love, LOVE are educational toys and products. I get most of them at Educents because they can get AH-ma-ZING deals for us. As usual, I'll continue buying products from Educents

Over the past couple of years, some of the BEST products I've purchased through Educents have included the Magic School Bus Science kits, Wordly Wise, Life of Fred math, loads of books and countless other products (especially downloadable products - yes, they offer downloadable curriculum products, too! And for ). And if there is something you want, let the people at Educents know and they WILL get a good deal on it - trust me (how do you think I've managed to buy so many products from their site??)!

One of my absolute favorite products I've purchased from Educents has got to be the Life of Fred series of math books. You can download a free chapter at the publisher's website. OR, you can take the word of hundreds of thousands of other homeschoolers and trust that it's an amazing program. It's story-based, so there is review built into the stories. Rather than overloading kids with 35 math problems each day, there are only about 6-8 problems to do. But the next day, 2-3 of those problems will be a review of the problems from the day before. So, while review is built into the program, you could always download and print free math drill worksheets if you wanted more practice. 

               top picks homeschoolers

No matter what may be on your lesson plan for 2016, consider the resources below. Members within the Educents community put a list together of their favorite homeschool resources. If you'd like to learn more about the resource, just click the link! If you want to get more involved in the Educents community to learn more about homeschooling and the curriculum offered on Educents, join the Educents Facebook group!

Emily of Smith Squad recommends the Life of Fred books.

“As a child, I always hated math, even though I was good at it because it was so boring. When I heard about Fred, I knew he had to be a part of our homeschool. My kids absolutely LOVE when it’s math time, and they are learning a ton about how to apply math to everyday practical situations.”
Life of Fred Buyer's Guide

Lisa Marie of The Canadian Homeschooler uses the Writecraft and Mathcraft Units.

"The writing portion of this resource was the first time EVER that my oldest son ever willing wrote anything! He was excited to write instead of hating it."

Allison of Just Add Coffee loves the Magic School Bus Science Experiments.

“I absolutely love Magic School Bus and all it has to offer. Each month you get a different science kit to take a Magic School Bus adventure. If you search really hard, online you can even find curriculum to go with each science kit and the episode from the television series.” Magic School Bus on Educents

Lisa of Chickens and Bunnies Homeschool loves the Life of Fred Elementary Books.

“My favorite resource at Educents at the moment is Life of Fred. There are so many to choose from I picked the Elementary Series. My kids love these books; we have them up to high school now. My most recent order was Life of Fred Chemistry. My kids will do these without arguing and love Fred and Kingie!”

Celena of The Traveling Sisterhood recommends the Times Tales Multiplication videos.

"I love Times Tales because it's made this year's math lessons so much easier! My kiddos quickly mastered their multiplication tables in one sitting with the movie. It's been such a blessing--instead of drills every day, we can take more time to learn the actual concepts behind the facts!" Times Tales Review

Kelly of Raising Samuels loves the Magic School Bus Science Club.

“The Magic School Bus Science Club is something your child gets in the mail each month, for a year! It includes numerous experiments per month, along with most of the materials required. (except household items such as scissors and tape). It is an incredible hands-on learning experience that helps children love science and have fun! My sons who are 4 and 6 absolutely love it!”

Amy of Busy Boys Brigade recommends the Life of Fred Beginning Readers.

“Life of Fred Early Readers series has been a game changer in our homeschool! Both my 6 & 4-year-old boys beg me to do their reading lessons now that we have added Life of Fred. I have noticed an increase in their fluency and comprehension.” Fred Readers tips

Jenn of Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling also loves Times Tales.

"All three of my girls, ages 8 down to 4 loved watching this DVD and learning the stories. In 1 hour, both of my older girls had memorized their upper times tables! And the real kicker is I was only trying to teach one!"

Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans uses Learn to Mod Minecraft with her son.

"Learn to Mod Minecraft is an amazing program that teaches my son, a Minecraft lover, important computer programming skills through a game he loves to play. The lessons are easy to use, fun and engaging. I love that he is a learning a skill that I am not able to teach him." Kids Learn to Code - Educents Graphic

Tabitha of Life Learning Homeschool uses the King Tut Mini Unit.

“My son loves history (he gets it from me), and I love to throw in “extras” to feed the need for more than what our curriculum calls for. Mini-units are great for that, and this was one of our favorites because we both love Ancient Egypt!”

Amy from Not Your Average Homeschool Mom loves Minecraft Mod Design.

“I love that you can be totally creative, and these are all hands-on. Helps to build critical
 thinking skills too.
YouthDigital Educents1

Kayla of The Arrowood Zoo loves using Magformers for lessons at home.

"I love that you can be totally creative and these are all hands-on. Helps to build critical thinking skills too."

Shelly of Free Homeschooling 101 recommends the Violin Starter Set.

"The violin starter set includes everything a budding violinist needs to begin their studies. The instrument is well made and economical. The lessons that are included are a huge money saver!"

Rebecca of Hip Homeschooling likes Magformers.

“We LOVE Magformers in our homeschool! They are a high-quality toy that provide hours of creative play. They are a great way to bring the fun back into your homeschool; your kids won’t even realize they are learning all about structures and geometric shapes and architecture (bonus!).”

Teri of Mommy Wife Life recommends the Spectacular Space Unit Study.

“A great resource for young astronomers is the Spectacular Space Unit Study. From writing, reading, math, and crafts, this complete unit, with its simple terms, will spark the interest of even your preschoolers!”Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.09.22 PM

Jamie of Simple Homeschool loves Life of Fred too!

“I love the way the math is naturally integrated into Fred’s life, showing the importance of it in day-to-day life. The chapters are laugh-out-loud funny, and I often get asked to read “just one more.” I’ve never been a huge fan of math workbooks and worksheets, so the combination of math and story is a major win in my books!”

Gabriella, Homeschooling Consultant, recommends the Number Formation Poems.

“We have these cards laminated because we know they’ll be used for years to come. My son, who learns best through rhyme and tactile input, is learning to write digits using these easy-to-remember number formation poems! I have reduced the size of the cards, added a ring binder, and now have a portable number set. We also use the cards for matching games and learning about quantity. Such a great price for all of the value provided by this set.” Hands_on-learning-with-worksheets     What homeschool resource did you use this year that you would recommend? Leave your recommendation in the comments!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dollar Days! This week, Veterans Day Pack!!I

Image result for here's to our heroes
Image courtesy: Red Lobster

Boy, it's time to get back into the game of blogging, huh? It's been CRAZY busy since summer began, and I admit to being a....well....not-so-avid blogger. I thought I'd come in with a bang, but that didn't quite happen. I'm starting something new this year (watch for it on Fridays!), but I have a couple more loose ends to tie before I can do that.

BUT,  while it's only on sale for a few days, I definitely wanted to let you know that my best-selling Veterans Day Pack is on sale for ONLY $1! You seriously cannot beat that, aside from free or creating something yourself. I call this a best-seller because every year, November is hopping for me in TPT -- and it's all because of this product:

I have to run now, but I wanted to pop in and send a quick blog post for followers so you don't miss out on this 50% off discount for this product!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week! (May 4 - May 8)

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


If I had to choose ONE educator who has inspired me - though there are many! - I would have to say it'd be Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit. Erin has ignited a fire inside me that I don't think I knew even existed! Her products are absolutely amazing, and she makes using them extremely easy. She's worked incredibly hard at TeachersPayTeachers for the past couple of years, and it's definitely paid off! 

I started blog-stalking Erin about two years ago, when I was first intrigued by the products she had at the time. For the past five or six years, we've been heavily into lapbooking (inspired 100% by Valerie at .....well.....multiple sites! But one is Erin started making interactive notebooks - which were like a lapbooker's dream come true! Now, not only did we have lapbook-y templates and learning.....but it was for the core subjects! Genius! Erin also makes amazing clipart, which I've used on many of my products at my own TPT store. 

Not long ago, Erin started making "Practice and Assessment sheet sets" to correlate with her Interactive Notebooks. This way, people could use the interactive notebooks and then have that extra "oomph" to give kids the practice they need. Again, brilliant! I can tell you from talking with this Southern girl that she works extremely hard to make sure she meets the needs of not only her students but also her followers/fans. Erin has truly set off a spark in me to do some amazing hands-on learning. In fact, when we sit down to do many activities, my kids will ask, "Is this something from Erin?" Ha! They've come to recognize her fonts and style of teaching. 

Now, I'm very clear on my blog that we're homeschoolers. Erin doesn't specifically create products with homeschoolers in mind. But I will say this: her products work WONDERFULLY for homeschooler because they span multiple grade levels. Furthermore, her practice/assess sheets generally come in three grade levels which is perfect for classroom teachers for differentiation and for homeschoolers in teaching multiple grade levels at once! 

So, I've chosen to blog about Erin a little and give her an extra boost at Educents. :) 

Here are three reasons why I am thankful for educators:
  1. I've come to learn that homeschoolers and classroom teachers are not rivals! I can learn a lot from teachers, and I know many who have learned how to differentiate in the classroom from ME, simply because they see how I handle multiage teaching. 
  2. I appreciate the homeschoolers who have paved the way before me! We've been homeschooling for 10-11 years (depends on if you're splitting hairs over preschool...), and I'm crossing over into "veteran homeschooler." Still, I have a lot to learn--especially from those whose children have graduated already.
  3. They're changing the future. That may sound cliche...and, it is, to some extent. And's true. The educators of today are creating the adults of tomorrow. What students--whether homeschooled, public schooled or private schooled--learn today will affect how we as a nation grow tomorrow.
For more ways you can thank a teacher, visit my Teacher Appreciation Pinterest board dedicated specifically to that: Teacher Appreciation week, which also includes homeschool co-op teachers! 

Education has such an impact on ourselves and our little ones. Educents is here to help you pay it forward. In honor of Teacher Appreciation week, Educents & Peekapak have teamed up to provide your favorite educators with a gift basket worth over $40, which includes a FREE $10 Educents Gift Card** & 3 months of Peekapak lesson plans (3 digital storybooks, 12 in-class lessons & 12 at-home activities) that teach Character Education and Language Arts.

So, whether it's your mom, your classroom teacher, your neighbors or another special human being who taught you important lessons, thank them by giving them a FREE gift basket, on Educents!

Fill out the form here to send this freebie to an educator you know.

**New users get a $10 Gift Card with no minimum purchase. Existing users will receive $10 off a purchase of $20 or more.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired... And there were only 50 deals available at once... I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN! 


Thousands of new products - Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There's a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more! Offers that NEVER expire - Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price. Discovery - It's easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos' interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more!

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.36.15 AM 

Follow your favorite brands and Sellers - The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers! 

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.59.18 PM 

The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be -- the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.    

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frugal Friday Freebies (a day thank you EDUCENTS!)

Sorry this is a day late this week! As you can see, I haven't posted anything since LAST Friday. We've been on the run this week...with anywhere from one to three errands each day. From client meetings, auditions for the kids, and, Dr. appts, it's been an INSANE WEEK.

AND....I'll be launching a new product line in my TeachersPayTeachers store next week (last week of February)! Gah! (For those who don't already know, I damaged my right arm and am just recovering this week, so that was a major setback.) I'm reaching out to a few Top Sellers on TPT (some of whom are editing clients of mine) as product testers because I wanna make sure it's something I can officially say is "tried & true" (and loved!) by some of TPT's Top Sellers! 

Soooo, I'm kinda cheating and am gonna go with a couple of (errr...make that 17!) awesome freebies from Educents!

First up is a MEGA freebie pack of 16 FREEBIES from for preschool to around 1st/2nd graders.

Of course, in's for ANY child who could use the help. ALL teachers--whether homeschoolers or classroom teachers--know we use whatever we need to help our kiddos, regardless of "grade level" - so don't be deterred because it's labeled as a "preschool pack!" Tucked inside, you'll find the extremely popular Frozen ABC pack, too!

Exclusive Freebie Pack

This pack is pretty much an absolute boatload of ELA/Language Arts resources covering:
  • Sight Words
  • CVC Unit
  • Spring Unit
  • Back to School Selfies
  • Rhyming Bunnies
  • Robert Munsch Unit
  • Spring Wheels
  • George Washington Unit
  • Sight Words
  • Amusing A Pack
  • Cooking Into History
  • Farm Unit
  • Frozen ABC Pack
  • Short Vowel Sorting
  • Spring Poems
  • Vowel Sounds
Interested? Go grab yours while it lasts! 

For your older ones, check out this FREE Black History Month set of Biography Notebooking pages

Biography Notebooking Pages

This bundle is a great way to review or start teaching biography reports! And, it'll work with any resources you're using for Black History Month! In the end, you'll have an awesome notebooking project pack

Here's to a less busy week this week! (Yeah, right!) 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Frugal Friday Freebies!

It's that time of the week again! Time for YOU to snag some FREEBIES. Why? Because it's FRIDAY! Do you need another reason? No? Then keep reading! :)  

(This week, three out of four of the freebies are Valentine's Day-themed and the other aren't. So, why not toss in a pretty Valentine's Day-themed page divider?)

How about 24 PAGES of absolutely FREE Valentine's-themed freebies from Laura Candler?

FREE February Activities from Teaching Resources

Most of us homeschoolers have known of Laura Candler for many years now, but she has her stuff on TPT now, too! Be sure and follow her store (you'll need a TPT account, which is also free) so you don't miss out on anything she uploads! 

Next up, Math posters from Bridget at Little Lovely Leaders. These Math posters are alphabetized with terms for learners at all levels. She's even thought ahead and made them in two different color schemes! Print them up as posters, or use them to make a cute flip-book (or even a lapbook!). 


**Note** The link above takes you to her TPT store with the primary-colored posters. To get the other set, just click the link to her blog, & then click "Freebies."

Looking for some Valentine's-themed Math fun? Check out this graphing activity from Christian Homeschool Publishing

February - Valentines Graphing Activities 2nd & 3rd Grades

While it says it's geared toward 2nd and 3rd graders, I can easily think of a couple things to do with a 4th or even 5th grader kiddos (just depends on the Math they've already covered) and you can definitely use some of it for your younger ones! (Also: IDK if it's included in the packet or not, but don't forget to save it for AFTER Valentine's Day - so the kids can graph how many cards they got from boys vs. girls, which ones had candy vs. didn't, etc.!)

Love making your own Valentines (or do your kiddos)? Check out this craftivity with free instructions on making your own scratch-off Valentines from Teacher Ms. H! 

Valentine's Day Scratch-off Cards Craftivity FREE

She has a blog you can follow as well, but these are only in her TPT store at the moment. We'll be doing them this year because my kids love making their own instead of the boxed versions that never have enough for the parties we attend! 

And that, Dear Readers, is IT for this week! Sorry it's only four (instead of the usual five to ten), but it's Friday, my brain is fried, I'm BEAT, I waited until Friday to actually make this post, and..........yeah. Not to mention, I've got a few things left to do (work-related things/client deadlines, film-making things, school-related things and oh yeah - it's almost suppertime). 

However, if you're into designing products, the page divider I used this week is a FREEBIE from Paula Kim Studio. So, technically, I did give you FIVE freebies. Woohoo!! :) 

**Speaking of work & clients: I'm almost ready to launch that page, so become another blog follower if you wanna know when that launches! It's going to be about being a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) and specifically, homeschooling while being a WAHM, how to make it work, pros/cons, what I've learned, mistakes I've made so you don't do the same, etc. When the page goes live, I'll make a blog post about it, so you'll have to follow if you wanna know when that is!** 

Next week, I promise to do better with Frugal Friday....and now that it's February, of course the Frugal Friday number images will change! (Am I the only one excited about that part?!? I love making clipart and images; it's relaxing for me!) 

Oh! And if you follow my TPT store or my CurrClick store be on the lookout for a new product line launching THIS WEEK! (I do have some products that are on one site but not the other, which is largely due to audience appeal.) I actually have two, but I'm only gonna push myself into doing one specific line...which is probably gonna be the biggy. 

If you're a TPT Seller or CurrClick Publisher (of ELA/English Language Arts products), I promise you'll be interested. And that's all I'm sayin'. ;o) 

So, just stay tuned to either of my stores, the blog, and/or some of the TPT Facebook groups (open and closed groups), as well as the TPT Sellers' forums to find out more later this week! I DO have another secret, but you'll find out what THAT surprise is just by checking out the blog in...hmmm, looks like about a month! :) :)

Much love!  

(It IS almost Valentine's Day, after all...!)