Monday, May 9, 2011

Favorite Homeschool Freebies Part 1

Those of us who homeschool our children are typically living on one income, which is never an easy feat in our modern world. Homeschool curriculum can cost a pretty penny too, making quality free resources highly valuable to us. Below is a list of some of my favorite free resources that are currently available to homeschoolers.

free online typing program from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Targeted for ages 7 - 11, your kids will learn to type while playing games that feature entertaining animation.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website also offers free online foreign language courses for children up to age 11. Online instruction features lots of games, cool animation, and FUN! Choose from Spanish, French, or Mandarin

C-Span offers free online resources and links for social studies teachers (homeschool teachers included). In addition, if you register with this website, you will receive notification of periodic special offers. For example, I received a free, full-color timeline poster of American presidents from C-Span. This high-quality poster was mailed directly to me at no cost just for registering on the website. Although the poster offer has expired, more special deals are sure to follow. Register now so you will know about them when they become available.

Clubhouse, a free online magazine for children available from Your Story Hour, can either be read online or printed from their website. This magazine is full of stories, jokes, and puzzles for kids.

“Adventures in the Holy Bible” is a free series of Bible lessons for children available from Your Story Hour. Currently, you must sign up online or via telephone to receive the lessons, which arrive a few at a time in the mail (lessons might be available online in the future). The quizzes at the end of each Bible lesson must be completed and mailed back to Your Story Hour in order to receive the next group of lessons. This series also includes a set of 13 free CDs containing audio dramas about the life of Jesus that are mailed out along with the Bible lessons. The materials and CDs are yours to keep.

Donna Young’s website offers free homeschool planners and numerous printable resources based on many academic subjects and topics. Her handwriting pages are especially popular among homeschoolers!

KISS Grammar is an online grammar program that is very comprehensive. All materials are free and printable for your use. This program is a bit complicated to use at first, but becomes easier to understand and is quite feasible after a thorough reading of all of the information and instructions on the website.

A series of 325 children’s Bible lessons from the old and new testaments are available for free from Calvary Chapel. These online lessons are printable or you may send for a free CD-ROM containing all of the lessons. Each lesson contains Bible verses, a coloring page, puzzles, games, and comprehension questions.

Above Rubies magazine has been a ministry of Nancy Campbell and her family for over 33 years. Subscriptions to this magazine are free and she also offers a newsletter and many additional resources on her website. I personally receive this magazine and find the articles to be encouraging and uplifting. I was even pleasantly surprised to receive a personal, hand-written note from Nancy along with my first issue. Please be aware that this magazine unabashedly promotes a large family size. I do not have a large family, however, and still find lots of encouragement and information in the pages of Above Rubies.

Homeschool Share offers LOTS of free lapbooking templates and unit studies! When I used Five In a Row curriculum with my kids a few years ago, this site was invaluable to me. Free lapbooks and notebooking pages are available to go with almost every FIAR story!

An educational site offering 5000+ free printable theme units, word puzzles, writing forms, book report forms, grammar lessons, math lessons and more.

Garden of Praise offers free online art appreciation lessons, Bible lessons, biographies, downloadable songs to assist with the memorization of facts, and much more!

In the Hands of a Child is the premiere company for lapbooks, in my opinion. Their website always has a link for a free lapbook and they also offer a $5.00 e-book that changes weekly.

Ambleside Online is one of my favorite homeschool websites. This Charlotte Mason-inspired website features a free curriculum guide that is very comprehensive and utilizes living books. Their other free resources, information, and links are too numerous to mention! One of my favorite resources on this site is the free, downloadable art prints. Ambleside Online has inspired and enabled me to teach art appreciation in my home.

Mosaic History is an absolutely free history curriculum and guide. This site includes many other free educational resources as well.

This is ideal for nature study! E-Nature features audios of the songs and calls of more than 550 North American birds. Listen online or download.

Another great resource for studying birds! I know that most people recommend drawing (rather than coloring) birds for nature study, but this free Feeder Birds Printable Coloring Book has been perfect for one of my children who LOVES to color.

Homeschool 101 is a lengthy, comprehensive, AMAZING digital supplement available from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Who needs to buy a book about the basics of home education when this is available for free?

Free unit studies based on history, science, and other various topics.

Aesop’s Fables online for free! 655+ fables are on this site. Some include the text only, while others have an audio option.

19th century McGuffey readers are available digitally for free!

If you like to supplement your curriculum with independent activities such as file folder games, this is a great site for you! You’ll find numerous printable templates here for making your own file folder games.

Yes, homeschoolers are eligible for Pizza Hut’s famous Book-It program! Every month, the teacher (i.e., mom) sets reading goals for each child. When those monthly goals are accomplished, the child is given a coupon for a free personal pan pizza. Book-It offers suggestions for goals based on grade level, but those objectives are ultimately determined by you. Example goals would include the child reading a certain number of pages each week or for a certain amount of time every night. My personal disclaimer: As a follower of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, I am not a huge fan of this type of reward system. I feel that children (and adults) ought to read simply for the joy of it. However, rewards do have their place and I am glad that well-known programs such as Book-It are available to homeschoolers. We signed up for Book-It for the first time this year, and although we didn’t do it every month, the kids liked going out for pizza when we did!

I would like to include two additional resources in this list even though they are not true freebies.

24. The “teacher toolbox” feature of The Old Schoolhouse website is free for paid magazine subscribers only. The Old Schoolhouse is the best homeschool magazine available, in my opinion, and the online “teacher toolbox” feature includes a monthly menu/meal plan with recipes, e-books, unit studies, crafts, printables, and more! The regular price for a one-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine is $29.95, but they frequently offer special deals. Check online at

25. This is a discount rather than a freebie, but I am including it on the list because it is highly valuable for homeschoolers. Homeschool teachers are eligible for the Educator Discount Program at Barnes and Noble. If you have not taken advantage of this “perk”, ask to enroll the next time you are in the store. You will receive a card that entitles you to 20% off the regular price of all purchases for classroom use. It’s a fabulous deal, especially if you use a lot of literature in your homeschool.

Enjoy these freebies and feel free to post YOUR personal favorites that are not included on the list. We all love finding great resources to help make our homeschooling experience a little bit more affordable!